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January 18, 2008
Notes from the Pentagon

Submarine ASAT
Pentagon officials are increasingly worried that China's military is advancing its clandestine anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons program by building a submarine-launched direct-ascent missile system.

New information indicates the secret ASAT program, which Chinese leaders refused to discuss in recent meetings with visiting U.S. military leaders, will involve a space-capable ASAT warhead for the new JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile. The new missile is being readied for China's new ballistic missile submarine, called the Jin-class, or Type 094. The ASAT submarine will provide the ultimate in stealth weapons and could cripple U.S. satellites.

The reports about submarine ASAT basing followed comments by Gen. James E. Cartwright, the former U.S. Strategic Command commander and current vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told Congress last year the U.S. military is prepared to use conventional missile strikes on land-based Chinese ASAT launchers if Beijing began shooting down U.S. satellites.

China successfully tested a direct-ascent ASAT missile from a mobile ground-based launcher a year ago, sending thousands of pieces of debris from a destroyed weather satellite into low Earth orbit and threatening U.S. satellites and others.

The new information bolsters theoretical writings by Chinese military officials, which were disclosed in a report to Congress last year by Michael Pillsbury, a former Reagan administration defense official and specialist on China.

Mr. Pillsbury stated in his report, "An Assessment of China's Anti-Satellite and Space Warfare Programs," that China's sea-based and submarine-based ASAT were mentioned in 2004 by Liu Huanyu of the Dalian Naval Academy.

"Nuclear submarines are not only well concealed but can sail for a long period of time," Mr. Liu said. "By deploying just a few anti-satellite nuclear submarines in the ocean, one can seriously threaten the entire military space system of the enemy."

Surface ships also can be built for "anti-satellite operations," he stated.

Mr. Pillsbury's report was produced for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Liberal anti-religious sentiment toward conservative Christians is finding its way into the upper reaches of the Pentagon and the U.S. military, generally viewed in the past as conservative bastions.

A recent example is the case of a senior aide to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon R. England who criticized a co-worker with impunity in disparaging Christians, a favorite target of left-liberal elites.

Pentagon aide Hasham Islam remains a key adviser on Muslim affairs to Mr. England and faced no punishment or even criticism for recently calling Joint Staff counterterrorism analyst Stephen Coughlin a "Christian zealot with a pen" because of his views on the linkage between Islamic law and terrorism.

There was no outcry in the press, as could be expected if the criticism had been reversed and Mr. Islam was called a Muslim zealot.

The confrontation in a meeting several weeks ago led to Mr. Coughlin's firing. The Pentagon spin is that ending Mr. Coughlin's contract had nothing to do with Mr. Islam but was due to an expensive contract that was cut off. Other officials said any review of Joint Staff contracting would explode that reason as a myth.

Remember the classic slur of Christians published in liberalism's main organ, The Washington Post? Post writer Michael Weisskopf was criticized in 1993 for writing that conservative Christian followers of the Rev. Pat Robertson and the late Rev. Jerry Falwell were "largely poor, uneducated and easy to command."

A similar smear on Christian conservatives took place recently at the U.S. Central Command, a place Pentagon officials say is dominated by Arabists who do not understand Islamist ideology and who have thoroughly confused commanding generals there on the nature of the terrorist threat.

During a briefing months ago for the now-disbanded Commanders Advisory Group, which was preparing a Muslim outreach program, a colonel clumsily joked that "we have 'our own Christian extremists such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson,' " according to one shocked participant.

Some who heard the comment were horrified and wondered what U.S. taxpayers and others would think if they knew the Central Command was "going around calling mainstream evangelicals 'extremists' aligned with jihadists by association," the official said. "We could not believe our ears."

Clinton China link
A former congressional national security investigator wants to remind readers about Maggie Williams, a longtime aide to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton who recently was hired back by Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign after the New York Democrat was hit with charges of racial insensitivity toward her top rival, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. Miss Williams, who is black, was never prosecuted on federal charges related to the 1996 Justice Department investigation into illegal campaign contribution from China, after she accepted $50,000 in 1995 from Chinese agent Johnny Chung.

Mr. Chung told Justice investigators he was the main conduit to the 1996 Bill Clinton re-election campaign for money supplied by the Chinese government through Lt. Col. Liu Chaoying. He also told investigators he took his direction from a Chinese general in charge of running Beijing's spies.

Miss Williams was given the $50,000 check, made out to the Democratic National Committee, by Mr. Chung prior to a meeting of Chinese shipping officials with Mr. Clinton in 1995.

Miss Williams joins Samuel R. Berger, the former national security adviser convicted of stealing classified documents after leaving office, who is also a campaign adviser. The official said it appears Mrs. Clinton is re-assembling many of the same officials from her husband's scandal-plagued administration, a move expected to provide political ammunition for opponents to use in the general election campaign, if she wins the Democratic presidential nomination.

  • Bill Gertz covers national security affairs. He can be reached at 202-636-3274, or at

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