Season 2002 Episode 10.10.02

Missile Wars

Aired Tuesday 9:00 PM Oct 10, 2002 on PBS
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Episode Summary

Missile Wars
Most Americans don't realize that the United States in fact has no defense against a missile attack. To some, this is simply unacceptable. And yet, the critics ask, didn't Sept. 11 prove that terrorism poses a far greater threat to the American homeland than ICBMs, which are extremely difficult to build and are impossible to launch without leaving a "return address"? (Only two other countries in the world -- Russia and China -- are known to possess ICBMs.) Furthermore, scientists contend, despite decades and many billions of dollars in research and development, building an effective shield against missiles may simply be impossible. In "Missile Wars," FRONTLINE examines the heated debate -- some have called it a theological controversy -- over national missile defense. Is protecting the U.S. from long-range missiles a moral necessity? Or is it still, given questions of cost and technology, an expensive fantasy? Through interviews with staunch proponents, skeptical scientists, and military and intelligence experts, the report investigates this multibillion dollar -- yet still unproven -- weapons system, explores the current rationale for missile defense, and probes whether it will protect America from the greatest threats it now faces.moreless

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