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ICYMI: Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Op-Ed: Vindicating Mike Turner on Space Nukes

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Vindicating Mike Turner on Space Nukes

New details show the House Intel Chair was right to raise alarms about Russia’s prototype antisatellite weapon.

Vladimir Putin is developing space weapons that could fry American satellites with a nuclear blast, a story that would get Washington’s attention if not for all the world’s other acute crises. But where does Republican Rep. Mike Turner go to get his apology, now that his warning about an emerging threat has been validated?

The Journal reports that two years ago the Russians launched a prototype of the antisatellite weapon, without a nuke. It has been hanging out in an unusual orbit. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb told Congress at a hearing this month that Mr. Putin’s new weapon “could pose a threat to all satellites operated by countries and companies around the globe, as well as to the vital communications, scientific, meteorological, agricultural, commercial, and national security services we all depend upon.”

That long list underscores how much of modern life relies on information beamed from satellites. Mr. Turner, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, asked whether the fallout could render low-earth orbit unusable for a time—perhaps a year? “I believe it could,” Mr. Plumb replied.

Readers might remember that in February Mr. Turner raised alarms about what he called a “serious national security threat.” He couldn’t disclose the classified details but wanted to coax the Biden Administration to declassify information so Americans could see the nature of the threat.

He took abuse for his effort. The Biden Administration played it down, as it usually does. Someon the left griped that Mr. Turner had inflated the risks, while on the isolationist right he was accused of greasing the wheels to pass a surveillance bill or funding for Ukraine.

Now we learn that Mr. Putin’s new weapon could turn low-earth orbit into a dead zone for a year.The U.S. will have to spend the money to harden and diversify its satellite networks, as well asdevelop counter measures. Xi Jinping’s Chinese Communist Party is making its own spaceadvances and is increasingly allied with Mr. Putin.

Credit to Mr. Turner for trying to educate Americans about this rising threat, even if many inWashington don’t want to hear it.