A missile defense shield would not have stopped the hijacked planes. A hundred dollars worth of knives and box cutters, available at any hardware store, would have overcome the administration's $200 billion proposed system. Add the conspirators' flight training, airline tickets, and living expenses, and the budget to murder 7,000 innocent people would total a bit more, but Bush's proposed system would still not have saved a single life. If he rams it through in the wake of this ghastly round of vengeance, it will benefit only the weapons producers who've spent more than $40 million in the past two years on campaign contributions and lobbying.
A group of Lockheed Martin employees essentially acknowledged this several years ago, when I was giving a talk at their Missile and Space Division in Sunnyvale, California. The company had invited me to discuss my book on the values of current students-their future employees. When students feel that the world is corrupt and can't change, I said, they often point to the political clout of weapons companies, citing corporate bailouts, pork barrel contracts, and military systems that are useless but still make millions. The students were beginning to believe, I said, that political access comes only when you give at the door.
Since the average American household now pays more than $200 each year to finance Lockheed Martin's government contracts, I challenged the audience to question their corporate culture and not assume that just because a contract provided money and jobs, it automatically served a greater common good. I specifically questioned the company's missile defense systems. A man in the audience quickly jumped in to defend the company's role in developing them.