Defense: The Stillborn Bird

In what seemed like a final, fiery protest against the death sentence pronounced on it by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, a 40-ft. Skybolt missile flashed away from its B-52 bomber and down the Atlantic Missile Range in a flight computed to be 991 miles long.* Jubilant Air Force officers pronounced the test "a success." But at the Pentagon, Skybolt's critics dourly contended that the missile was 100 miles off target, said the test would not save Skybolt. Declared one: "It was just rigor mortis setting in."

Skybolt was. indeed, dead. Last week the Pentagon formally canceled production contracts for the...

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