NORTH KOREA UPDATE….Here’s an interesting pair of articles. First, the director of the CIA testified today that, yes, North Korea has missiles that could reach the U.S. This was the reaction from the White House:

[Intelligence] officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Tenet’s and Jacoby’s statements were based on the same information that led U.S. intelligence to conclude in 2001 that North Korea was close to being able to flight-test a three-stage Taepo Dong 2.

….White House spokesman Ari Fleischer also sought to downplay the statements on the missiles, saying they were reflecting old intelligence. He said, “This old news is why it’s important to proceed with deployment of missile defense and also why the President is focused on multi-lateral diplomatic talks to deal with North Korea.”

Yes, indeed, let’s downplay this. Then there’s this story that seems to have been ignored by just about everyone except the Los Angeles Times:

The Pentagon is considering a major redeployment of U.S. troops out of South Korea and Germany, two Cold War hot spots, as it tries to realign the American military structure around the world, senior Bush administration officials said Tuesday.

….Pentagon officials took care to present the possible moves as far from certain and unrelated to current tensions in both regions. And no precise time frame has been specified.

Redeployment of U.S. troops is something that’s been on the table for years, and it seems odd that the Bush administration would pick now of all times to start talking about it publicly. Of course, everyone’s immediate thought was that this is some kind of punishment for Germany’s opposition to the Iraq war, so the proposal to reduce our troop presence in South Korea slid by with barely a mention.

Somehow this doesn’t strike me as just a coincidence. Rather, someone decided that the current NATO spat was a great cover for a decision to reduce troop presence in South Korea without looking like we were appeasing the North Koreans. If you do it real smooth, they figured, no one will even notice.

And apparently no one has. But I’ll bet there’s more to this than meets the eye.

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