Missile? What missile?

News reports say that the North Korean missile flew farther than the White House acknowledged -- and that it was pointed toward Hawaii.

Published July 7, 2006 3:15PM (EDT)

What were we just saying?

While federal law enforcement officials are leaking word of an alleged terrorist plot against New York, the Bush administration is doing its best to moderate concern over North Korea's test of a long-range missile -- maybe because it doesn't want to acknowledge that the "Axis of Evil" is still looking pretty evil, or maybe because there's not a whole lot it can do about it anyway.

As Raw Story notes, the White House has insisted that the Taepodong-2 missile fired Wednesday was such a "dud" that it "vanished shortly after launch, less than a minute after launch." But a top South Korean intelligence officer says that's not so. The missile may have enjoyed only 42 seconds of normal flight, the official says, but it remained aloft for seven minutes.

And where was it headed? That's another part of the story the White House didn't reveal initially. But a Japanese newspaper is now reporting that the missile appears to have been aimed at waters off of Hawaii. The paper says the North Korean government might have been sending a message to Washington -- the missile is supposed to have a range of about 9,300 miles, which would put Hawaii well within its reach -- and that it might have targeted Hawaii rather than Alaska to avoid the risk of hitting Korean soil along the way.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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