russian space nuke national security threat

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How a vague warning about a ‘national security threat’ turned into a panic over Russian nukes in space

It escalated fast.


Marlon Ettinger


Posted on Feb 14, 2024   Updated on Feb 14, 2024, 8:08 pm CST

A vague “national security threat” trended on X for a few hours despite there being few details about what exactly the threat might be, sparking fears, memes, and recriminations.

Hours later, it turned out to be, oh, just Russian nukes in space.

The speculation started around 11:30am when the House Intelligence Committee put out a statement from its chair, Rep Mike Turner (R-Ohio), announcing that it was making information about a “serious national security threat” available to all members of Congress.

“I am requesting that President Biden declassify all information relating to this threat so that Congress, the Administration, and our allies can openly discuss the actions necessary to respond to this threat,” Turner said in the statement.

Soon after, people were saying that whatever it was, it was no big deal.

A few sketchy details trickled out about what the statement meant over the course of the day, including a report from Politico that three people familiar with the matter said the threat was “related to Russia and space,” and that the intelligence might have something to do with Russian weaponization of orbital systems, according to one of them.

Hours later, the news escalated.

“Confirming that the intel is related to Russia’s attempts to develop an antisatellite nuclear weapon for use in space. The U.S. has been concerned for more than a year about this. But the intel suggests there’s been new movement from Moscow on this,” wrote Politico reporter Erin Banco.

But online, people from across the political aisle speculated that the news was being leaked for nefarious reasons. By both sides.

“Just four days ago, Trump encouraged Russia to invade NATO,” wrote liberal YouTuber Brian Tyler Cohen. “Now U.S. officials are saying there is a ‘national security threat’ of Russia wanting to put a nuclear weapon into space.”

Cohen was referencing remarks Trump made at a rally in South Carolina saying he’d let countries not meeting their NATO obligations be attacked by Russia as a way to get them to up their contributions to the military alliance.

Republicans also made hay of the timing of the announcement. On Tuesday the Senate passed a bill which includes $60 billion to back Ukraine in its war with Russia, something many Republicans have come out against in recent months.

“Wow. Amazing,” posted theocratic fascist Matt Walsh. “A day after the Senate passed a massively unpopular 95 billion dollar foreign aid package with billions for Ukraine, and a week after Putin gave one of the most widely viewed interviews of all time to Tucker Carlson, there is now a ‘serious national security threat’ related to Russia.”

“What ‘convenient’ timing … the development ‘conveniently’ comes as the House considers passing a $61 billion aid package for Ukraine,” added @CollinRugg, pointing to reporting from Fox News who had a source confirm that the threat was related to Russia, could be “of grave serious, potentially,” but isn’t “immediate.”

And while there was plenty of speculation about ulterior motives for leaking the news, some people just took it as an opportunity to get a knock against the other party.

“The National Security Threat is the god damn Republicans in the House of Representatives,” posted @Tincan989.

“I don’t really see what the big deal is about a National Security Threat democrats are the biggest threat to America,” posted @1DeplHonkey

Though there haven’t been many details forthcoming yet, according to the Politico report, one member of the House Intelligence Committee called the intelligence “disturbing.”

Another backed up the idea that it wasn’t an imminent threat, saying that “it’s a serious issue but not an immediate crisis.”

Which might mean everything’s fine, much to the disappointment of those hoping the threat was news about an asteroid slamming into the earth and destroying the entire planet.
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*First Published: Feb 14, 2024, 8:07 pm CST