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Congressional candidates weigh in on proposed missile defense site at Fort Drum

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WATERTOWN — Candidates for New York’s 21st Congressional District seat on Tuesday weighed in on the proposed missile defense site at Fort Drum.

Democrat Aaron G. Woolf and Republican Elise M. Stefanik both issued statements supporting the proposal while Green Party candidate Matthew J. Funiciello took a different tack, condemning the idea and advocating for a Works Progress Administration-style jobs program in its place.

“If the Defense Department decides that a missile defense site is necessary for the security of our nation, then Fort Drum would be an ideal location. This would strengthen Fort Drum’s mission and help protect North Country jobs in the long term,” Mr. Woolf said in an emailed statement.

“As the U.S. Missile Defense Agency continues to discuss the possibility of an East Coast missile interceptor base, I will fight to ensure that Fort Drum is a leading contender for the East Coast missile defense site. This would bolster our local economy and ensure that the military post continues to grow,” Ms. Stefanik said in a statement.

“It’s a boondoggle and I hope we have the intelligence to see it for what it is,” Mr. Funiciello said. “And just because the other guys are for it doesn’t mean they’re being honest.”

While some politicians and political candidates have advocated for bringing a missile site to Fort Drum as a way to protect the area’s economic base, Mr. Funiciello said that instead of working on these contingency plans, the government should work on retraining soldiers for other jobs.

He also argued against using automated weapons systems, such as missile systems or drones, to conduct warfare overseas.

“This is part of that cold-hard Star Wars idea of machines killing machines. The only problem is we’re sending them to kill humans. That’s just horrific. We should not be spending our national budget on that,” Mr. Funiciello said.

According to the Missile Defense Agency, the ground-based interceptor missiles proposed to be staged at the post would not be fired “except in the nation’s defense” and no test firing would occur.

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