The US Defense Department is thus far saying that it isn't one of theirs, but that isn't exactly a comforting thought. If it is one of our missiles, it could have been a secret test launch and that would explain the denials.
However, the alternative, that some foreign entity fired a missile off the coast and no one at NORAD or other military branches knows who or what fired the missile is far more disconcerting.
The Defense Department continues denying any role in the missile launch and they are working with the FAA to determine who fired off the missile and what was the purpose/payload. There is speculation that it could have been an amateur or commercial launch, but the specter of terrorism is present as well.
Reports that this might be a previously announced military test, as the FAA appears to have sent out a warning to avoid the general vicinity where the missile was launched don't match the timeframe of the launch. This information is for a period of time starting today into tomorrow for the affected area:
KZLA LOS ANGELES A2832/10We'd have to search back further to see if there was a similar warning for the evening of November 8 (last night) and thus far there is no indication of any similar warning on the FAA website.
– THE FOLLOWING RESTRICTIONS ARE REQUIRED DUE TO NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER WEAPONS DIVISION ACTIVATION OF W537. IN THE INTEREST OF SAFETY, ALL NON-PARTICIPATING PILOTS ARE ADVISED TO AVOID W537. IFR TRAFFIC UNDER ATC JURISDICTION SHOULD ANTICIPATE CLEARANCE AROUND W537 AND CAE 1176. CAE 1155 WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR OCEANIC TRANSITION. CAE 1316 & CAE 1318 WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE FOR OCEANIC TRANSITION. CAE 1177 WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR OCEANIC TRANSITION. W537 ACTIVE, CAE 1176 CLOSED. SURFACE – FL390, 09 NOV 20:00 2010 UNTIL 10 NOV 01:00 2010. CREATED: 08 NOV 20:52 2010
US Northern Command says that they don't know what it was, but it wasn't a threat to the US.
U.S. Northern Command says it’s “unable to provide specific details … [but] can confirm that there is no threat to our nation, and from all indications this was not a launch by a foreign military.”
What they appear to be saying is that it was a not-nearly-as-secret secret US program and even NORTHCOM hasn't been read into the program to comment? Because that's what the implication of their statement is. Expect CYA alerts in 3...2...1...
Because the possibilities of the alternatives is quite disturbing (that a foreign country/entity launched a missile within miles of the US coast and no one in the DoD seems to know what happened.
Danger Room has some more updates, and castigates NORAD and NORTHCOM for their inability to promptly determine what exactly was shown in the video:
Meanwhile, naval analyst Raymond Pritchett makes a smart point: that the mystery itself is becoming a security problem.If this was indeed aircraft contrails, then the FAA should be able to figure it out from the radar tapes of the area. If it wasn't, then NORAD and NORTHCOM had better figure out what happened here.
“When someone makes an unannounced launch what looks to be a ballistic missile 35 miles from the nations second largest city (at sea in international waters), and 18 hours later NORAD still doesn’t have any answers at all – that complete lack of information represents a credible threat to national security,” he writes. “If NORAD can’t answer the first and last question, then I believe it is time to question every single penny of ballistic missile defense funding in the defense budget. NORTHCOM needs to start talking about what they do know, rather than leaving the focus on what they don’t know.”