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Double Talk on Missile Defense and Arms Race Buildup

5 September 2001

If there was ever a time for you to act to defend the world from a policy that would escalate the arms race, that would kill the ABM and space for peace treaties, NOW is the time to call your elected representatives, and plan to engage your community to help on this issue by showing "Star Wars Returns," a documentary video by EnviroVideo.*

The US Congress will be deciding in the coming days how much money to give to the Pentagon in 2002 for Star Wars Research and Development. George W. Bush is requesting $8.3 billion in FY 2002 for the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO).

"Should we be moving the already insane and expensive global arms race into space or should the U.S. be doing everything it can now, before it is too late, to create international agreements to keep space for peace?" said Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. "It is really a moral and ethical question." Gagnon asked, "How can Congress justify more money for Star Wars when cuts in social programs continue, unemployment is growing, and our environment cries out for attention?"

The Global Network, made up of 156 affiliate groups worldwide, is calling on peace activists in the U.S. to immediately put pressure on the U.S. Congress to deny Bush's funding request for space warfare programs. People are urged to especially call the Congressional Switchboard telephone number at 202-224-3121 soon and continuously until Congress makes their decision. Also, you can visit this website for receiving other information for contacting members of the US Congress:

On October 13 the Global Network is coordinating an "International Day of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space" that has now been endorsed by over 200 groups around the world. Local actions are planned so far in over 85 locations, at U.S. military bases, aerospace corporation facilities, federal buildings, and U.S. Embassies.

Planning sessions in western Massachusetts for an October 13 event is scheduled on September 10 and 24 at 7:00pm at 140 Pine Street, Florence. For more details contact the American Friends Service Committee at (413)584.8975 or

For a list of international actions and support see:
or contact:
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 90083
Gainesville, FL. 32607
(352) 337-9274

* To order "Star Wars Returns" video, send $21.95 ($19.95 + $2 s&h) {institutions $49.95 + $2 s&h} to
Box 311
Ft. Tilden, NY 11695
1) US Double Talk on Missile Defense and Arms Race Buildup
2) Missile-Defense System Critic Says He's a Target

1) US Double Talk on Missile Defense and Arms Race Buildup

September 5, 2001

U.S. Restates Its Stand on Missiles in China


WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 The Bush administration issued a new set of statements today about how it views the buildup of Chinese nuclear forces, declaring that it would not "seek to overcome China's opposition" to Mr. Bush's missile defense plan by dropping any objections to the modernization of China's nuclear forces.

In the statement, issued by Mr. Bush's press secretary, Ari Fleischer, the White House also said it would not "acquiesce" in the resumption of nuclear testing by China.

The statement was prompted by an article on Sunday in The New York Times, quoting senior administration officials who said they would not object to China's nuclear modernization. China will add intercontinental missiles to its modest fleet of 20 to 24 such weapons no matter what the United States tells China, the administration concluded.

For full article, see:

September 2, 2001 (Referenced Story)

U.S. to Tell China It Will Not Object to Missile Buildup

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 - The Bush administration, seeking to overcome Chinese opposition to its missile defense program, intends to tell leaders in Beijing that it has no objections to the country's plans to build up its small fleet of nuclear missiles, according to senior administration officials.

One senior official said that, in the future, the United States and China may also discuss resuming underground nuclear tests if they are needed to assure the safety and reliability of their arsenals. Such a move, however, might allow China to improve its nuclear warheads and lead to the end of a worldwide moratorium on nuclear testing.

For full Story see:
Related story:
U.S. to Give Details of Shield Tests to China
(-- Aim Is to Assuage Fears On Missile Defense Plan--)
by Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 2, 2001; Page A01


[There goes the illusion and false rhetoric of NASA as a "civilian" space agency]

U.S Air Force and NASA Work Closer on Strategic Space Control
By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO -- The United States Air Force and NASA are beefing up their cooperative efforts to develop reusable launch vehicle technologies in an effort to assure the American military's dominance and control of space for national security purposes.

A just completed review of NASA and Air Force cooperation in space urges for a closer affiliation with the civilian space agency on reusable space launch technologies, and other technology work now underway.

For full Story see:


Related story:
Bush Says Defense Spending to Increase Despite Economic Slowdown
August 29, 2001
NY Times -- August 29, 2001

Flyby New Archives -- Related Stories:

Sunday, July 29, 2001 -
Congressman Proposes Space Weapon Ban * Foreign minister critical of US space weapons

Sunday, July 1, 2001 -
Ted Postol -- Why a Missile-Defense System Can Never Work


2) Missile-Defense System Critic Says He's a Target
AP story in Los Angeles Times
Published on Sunday, September 2, 2001 in the Los Angeles Times
by Matt Crenson, Associated Press

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- On Ted Postol's desk, behind stacks of paper and scale models of Iraqi missile launchers, is a coffee mug emblazoned with a warning: "Back off, man! I'm a scientist!"

Maybe Postol should try a T-shirt or a bumper sticker, because the mug doesn't seem to be working. The Pentagon is all over him like medals on a four-star general.

"What they're trying to do is maneuver me into a situation where I can no longer talk," Postol says. "I intend to continue talking." The subject is national missile defense, a complex system of radar-guided rockets designed to shoot incoming missiles out of the sky. The Bush administration wants to build the system to protect America from rogue states such as North Korea or Iraq.

"The technology to do so is within our grasp," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in July, two days after one missile intercepted another in a test over the Pacific Ocean.

Postol claims that test was rigged. He says the Pentagon knows it can't field an effective missile shield and plans to build one anyway, concealing the system's ineffectiveness with unnecessary secrecy.

Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, the spokesman for the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, says Postol's charges are unfounded and outdated because they involve a component of the system that has been replaced.

Yet the Pentagon has taken the trouble of sending security agents to Postol's office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, classifying his correspondence and demanding that the university confiscate documents from him and investigate his actions.

It seems mighty strange, this lone professor proclaiming that the Pentagon, the president of the United States and several giant defense contractors are all wrong and that he, Ted Postol, is right. "They hate me for this. Of course they hate me," he says, brandishing one of his thick technical papers. "I'm shoving it in their face."

Colleagues and foes alike call Postol a brilliant, tenacious and egotistical man who never gives up. His adversaries often try to dismiss him as a crank or a charlatan, but they cannot deny one fact: Last time Ted Postol took on the Pentagon, he was right.

Postol is most famous for suggesting after the 1991 Gulf War that the Patriot air defense system might not have been the smashing success that the Army claimed--and then spending years proving it.

Working with George Lewis, another MIT professor, Postol analyzed news footage of more than 40 Patriot-Scud engagements frame-by-frame, about half of the Gulf War total. They concluded that not one Patriot appeared to have stopped a Scud from reaching the ground.

The Army and Raytheon, the company that built Patriot, responded with a barrage of criticism: News footage was too coarse-grained to show anything, the camera's shutter speed was too slow, the flashes didn't correspond with the exploding Patriots.

But soon, government investigators also began finding fault with Patriot. Both the General Accounting Office and Congressional Research Service found that Patriot's success rate was far lower than the 96% claimed by the Army.

In a new review, the Army revised its own estimate of Patriot effectiveness down to 60%. But almost everybody who was involved in the debate agrees the real number is closer to zero.

It appears Postol knew what he was talking about. Whether that's true this time is nearly impossible to tell, because he and his Pentagon adversaries argue more about each other's alleged misdeeds than the facts.

Postol's most recent fracas with the Pentagon started last year when he learned of a whistle-blower named Nira Schwartz who had sued her former employer, the defense contractor TRW. Schwartz charged TRW had faked test results performed for the national missile defense program.

Postol invited Schwartz to MIT, where she made her case to experts from the university and the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group opposed to the missile defense plan and dedicated to reducing nuclear arms.

"We actually were very impressed by her," says David Wright, a physicist with the group. "It looked like [her case] really held up."

Schwartz's central claim was that TRW's kill vehicle, designed to identify and destroy an incoming missile, could not tell the difference between a real warhead and a decoy. Both the company and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization had declared a 1998 test of that capability a success.

The issue is important because any country technologically capable of launching an intercontinental ballistic missile could easily launch decoys. In an April 2000 study, a group of missile defense critics--including Postol--argued that simple decoys could render almost any missile defense system useless.

Lehner disputes that assertion. Furthermore, he says, TRW's kill vehicle has been dropped in favor of one built by Raytheon, which can distinguish warheads from decoys and "is going to get even better as time goes by."

At the meeting with Schwartz, Postol focused on a study the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization had commissioned to refute her claim--the "Independent Review of TRW Discrimination Techniques."

The report's summary said that TRW could distinguish a warhead from a decoy. But in the pages of charts and tables and impenetrable prose, Postol says, he found abundant evidence to the contrary. It looked to him as if the report's authors had ignored their own evidence to reach the conclusion the Pentagon wanted.

In April 2000, Postol wrote the Clinton administration about his discovery and attached supporting documents, including the report.

"I . . . have discovered that the BMDO's own data shows that the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) will be defeated by the simplest of balloon decoys. I also have documentation that shows that the BMDO, in coordination with its contractors, attempted to hide this fact," Postol wrote to White House chief of staff John Podesta.

Podesta passed the letter on to the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, which promptly classified it.

Postol was livid. As far as he knew, nothing he had sent to Podesta was classified. In fact, the report Postol had gotten from Schwartz had the words "Unclassified Draft" all over it.

In a second missive to Podesta, Postol complained that the BMDO had no reason to classify the report or his letter except to silence him.

Five weeks later, three Defense Security Service investigators showed up in Postol's office. The four men adjourned to a conference room, where the investigators produced a folder labeled "Secret" and asked Postol to read its contents.

It was a bizarre cloak-and-dagger moment. If these men were investigators, Postol thought, why were they giving him information instead of trying to get it? Postol assumed it was a trick designed to shut him up. He held a security clearance through a defense contractor he did consulting work for. If this "secret" folder contained information from the report that he needed to make his case, he would be obliged by that security clearance not to talk about it.

According to a government report of the incident, Postol refused to look inside the folder. After some unpleasantness, the agents gave up and left.

The next day, Postol wrote Podesta a third time to complain that instead of responding to his first two letters, the government had sent agents to harass him.

"It cannot be ruled out that this unannounced meeting was an attempt at intimidation," Postol wrote. "I would therefore appreciate it if you would have this matter fully investigated." Podesta responded in a handwritten note:

"I must say that the overall impression you leave from your correspondence is that your brilliance is only exceeded by your arrogance. Rest assured that we are taking the issues you raised seriously and reviewing them at the highest levels."

The General Accounting Office did investigate the agents' unexpected visit. It concluded that the Defense Security Service had acted properly in classifying Postol's letter and the attached report, because a Pentagon lawyer had failed to blacken a few sensitive parts before passing the study on to Schwartz. The FBI also investigated and determined that TRW was not guilty of fraud.

Things might have ended there. But two months before the GAO cleared the Pentagon of harassing Postol, the professor wrote yet another letter.

Postol explains that when he wrote the White House last year, he had good evidence that the report on missile decoys was phony. But this spring, after hours of analysis, he says he finally deciphered the instructions TRW used to tell its kill vehicle how to distinguish between a real warhead and a decoy.

Those instructions, he concluded, were useless--in some situations they might even guarantee that the kill vehicle missed its target.

Postol wrote the General Accounting Office, which was already investigating Schwartz's claims against TRW. Again, his letter reached the missile defense office and was classified.

This time the Pentagon took its case to Postol's employer. Valerie Heil of the Defense Security Service wrote two letters to MIT demanding the university confiscate the missile decoy report from Postol and investigate how he obtained it.

MIT has not done that. President Charles Vest responded with a public statement defending his professor's right to criticize missile defense and expressing concern over the Pentagon's attempt to reclassify public information. Postol, who has never had warm feelings for Vest, considers that a weak effort.

"I'm surprised that he hasn't added that his favorite flavor is vanilla and his favorite color is blue, since being in favor of free speech as a university president is not a very controversial position to take," Postol says. "He's more intimidated by me than by the U.S. government."

And that is where it stands. At this point, the "secret" report has been bopping around the Internet for at least a year. Any North Korean or Iraqi who cares to see it almost certainly has already, though it wouldn't do any potential adversary much good because the Pentagon has abandoned the TRW kill vehicle in favor of the one made by Raytheon.

To people who pay attention to such things, the situation with Postol has become a joke. But thanks to the classified status of the report and his letters, nobody with a security clearance can talk publicly about it.

And there's the rub. Those who are best qualified to evaluate Postol's claims have either security clearances, strong opinions about missile defense, or both.

The rest of us can only gaze at the mysterious charts and tables and weigh the accusations of a brilliant and fractious man against the Pentagon's denials.

Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times

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