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Public Statements

In Opposition to Increased Funding for National Missile Defense

Location: Washington, DC


THURSDAY, MAY 20, 2004

Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, last week, I joined several distinguished experts in the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) to commend them for the public release of their very timely, and much-needed study on the oversold and misguided National Missile Defense. It is entitled "Technical Realities: An Analysis of the 2004 Deployment of a U.S. Missile Defense System".

Sadly, Congress keeps shoveling ever greater amounts of taxpayer funds into this wasteful, dead-end program that adds nothing to our real national defense. In FY 2003, President Bush requested $7.8 billion, Congress authorized $7.78 billion and appropriated $7.62 billion. In FY 2004, the President requested $9.1 billion, Congress authorized $9.08 billion and appropriated $8.9 billion. Now, in FY 2005, the President has requested $10.2 billion. This bill authorizes that full amount, an increase of $1.1 billion or 13 percent more than the current level. It includes funding for the initial deployment of an untested national missile defense system based in Alaska and California.

To put it bluntly, our country can't afford spending upwards of $10 billion per year for a bogus missile defense program.

First of all, many of our Nation's leading physicists view midcourse defenses as absurd. They have long believed mid-course defenses are easily defeated and won't work for fundamental physics reasons.

Second, the truth is pure politics is driving this deployment. On December 11, 2002, the last intercept test of the missile defense system failed. No tests have taken place since then. Nevertheless, on December 17, 2002, President Bush announced his decision to deploy missile defenses in 2004.

Sometime after the President's announcement, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) cancelled or postponed every test scheduled since the speech. Nine tests have been cancelled.

Despite these cancellations, the schedule for deployment has actually moved up. President Bush simply announced deployment "in 2004." Pentagon official subsequently set a deadline of September 30, 2004. The MDA has stated "as early as this summer" for initial operations. Bush Administration officials still maintain that this is an "eventdriven" program, where results of tests and simulations determine how the program progresses.

Instead, it seems to be schedule-driven. a return to the "rush to failure" approach that Lt. Gen. Larry Welch warned about during the Clinton Administration.

The current focus of the SDI Program is wrong. As we have witnessed in other national security matters, the Bush Administration appears hell-bent on deploying missile defense, regardless of whether it works. Before taking office, George W. Bush campaigned on the issue of missile defense. As has been highlighted in Richard Clarke's book and elsewhere, before the 9/11 attacks, the foreign and defense policy of the Bush Administration was focused not on terrorism, but on missile defense.

Post-9/11, while it should be clear that the real threat is terrorism, the missile defense program has only sped up, and funding has steadily increased. Regrettably, this bill is now brought to the House under a restrictive and no amendments pertaining to the SDI have been made in order to allow debate and votes to cut funding for missile defense or calling for realistic, operational testing before deploying more interceptors. Apparently, no dissenting votes will be tolerated and this Congress will do nothing to stop the Bush Administration from declaring some system operational some time this year.

Many SDI supporters argue that any missile defense is better than none. However, the current situation we face maybe worse than nothing. While the currently constituted SDI system will offer no real defense, Bush Administration officials often claim it will be highly effective and will give the President "more options." But it will not work well enough to affect our military posture and will only make potential enemies nervous and lead them to take offensive steps to overcome it. It may push Russia and China to maintain, improve and expand their nuclear arsenals.

When weighing the pros and cons of rushing to judgment on SDI deployment, we would do well to remember the advice and counsel of Richard Feynman, one of our Nation's greatest thinkers and most distinguished scientists: "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."

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