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A Missile Defense With Limits? * Critic accuses Pentagon of trying to silence him

July 4, 2000

1) A Missile Defense With Limits?
2) Critic accuses Pentagon of trying to silence him
3) Institutional Murder - Shaka Sankofa's Last Words

The first section is from a NYTimes article entitled "A Missile Defense With Limits," which overview and status of missile defense. The author, William Broad, has brought this issue to light in his reporting with Theodore A. Postol, an arms expert at M.I.T., who claimed evidences of widespread antimissile fraud by contractors and Defense Department officials. Section 2 is about Dr. postol's experience with the Pentagon trying to silence him. In following E-mail, Section 3 is last words from Shaka Sankofa [Gary Graham], who many believe was innocent and institutionally murdered by the state of Texas.

May this 4th of July instill an awareness and appreciation in the best interests of our nation and world.


1) A Missile Defense With Limits?
A Missile Defense With Limits: The ABC's of the Clinton Plan
New York Times By WILLIAM J. BROAD
June 30, 2000

-- [A crucial test of antimissile technology is set for Friday, July 7. If it succeeds, a decision may follow this fall on building a national missile defense. A site considered is a former antimissile base near Nekoma, N.D.]

For ages, nations have dreamed of building invulnerable shields to protect themselves from hostile forces. There was the Great Wall and the Maginot line and, in America, the Safeguard antimissile system and "Star Wars."

All fell short. Now, the Clinton administration and its military advisers may try again, this time with a limited antimissile weapon they think can go a long way toward immunizing America against attack -- at least from missiles launched by adversaries like North Korea, Iran and Iraq, which are known to be developing intercontinental missiles.

Officials at the Pentagon and experts outside of the government say this defense technology has reached a new level of maturity. They argue that the combination of miniaturized parts and fast rockets can produce an agile, lightweight weapon that can find and ram an incoming warhead at about 7,000 miles per hour.

But critics are skeptical that it can work. Even its advocates compare the overall challenge of building and orchestrating the system's millions of parts to developing the atom bomb and putting men on the Moon. One question is whether the defending weapon can survive the boost into orbit. More fundamental is whether it can be made to distinguish between a warhead heading for the United States and a cloud of decoys, a task that it has about 100 seconds to accomplish.

In fact, since research on so-called hit-to-kill weapons began in 1976, attempts to destroy mock warheads have failed more than 70 percent of the time. A crucial flight test of the technology is set for next Friday, when a ground-based interceptor missile is to thunder aloft and try to destroy a mock warhead in space.

If it goes well, President Clinton may decide this fall whether to build the first phase of the so-called national missile defense. Though the administration is weighing approval of preliminary construction, it says a final deployment decision may fall to the next president.

The central feature of the proposed system would be a supersmart "exoatmospheric kill vehicle" that is designed to be carried atop a rocket and guide itself to a collision with an incoming warhead.

Proponents are confident that it can work, even though the first two tests of this design were discouraging. One was a partially lucky hit and the other a complete miss. If next week's test fails as well, the chorus of critics will no doubt grow.

The scope of the proposed project is both challenging and enormous, growing in four steps from an initial 20 missile interceptors in 2005 to a much larger system by 2011. By the time it is complete, the shield would require at least 2 launching sites, 3 command centers, 5 communication relay stations, 15 radars, 29 satellites, 250 underground silos and 250 missile interceptors.

It would be based in Hawaii, Alaska, California, Colorado, North Dakota, Massachusetts, Greenland, Britain and possibly Maine. Two radars would be set up in Asia, possibly in Japan and South Korea. Building it would cost at least $60 billion and running it would take at least 1,455 people, and probably hundreds more more.

The first phase alone is supposed to take eight years, the government says, though most experts consider 12 to 16 years a safer pace and less risky. But the antimissile program's director, Lt. Gen. Ronald T. Kadish of the Air Force, says a rushed job is doable, just barely. "We're confident in the path we've chosen," he said in a recent interview. "Our program will do what we ask it to do."

As for whether the interceptors can pick out enemy decoys that are sure to accompany any attack, General Kadish said he was certain that new antimissile technology would enable the system to prevail.

"This is not well understood," he said. "Critics assume the system will remain static forever. We've never assumed it would never change." He added, "We can play the countermeasure, counter-countermeasure game."

But critics say this approach will only beget costly arms races that will erode confidence in any antimissile weapon. If the antimissile dilemmas can be resolved, and a weapon built that really works, the nation might at last establish something approaching a limited nuclear sanctuary. If the effort proves futile, it risks wasting billions while upsetting a balance of terror that has kept an uneasy peace among nuclear antagonists for more than half a century.

The Plan: In Space, Feats of Annihilation

The exoatmospheric kill vehicle is the star of the Clinton plan, a 130-pound wonder just 54 inches long. It is made by Raytheon at a plant in Tucson. In space, it would guide itself toward the target, its tiny computer analyzing sensor readings and firing thrusters.

Its big challenge is to disregard the decoys amid the nuclear warheads, which the sensor tracks through their heat rays and sees as twinkling points of light, like stars.

Zipping along at about two miles per second, the kill vehicle is to slam into the nuclear warhead in space and demolish it by force of impact.

Antimissile designers praise the kill vehicle as the apex of miniaturization and accuracy. By contrast, they say, the world's first successful hit-to-kill interceptor, in 1984, had to unfurl a 15-foot-wide steel umbrella to raise the odds of collision.

"It's a world of difference, the way the technology has moved," said Edward L. Wilkinson, project manager of the 1984 system, which succeeded after three failures.

Donald R. Baucom, an antimissile historian at the Pentagon, said the new kill vehicle's deadly agility is rooted in its miniaturized parts and light weight -- pounds versus earlier tons. So firings of its four small thrusters produce fast maneuvers. "You can make that baby really hot," Dr. Baucom said. "All this adds up to greater and greater accuracy."

Still, even its staunchest backers acknowledge that the kill vehicle is blind to enemy warheads for most of its flight. Raytheon, its maker, says it can pick up the telltale heat emanations of targets only in the last 100 or so seconds before impact. So the weapon must still rely on radars and satellites to find its quarry. The needed helpers, detailed in April in a Congressional Budget Office report, and in interviews with its author, Geoffrey Forden, include these:

. Early-warning radars. Five existing ones would be improved and a new one built in Asia to help alert the force of interceptor missiles of enemy attack.
. High-resolution radars. These can better resolve targets inspace to aid tracking, eliminate decoys and assess whether targeted warheads have been destroyed. Nine would be built.
. Missile-tracking satellites. These detect heat from newly launched missiles and can help estimate flight paths. In time, existing ones would be supplemented by five new ones, all in high orbits.
. Warhead-tracking satellites. From low orbits, 24 of these new spacecraft would aid the hunt for warheads and decoys.
. Command centers. The main one at Cheyenne Mountain, Colo., a bunker hewn out of solid rock, would link all the data, and its officers would fight the defensive war.
. In-flight relays. On the ground, radio transmitters would send navigational signals to missile interceptors heading for battle.

The goal of this network is not only to aid kill vehicles but to push the defensive battle as close as possible to enemy territory so as to give military officers time to fire more than one interceptor at a specific warhead, raising the odds of success.

The tactic is known as shoot-look-shoot. In theory, antimissile officials say, three or more hits might be attempted against a given warhead.

General Kadish, director of the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, told Congress in February that if interceptors are 80 percent dependable, two tries will provide 96 percent confidence and three will give 99 percent assurance of a successful kill.

The anticipated power of the weapon system is a state secret. But documents that the State Department gave Moscow in January said the full system would be able to destroy up to 50 enemy warheads. The system's full coverage is detailed in a Pentagon map. Its colors range from red to blue for "bad" to "good" levels of protection and show North America as solid blue -- including all 50 states, Canada and Mexico. Cuba, however, is a conspicuous green, its coverage relatively poor.

To achieve this protection, the Pentagon would base 20 interceptors in central Alaska by 2005 and 100 by 2007, ready to shoot down missiles coming out of places like North Korea. By 2011, the Pentagon would put a total of 125 interceptors in Alaska and 125 in North Dakota, either at the old Safeguard antimissile base in Nekoma, N.D., that was mothballed 25 years ago, or farther south at Grand Forks.

Either site would increase the system's ability to target warheads streaking in from the Middle East, where military experts cite Iraq and Iran as possible threats.

Quietly, experts talk of a third interceptor base in Maine to raise the East Coast's level of protection. "Ideally," said Bill Davis, an antimissile pioneer who advises the National Missile Defense Program, "you'd like to have three sites."

The Problems: Doubts on Science And Engineering

A quiet threat to antimissile success is the defense industry itself, which loves the huge contracts but is reeling after years of mergers and cutbacks. The system's main contractors -- Boeing, Raytheon, TRW and Lockheed Martin -- insist that they are up to the job. But many experts have doubts.

"All these companies are in trouble at the same time," said Richard Cook, a former Lockheed vice president who backs the antimissile plan. "They're poorly managed. And they're not attracting the talent."

In a major setback, the Air Force last year canceled an $832 million contract with TRW and Boeing for test models of the low-orbit satellites because of cost overruns and troubles with software and sensors. Now, the first 6 of 24 satellites are to be experimental. When fired into space in 2006 or 2007, rigorous testing is to reveal any flaws in time to fix later models.

So far, a backup effort at expanded ground testing is "making good progress," said Sally Koris, a TRW spokeswoman. But computers meant to manage the battle are performing poorly. In recent ground tests, they failed five of six objectives, the Congressional Budget Office report said.

Some of the biggest woes center on the kill vehicle itself. Its development is proving unusually hard, even after Pentagon officials cut the number of decoys in flight tests from nine to one.

Last October, the Pentagon hailed its first interception test as an unqualified success but later acknowledged that the kill vehicle had initially drifted off course and picked out the large decoy balloon instead of the warhead. In a January test, a leak of sensor coolant made the missile interceptor miss the target altogether.

After investigating Raytheon, a Pentagon panel headed by retired Air Force Gen. Larry Welch last year found that a shortage of spare parts was behind testing delays, higher risks and work omissions.

More troubling, the panel said there was danger that the kill vehicle would fall apart when shaken atop its booster rocket, the development of which is lagging far behind schedule at Boeing.

The temporary two-stage booster used in flight tests is slow and relatively gentle. The three-stage one planned for war is fast and rough. The Welch panel said it was unclear if the kill vehicle "is designed to withstand" the planned tumult of shocks and vibrations, calling such uncertainty "a high risk" and urging close attention to the problem.

Barring new delays, the first time the kill vehicle is to thunder into space atop the Boeing booster is next year, and Boeing says it is moving steadily toward that goal.

Roy Danchick, a senior engineer at TRW who retired two years ago after four decades in the industry, said many of the antimissile ills derived from corporate disarray. "The contractors no longer have the talent pool," he said. "So they fake it with glossy view graphs."

For their part, the contractors insist that they are in good shape and are simply experiencing the growing pains natural to any big project. "We're making significant strides at Lockheed and the missile defense industry in general," said Jeffery Adams, a Lockheed Martin spokesman. Raytheon, feeling the most heat of all, is deferring technical questions to the Pentagon, said David Shea, a company spokesman in Washington.

Jacques S. Gansler, the Pentagon's acquisition czar, recently conceded that the Defense Department and its contractors were pushing the technological limits. "It's clearly a high-risk overall program," he told reporters this month, adding that having everything work right on the upcoming flight test was "not a high probability."

The test flight next Friday is to be the most demanding yet and the first to aid the hunt in space for the mock warhead by relaying data from a ground radar to the kill vehicle.

After that experiment, 16 more intercept attempts, each costing about $100 million, are to fly before the planned initial deployment in 2005. The Pentagon says data from these increasingly complex tests will help designers debug the antimissile system and improve the weapon's performance.

Yet even if it eventually works perfectly, critics say, the kill vehicle and its radar and satellite assistants can still be undone easily by decoys and other countermeasures that even an inexperienced attacker like Iraq or North Korea is sure to employ.

In April, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the security studies program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a 175-page study on likely enemy countermeasures, saying such tricks were much easier than making a missile.

For instance, it said that disguising a weapon to look like a decoy -- just wrapping a Mylar balloon around a warhead so it drifts inconspicuously among other decoy balloons -- would foil the defense. The Pentagon has announced no plans to test the kill vehicle against such a stratagem.

Federal intelligence agencies also worry about such countermeasures. Last September, a National Intelligence Estimate said nations developing missiles could also respond to a defensive shield with at least eight types of tricks and decoys, including simple balloons.

Backers of the system say critics naEely credit foes with great powers. The technology of deception is far from easy, they say, and defensive arms can evolve to foil any offensive trick.

Mr. Davis, the antimissile pioneer who consults for the current program, said new generations of kill-vehicle sensors are to have chips of up to 1,048,576 pixels, far beyond the current level of 65,536 pixels and the 72 pixels of the 1984 success. So in the future, he said, sensor resolution will soar, aiding the kill vehicle's ability to ferret out subtle differences among warheads and decoys.

"It's a game that never ends," he said, faulting the critics. "You get action and reaction all the time. So it's a little unfair for them to state with finality that they know of a simple, cheap countermeasure that can defeat the system from here to eternity."

Theodore A. Postol, an arms expert at M.I.T., dismissed such statements as glib, saying the reality is so grim that contractors and Defense Department officials are resorting to widespread antimissile fraud.

In two reports to the White House, Dr. Postol has charged that the Pentagon is covering up its own discovery that the sensor cannot tell warheads from decoys and, to hide this flaw, is rigging all interception tests of the kill vehicle. These flight tests began last year and are to run to 2005.

The Defense Department has strongly denied his charges, saying that the kill vehicle, teamed with its proposed array of radars and orbiting sensors, can do the discrimination job just fine. And General Kadish and other Pentagon officials have hinted repeatedly that the job will be aided by technologies and techniques that are secret.

Michael W. Munn, a retired Lockheed chief scientist whose team accomplished the first hit-to-kill successes, in 1984 and 1991, said the Pentagon was deluding itself.

"Discrimination looks easy when you do it on paper," he said. "But you get up there and you never see what you expect -- the data never agree with the predictions." "The only way to make it work is to dumb it down," Dr. Munn said of antimissile flight testing. "There's no other way."

The Alternatives: From Boost Phase to No Phase

Though the United States has focused its energies on ways to kill incoming warheads once they are well under way, there is, at least in theory, a clever way to sidestep the whole problem of designing interceptors that must seek out the correct target: It would be to smash a missile while its engines are firing -- before it releases its payload of warheads, chaff, balloons and other decoys.

Hot engine flames are considered an easy target compared with warheads that are merely warm. And thin-skinned missiles, laden with highly explosive fuel and laboring to escape the Earth's gravity, are fragile compared with hardened warheads meant to survive fiery atmospheric re-entry. Finally, the missiles move at a relatively slow pace.

Moscow threw Washington a curve in early June by suggesting that so-called boost-phase antimissile systems were better than the Clinton proposal. For years, the Russians have discussed the idea with American scientists, including Dr. Postol of M.I.T.

The idea is simple: To thwart a North Korean attack a nearby interceptor based at sea or on land (Russia abuts North Korea) would smash the rising missile, shattering its body and sending its warheads plummeting back to earth.

Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, after going to Moscow to hear the Kremlin's proposal, backed developing a boost-phase weapon jointly. "We're prepared to cooperate with them," he told reporters. But Mr. Cohen added that any resulting weapon would be slow in coming and no substitute for a national missile defense.

Among other things, boost-phase technology has never been tested and if perfected would have to be based at multiple sites within a few hundred miles of missile threats. That would be relatively easy for North Korea, possible for Iraq (with interceptors in Turkey or Kuwait) and difficult for Iran (with interceptors in Belarus, Ukraine or Kazakhstan).

"It's a big project," Dr. Postol said of boost-phase defenses. "Nothing even close to it could come off the shelf." Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, raised the stakes even further. In May, he said that as president he would back research on more robust antimissile weapons like
lasers and weapons in space, taking a page from President Reagan's "Star Wars" plan.

Space arms could cost up to many hundreds of billions of dollars. Their allure is that they could, in theory, hit rising missiles in their boost phase with great ease and offer protection against large strikes. But here, too, there are countermeasures, and global coverage could be hard. One "Star Wars" proposal envisioned a need for 100,000 orbital arms.

Some critics say the risks of antimissile weapons outweigh any benefits. Besides fueling arms races, they worry that such arms could promote military tactics that raise the risk of accidental war and can be viewed as provocative because "defensive" arms can also do things like attack satellites.

Proponents counter that antimissile arms could deter missile development by small nations, preserve freedom of action for the United States during international crises and -- most important -- save lives. And new kinds of global teamwork, they add, could forestall arms races.

A shadow that hangs over all these antimissile proposals is Safeguard, the only weapon the United States ever built against long-range missiles. Switched on in North Dakota in October 1975, it was meant to shield nearby missile fields from a disarming first strike.

Its plug was pulled as military strategists concluded that Moscow could overwhelm it with a rush of new warheads then being deployed. In all, the $25 billion weapon system lasted just 133 days.

Today, its mothballed base is a wilderness of broken asphalt, empty silos, tumbled buildings and a chapel, eerily intact. It all stands as a monument to what can go awry in antimissile plans.

Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company

2) Critic accuses Pentagon of trying to silence himCritic accuses Pentagon of trying to silence him

This story ran on page A01 of the Boston Globe on 6/24/2000.

Critic accuses Pentagon of trying to silence him
By David Abel, Globe Correspondent, 6/24/2000

As the debate heats up over whether the United States should build a national missile defense, one of the program's leading critics, an MIT professor, is charging the Pentagon with trying to silence him. This week, three agents from the Pentagon's Defense Security Service arrived unannounced at Theodore A. Postol's office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They said they came to show the outspoken physicist classified documents, Postol said.

But Postol said he refused to look at the papers stamped ''SECRET.'' Recalling the Army's attempt to classify his critical analysis of Raytheon Corp.'s Patriot missile after the 1991 Gulf War, he believes the agents' visit was a ruse to prevent him from speaking out further against the proposed antimissile system, which has already cost at least $60 billion.

''I definitely saw this as potential for entrapment and a means of intimidation,'' said Postol, so miffed he wrote a letter to John Podesta, President Clinton's chief of staff, after the Wednesday morning visit. ''By showing me classified information, they could say I was talking about classified information. I saw it as a means of abridging my First-Amendment rights.''

The surprise visit came more than a month after Postol, once one of the military's top science advisers, made headlines after a letter he wrote to the White House detailed potential pitfalls in the Clinton administration's missile-defense plan and exposed what he says is evidence of a cover-up.

In the letter, the 54-year-old professor explained why he and many scientists believe current technology is incapable of defeating a ballistic missile attack. The essence of his dissent is that the system being developed can't differentiate a potential enemy's decoys from its warheads. A few balloons, he said, might be sufficient to fool current or future antimissiles.

But shortly after the letter arrived at the White House, officials sent it to the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Office. Officials there promptly classified Postol's findings, even though the letter had already been posted on the Internet. The move echoed the Army's attempt to muzzle him after the Gulf War, Postol said.

Although Postol says he never received a call before the Pentagon agents popped into his office, and accuses the security service of improperly handling secret documents, a Defense Security Service spokeswoman said the agents repeatedly tried to contact the professor and followed strict protocol in presenting the information.

Caryl Clubb, a Defense Security Service spokeswoman, said the agents went to Postol's office to deliver a letter from the service's deputy chief of staff for industrial security. The document detailed areas in which Postol's White House letter contained classified information, she said.

''The purpose of our visit was to prevent the further disclosure of classified information,'' Clubb said. ''We in no way, shape or form meant to get him to stop speaking out.''

But Postol and others describe the visit as a tactic they say the government has used before to silence informed dissidents with high-level security clearances. A scientific adviser to the chief of naval operations in the 1980s, Postol has top-secret clearances at the departments of energy and defense.

Yet all the information he assembled in his White House letter, he contends, came from a lawsuit filed by a senior engineer against the military contractor TRW Inc., which accused the contractor of sending the Pentagon fraudulent performance reports about a key portion of the antimissile system.

If Postol had consented to view the letter, he said, he would be obliged not to talk about its contents, even if the information was identical to what he previously published. The penalty for revealing the contents of a classified document ranges from the loss of security clearances to a prison sentence.

''This entire episode is Kafkaesque,'' said Democratic US Representative Edward J. Markey of Malden, who said he plans to ask the General Accounting Office to investigate. ''First, you have the government classifying a report raising questions about potential fraud ... then you have government agents showing up at the author's office, trying to force him to read a classified document that he doesn't want to read.'' Joseph Cirincione, director of the Nonproliferation Center at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said it ''appears they were trying to force feed him classified material for reasons other than his education on this matter.''

Jennifer Weeks, a former congressional military analyst who runs a project on nuclear policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, said the episode might have been a clumsy attempt to explain the missile program to Postol.

''I think it's plausible this was an effort to silence him,'' she said. ''It also may have just been a dumb, badly managed way of showing him classified information.''

Postol, though, has no doubts. ''This wasn't an accident,'' he said. ''They know what they were doing.''
©Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company

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