Friday, 10 April 1987 Washington, DC
"SDI: PROGRESS AND CHALLENGES, PART II,"
a report prepared
by Jim Bruce, an aide to Sen. Johnston (D-LA), and Doug Waller,
on the staff of Sen. Proxmire (D-WI), charged that the SDI
Organization (SDIO) is re-orienting its program to pursue a
near-term deployment of ballistic missile defenses, although
"There is nothing to deploy today." It concludes that "Politics
-- not technology -- is behind the movement toward a near-term
deployment." Research into innovative technologies, such as
directed energy weapons (DEW), has been drastically cut to pay
for the near-term option, which they characterize as a "token
defense." The report is a sequel to a study they conducted a
year ago (WN 30 May 86), which concluded that no major
breakthroughs had been achieved to warrant the conclusion that
comprehensive strategic defenses are feasible. The new study is
based on extensive classified briefings and interviews.
. "THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY OF DIRECTED ENERGY WEAPONS,"
the long-delayed APS report, might be expected to shed some light on
the decision to de-emphasize DEW in the near term, but the
Pentagon made certain it wasn't part of the debate over the FY 88
budget resolution. The report was delivered to SDIO on 25 Sep 86
for national security review (WN 26 Sep 86), and the APS has been
getting jerked around ever since, first by SDIO and then by the
Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). On several occasions
it appeared that agreement on changes had been reached. Each
time, however, after a long delay with assurances that "the check
is in the mail," OSD claims to find new problems. The study
panel has refused to turn the report into a eunuch.
3. THE HOUSE BUDGET RESOLUTION, passed yesterday,
President's request for Science, Space and Technology (Function
250). Most of the $1.2B cut is in NASA ($1B), with $50M from NSF
and $150M from DoE General Science. This effectively cancels the
$1B increase in Function 250 called for by Sen. Chiles, the
Chairman of the Senate Budget
Committee (WN 3 Apr 87). Rep. Gray
(D-PA), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, saw Chiles' mark
as an invitation to raid Function 250 on the theory that it will
then come out about right in compromise with the Senate. The
danger is that Chiles may not have his way in the Senate.
4. THE DEADLINE FOR SUPERCOLLIDER SITE SELECTION PROPOSALS
may have to be extended several months beyond the current August
date. It became apparent during three days of hearings on the
SSC by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee that a
number of congressmen believe the early deadline unfairly tilts
in favor of states that began work on proposals long before the
President announced support for the project. This would shove
the final site selection decision into the next Administration.
Some argue that this is only fair, since it is the next
Administration that will have to find the money to pay for it.