Friday, 12 August 1988
THE TELLER LETTERS ON THE X-RAY LASER HAVE BEEN DECLASSIFIED
and released by the Department of Energy in response to a request
from Reps. Markey (D-MA) and Brown (D-CA), with only minor
deletions. Letters to Robert McFarlane, the National Security
Adviser, and Paul Nitze, the chief US arms control negotiator, in
late 1984, just prior to the Geneva talks, are the most
revealing. Excerpts of these letters in the GAO report issued
two weeks earlier were tame (WN 22 and
29 Jul 88). In the "wild
exaggeration" department, Teller alternates between inflating the
Soviet threat and hyping US accomplishments. The most serious
aspect, however, is the purpose of the exaggerations, which comes
through clearly. In the McFarlane letter, for example, Teller
states, "My purpose in taking these actions is to try to prevent
the inadvertent appearance in any possible forthcoming agreement
with the Soviets of limitations that might impede our work,
though they could be secretly violated by the Soviets." Who
needs treaties when we have the ultimate weapon? On CBS this
week, Teller insisted he stands behind what he said in the
letters. "My only mistake," he said, "was to hire Roy Woodruff."
. AND NOW IT'S "BRILLIANT PEBBLES."
Teller and Wood were back
at the White House on 25 July mongering their latest "ultimate
weapon." The goal is to put the stars back into Star Wars. With
lasers out of fashion, attention first shifted to space-based
interceptors or "smart rocks." But smart rocks required dumb
cost estimates. More realistic estimates ended that illusion and
SDI went all the way back to ground-based interceptors--which
maybe we can afford even though they won't do much. Enter
"brilliant pebbles"--small, cheap, self-contained interceptors
that don't require expensive battle stations. Sensors, guidance,
computors, everything, reduced to an on-board chip. The unit
cost would be slashed by mass production. We'll need, oh, maybe
100,000 up there just waiting for some fool to try something. Is
this a great idea or what? I mean, Reagan bought the last load
of feathers, didn't he? Nuckolls, Herrington and Abrahamson were
on hand with Teller as Wood made the pitch. The President, we
are told, loved it. Teller was back in the Oval Office on 4
August with a group of defense experts to discuss the Defense
Authorization Act, which Reagan had vetoed the day before.
3. FEDERAL NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS WILL DROP "CLASSIFIABLE,"
according to the Director of the Security Oversight Office.
About 3 million government employees have signed secrecy pledges
which bar disclosure of classified and "classifiable" information
and agree to prepublication review by government censors. A
federal judge overturned a one-year congressional moratorium on
the pledges. Some would prefer to ban all such agreements.
Former Senator Mathias (R-MD) said, "Knowing a manuscript will be
read by an official censor can chill the author in a way that
will congeal the thoughts and freeze the ink."