Congressional Record: June 25, 2002 (Senate)
Page S5983-S5995



  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, the United States completed its withdrawal 
from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty on June, 13, 2002, and the 
Pentagon has shifted into high gear its efforts to deploy a rudimentary 
anti-missile system by 2004. The drivers of this missile defense hot-
rod are doing their best to make it look as good as possible, and they 
are spreading the word of its latest successes on the test track.
  But I am not alone in wondering what this vehicle, with its $100 
billion purchase price, really has under the

[[Page S5995]]

hood. Does it have the souped-up engine that we are being promised, or 
is this another dressed-up jalopy? And, more importantly, as this 
missile defense hot-rod charges down the road with its throttle wide 
open and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in the rear-view mirror, is 
the scrutiny of Congress and the American people being left in the 
  As part of its normal oversight duties, the Armed Services Committee 
has requested from the Department of Defense information relating to 
cost estimates and performance measures for various components of the 
missile defense research program that is underway. This kind of 
information is essential to allowing Congress to render its own 
assessment of whether these programs are on-budget and meeting 
  As the Armed Services Committee began hearings on the fiscal year 
2003 Defense budget request in February 2002, we requested basic 
information from the Department of Defense on its proposed missile 
defense program. We asked for cost estimates, development schedules, 
and performance milestones. But the committee has not received the 
information. It is as though the Department of Defense does not want 
Congress to know what we are getting for the $7.8 billion in missile 
defense funds that were appropriated last year.
  On March 7, 2002, at an Armed Services Committee hearing, I 
questioned the Pentagon's chief of acquisition, Under Secretary Pete 
Aldridge, about the delays in providing this information to Congress. 
He answered my questions with what I believed was an unequivocal 
statement that he would make sure that Congress gets the information it 
  Three and a half months later, we still have not received the 
information that we requested. It also seems that the Pentagon is 
developing a new aspect of its strategy in its consultations with 
Congress and the American people. On June 9, 2002, The Los Angeles 
Times ran an article entitled, "Missile Data To Be Kept Secret." The 
Washington Post ran a similar story on June 12, "Secrecy On Missile 
Defense Grows." The two articles detail a decision to begin 
classifying as "secret" certain types of basic information about 
missile defense tests.
  These missile defense tests use decoys to challenge our anti-missile 
system to pick out and destroy the right target, which would be a 
warhead hurtling toward the United States at thousands of miles per 
hour. According to the newspaper articles, the Pentagon will no longer 
release to the public descriptions of what types of decoys are used in 
a missile defense test to fool our anti-missile radars. This 
information will be classified.
  Independent engineers and scientists who lack security clearances 
will have no means to form an opinion on the rigor of this aspect of 
missile defense tests. No longer will the experts outside the 
government be able to make informed comments on whether a missile 
defense test is a realistic challenge to a developmental system, or a 
stacked deck on which a bet in favor of our rudimentary anti-missile 
system is a sure winner.
  I do not think that it is a coincidence that independent scientists 
have criticized the realism of past missile defense tests because the 
decoys used were not realistic. I cannot help but be left with the 
impression that the sole reason for classifying this kind of basic 
information is to squelch criticism about the missile defense program.
  Should this basic information about our missile defense program be 
protected by the cloak of government secrecy? If the tests are rigorous 
and our anti-missile system is meeting our expectations, would it not 
be to our advantage to let our adversaries know how effective this 
system will be?
  But perhaps this national missile defense system is not progressing 
as rapidly as hoped. Then would it not be to our advantage to encourage 
constructive criticism in order to improve the system? In either case, 
I cannot see how these secrecy edicts will promote the development of a 
missile defense system that actually works.
  The bottom line is that Congress and the American people must know 
whether the huge sums that are being spent on missile defense will 
increase our national security. Since September 11, we have been 
consumed with debates about homeland security. What is this system 
intended to be but a protection of our homeland?
  Do we believe that American people can be entrusted with information 
about their own security? I certainly think so. Without a doubt, we 
need to carefully guard information that would compromise our national 
defense, but public scrutiny of our missile defense program is not an 
inherent threat to our security.

  In April, the Appropriations Committee heard testimony from a number 
of people with expertise in homeland security. We heard many warnings 
about the peril of losing public trust in our Government. No matter if 
the threat is terrorists with biological weapons or rogue states with 
missiles, we must not jeopardize the trust of the American people in 
their Government. If the missile defense system does not work as it is 
supposed to do, and we hide its shortcomings inside "top secret" 
folders and other red tape, we will be setting ourselves up for a sure 
fall. We ought to have more, not fewer, independent reviews of our 
antimissile system.
  So I oppose the amendment to increase missile defense funding in this 
bill by $812 million. The Department of Defense has shown it is more 
than willing to delay and obfuscate details about what it is doing on 
missile defense, and I cannot understand the logic of increasing funds 
for an antimissile system that is the subject of greater and greater 
secrecy. It does not make sense to devote more money to a system of 
questionable utility before there is a consensus of independent views 
that an antimissile system is technologically feasible. The missile 
defense system that we are developing needs more scrutiny, not more 
secrecy, more assessment, not more money.
  In the next few days, the Senate will vote on this bill and authorize 
billions of dollars in missile defense funds. While the Pentagon will 
continue to portray these programs as a hot rod that is speeding toward 
success, one thing is certain: this hot rod is running on almost $8 
billion in taxpayer money this year. Talk about a gas guzzler! If 
Congress is not allowed to kick the tires, check the oil and look under 
the hood, this rig could fall apart and leave us all stranded.