Officials of the Reagan administration reportedly are covering up scientific failure with the “Star Wars” project in an effort to sell the program to a skeptical American public. According to THE NEW YORK TIMES report, scientists working on the project are not allowed to talk to the press about test failures; administration officials do talk about successful test results.
The frustration of observing the government’s disinformation campaign led two top scientists, one at Livermore and another at Los Alamos, to resign from the program.
Ray Kidder, another physicist at Livermore, was quoted in THE LOS ANGELES TIMES as saying: “The public is getting swindled by one side that has access to classified information and can say whatever it wants and not go to jail, whereas we (the skeptics) can’t say whatever we want. We would go to jail, that’s the difference.”
The X-ray laser, pet project of physicist Edward Teller who sold “Star Wars” to President Reagan, who prefers to call it the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), produced completely unreliable results when tested. The test inspired one scientist to conclude that “instead of a weapon we have a toy.” Nonetheless, it was Teller, also known as “father of the H-Bomb,” who leaked that the test took place on March 23, 1985.
Further, while the administration says its anti-missile program is non-nuclear, the X-ray laser relies on a nuclear explosion for its energy. And it is the insistence on continuing the “Star War” tests that is a major reason Reagan won’t even listen to the Soviet proposal for a comprehensive test ban despite public sentiment for one.
Finally, there are well grounded scientific doubts that the X-ray laser ever will live up to all the hype. Nonetheless, the Reagan administration continues to provide funding for Teller’s latest nuclear pet.
U.S. Energy Secretary John S. Herrington denounced the skeptics and suggested that the controversy was just a “little squabble” among scientists. However, by Fall 1985, more than 55 percent of the physics faculty at the top 14 physics departments in the country and majorities of 33 additional physics or related science departments at major universities signed petitions declaring SDI as “ill-conceived and dangerous” and that they would neither “solicit nor accept SDI funds” — an extraordinary statement by the academic community.
Professor Ulrich Kruse, a specialist in high energy physics at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, said “We object to this particularly huge research program that is being sold falsely to the American people.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES SERVICE, SANTA ROSA PRESS DEMOCRAT, 12/4/86, “A ‘Star Wars’ cover-up?”, by Flora Lewis, p 9B; IN THESE TIMES, 11/6/85, “Scientists say no to Star Wars,” by David Moberg, p2.