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Mr. EHRLICH. Mr. Gaffney.
Mr. GAFFNEY. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for affording me an opportunity to contribute to this committee's deliberations on what I think you and many of the Members present regard as the single most serious national security threat or problem that we face in this country. That is, as has been noted repeatedly this morning, our inability to stop even a single ballistic missile launched at this country, whether by accident or intentionally,
It is my particular pleasure to have this chance to do so in the company of an old colleague, Jim Woolsey, whose thoughtful, realistic assessments of this threat have been a very important antidote to the Pollyannish intelligence assessments served up most especially in the past year—by the Clinton administration. I don't know if Congressman Spratt had left but I was hoping that,
Mr. EHRLICH. He will be back.
Mr. GAFFNEY. Good. I regard him as the single most effective opponent in the Congress of prompt deployment of missile defenses. It is also my privilege to have a chance to have further interactions with him on this subject.
I will skip comments in my prepared text. I hope you will allow them all to be
Mr. EHRLICH. We will make your prepared text part of the record.
Mr. GAFFNEY. I would simply acknowledge the large and growing number of Members in this body, and on the Senate side, who have taken a very courageous visionary and principled position on the importance of missile defense in the face of what is generally, if not universally, the opposition to such an initiative on the part of the policy elite here inside the Washington Beltway and certainly many in the press.
One of those Members, of course, is Speaker Gingrich, who has correctly described this debate as "the most important national defense debate since Churchill argued for building radar" in the years prior to World War II. I think that is an apt analogy as well as an accurate depiction of the stakes. After all, had Britain not taken the steps prior to the outbreak of hostilities to prepare for them with an investment in what was then thought to be a somewhat exotic and unproven technology, there is very little doubt that the causalities that would have been experienced at the hand of the Luftwaffe-if not the course of the Battle of Britain and perhaps even the war itself—might have been very different.
I fear that unless the United States similarly acts today to begin the prompt deployment of missile defenses, we too at some future point will experience immense and otherwise avoidable losses as well.
I think I can skip the remarks that I wanted to make about the threat. They have been covered very nicely by both the previous witnesses and those of you who have asked them questions. I would like to make just one or two points.
It is certainly the case that we don't know today at what moment in time nations, other than Russia and China, will have the means to deliver ballistic missile weapons of mass destruction against our people. I think there is sort of a bell curve involved here. It is entirely possible, as Congressman Weldon described, that the pur
chase of missiles outright could cause these developments to take place in very short order. It is also possible at the far end of the bell curve that it will take 10 or 15 years. But I suggest to you that the trends, and again they have been amply covered, argue that it is probably the case that countries that we have considerable reason to fear will acquire these means of intimidating, coercing, blackmailing, if not actually attacking, us in the timeframe that it will take us to do something about it in the form of deploying missile defenses.
I would just mention in connection with the point that Congressman Weldon made on the SS-25 sale, it is regrettably the case that the Clinton administration actually negotiated a change to the START I Treaty, that legitimates the transfer of so-called “space launch vehicles” to anyone the Russians see fit. And I think it far from unlikely, indeed, entirely plausible, that we will see some of these so-called space launch vehicles appearing in some of the countries that we are all concerned about.
On the point about the politicization of the latest intelligence assessment, I would just like to make one point. I am of the view generally that it is no accident that there is a convenient correlation between the administration's preferred policy and the latest intelligence assessment. But I had called to my attention the other day a remarkable statement from a man who ought to know-a senior member of the National Security Council of the Clinton administration by the name of Robert Bell. He is well-known, I think, to most of you here as a former congressional staff member, who now runs I believe the arms control and strategic forces portfolio at the NSC. He spoke to a Washington audience not far from this room on May 8th.
Mr. Bell said the following with respect to the question of 15 years' used, as has been noted in National Intelligence Estimates:
Quote, “Why 15 years? What the analyst did was to say Let's take a timeframe and look at it, and see what we think could occur between now and then.” And the question was what timeframe to pick, recognizing that it's ultimately an arbitrary decision. If you picked 10 years, you're not helping the policy or acquisition communities, because the life cycle for an acquisition program is on the order of 12 to 15 years.”
Now I am not entirely sure what to make of that but it seems to me a reasonable reading of it is that this estimate was tailored for the convenience of policy and/or acquisition people. Not necessarily to give the best, most realistic estimate of the actual threat.
This, in my view, argues powerfully for Congress to get a second opinion. This is a reasonably good practice in the medical world and I think even more so in terms of national security.
I mention in my prepared remarks precedent for this so-called Team B that was commissioned in the mid-seventies by then-Director of Central Intelligence Agency, George Bush, to examine independently what the then-Soviet Union was up to. I think the results were far more accurate, although more pessimistic than was the CIA estimate at the time. I am delighted that Congressman Spratt and his colleagues have included a direction to commission
such a second opinion in the Fiscal Year 1997 Defense authorization bill.
In the meantime, Mr. Chairman, I would like to call your attention to an informal and unofficial effort along a similar line that was sponsored by the Heritage Foundation. An updated version of this document has just been released and I would ask your permission, if I may, it is fairly short, to have it submitted in the record at an appropriate place as well.
Mr. EHRLICH. Without objection, so ordered.
Mr. GAFFNEY. I would like to make a couple of points. It looked hard
Mr. SPRATT. Mr. Chairman, why are we inserting it in the record? It is available in the booklet form. May I ask how much it will cost to reprint and put it in the record? I object. It is available. We can put it in our library. I see no reason to reprint it at a substantial cost to the Government.
Mr. EHRLICH. Objection is heard.
Mr. GAFFNEY. I certainly have no idea how much it would cost to reprint it.
Mr. EHRLICH. We will get an estimate.
Mr. SPRATT. It is a routine for the Congressional Record that a cost estimate be first obtained from the GPO sticking it in the record here. It is available there and I think it is unreasonable to reprint it at a cost to the Government.
Mr. EHRLICH. I understand, Mr. Spratt. You are not a member of the subcommittee. I am not sure if you have a standing to object to that.
Mr. SPRATT. Touché, I don't know but
Two, I would appreciate the opportunity to have Members have it available to them. We will make it available to all members of subcommittee.
Mr. GAFFNEY. In light of the possibility that it might not be made otherwise available to them, let me highlight three particular points that are raised in it, if I may quickly.
One is the judgment of the distinguished participants in this study, which include two of the former directors of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, Dr. Henry Cooper and Lieutenant General James Abrahamson, as well as other former senior military individuals, scientists, and other experts.
We found that, quote, “This optimistic view,” that is to say the Clinton administration's view, "of the threat is not consistent with the observable pace and nature of proliferation, the technical facts of missile development or the political instabilities of the former Soviet states and China."
We also go on--and this is perhaps the most important thing I would like to leave with you—to argue for an option that has only been addressed in passing here this morning. I, frankly, can't figure out why that is, in light of the technical and cost considerations that argue for a specific near-term approach to providing a missile defense for both our forces and allies overseas and for the American people. And that is to take advantage of the roughly $50 billion investment we have already made as a Nation in the Navy's fleet air defense system known as the AEGIS program. The esti
mates available to us from official sources and unofficial sources and recommended by this distinguished study group concluded that for approximately $2 to $3 billion that infrastructure that is in place today could be made a near-term and very effective theater as well as national missile defense system.
Approximately 22 cruisers could be rapidly modified, 650 of the existing missiles could be modified as well, and we would have as a result what you might call a layered defense system. By virtue of the fact that multiple ships are deployed-as they are typically on any given day on the world's oceans-might have an opportunity to take not only repeated shots themselves but also sequential shots along the flight trajectory of a ballistic missile.
This I believe is entirely consistent with the thrust of the Defend America Act of 1996, which as you know calls for a layered defense. It is one of the options alluded to in the bill, but I think it is so clearly the way to go. I would very strongly urge you and your colleagues not only to review the recommendations made here but to acquire independently information about this option.
To give you a concrete example of what it could mean: A few months ago the U.S.S. Bunker Hill—an AEGIS cruiser deployed off the coast of Taiwan-was in a position, if it had been equipped with a wide area defense capability, not only to prevent Chinese ballistic missiles from landing near or for that matter on Taiwan. It could also prevent China—had it acted upon its threat, which you alluded to, Mr. Chairman, in your opening comments, to attack Los Angeles—from doing so. This seems to me a far more attractive, far more flexible, far more quickly available and far more costeffective approach than the various ground-based options that we have heard discussed by Congressman Spratt and others here this morning.
Finally, let me just comment on the ABM Treaty, if I may, because that, frankly, is the only reason why the Navy's wide area defense would not be the obvious initial option of choice.
As has been noted here, a sea-based system is explicitly prohibited from providing territorial defense of the United States. I think I agree with some of what Congressman Weldon said and comments others have made here. The ABM Treaty has outlived whatever usefulness it once had. We can have a very interesting debate about how best to bring our present defensive capabilities into line with our requirements. In light of the continuing effective veto exercised on our defenses by the Russians, some suggest amending, some suggest unilateral withdrawal—which we have the right to do. I would simply suggest to you it is time now to recognize that the Nation needs a national missile defense capability and impediments to that must be removed as quickly as possible.
And if I may, Mr. Chairman, let me just make this final point. I have spent most of my professional career, 20 odd years now, in some capacity or another worrying about arms control-most of it with the former Soviet Union and its successors. I think I am in a position to speak to the question of traumatizing the United States-Russian relationship, therefore, with some authority.
I would argue to those who are sufficiently concerned about that possibility as to continue to deny this country the means of defending itself against a threat from any other quarter to think about the following proposition: It is hard for me to imagine a more severe and lasting trauma to the relationship between the United States and Russia than would be the case if Americans were killed by a ballistic missile supplied by Russia-or a ballistic missile fired by a Russian client state. Even if neither of those happens to pertain, what if the reason we had to give Americans as to why we did not have a defense against such an attack was that the Russians had effectively vetoed our ability to deploy missile defense? I believe that anyone who wishes to insulate ties between Washington and Moscow from undue stress has a powerful incentive to eliminate the fragile hold that the Kremlin, whether we like it or not, currently exercises over needed American programs.
Finally, just in passing, I would say, Mr. Chairman, in one of my capacities I serve as the coordinator of a coalition called the Coalition to Defend America. We have done a fair amount of opinion research as to what Americans know about our current vulnerability, and what they think about it. And I would like just very quickly to share that with you.
As a result of national opinion polling and five focus groups we have done around the country, including, interestingly enough, in Congressman's Spratt's backyard, we have I think fairly conclusively established that the vast majority of Americans have no idea that we are not currently defended against ballistic missile attack. Once more, when they discover it, the majority of them turn out to be pretty horrified that their government would, as a matter of policy, deliberately leave them vulnerable to such attack.
I think that creates a political requirement—as well as a moral and strategic requirement-for corrective action to be taken as quickly as possible. And I would just like to leave you with a closing thought. I believe it really is no longer a question of whether the United States will be defended against missile attack. I think it is now clear that we will have effective defenses against ballistic missiles, and I suggest to you that we will have a Navy sea-basedwide area defense as part of that.
The only question really—and it is a question I entreat you and your colleagues to address squarely-is: Will we have a missile defense in place before we need it? Or will we put it into place perhaps after some catastrophe has made clear that there is abundant need for having these sorts of defenses in the future?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your courtesy. Mr. EHRLICH. Thank you very much. [The prepared statement of Mr. Gaffney follows:)