- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 7, 2000

The Clinton administration and congressional Democrats slashed funds and curtailed programs, causing the current problems with U.S. defenses against missile attack, according to a report by the chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee on proliferation.
"If it were not for the actions and decision made by the Clinton administration … we would have had in place today a system that would have protected the United States from a limited ballistic missile attack," Sen. Thad Cochran, Mississippi Republican and the subcommittee chairman, told reporters in releasing the findings.
"The facts clearly show [the Clinton administration] dragging its feet, not moving aggressively to develop and deploy a ballistic missile defense system," he said.
The senator said Mr. Clinton "misjudged the nature of the threat" and "did not have confidence the scientific community … could come up with usable solutions" to problems of hitting high-speed targets in space.
The 93-page report, "Stubborn Things: A Decade of Facts About Ballistic Missile Defense," is a chronology beginning in 1991 of federal funding of programs for missile defense systems those capable of shooting down missiles or warheads before they hit targets.
It shows that the administration cut funding for national missile defense in its fiscal 1994 budget by 60 percent a reduction of $1.8 billion from earlier Pentagon proposed budgets.
The president also ordered cuts of $2.5 billion in overall spending on missile defenses beginning in February 1993.
Other actions that hampered development include the administration's refusal for several years to recognize growing missile threats, its reliance on reaching agreements rather than building defensive systems, and its opposition to Republican missile defense initiatives.
"The report contains a compilation of key facts on missile defense since 1991," Mr. Cochran said during a speech yesterday. "I believe it will remind us that actions have consequences."
In a sign of its lack of support for national missile defense, the administration in February 1999 put off by two years the deployment of two infrared satellite systems to monitor foreign missile launches.
It also imposed minimal sanctions on China and Pakistan following Beijing's sale of M-11 missiles, which violated U.S. antiproliferation law.
The administration proposed in 1996 to build a national missile defense system in six years that would be ready for deployment in 2003. That date was later extended to 2005, and on Friday President Clinton said the earliest a system could be deployed is 2006 or 2007.
Mr. Clinton said he would not order deployment because of developmental problems and opposition from foreign governments, mainly Russia.
"The decision to delay deployment of NMD is the latest in a long trail of bad decisions by the Clinton administration on ballistic missile defense," Mr. Cochran said at a conference of defense analysts.
Mr. Cochran said later at the news conference in the Capitol that despite the president's claims to the contrary, Russia was given a veto over U.S. missile defense deployment.
The report provides a detailed analysis of Democratic opposition to funding and developing missile defense, both against short-range and long-range attack.
For example, between fiscal 1991 and 1995, the Democratic-controlled Congress cut annual funding for national missile defense by 15 percent to 64 percent of Pentagon requests.
The cuts for national missile defense peaked in fiscal 1995, when the Clinton administration requested $226 million, a cut of $3.9 billion from the Bush administration program.
After Republicans took control of Congress, spending on national missile defense increased every year, from 101 percent to 14 percent of administration budget requests.
John Godfrey contributed to this report.

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