May 30, 2001
Sen. Tom Daschle
Washington DC 20510
Dear Sen. Daschle:
I am writing out of confusion over your position on weapons in space.
Recently I've seen a series of comments by you in the print news stating
that you and the Democratic Party are in favor of National Missile
Defense (NMD) but want to hold off deployment until the system can be
shown to work. Just last May 27 on NBC-TV I saw you say the same thing
again. You also said that you wanted to continue with research and
development for missile defense as well.
Today I received a copy of a letter that you wrote to one of your
constituents in South Dakota dated May 11. In the first line you
say, "I appreciate your email, and it is good to know your views on
In the next paragraph you begin by saying, "I oppose the deployment
of space-based weapons systems, which the U.S. successfully made illegal
under international law in the 1960s."
Of course we both know that NMD and TMD are not space-based weapons.
They are to be land-based, sea-based, air-based but they are not
space-based weapons. So while you appear to being saying you are
opposed to NMD you really do not say that.
The space-based laser or the kinetic energy anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon
would be space-based weapons. Are these what you are opposed to?
Since NMD is not space-based do you really support it (once proven to be
technologically feasible) as you said on May 27 on NBC?
These are important questions that must have clear answers. I can
assure you that I have already shared your conflicting statements of May
11 and May 27 with our global membership as everyone is very interested
in how a Democratic controlled Senate will proceed on this issue.
I think it is important to say that our organization opposes any
research, development, or deployment of NMD, TMD, and any space-based
If we are to prevent an arms race in space then we must not be spending
precious billions of our tax dollars on preparing for war in
space. Better this money be used for education, health care, child
care, environmental clean-up and the like.
I'm afraid the Democratic Party does not have a good track record on
this issue. In April 1999 the Democrats joined the Republicans to
pass legislation to deploy BMD "as soon as technologically
feasible." In the House the vote was 345-71 and in the Senate
the vote was 97-3 (with you voting with the majority).
When Bill Clinton first became president he killed Ronald Reagan's SDIO
but then transferred the $3.5 billion R & D budget into a newly
created BMDO and carried on the same basic Star Wars development work.
Under the Democratic Clinton administration, the U.S., both in 1999 and
2000, abstained on resolutions at the UN -- advanced because of U.S.
space warfare plans -- to reaffirm the Outer Space Treaty and,
specifically, its provision that space be set aside for "peaceful
purposes." Will Senate Democrats now insist the U.S. not
abstain, indeed vote with the rest of the world in support of such a
resolution at the UN?
Under the Democratic Clinton administration, the U.S. in December 2000
gave the go-ahead for development of the space-based laser at the NASA's
Stennis Missile Test Center in Mississippi. Will Senate Democrats
now insist this $20-$30 billion program be dropped?
These are some of the questions that must be answered before anyone even
begins to think the leadership of the Democratic Party has a markedly
different position than the Republican Party on Star Wars. As I
said before, people are extremely interested in your response to these
I look forward to your reply and will be happy to share your
thoughts with our membership to clarify any misunderstandings that there
Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
(See also: Letter
from Daschle and The Democrats and Star Wars)