An open letter to Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD)

By Bruce Gagnon

May 30, 2001

Sen. Tom Daschle
U.S. Senate
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 NMD."

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 weapon.

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 questions.

I look forward to your reply and  will be happy to share your thoughts with our membership to clarify any misunderstandings that there might be.

In peace,

Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space

(See also: Letter from Daschle and The Democrats and Star Wars)

Home Page