Report on Missile Threat to U.S. Too Optimistic, Woolsey Charges

By Gertz, Bill | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 15, 1996 | Go to article overview

Report on Missile Threat to U.S. Too Optimistic, Woolsey Charges


Gertz, Bill, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey told Congress yesterday that a recent intelligence estimate on the missile threat to the United States was flawed and should not be used as a basis for defense policies.

Appearing before the House National Security Committee, Mr. Woolsey challenged the conclusions of a recent national intelligence estimate (NIE) that said no long-range missiles will threaten the 48 contiguous United States for at least 15 years.

Limiting the estimate's focus on the missile threat to the 48 states "can lead to a badly distorted and minimized perception of very serious threats we face from ballistic missiles now and in the very near future - threats to our friends, our allies, our overseas bases and military forces - and some of the 50 states," he said.

Broad conclusions drawn by policy-makers from the estimate could be "quite wrong," he said, noting that North Korean intermediate-range missiles could threaten Alaska and Hawaii with "nuclear blackmail" in "well under 15 years."

To make policy judgments on missile defense needs from the limited analysis is "akin to saying that, because we believe that for the next number of years local criminals will not be able to blow up police headquarters in the District of Columbia, there is no serious threat to the safety and security of our police," Mr. Woolsey said.

The estimate, based on public testimony and statements about it, also is flawed because it underestimates the danger of long-range missiles or technology being acquired internationally by rogue states, or the possibility that friendly states with missiles could turn hostile, he said.

A CIA spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Woolsey called for setting up a special team of outside experts to explore how to develop ballistic missiles. …

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