Limited support

I was personally offended by Jim Becofske’s letter of March 20. In the letter, he implies that there is some correlation between holding so-called liberal beliefs and taking drugs. He also equates liberalism with being closed-minded. In my experience, those who are unable to defend their positions with facts are forced to resort to name-calling and character defamation.

You’re right though, Mr. Becofske. Some scientists do support the Star Wars program. But I’m not sure I trust their motives. Consider the following statement by Hugh DeWitt, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. In September, 1985, Mr. DeWitt said, “I think that the great majority of the lab’s technical people view the president’s speech as somewhat off the wall and the programs being proposed as being, in the end, intrinsically rather foolish. But obviously, the lab is benefiting right now and will continue to benefit, and everyone’s rather happy with the marvelous new work.”

But what are the rest of the scientists saying about Star Wars? As of May 1986, 57 percent of the faculty in the nation’s top 20 physics departments had signed a pledge not to solicit or accept any funding related to Star Wars research. This petition, also signed by 13 Nobel Prize winners, calls the Star Wars program “deeply misguided and dangerous.” In fact, the U.S. government’s own Office of Technology Assessment, in an April 1984 report on the feasibility of Star Wars, stated, “the prospect that emerging ‘Star Wars’ technologies, when further developed, will provide a perfect or near-perfect defense system … is so remote that it should not serve as the basis of public expectation or national policy about ballistic missile defense.”

So you see, Mr. Becofske, those of us who oppose Star Wars are in very good company. We have no need to rely on empty-minded slander to back up our opinions. Can you say the same for yourself?

Elizabeth Johnson

research associate, center for gov. stud.