Fake 'Star Wars' Test Misled Congress, Newspaper Reports
Aug. 18, 1993
NEW YORK (AP) _ A ''Star Wars'' test was rigged in 1984 to mislead the Kremlin, but Congress got fooled as well, The New York Times reported today.
The faked data made its way into closed briefings that helped persuade Congress to keep the money coming for the Strategic Defense Initiative, the newspaper said, citing unidentified intelligence and military officials.
''It wasn't designed to deceive Congress,'' one military officer said. ''It was used improperly.''
The deception was originally meant to trick the Soviets into wasting a fortune trying to counter the U.S. effort to build a space-based shield against nuclear weapons, four former Reagan administration officials told the Times.
Scientists had failed in three attempts to hit a target missile with an interceptor missile. So for the fourth attempt in June 1984, they rigged both missiles to help ensure a hit, the Times reported.
''We would lose hundreds of millions of dollars in Congress if we didn't perform it successfully. It would be a catastrophe,'' one scientist said.
''We put a beacon with a certain frequency on the target vehicle. On the interceptor, we had a receiver,'' making it easy for the missile to home in on the target, the scientist said.
''The hit looked beautiful,'' the scientist said, ''so Congress didn't ask questions.''
The former officials said the deception program was approved by Caspar Weinberger, defense secretary from 1981 to 1987.
Weinberger refused to confirm or deny that he had approved the program. But he said Congress was not deceived, and that deceiving the enemy is necessary.
''You're always trying to practice deception,'' he was quoted as saying. ''You are obviously trying to mislead your opponents and to make sure they don't know the actual facts.''