POST-COLD WAR

1998

Rumsfeld Commission Report on Missile Threat

Text of the report of the Congressionally mandated Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, also called the Rumsfeld Commision after its chair Donald H. Rumsfeld, is available at: http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/bm-threat.htm.

Garwin, Richard L. "Keeping Enemy Missiles at Bay." New York Times, 28 Jul. 1998. [http://www.nytimes.com]

A Rumsfeld Commission member expresses concern "that some have interpreted our findings as providing support for a new national missile defense system.... [T]here is no reason that the national missile defense advocated by some in Congress should be built now. No defensive system under consideration can neutralize the[] threats [identified in the Commission's report]. The defense that is now being developed would not even detect, let alone counter, ship-launched short-range missiles. Nor could the proposed defense work against ICBM's that employ simple countermeasures."

Macartney, John. "'B Team' Report Challenges CIA Assessment of Missile Threat." AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes 28 (27 Jul. 1998). [www.his.com/afio]

"On July 15, a Congressionally mandated commission .. issued a report that said, in effect, that the ballistic missile threat to the continental US was greater [than] that contained in a controversial 1995 NIE that said the threat was still 10-20 years away as well as a March 1998 NIE update that says [there is] no threat until at least the year 2010.... The US Intelligence Community's 1995 NIE ... was used to justify the President's veto of a provision in the FY1996 Defense Authorization legislation calling for NMD [National Missile Defense] deployment -- which outraged the GOP and brought charges of 'politicization of intelligence.' Robert Gates, former DCI, was asked to investigate and he subsequently issued a report that said that while the NIE's conclusions were questionable in his view, there was no evidence of politicization. Congress also established the 'Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States' in what amounts to a B Team approach of 'competitive analysis.'"

Pincus, Walter. "Buried Missile Labs Foil U.S. Satellites: N. Korea, Iran Among 'Intelligence Gaps.'" Washington Post, 29 Jul. 1998, A1.

According to members of a congressionally appointed, bipartisan commission, "North Korea, Iran and other countries are concealing their ballistic missile programs from U.S. spy satellites by using enormous underground laboratories and factories to build and test the weapons.... The elaborate underground construction is one factor contributing to what the ... panel described as the 'erosion' of U.S. intelligence agencies' ability to monitor weapons proliferation. The panel's unanimous report July 15 criticized U.S. 'intelligence gaps,' concluding that 'the technical means of collection now employed will not meet emerging requirements.'"

Pincus, Walter. "Rumsfeld: Intelligence 'Need to Know' Smacks of Not to Know." Washington Post, 5 May 1999, A29. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other members of a commission weighing new missile threats saw something that seemed strange as they got briefed recently at CIA headquarters in Langley. According to a participant in the meeting, intelligence analysts constantly got up to leave the room when certain questions arose outside their specialty. The reason: The answers included highly classified material that the analysts were not cleared to hear.... For Rumsfeld, that briefing illustrated the little publicized but serious problem that compartmentalization has created in the government. Highly sensitive intelligence is so compartmentalized, Rumsfeld said during a recent interview, that wrong information is sometimes being given to policymakers because analysts do not have access to correct secret data. The situation so concerned Rumsfeld that he included it as a major issue in a classified report sent in March to Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet."

Pollin, John M. "The Rumsfield Commission Report Has Legs." U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Nov. 1999, 71-74.

In retrospect, the impact of the Rumsfeld Commission "upon the intelligence communities, leaders in both major political parties, and the ballistic missile defense community has been profound. It argues for nothing less than a re-evaluation of intelligence collection and analysis methods by America's intelligence community as a whole."

Ryan, Maria. "Filling in the 'Unknowns': Hypothesis-Based Intelligence and the Rumsfeld Commission." Intelligence and National Security 21, no. 2 (Apr. 2006): 286-315.

"The now discredited intelligence on Iraq was not a 'failure' or 'mistake', but a method tried and tested by the right, of challenging the CIA on political grounds." The 1976 "Team B" exercise used the methodology, as did the 1998 Rumsfeld Commission on the ballistic missile threat.

Return to 1990s Table of Contents