Secret satellite resolved ... according to the WaPo

From: Jeffrey Lewis (
Date: Sat Dec 11 2004 - 09:32:06 EST

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    The /Washington Post’s/ Dan Priest reports that government officials 
    confirmed the classified “major funding acquisition program” to which 
    Senator Rockefeller objected was the next stealth reconnaissance 
    satellite in the MSTY program.
    A summary of the WaPo story is up on the blog:
    Over the past year or so, a couple of individuals holding clearances 
    have referred to a "classified piece of the puzzle" that complicates 
    efforts to share orbital data; I was reasonably certain that was the 
    MSTY program and pointed to the SeeSat list 
    ( as evidence that it 
    was only only secret in the administrative sense of the term.
    One interesting note: The Post reports that the cost of the satellite 
    ballooned from $5 billion (with a b) to $9.5 billion (still with a b).
    Jeffrey Lewis, Ph.D.
    Research Fellow
    Advanced Methods of Cooperative Security Program
    Center for International and Security Studies at the
    University of Maryland (CISSM)
    4113 Van Munching Hall
    College Park, MD 20742
    Tel: (301) 405-6187
    Fax: (301) 403-8107
    Jeffrey Lewis wrote:
    > Here, here.
    > I am convinced it was a reference to the Future Imagery Architecture 
    > (FIA).
    > The entire statement of both Senators--appended below--emphasizes the 
    > massive cost over-runs and questions about the award of the contract.
    > Were this a secret space weapons program, the response would have 
    > sounded very different.
    > People heard "dangerous' and flipped.
    > Jeffrey
    >Jeffrey Lewis, Ph.D.
    >Research Fellow
    >Advanced Methods of Cooperative Security Program
    >Center for International and Security Studies at the
    >University of Maryland (CISSM)
    >4113 Van Munching Hall
    >College Park, MD 20742
    >Tel: (301) 405-6187
    >Fax: (301) 403-8107
    > Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Madam President, I will spend a minute on separate 
    > intelligence-related matter before speaking about the bill currently 
    > before the Senate. In the time I have been vice chairman of the 
    > Intelligence Committee, I have worked hard to try to make sure that 
    > funds are channeled to where they ought to be in intelligence. For 
    > this reason, and with a great deal of reluctance, I am going to oppose 
    > the fiscal year 2005 intelligence authorization conference report, 
    > which the Senate will consider later today.
    > My decision to take this somewhat unprecedented action is based solely 
    > on my strenuous objection--shared by many in our committee--to a 
    > particular major funding acquisition program that I believe is totally 
    > unjustified and very wasteful and dangerous to national security.
    > Because of the highly classified nature of the programs contained in 
    > the national intelligence budget, I cannot talk about them on the 
    > floor. But the Senate has voted for the past 2 years to terminate the 
    > program of which I speak, only to be overruled in the appropriations 
    > conference. The intelligence authorization conference report that I 
    > expect to be before the Senate later today fully authorizes funding 
    > for this unjustified and stunningly expensive acquisition. I simply 
    > cannot overlook that.
    > My decision is shared by a number of my colleagues. Speaking for 
    > myself, if we are asked to fund this particular program next year, I 
    > will seriously consider and probably will ask the Senate to go into 
    > closed session so the Senators can understand, fully debate, become 
    > informed upon, and then vote on termination of this very wasteful 
    > acquisition program.
    > Mr. WYDEN. Madam President, I rise today to express my concern regarding
    >[Page: S11958]
    > a provision included in the Intelligence authorization conference 
    > report, which has been included in the intelligence reform legislation 
    > before us. I commend the efforts of both Chairman *ROBERTS *and Vice 
    > Chairman *ROCKEFELLER *for their hard work during the negotiations 
    > over this legislation. But I, like the vice chairman, do not support 
    > the continued funding of a major acquisition program which is 
    > unnecessary, ineffective, over budget, and too expensive. The easier 
    > path would be to step aside and let this program continue without 
    > dissent. In this case, however, I do not believe the continued funding 
    > of this program is the best way to secure our Nation and the safety of 
    > our troops and citizens.
    > The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has raised concerns about 
    > the need and costs of this program for the past 4 years and sought to 
    > cancel this program in each of the past 2 years. This has not been a 
    > political issue, a Democratic or Republican issue, nor should it be. 
    > The members of the Senate committee have supported these efforts in a 
    > nonpartisan way with unanimous votes each time.
    > The Senate Intelligence Committee has determined that this program 
    > should not be funded based on firm policy judgments. Numerous 
    > independent reviews have concluded that the program does not fulfill a 
    > major intelligence gap or shortfall, and the original justification 
    > for developing this technology has eroded in importance due to the 
    > changed practices and capabilities of our adversaries. There are a 
    > number of other programs in existence and in development whose 
    > capabilities can match those envisioned for this program at far less 
    > cost and technological risk. Like almost all other acquisition 
    > programs of its size, initial budget estimates have drastically 
    > underestimated the true costs of this acquisition and independent cost 
    > estimates have shown that this program will exceed its proposed 
    > budgets by enormous amounts of money. The Senate Intelligence 
    > Committee has also in the past expressed its concern about how this 
    > program was to be awarded to the prime contractor.
    > I understand why funding for this program was included in the 
    > conference report. The administration requested it, the appropriators 
    > have already funded it, and the House wanted to maintain the funding. 
    > Nevertheless, I believe this issue must be highlighted because it is 
    > not going away. I wish more of my colleagues knew of the details of 
    > this program and understood why we are so convinced that it should be 
    > canceled. I encourage you to request a briefing, to come to the 
    > Intelligence Committee and let our staff explain why we believe we are 
    > right about this program. If you do, I believe my colleagues would 
    > agree with the members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and vote 
    > to stop this program next year.
    > Bill Bard wrote:
    >>I wouldn't put much faith in their belief that it is some kind of weapons
    >>system. I think it is more speculation, although you can say that I am
    >>speculating on this too. On a classified shuttle mission, I remember John
    >>Pike and other "experts" saying that the shuttle would be deploying its
    >>payload a day or two after launch. While they were saying this, I saw the
    >>shuttle and its deployed satellite passing by about 6 hours after launch.
    >>Bill Bard
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