Skip to comments.Has Bush betrayed GOP values?
Posted on 12/10/2003 11:33:12 AM PST by Stew PadassoEdited on 05/07/2004 5:43:37 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]
"The majority of Repub-licans, at the urging of the president and GOP congres-sional leaders, voted for the $7 trillion prescription drug entitlement to become the nationís new welfare-state party, depriving the Democrat Party of its sole claim as champion of big government."
(Excerpt) Read more at thedesertsun.com ...
(Unfortunately, the U.S.A. is unable or unwilling to produce another leader such as Ronald Reagan.)
I thought there was more Gere meat around a hamster.
Yes, Yes, Yes!!!
"Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end..."
It was fun wasn't it? Fueled by hate, motivated by anger...that's what we were like for 8 long, long years, and that's what the democrats are experiencing now.
During the second Bush Administration, because of Bush compromises in the first administration, even when they anger and perplex us conservatives, I'm hopeful Washington politics returns to civility, with honest, decent politicians on both sides of the aisle. Democrats will lose all credibility if they continue to portray Bush as some kind of racist, idiot, madman, intent on enriching his oil friends. Their rhetoric is over the top already.
I think voters have already, and will continue to note the difference in the rhetoric of both sides. Conservatives are basically decent, even when they get strident. Democrats are not. That won't have a swaying impact on hardcore liberal activists, but it will on the majority of Americans who consider themselves liberal voters. I think President Bush is helping to make the Democratic Party obsolete, at least they'll never be the majority again.
President Bush, conservative talk radio, the internet, and the new conservative print media are winning the war of words. Losing a few battles along the way is part of the winning strategy.
Could be, but what the heck. I hope you live long enough to prove me wrong...or right.
And a total denial of Christian values or doctrines in favor of humanism and evolution.
You listed the highlights. Let's look at the low-lights, which no RAT would, nor could, outline: I would have to tell you that the President has in fact posed a serious obstacle to proper funding of the DOD.
When he came in, it was in absolute crisis, needing another $200 billion immediate infusion to replace broken and worn-out equipment, depleted reserve strength, exhausted armament inventory, R&D and build new aircraft, new ships, and to replace at least two of the 5 Army divisions that Clinton knifed. Cheney had campaigned on replacing those two divisions. Instead, the paltry $15 billion made over Clinton's veto was all that GWB relied on as 'a substantial increase.' Note, the cost of inflation for the DOD exceeded that $15 billion 'increase' by about $8 billion. And GWB was ignoring the extreme degree of dilapidation and depletion left him as a 'poison pill' by Bubba. Refusing to do the supplemental emergency appropriation that was clearly warranted in January...in June he proposed only a paltry $35 billion increase for the whole year...stiffing the obvious need for the $200 billion. No new divisions. No additional new ships. No additional new planes. Was basically only enough to pay for the paltry pay raises of the existing personnel. Hence the extraordinary need by Rumsfeld to do everything on the shoe-string basis, with fewer boots on the ground. Concretely this has negative results: Osama and Saddam got away. It allowed a lot of the Fedayeen to get away and 'melt into the landscape' to fight from ambush another day.
Meanwhile, Clinton-Gore had sold off one of the key US-owned supplies of oil & gas the US military needed....Teapot Dome to a known socialist-supporting front company: Armand Hammer. Now the military needs to BUY oil & gas on the open market. Adversely affecting training and readiness issues.
No reductions of the Clinton-holdovers in the staff.
Continued Clintonization of 'Technology Review' staffing. Ie., decimation of said staff and mission to keep the tech out of communist/enemy hands.
Perpetuation of the 'don't ask, don't tell' insanity, Perpetuation of the US army's 'Blue-Helmut' missions to 60 nations. No roll-back of the over-stretch whatsoever. Caved in, ignominously, and for expressly cavil political calculations, to the Marxist media movement to surrender our operational use of the naval live-fire training base at Vieques, Puerto Rico. The base's value is currently in excess of $15 billion if placed on U.S. mainland, and would not provide an equally effective training environment. And no replacement of the still missing two Army divisions, post 9-11!
The Navy is still declining...ordering fewer ships than we are retiring. No replacement for the retiring F-14 Tomcat, the only long-range naval interceptor capable of protecting the Fleet against the supersonic cruise missiles the RUssians are selling willy-nilly to our enemies.
And the ABM you are so pleased with, appears (at least based on publicly disclosed programs) to be underfunded, and mis-directed. He appears to only be deploying for real the Clinton ground-based defense in Alaska...which can only defend 1-degree of azimuth attacks on the USA. He has consistently scuttled actual go-aheads on deploying the Aegis SM-3 anti-missile system, despite its near-perfect intercept record. He has failed to deploy Brilliant Pebbles. He has failed to re-activate Safeguard (it's better than the nothing currently deployed). He has decommissioned the 100 Peacekeeper MX missiles. He has decommissioned 6 Trident missile submarines. He has decommissioned half of the B-1B bomber fleet, despite their proving to be the most flexible, utilitarian and powerful bomber, bar none in the Iraq war. And then he signed the Moscow Treaty, which was totally unecessary, locking us into forced reductions of our nuclear warhead count down to 1,700. Meanwhile, the provisions on the Russians are expressly non-enforceable.
Then we need to look at the rest of your civil issues with similarly appropriate caution:
Signed into law the No Child Left Behind legislation delivering the most dramatic education reforms in a generation (challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations)
Actually a regurgitation of the facile framing of the issue as made by Karl Rove ( I heard him at the Midwest GOP Leadership conference say the identical nonsense). In fact, it abets and accelerates the Teddy Kennedy program of creating, in effect, a National school board with a whole slew of Kennedy-edicts and mandates that the local schools have to abide by. No actual improvement in the schools. Makes the divestituture of the last remnants of 'local control' almost complete. Schools continue to erode as the 'PC' Marxists continue unchecked as they have long since co-opted the Dept. of Education. No actual reform at the Dept. of Education... or in this bill. Just more federalization. More mandates. Which means less education. Less innovation. Just paper shuffling. Standards continue to be compromised, i.e., watered-down, erased.
Reorganized the INS in an attempt to safeguard the borders and ports of America and to eliminate bureaucratic redundancies and lack of accountability.
More facile double-talk. These are Non-credible assertions. Actually, he Reduced the number of personnel available to patrol. Fought against congressional attempts to budget and increase border patrols. Consistently has ignored evidence that the border weakness has led to many Chinese and Arab infiltration across the borders. Fought against the rights of border patrol organizations to organize and operate to assist in detection and tracking of infiltrators...aiding and abetting the 'civil rights' attacks against these groups. Cut a not-so-secret deal with Vincente Fox to destroy the border, and give Mexico 'carte blanche' to dump their unwanteds on the U.S. And now RINO-Tom Ridge...a close personal buddy of GWB, is openly saying its time to legalize the illegals.
Signed trade promotion authority
As used, this has resulted in a lack of fair trade, undercutting hundreds of thousands of US jobs, while making virtually ZERO headway for US-manufactures sales abroad. Lost 2.7 million U.S. jobs, while simultaneously, U.S. firms increased hiring in China and India by over 3 million. 2+2=4 . This is a brazen and fraudulent wealth transfer program, from the U.S. to the 'Third World'. The US needs the jobs more. Let them get their own.
Committed US funds to purchase medicine for millions of men and women and children now suffering with AIDS in Africa
Actually, he committed $10 billion of OUR money to this 'noble' cause. While there are many lamentable innocents in the tragedy, the fact is that much of it is the result of 'bad actors' i.e., malefactors spreading it through willfulness. And the African governments turn a blind eye to their witch-doctor approach to the problem. And as if our money is the missing ingredient...as if the African countries...Muslim/Marxist racist anti-white apartheid cesspools, were without resources. They have the world's greatest proven reserves of all minerals and precious metals and diamonds, etc. I.e., They need a good kick in the butt, and toppling of their tyrannies. We are propping up those tyrannies instead. Not good. Especially since he was not elected by us to be a spendthrift with OUR money. Selected strong conservative judges
As a local radio personality would say, "We don't know that." One was clearly pro-abortion. We do know though, that he has failed to go to the mat for any of his Court of Appeals nominees that the RATs have brazenly blocked. He could have made recess appointments, or shut down the government spending machines, and held the RATs hostage. But he caved.
And Don't Forget. He also did a 180-degree flip-flop on the Campaign Finance Reform bill of John McCain, despite his previously clear and well-reasoned four main objections to what he later termed 'a good bill.' Now we have the spectacle of the same five 'justices' (Sp?) on the Supreme Court who defend abortion to the hilt (literally), with 300 pages defending the constitutionality of its provisions which clearly were unconstitutional prohibitions on free speech. We will see if the only end run available, the 'Free Press' can be used. Problem: The 'RATS' already own most of it.
Conclusion: A Mixed Bag. And not driven by individual necessary compromises on specific bills with an opposing party. But outright general policy abdication. Sorry, but that's the way it looks.
Didn't you read how that was dismissed earlier in the thread? We don't need all that TV and radio advertizing...we have bumper stickers and blogs![/soaking in sarcasm]
The next bit of anti-constitutional law that he will sign is the return of the fairness doctrine which will destroy conservative talk radio.
And when that happens we'll have the same group here telling us that we don't need talk radio anymore...we have instant messaging!
We've forgotten who we are, where we came from and what the prize was. Now it's party over principle and screw the constitution, just as long as we take an issue away from the dems.
"Bush Signs Campaign Finance Bill, Lawsuits Filed
By Jeff Johnson
CNSNews.com Congressional Bureau Chief
March 27, 2002
Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - President Bush signed into law the first significant changes to campaign finance rules since the 1970s Wednesday. But opponents of those revisions have already mounted their legal challenges to the new law.
"I believe that this legislation, although far from perfect, will improve the current financing system for Federal campaigns," Bush said in a statement.
The president cited three key components of the "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act" (BCRA) he says will improve the campaign finance system:
preventing unions and corporations from making unregulated "soft-money" contributions; raising the limits on individual contributions; and expanding contribution disclosure requirements and compelling speedier compliance with existing regulations.
"These provisions ... will result in an election finance system that encourages greater individual participation, and provides the public more accurate and timely information, than does the present system," Bush claimed.
But the president also took issue with other provisions of the legislation.
"I believe individual freedom to participate in elections should be expanded, not diminished," he said, "and when individual freedoms are restricted, questions arise under the First Amendment."
Specifically, Bush questioned limiting individual contributions to political parties in connection with federal elections and what he called "the broad ban on issue advertising."
"Taken as a whole, this bill improves the current system of financing for Federal campaigns, and therefore I have signed it into law," he said. "I expect that the courts will resolve these legitimate legal questions as appropriate under the law," Bush predicted.
The president would not have to wait long for that prediction to be proven accurate. The National Rifle Association was waiting when the federal court for the District of Columbia opened its doors Wednesday morning. "We have filed suit to invalidate this unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment rights of the NRA and our four million members nationwide," said Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, and James Jay Baker, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action in a joint statement.
"The authors of this law have delivered a clear and straightforward message not only to NRA but to all American citizens. That message is this, 'Keep your mouths shut. Stay out of our political debates. Be quiet,'" the statement continued.
"Our response is this: the First Amendment protects us from such directives from the government. The First Amendment does not allow Congress to make laws which deny us the right to speak out on issues, the right of our members to associate together on public policy issues and the right to petition our government for redress of grievances. That is what this lawsuit is about," they added.
The chief congressional opponent of BCRA, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), also filed suit in federal court to block the Federal Election Commission and the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing the new law.
"Today's filing is a first step in what is becoming an evolving omnibus constitutional attack spearheaded by Senator McConnell," said Judge Kenneth Starr, former U.S. Solicitor General, Whitewater Independent Counsel, and lead attorney for McConnell and six other plaintiffs.
Starr, working on behalf of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, is also representing Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), the National Right-to-Work Committee, Americans for Tax Reform, ProEnglish, and the 60 Plus Association.
A statement by the Foundation says McConnell's lawsuit raises a host of critical constitutional questions regarding the new campaign finance law, pointedly referring to it as legislation that creates "a new crime of incitement to political action."
The primary sponsors of BCRA, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), and Reps. Martin Meehan (D-Mass.) and Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), have announced their intention to intervene in the lawsuits to assist the Department of Justice, which is charged with defending it in court. Attorney Seth Waxman, also a former U.S. Solicitor General, will lead the members' legal efforts.
"We're confident the landmark campaign finance reform bill signed into law today by President Bush will stand up to any constitutional challenge in court," the four said in a joint statement.
But the NRA views the potential outcome much differently.
"The law imposes severe civil and criminal penalties on citizens who have the audacity to speak out on issues of concern," the group explained in its statement, "and we do not believe that the Constitution of the United States of America and the U.S. Supreme Court can possibly allow such a result."
Under a special provision of BCRA, the lawsuits will be considered under "expedited review," meaning challenges will be heard out of sequence from the normal court calendar because of the potential impact on plaintiffs.
Can I borrow your rose-colored glasses?
You've been reading - and believing - that DNC crap again.
Show me just one year in the last 20 (or more) when the Federal Debt was not larger than the previous year. Just one. Show me.
And what sort of planet is going to exist should we use up 2,200 of 50 MegaTon nuclear warheads in such a short period that we haven't built their replacements (we can freely replace those warheads that we use, per the Moscow Treaty)?
You want *more* Tridents at sea?! You want *more* boots on the ground?!
You need to read Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, for *overspending* on Defense is second only to underspending for killing super-powers, historically.
The F-14 is great, but manned fighters are fast-becoming anachronisms. Where we need pilots, remotely-piloted aircraft will be the wave of the future, and in other areas we will be well-served by unmanned, autonomous drones that can carry more ordinance and make more extreme manuevers due to not having the weight and vulnerabilities of a person on board. So why blow money on systems that we are already obsoleting?
Oh no, President Bush didn't spend more on today's technology than the most hawkish of Pentagon suppliers wanted! What will we ever do?!
Frankly, Bush and Rumsfeld are kicking ass. The old guard of the Pentagon is no doubt hating every moment of having modern adults in charge, no doubt, because that means that they have to change (something that they aren't accustomed to doing).
Our ABM system is going up even as we speak. Our armies are unstoppable. Our aircraft rule the skies. Our navy controls all of the world's oceans, bar none.
We don't need more ships. We don't need more army divisions (we aren't "stuck" in Iraq, we can pull our forces out for whatever other battles we need, and retake Iraq at our leisure, for instance). We don't need to waste money on fighter jets that will be little more than obsolete aerial weapons platforms in 5 years, either.
The key is that we are modernizing, and I fully expect to hear quite a bit of right-wing carping about it along the way.
But our performance is uncontestable, in every sense of the word.
When you become the majority party, you act like the majority party. Punish enemies, reward friends. It's what makes government go.
It does no good to "stand by one's principles" if the people aren't ready to endorse what you believe in. The Dems never had a problem with this; which is why they were in power for so long.
Be Seeing You,
I'm sorry, but the 'modernization' excuse is just that. And Kennedy's book is pathetic. The U.S. has NEVER spent enough on defense. As a percentage of GDP, even at the $400 billion level, after adjusting for inflation we are well under what we were down to during the mid 30's prior to being attacked at Pearl Harbor. And btw, we are NOT AN EMPIRE. So none of your prognostications about our falling due to excess military spending apply. And as for economizing, We always fight the next war with last year's or older, technology. That is the ONLY economical way. The next stage of technology being developed will then be in the NEXT war. So keeping the not-so-old, 'old stuff' in fighting trim is actually the only truly economical way to go, while continuing to do the R&D for future warfighting technologies, and deploying if appropriate.
As for Rummy kicking ass, well, I am waiting for it to result in actual improvements in airframes. The ABM is NOT going up that Reagan promised. We are being given a Clinton-designed bogus 'imitation' ABM. And he keeps stonewalling on giving the go-ahead for the seabased Aegis system which could be done for under $6 billion. And guess what, he is also turning a blind eye on a number of other golden opportunities to save the service money: i.e., he could at a stroke triple the services troop-airlift by picking up for a song the Boeing airliners sitting idle in the desert in California. Which would simultaneously rejuvenate the airline manufacturer and restore jobs to the country. Rummy, who I love like my favorite uncle, unfortunately caved to the Prez on the Moscow missile treaty. He bucked it a good while, but then got unequivocal orders to cease.
Your concerns about military over-spending are warped. Just maintaining our previous deterrent only cost $4 billion a year. The Dismantling that has been ordered will cost over $20 billion! And that $20 billion comes from the DOD budget! Money that could have gone to giving us real capability, not robbing us of what we already have. Granted, the treaty says 2,200, not 1,700...but GWB has ORDERED the reduction to 1,700...lamely hoping the Russkies will do likewise. They have already announced they are in no hurry at all. And in fact, they think their First Strike weapons, the SS-18s are just peachy, and will keep them for another 17 years.
As for why we need 2,200...in fact we really need 6,000 or more to be able to plausibly survive a number of first strike scenarios from the Russians and in combination with the Chinese Axis...or at the very minimun 3,500. A surviving fraction that could deliver a sufficiently devastating response to prevent these people from being tempted by thoughts of 'winning'. Donald Rumsfeld actually agreed with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on that number. So you and GWB are the ones out in left field. GWB has perpetuated the Clinton-ordered 'stand-down' non-alert posture that conceivably could catch us badly off guard. 'Looking-Glass' continues to languish.
More reason to seriously question the President's true seriousness about national security.
As for RPV's replacing the F-14, it is not going to happen. They are perhaps 15 years away. What you don't realize is that the F-14, in many ways is way ahead of the F-18 or the F-35 JSF for the mission of interception. And the future, hypothetical, RPVs will be limited to reconnaissance and air support. But as for interception...they are non-starters...they are not supersonic, nor are they immune from jamming or weather issues. And the lack of the visual information only a cockpit can give makes for a real loss of pilot situational awareness for combat. And as for ships, the Admirals have concurred that we have too few for the missions already committed. We need to deploy more than we are per year. We have a shortfall, based on all the commitments we have...if push comes to shove of 200 ships. We can't currently fight two wars let alone three simultaneously...Rummy's brave talk notwithstanding. We are fully occupied with Iraq. North Korea & Taiwan is a powder keg...and we are just bluffing. If it goes. Hence the talk of sizing the force to handle only one war at a time...tells you what is really happening. And Hence GWB's ignominous kow-towing to the PRC Chairman...doing effectively, his own version of the "Three-NOs." GWB's gambles with our security are gambles no honest conservative would take. Period.
Oh, btw, we are NOT increasing our RV warhead yields at all. We are not producing ANY nuclear warheads at all. In fact, we are going the other way. When Clinton 'modernized' the Minuteman-III he lowered its accuracy and shortened its range. We have a subtantial reduction in counterforce capability thanks to Clinton and now GWB retiring the MX missiles. We are researching...repeat...researching only bunker busters in the small sub-kiloton range. Nothing else. And the ABM going up is comrade Xlinton's design. I am so reassured. Not.
We are *rotating* troops out of Iraq, for crying out loud! If we were stretched thin we wouldn't be able to have the luxury of rotating seasoned troops out of combat.
Nor do we even have to maintain our present force levels in Iraq. We could pull most or all of our troops out of Iraq to smash Syria or Iran or even North Korea. Re-taking any lost territory in Iraq would be child's play for our military, once we finished whatever hot spots had flared up elsewhere.
So we don't need more troops.
We control the entire world's oceans, so we don't need more ships, either.
We also control the world's skies, and while the F-14 is great, it is still just an aerial platform for launching anti-aircraft and anti-ground ordinance. We've got lots of such aerial platforms, some of them rather stealthy (unlike the F-14), and others don't even have a pilot to worry about losing.
False. MMIII is significantly more accurate now--it has received the W87 and Peacekeeper guidance package.
We have a subtantial reduction in counterforce capability thanks to Clinton and now GWB retiring the MX missiles.
Yeah, because we actually agreed to a treaty that required it.
Of course, we have a supreme advantage in counterforce systems that we know will actually work...bombers. Nobody's live-fired an ICBMunder anything approaching combat conditions. Today's ICBM "test launches" in the US, Russia, and China are done after the missiles are extensively checked out by very scarce factory technicians, and only score about as well as space boosters that receive a similar level of prelaunch maintenance and checkout prior to flight (75%-80% reliability across all phases of flight). Combat reliability is extremely questionable, and is probably under 50%. (I would personally put it at about 40%, tops, for US missiles, and 25% for Russian and Chinese missiles.)
Meanwhile, the US bomber force has demonstrated a remarkable ability to deliver the goods over the years. Even against fully-alerted defenses with minimal (read: nearly nonexistent) Iron hand support (Operation Linebacker II), it took 100 SAMs to generate one hit against a B-52. And the performance of Russian and Chinese air defenses has been nothing to write home about, as Matthias Rust and the SIGINT folks who monitored the KAL 007 shootdown can attest.
I really believe that will be the Rubicon and if Bush crosses it'll be Deja Vu '92 with a Low IQ named "W".
Conservatives and constitutionalists will vote third party en masse.
||2 October 2000|
And you still fail to get it about the F-14. The Phoenix missile system which ONLY the F-14 can carry is the premier fire & forget missile for long-range high-speed intercepts. So your postulated 'alternates' don't wash. There is nothing else currently, nor on the drawing boards that can do the mission the F-14/Phoenix system currently does.
President Bush signed the workplace verification bill to prevent hiring of illegal Aliens
S. 1685, the Basic Pilot Extension Act of 2003, was signed by President Bush on December 3, 2003.
It extends for five years the workplace employment eligibility authorization pilot programs created in 1996. It expands the pilot programs from the original five states to all 50 states.
I've read it.
If the Phoenix could actually hit anything in combat, which it has not. Four rounds fired over Iraq during Southern Watch: zero hits. The Phoenix is a Falcon on steroids, and the Falcon was an unmitigated piece of crap.
A 100-mile range missile with a pK of 0.00 is worthless.
Care to offer information demonstrating these alleged realities?
False right back at you.
Los Angeles Times
August 9, 2001
Upgraded Missiles Found Less Accurate
Defense: The Minuteman IIIs, which carry nuclear warheads, have a shorter range too.
A $4.5-billion Air Force program to upgrade aging Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles has come under fire following tests showing the refurbished missiles are less accurate and have a shorter range than the ones they are replacing, according to interviews and internal Pentagon documents.
The test results come as the Bush administration is proposing to disarm all Peacekeeper MX ICBMs, which would leave the 1960s-vintage Minuteman III as the mainstay of the nation's land-based nuclear arsenal.
Hoping to extend the life of the Minuteman, the Pentagon last year quietly began installing new guidance and propulsion systems on 500 missiles currently housed in hardened silos in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.
But according to internal assessments obtained by The Times, the upgraded models either had "miss distances" that were "considerably larger" than their predecessors or had "reduction in range" during several tests last year.
The assessments concluded the tests "did not decisively demonstrate that the accuracy key performance parameters had been achieved."
Defense analysts said the problems are not severe enough to jeopardize the missile's overall effectiveness. But it could mean added costs for taxpayers, as the Pentagon reports suggest the shortcomings stemmed from the Air Force's decision to try to upgrade the missiles on the cheap, without a full-bore overhaul.
Air Force officials initially chalked up the problems to development jitters that could be corrected, but two follow-up tests in the last six months raised alarms within the Pentagon, according to one source familiar with the program. The most recent test in June showed once again that an upgraded missile was not as accurate.
"The Air Force now agrees there is a problem," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because some of the information is classified.
The test assessments were written by the Pentagon's Office for Test and Evaluation, which declined to comment on the results, saying the documents were classified.
The Air Force, which is running the program, also declined interviews but issued a statement Wednesday downplaying the test assessments. It said two test flights were conducted for the new propulsion system, one of which was prematurely terminated during flight after a booster failed to separate.
The separation problem was unrelated to the upgrade program, the statement said, adding that all test objectives for the new propulsion system "were successfully met in the two test flights."
The Air Force also said it completed six flight tests of missiles with the new guidance system.
"Test results to date indicate a small accuracy bias that does not affect the overall weapon system effectiveness," the statement said. "A software update is planned over the next year to correct the bias."
The costs of that software upgrade and the actual performance record of the upgraded missiles were not addressed in the statement. It also was not clear by how much the refurbished missiles missed their mark. The current Minuteman can hit a target within a 360-foot radius.
A spokeswoman for TRW Inc., the main contractor for the upgrade, also declined to comment about the tests, saying they were classified. She did say that "we're in the early stages of a flight test program" and described the problems as "routine."
"We're extremely confident that if you ask the Air Force, this program has their full support," said spokeswoman Janis Lamar.
But the source familiar with the program said the problems are more severe, and Air Force officials have begun reviewing other options that could be costly, including a more comprehensive upgrade or scrapping the upgrades altogether.
"This has happened enough times now that the Air Force is agreeing it needs to do something," the source said.
The $4.5-billion program was designed to make the 30-year-old Minuteman functional until 2020. The Pentagon already has spent $600 million upgrading computers in the control room where missile operators launch the missiles. Upgrading the propulsion system, which entails replacing the solid propellent in the rocket, is expected to cost $2.6 billion, while modernizing the guidance system is slated to cost $1.9 billion. About three dozen missiles have been upgraded so far under a program that is scheduled to last until 2008.
Defense analysts also said problems with the upgrades could hinder Bush's plan to dismantle the Peacekeeper MX ICBM program, which the president is seeking in hopes of appeasing Russia's concerns about his push to build a more robust national missile defense system.
"With the MX missiles being retired, the reliability and accuracy of the Minuteman will be all the more important," said Philip E. Coyle, a senior advisor for the Center for Defense Information, a Washington-based think tank, and a former Pentagon chief for test and evaluation.
According to sources and Pentagon documents, the upgrades appear to have been doomed from the beginning.
Citing costs, the Air Force insisted on retaining the Minuteman's old inertial measurement unit, the brains of the guidance system developed in the 1960s, while refurbishing only the electronics around it, such as the computer, signal converters and power units.
In replacing the propulsion system, the Air Force was confronted with having to use materials that are environmentally acceptable, while disregarding those that now are prohibited by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Pentagon report said "the requirement to use environmentally acceptable materials has increased Propulsion Replacement Program stage weights and slightly reduced the total propellant volume. These factors indicate a reduced overall range performance."
A Minuteman III has a range of about 6,000 miles, according to the Federation of American Scientists. It is unclear, however, how much of its range was diminished, because the information is classified.
Defense analysts, who were told of the test results Wednesday, said they were puzzled by the accuracy problems, because the requirements weren't that onerous. In fact, the Pentagon just wanted the upgraded Minuteman to have the same capabilities as its older model.
"How they would allow it to go uncorrected, I'm at a loss to understand," said John Pike, a defense policy analyst for GlobalSecurity.org, an Alexandria, Va.-based think thank. "It's particularly puzzling, since Minuteman III has been around so long and what they're trying to do doesn't involve path- breaking technology."
Moreover, the companies making the upgrades also helped develop the more modern guidance system on the Peacekeeper MX, a long-range missile capable of carrying 10 warheads in its nose. "With the fact that [the Minuteman] has been continuously modernized and maintained and overhauled, it certainly led me to believe that the latest upgrade was a low-risk undertaking and not the sort of thing that would have a shortfall in performance," Pike said.
The Minuteman and Peacekeeper missiles represent the land-based leg of a nuclear triad that includes the Air Force's B-52 and B-2 bombers and the Navy's Trident nuclear submarines. Bush has proposed eliminating all 50 Peacekeeper missiles.
How the test shortfalls will play out politically is unclear, because the U.S. has been looking to reduce its stockpile of nuclear weapons with the collapse of the Soviet Union and Cold War tensions.
Under a 1994 U.S.-Russian pact, the two nations no longer aim their long-range nuclear missiles at each other. The missiles are set on a trajectory that ends in the ocean, although pre-programmed wartime targets are stored in the missile's computer and can be switched on within 10 seconds.
Two Air Force officers sealed in a fortified capsule 100 feet below ground operate the control room where, with the turn of their keys in unison, they can start the sequence to launch a Minuteman III missile. The missiles each hold three nuclear warheads capable of wiping out several major cities.