Expert panel denies threat of missiles was suppressed 'Star wars' backers said its report was twisted


WASHINGTON -- An independent panel of experts yesterday rebutted Republican charges that the nation's intelligence agencies deliberately played down the nuclear threat to the United States.

The panel said a 1995 intelligence study -- which concluded that dTC no hostile nation capable of building a nuclear weapon would pose a nuclear threat to the continental United States in the next 15 years -- was not politically skewed in order to subvert efforts to build a "star wars" missile defense system now.

The charge that the nation's intelligence services tailored the report to please the Clinton administration, which wants to study missile defenses more closely before building them, infuriated senior intelligence analysts.

It also inflamed supporters of the "star wars" system, which was conceived during the Reagan administration as a complex network of missiles designed to shoot down enemy warheads in flight. "The panel found no evidence of politicization," testified Robert M. Gates, who served as director of central intelligence under President George Bush.

"There was no breach of the integrity of the intelligence process. Beyond this, the panel believes that unsubstantiated allegations challenging the integrity of intelligence community analysts by those who simply disagree with their conclusions, including members of Congress, are irresponsible," Gates said.

Pub Date: 12/05/96

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