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On March 23, 1983 in a televised address to the nation, U.S. President Ronald Reagan announced his intention to embark upon groundbreaking research into a national defense system that could make nuclear weapons obsolete. The research took a number of forms which collectively were called the Strategic Defense Initiative, or SDI.
The CIA’s database tells two parallel stories: Searching for “Star Wars” shows the very public PR battles over the program, including debates about its price and efficacy, while searching for “Strategic Defense Initiative” shows the less public, but no less delicate, internal battles around how the program was perceived among agency heads and foreign nations.
One of the books they liked? Alun Chalfont’s Star Wars: Suicide or Survival? Agency personnel recommended Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey write the author a congratulatory note:
The CIA also had a clipping from New York magazine’s "Intelligencer" column, claiming that the CIA had deliberately slowed the pre-publication release of one book, while the Pentagon simultaneously rushed the release of a report that undermined the impact of the book’s claims.
In fact, three different former directors of the CIA weighed in at various points on the program, often providing a minor “course correction” to public expectations about the utility of the missile defense system.
Privately, discussion was more nuanced. Casey, for example, had concerns that the program was putting the cart before the horse, and not sufficiently factoring in what the Soviets would actually think of the deterrence program.
Other reports detail Chinese concerns with the program as well as feedback from the European allies (mostly supportive, as long as they could reap some of the benefits).
Inside the CIA’s declassified vaults is actually mention of another program called Star Wars, and one that seemed to even more summon the destructive power of its Hollywood inspiration.
A document entitled “Star Wars Now” (linked above), details research that scientists hope would allow them to jam enemy communications while disguising the source of the interference (researchers said that it would look like the threat was coming from inside enemy lines).
Ultimately, however, they hoped that they could leverage the Aharonov-Bohm effect to unleash nuclear bomb-level forces, projected from a distant transmitter.
originally posted by: eisegesis
Part of me thinks that the information was designed as propaganda ...
Though the strategic missile defense concept has continued to the present under the Missile Defense Agency, most of the directed-energy weapon concepts were shelved. However, Boeing has been somewhat successful with the Boeing YAL-1 and Boeing NC-135, the first of which destroyed two missiles in February 2010. Funding has been cut to both of the programs.