Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/20/2001 03:41 PM MLV

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SJR 9 - NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM                                                                                       
Number 0086                                                                                                                     
CHAIR CHENAULT announced  that the first order  of business would                                                               
be SENATE  JOINT RESOLUTION  NO. 9,  Relating to  the development                                                               
and deployment of the National Missile Defense System.                                                                          
Number 0146                                                                                                                     
SENATOR   LOREN  LEMAN,   Alaska   State  Legislature,   sponsor,                                                               
explained  that  SJR 9  speaks  to  an  issue addressed  in  past                                                               
legislatures:   an interest in  national missile defense.   While                                                               
the United States reigns supreme  as the last great "superpower,"                                                               
there is  no means  to protect the  entire nation  from ballistic                                                               
missile attack.  The threat, however, is real.                                                                                  
SENATOR LEMAN noted  that last month, before  President Bush took                                                               
office,  the  U.S.  Department  of Defense  issued  a  report  [a                                                               
portion  of  which  is  in  the  packet]  titled  "Proliferation:                                                               
Threat  and  Response."    That  report  analyzes  the  country's                                                               
growing threat  from foreign nations that  are developing missile                                                               
technology.   In the  report, Senator  Leman pointed  out, former                                                               
Secretary of  Defense William  Cohen says  at least  25 countries                                                               
now possess -  or are in the process of  acquiring and developing                                                               
-  capabilities  to  inflict  mass  casualties  and  destruction:                                                               
nuclear,  biological,  and  chemical  weapons  or  the  means  to                                                               
deliver  them.    Senator  Leman noted  that  the  foregoing  was                                                               
reiterated by  Lieutenant General  Norton Schwartz when  he spoke                                                               
to "us" a few weeks ago.                                                                                                        
SENATOR LEMAN  advised members that  in response to  this growing                                                               
threat, the United States has  been developing a National Missile                                                               
Defense System; it  is not operational, however,  the decision on                                                               
how to proceed  having been deferred to President  Bush by former                                                               
President Clinton.                                                                                                              
SENATOR  LEMAN  noted  that  Alaska  has  been  identified  as  a                                                               
preferred alternative for the location  of key system components,                                                               
including a  forward radar site  at Shemya and perhaps  a ground-                                                               
based interceptor site,  most likely at Fort Greely.   The design                                                               
of the entire system isn't final;  North Dakota may figure in the                                                               
mix,  and there  may  be mobile  installations  on submarines  or                                                               
ships,  for example.   Although  there are  unanswered questions,                                                               
there  is broad  political  support for  developing the  National                                                               
Missile Defense System.                                                                                                         
Number 0388                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  LEMAN  reported  that   President  Bush's  stated  plans                                                               
include   planning   to   develop  and   build   this;   Alaska's                                                               
congressional  delegation  support   this,  and  packets  contain                                                               
letters of support from U.S. Senators Murkowski and Stevens.                                                                    
SENATOR LEMAN said normally people  from the [U.S.] Department of                                                               
Defense  would   testify  in  support,  but   the  department  is                                                               
reviewing  this  and  doesn't  want  to  get  caught  up  in  the                                                               
politics.  In order to do  the analysis fairly, he said, "they've                                                               
been  asked  not  to  participate today."    Senator  Leman  told                                                               
members he believes  the resolution is worded such that  it is in                                                               
the national  interest as  well as  the interest  of Alaska.   He                                                               
urged members' support.                                                                                                         
Number 0478                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI  pointed out that  page 1, line  10, the                                                               
third  "whereas" clause,  has the  only reference  to a  National                                                               
Missile Defense  Program, rather than a  National Missile Defense                                                               
System.  She asked about the difference.                                                                                        
Number 0588                                                                                                                     
PAUL  ROETMAN,  Staff  to  Senator   Loren  Leman,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, explained  that the "program" refers  to the overall                                                               
umbrella  organizations that  are initiating  the development  of                                                               
not  only  a  missile  defense  system,  but  other  technologies                                                               
including theater missile defense and sea-based defense.                                                                        
Number 0666                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  LEMAN,  in  response to  a  question  by  Representative                                                               
Murkowski,  affirmed  that there  was  a  similar resolution  the                                                               
previous session.   This  [SJR 9], however,  has been  tailored a                                                               
little  differently   at  the  request  of   the  [congressional]                                                               
delegation, in  the interests of  working with the  new President                                                               
and the Department of Defense.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  MURKOWSKI  recalled  little, if  any,  opposition                                                               
[the  previous session].   She  also recalled  discussion on  the                                                               
House  floor  about developing  and  deploying  this as  soon  as                                                               
technologically  feasible,  however,  as well  as  Representative                                                               
Davies'  questions about  the  technological  feasibility at  the                                                               
time.   Representative Murkowski suggested  it is timely  to move                                                               
something like this through.                                                                                                    
Number 0752                                                                                                                     
SENATOR LEMAN  noted that there  was no opposition in  the Senate                                                               
[to  SJR  9].    Brought  to his  attention  that  very  day,  he                                                               
reported, was that part of  this system may include a fiber-optic                                                               
cable or  cables that  would run  from approximately  Whittier to                                                               
Shemya, at  the end of the  Aleutians.  If that  ever became part                                                               
of the  overall project,  it would, in  itself, be  an incredible                                                               
investment.  Senator Leman surmised  that there might be elements                                                               
which   could  be   tied  in   with  the   civilian  systems   of                                                               
communication; that would have tremendous impacts on Alaska.                                                                    
SENATOR  LEMAN  concluded by  saying  Alaska  rightfully was  the                                                               
first  to step  up,  as a  state, and  express  support for  this                                                               
system.  He  suggested it is appropriate,  therefore, to indicate                                                               
that  support.    Even  if  a part  of  the  system  is  invested                                                               
elsewhere, Alaska  and the rest of  the United States need  to be                                                               
fully protected.                                                                                                                
Number 0918                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  CHENAULT asked  whether there  was  any public  testimony;                                                               
none was offered.                                                                                                               
Number 0930                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GREEN  made  a  motion  to  move  SJR  9  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the zero  fiscal                                                               
note.  There  being no objection, SJR 9 was  moved from the House                                                               
Special Committee on Military and Veterans' Affairs.                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects