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What is the office of Technology Assessment(OTA)?  It was the Congressional oversight agency founded in 1972 and signed into law by Nixon responsible for evaluating federal government science and technology programs and providing Congress with an independent science assessment on pending legislation. Much like the Government Accountability Office, OTA was a valuable tool for Congress and played a crucial role in helping Congress to develop the legislation banning CFCs. When Reagan came out with his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), the infamous 'Star Wars' program, the OTA conducted and published a study by physicist Ashton Carter which showed that SDI's goal of missile defense was unachievable and untenable.  Carter maintained that the program would be a massive waste of government spending and would more likely heat up the arms race. Please read beneath the fold for more information.

In 1995, Newt Gingrich and Congressional Republicans killed this agency which was extremely unpopular in the corporate industrial and military sectors.  The claim at the time was that the agency was "too partisan" and was not practicing "sound science", the catch phrases of the Republican Right.  Since then, Republicans have enacted legislation to weaken federal agencies science review and policymaking.  The EPA, CDC, and Endangered Species Act are perfect examples. For more information try reading The Republican War on Science or you can go to this Wiki link Given the Bush administration politicization of government science, now is the crucial time for Congress to restore this agency and give Congress an independent view of science and technology rather than depending on industry scientists for science advice. We have all seen where that leads. The OTA will be a valuable tool for Congress to cut waste and fraud from the federal government and restore science integrity to federal agencies. The GAO does not have the capabilities to do independent science review. So I am calling on Kossacks to contact Henry Waxman the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to enact legislation restoring OTA. Also contact your local Representative and Senators to tell them you want OTA restored.  Here are the links for House of Rep and Senate site:

Correction: The poll question is about the Office of Technology Assessment. Sorry, my fingers aren't very nimble at times and I accidently erase part of what I write.

Originally posted to NellaSelim on Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 10:47 AM PST.


Do you think the Office of Technology should be restored to Congress?

93%62 votes
3%2 votes
3%2 votes

| 66 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Perhaps Republicans can be appeased... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weltshmertz, NellaSelim promising that at least one new OTA report will focus on witch-hunting?

    Wait - maybe that wouldn't work...

    It's gonna be a long walk home.

    by Minerva on Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 10:54:02 AM PST

  •  Yes, we need more oversight in/of Washington. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Restore OTA, but... (0+ / 0-)

    We now know for a fact that they were totally wrong on missile defense and SDI.  The goal of a reliable ABM has been achieved long since; they do now regularly 'hit a bullet with a bullet' in tests of the deployed architecture in Greeley, AK, so all of the bullshit that "its unworkable" is now proven to be just historical nonsense.  Since America's deployment of working SDI hardware and rejection of the genocidal ABM Treaty has not in any way 'heated up the arms race', or had any other significant negative impacts, the other arguments against missile defense havent held water, either.

    This does not imply that we need to defend Europe against Iran with installations in Poland and the Czech Republic (let them fend for themselves), but there is no longer any reason why the United States need be vulnerable to any foreign missiles, under any circumstances.

    There is nothing progressive to 'Mutually Assured Destruction' - the doctrine which opposes strategic missile defense. It is a genocidal philosophy of [truly] 'madmen'...

    "Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is No Vice; Moderation, in the Pursuit of Justice is No Virtue." - AuH2O

    by Press to Digitate on Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 11:05:32 AM PST

    •  That is in fact incorrect and misleading... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      because recent missile test have been conducted on only known trajectories.  It a simple matter of targeting a missile travelling on a known trajectory.  There has to date been no test of system on unknown trajectories.  Also, the missile defense only involves missile to missile, the laser technology has not yet been validated.  They have made improvements.  But its has been over 25 years since start of SDI.  The military has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on this program with little to show for it.

      •  But no ABM 'Countermeasures' have ever worked. (0+ / 0-)

        The notion that you can defeat a missile defense with "decoys" or other countermeasures is a scam, by those who want us to be vulnerable to foreign attack, because there is no - I repeat, NO - evidence that any such tricks can actually work against modern interceptor technology. No such decoy has ever been effectively deployed by a missile/warhead against an interceptor, period, and the payload cost is such that no such countermeasures will ever be deployed on any operational weapons system.

        Meanwhile, though ABMs have now been made to work, and will continue to improve with sensor and controls technologies, the incoming ICBMs have no margin for improvement; they cannot make 'evasive maneuvers', they have to maintain their trajectory or they will miss their target and be useless.  There is no way to harden them against kinetic kill vehicles; the impact energies are simply wayyy to high to insulate against.

        Every dollar spent on strategic defense is worth five dollars spent on any other weapons system. Anti-Missiles dont kill people or vaporize cities; they save lives by the millions.  On humanitarian grounds alone, its insane for anyone to oppose SDI.

        "Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is No Vice; Moderation, in the Pursuit of Justice is No Virtue." - AuH2O

        by Press to Digitate on Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 05:27:54 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think the fundamental problem (0+ / 0-)

      is that it is far less expensive to develop a number of counter-measures to kinetic kill vehicles than it is to get around those countermeasures.  On that point, the OTA is correct - the program would cost many tens or hundreds of billions of dollars with little to show for it other than a shifting of nuclear threats.

      Now, with the proliferation of missile usage in theaters, I could be persuaded that local missile defense is a worthwhile part of future arms exchanges.

      •  Done It Already (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've written and called about this already.  It is truly important that our representatives are provided accurate unbiased assessment of scientific matters.

        The other thing related to this is for congress to rescind the data quality act, Section 515 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2001.  This has allowed incredible abuse of science by lawyers and made objective evidence into something mediated by courts rather than by scientists.

  •  I agree, but have a little nit... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, NellaSelim

    to pick with your diary.

    The condemnation of OTA was not universal among the business community when Gingrich deemed it partisan.

    I worked on the Hill at the time and can tell you that surprising elements in the military industrial crowd were very upset about its demise. Even if they didn't always like the outcome of OTA assessments, they felt like it was a place where they could get a fair hearing and that it actually had a grasp of the issues.

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