Ooh! Oooh! Oooooooh! I almost started a thread about this in GD today.
There is good evidence that the tests of 1997 and 1999 were a failure, that the data were manipulated to make it look successful, the NMD system is totally unsuccessful at distinguishing decoy from warhead, and subsequent tests were rigged to downplay this ability.
Furthermore, an MIT scientist (Theodore Postol) who was at least partially in charge of analyzing data from the tests tried to notify the Clinton White House. He based these findings on unclassified data, and posted the reports on the internet. The data were reclassified, and last week he was interviewed by the FBI. They are threatening to take away his security clearance, which he claims is basically the government trying to gag order him.
It looks pretty credible. It was in Nature’s News section this week, and in the New York Times:
Knight, Jonathan. “Physicist claims gagging over missile defence system.” Nature 412, 468. (2 August 2001)
Nature article (subscription needed)
NY Times article (login needed)
Also, here is a free page with much information, including the declassified/reclassified reports and stories on the whole beacon guidance thing:
Boston Globe article with link to letter to John Podesta and White House
It is not that such a system is not worth pursuing. It is that the cost/benefit analysis for this system is waaaaaaaaaay in the red, IMHO. We are paying untold billions for a technology that will offer little or no security from a full scale launch and little or no protection from “rogue nations” who can stick their nuke on a ship instead of on a missile.
If Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone only worked 10% of the time, cost $50 billion to develop, and only worked over a slightly longer range than the human voice, I guarantee he still would be working on it.
This whole NMD thing stunk to high heaven before the current administration. Now, it is starting to border on criminal fleecing.