Letters to the Editor

Additions to Coverage of DoD Report

The Tech’s Oct. 16 (“Postol Speaks Against U.S. Characterization of Missile Defense Site”) article correctly described the Department of Defense report as finding that “there was no record of research fraud.” The article also correctly stated that I complained to MIT’s administration that “Lincoln Laboratory … [was] …conducting fraudulent research and exaggerating the capabilities of a missile sensor.” I believe that in spite of the accuracy of these statements, there are other facts that are also important for the MIT community to know.

I quote from the report: “The infrared sensor … [in the IFT-1A] … did not reach its … [design] … operating temperature due to an equipment malfunction … [and] … electrical noise in a power supply [was] also a problem …. BMDO and contractor statements that IFT-1A demonstrated … discrimination capabilities … were not fully substantiated by the IFT-1A data.”

Perhaps the most important fact of relevance to the MIT community is that the MIT-DoD Report concluded that the IFT-1A experiment had basically failed. This means that the claims of success by the Missile Defense Agency in testimony to Congress, and the claims by MIT Lincoln Laboratory staff and managers to federal agents, were false. It is also worth noting that lying to federal agents is a felony.

The reasons leading to the finding of no wrongdoing by Lincoln Laboratory (and, implicitly, the absolution of the MIT administration who fought doing an investigation for roughly seven years) should also be of interest to the MIT community.

The DoD report, incredibly, excuses the false information provided by the Missile Defense Agency to Congress and to the public. This false information supported the expenditure of enormous amounts of federal defense funds. The DoD report incorrectly asserts that the federal regulations on scientific misconduct only apply if the falsification is contained in a scientific journal article. Thus the report concludes, incorrectly, that providing false information to Congress is not misconduct under these regulations.

Professor of Science Technology and National Security Policy

Statement on House Resolution 106

We, the undersigned, commend the House Foreign Affairs Committee for passing a resolution “describing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians early in the last century as genocide,” and hope that it will come before the entire House for a vote. While the decision is symbolic, it represents an important departure from past precedent.

Subordinating the realities of human suffering to the conclusions of strategic thinking has a longstanding record, one whose moral opprobrium grows with every profession of “never again.”

We fear that, having acknowledged the existence and scale of Armenian suffering, Congress will forsake yet another opportunity to weigh the United States’ broader ethical obligations in the world that it leads. The declaration of genocide does not fulfill our responsibilities to its victims; indeed, it is precisely when we render that judgment that our responsibilities begin.

Except for those individuals who are ignorant of suffering by no fault of their own, we hold as self-evident these propositions:

To acknowledge suffering only after it has occurred is unacceptable.

To deny suffering while it is occurring is unconscionable.

In the preface to The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1978), Milan Kundera observed that “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” We pray that dignifying the memories of those Armenians who perished in 1915 will compel countries of conscience to challenge those who would inflict such horrors one century later.

We earnestly hope, as well, that acknowledging their plight will prompt introspection. Our earlier praise for it notwithstanding, this resolution will possess little moral value — indeed, it could well be considered hypocritical — unless it coincides with an examination of our own misdeeds, some the product of involvement, others of silence.


Institute Professor Emeritus, Professor of Linguistics

Stephan L. Chorover

Professor of Psychology

Joshua Cohen

Professor of Political Science (Stanford University)

Diane E. Davis

Professor of Political Sociology

Junot Diaz

Associate Professor of Writing and Humanistic Studies

Alan H. Guth

Victor F. Weisskopf Professor of Physics

Ben Jones

Associate Director for Communications for MIT’s Admissions Office

Kenneth R. Manning

Thomas Meloy Professor of Rhetoric and the History of Science

Amy McCreath

Director, Technology and Culture Forum

Steven E. Ostrow

Lecturer in History

Leslie C. Perelman

Director, Writing Across the Curriculum

Michael J. Piore

David W. Skinner Professor of Political Economy

Nasser Rabbat PhD ’91

Director, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture

Robert M. Randolph

Institute Chaplain

Jeffrey S. Ravel

Associate Professor of History

Merritt Roe Smith

Cutten Professor of the History of Technology

John Tirman

Executive Director, Center for International Studies

Stephen Yablo

Head, Department of Philosophy

Robert A. Weinberg ’64

Professor of Biology

Gerard Ostheimer

Postdoctoral Fellow in Biological Engineering

Xaq Frohlich G

Rachel M. Gisselquist PhD ’07

Adam Omar Hosein G

Sarah E. Johnstone G

Christopher Leinberger McDougal G

Adam Weston Ziegfeld G

Paul F. Baranay ’11

Raja H.R. Bobbili ’08

Zahir A. Dossa ’08

Adnan M. Esmail ’10

Karen B. Figueroa ‘11

Krishna K. Gupta ’09

Miriam H. Huntley ’09

Kendra D. Johnson ’09

Anne P. Liu ’08

Bonnie E. Krenz ’10

Rishi V. Puram ’08

David N. Reshef ’08

Irina Shklyar ’09

Froylan E. Sifuentes ’09

Ellen E. Sojka ’08

Jules D. Walter ’08

Kristen Watkins ’11

Angelica G. Weiner ’09

Alia Whitney-Johnson ’08