I cannot let Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger's distorted portrayal (Editorial Pages, July 9) of the "Star Wars" plan go without comment.
I am one of a group of computer pioneers who will be honored this month at the National Computer Conference in Chicago for work done 35 years ago in building the first computers. I also belong to Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, whose members have analyzed the likelihood of unintentional computer error starting an accidental thermonuclear war and found it quite possible.
The Battle Management System for ballistic missile defense is critically dependent upon fully reliable computer software. The Defense Department's Fletcher Commission report estimates that the Battle Management System software will be on the order of 10 million lines of code. If this estimate is correct, the software development effort is estimated to take tens-of-thousands of man-years to design and implement. It is the opinion of knowledgeable computer professionals that the time to design and implement this is so large as to make the effort quite unlikely to succeed, and in fact it may never be possible to fully develop reliable software.
The paradox of nuclear weapons is that more is worse than less. More weaponry makes us more insecure than less weaponry. Every step of improvement in weaponry has destroyed human security. Until the missile was developed, the United States had two oceans to keep us secure. Now the ocean is a cover for submarines that can move offshore and be in a position to destroy cities with cruise missiles that cannot be stopped by Star Wars defenses.