17.919: Declassify This!

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Biography of Professor Postol

Theodore A. Postol is Professor of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). During the periods prior to taking his position at MIT he worked as a research physicist at the Argonne National Laboratory, an analyst studying the MX missile at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, at the Pentagon as an advisor on matters of military technology and policy to the Chief of Naval Operations, and as a Senior Research Associate at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control.

During the period 1982 to 1984 when Dr. Postol worked at the Pentagon he acted as the principal advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations on ICBM/SLBM vulnerability, including the Air Force's Closely Spaced Based (CSB) MX deployment, the strategic applications of Navy and Air Force nuclear weapons systems, Soviet and U.S. ballistic missile defense systems, strategic anti-submarine warfare, strategic command, control and communications, and advanced sensor technologies. His work on missile defense questions included Navy requirements for reentry systems, penetration aids, and analysis of SLBM tactical and technical countermeasures to missile defenses. His duties also involved regular participation and/or reviews of activities within The Joint Chiefs of Staff, The Strategic Systems Projects Office, The Defense Nuclear Agency, and The Strategic Submarine Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

His scholarly work includes technical and policy analyses of strategic and tactical missile defenses, the potential effects of superfires from nuclear attacks near urban areas, the possible civilian casualties from nuclear counterforce attacks, nuclear weapons targeting practices, policy and technical questions associated with the possibility of a Nuclear Winter induced by fires following nuclear attacks, Accidental Launch Protection Systems, and Soviet tactical missile threats to NATO.

Dr. Postol has also done extensive technical work on the question of the Patriot anti-missile system's performance during the 1991 Gulf War and technical and policy work on the implications of Highly Advanced Theater Missile Defense Systems for the ABM Treaty. His analysis of the performance of the Patriot system during the 1991 Gulf War is the only detailed and refereed technical assessment of Patriot's performance during the Gulf War -- exploiting the most extensive body of technical data available to anyone on Patriot's Gulf War performance, video data taken by the press during Patriot-Scud engagements. The Congressional investigation of Department of Defense claims about Patriot's Gulf War performance revealed a near complete failure to instrument Patriots fire units during the Gulf War, and also the failure to exploit the rich and detailed information available in the public video record.

In 1990 Dr. Postol received the American Physical Society's Leo Szilard Award for "incisive technical analysis of national security issues that [have] been vital for informing the public policy debate..." He is also the recipient of the 1995 Hilliard Roderick Prize in Science, Arms Control, and International Security from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for "outstanding contributions that advance our understanding of issues related to arms control and international security ... that have important scientific or technical dimensions." During the award presentation by the AAAS he was described as "by-far the strongest, technically-trained, independent arms control analyst of his generation." He was also cited for work that "has become well known and highly valued for its rigor, honesty, and attention to detail," and for having been "a key player in educating a whole generation of independent arms control policy analysts." The AAAS also noted that he "has repeatedly presented accurate, but at times, unpopular analysis to the international security and arms control community."