Great Falls Tribune: Tester understands defense program; Rehberg doesn’t

I am compelled to reply to a recent column by Rep. Denny Rehberg in this newspaper. In that column, and only days after convening a “task force” to learn about the bipartisan New START Treaty which was ratified and signed a year ago, he declared that the treaty “would significantly harm our national security.”

The Congressman is late to the game and light on his understanding of START, ICBMs and Malmstrom Air Force Base.

In the column, Rehberg failed to mention that during this meeting of his “task force,” Air Force officials informed him that the new treaty with Russia actually improves our national security. It helps prevent Russian nuclear weapons and materials from falling into the hands of rogue nations or terrorists, and it gives the U.S. access to Russian nuclear facilities to ensure that they are complying with the treaty.

Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, a leading voice on foreign policy issues and early supporter of New START, called the treaty’s inspections “essential.” Every living Secretary of State — from both parties — also supports the treaty. Pres. Ronald Reagan’s own defense secretary said that without it the U.S. would be in a far weaker position. And he should know since the Reagan administration proposed the first START in 1982.

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