Declassified Studies from Cheney Pentagon Show Push for U.S. Military Predominance
The United States should use its power to "prevent the reemergence of a new rival" either on former Soviet territory or elsewhere, declared a controversial February 18, 1992 draft of the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) prepared by then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney's Pentagon and leaked to The New York Times in March 1992. Published in declassified form for the first time on the National Security Archive Web site, this draft, along with related working papers, shows how defense officials during the administration of George H. W. Bush, and under the direction of Principle Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Resources I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, tried to develop a strategy for maintaining U.S. predominance in the new post-Cold War, post-Soviet era.
Remarkably, these new releases censor a half dozen large sections of text that The New York Times printed on March 8, 1992, as well as a number of phrases that were officially published in January 1993 when Cheney released the public version of the guidance. "On close inspection none of those deleted passages actually meet the standards for classification because embarrassment is not a legal basis for secrecy," remarked Tom Blanton, director of the Archive. The language that the Times publicized can be seen side-by-side with the relevant portions of the February 18, 1992 draft that was the subject of the leak.
Public debate over the leaked Guidance--Sen. Joseph Biden (D-De) criticized it as "Pax Americana" thinking--led Libby and Undersecretary for Policy Paul Wolfowitz to tone down the draft to avoid controversial language. Nevertheless, the "Regional Defense Strategy" that was published under Cheney's name in January 1993 used different wording to affirm the same policies and the same purpose: to "preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests."
In response to the Archive's original mandatory review request, the Department of Defense exempted from declassification all of the documents on the grounds that they were "pre-decisional" in nature. On appeal of the denials, the Archive sent copies of The New York Times coverage of the leaked DPG, including the extensive excerpts from the February 18, 1992 draft. The appeal was successful because the Defense Department released considerable material on the Guidance; nevertheless, Pentagon officials blacked out much of the information that the Times had already published. The documents are now before the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP) for a final declassification review.
Visit the Web site of the National Security Archive for more information about today's posting.
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