Secrecy News -- 04/23/04 (IF)
saftergood at fas.org
Fri Apr 23 12:31:36 EDT 2004
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 39
April 23, 2004
** PHOTOS OF MILITARY COFFINS FROM IRAQ RELEASED
** SECRECY SPREADS IN ACADEMIC SCIENCE
** THE WAR POWERS ACT: AFTER THIRTY YEARS (CRS)
** THE SARS OUTBREAK IN CANADA REVISITED
** AMENDING THE PATRIOT ACT
** THE CONSEQUENCES OF A DIRTY BOMB (CRS)
** DEA VIEWS CHINA AND DRUGS
** RUMSFELD ON FOIA
PHOTOS OF MILITARY COFFINS FROM IRAQ RELEASED
U.S. government photos of coffins of soldiers killed in Iraq ended
up on the front pages of newspapers around the country after they
were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request
from Russ Kick of TheMemoryHole.org, who posted them on his
website here (temporarily down, presumably due to excess
Pentagon officials expressed dismay at the release, and halted any
further such releases.
"We don't want the remains of our service members who have made
the ultimate sacrifice to be the subject of any kind of attention
that is unwarranted or undignified," said Deputy Under Secretary
of Defense John Molino.
The odd implication of the Pentagon clamp down is that the
military photographers who took the photos were somehow being
disrespectful. But that view is not borne out by examination of
the published photos, which are perfectly dignified.
"I would make the argument that trying to hide the photos of these
people who gave everything for their country is actually
dishonoring them," Mr. Kick told the Seattle Times. "They went
over there in all of our names and died, and then when they come
back home, they're hidden behind a curtain. I think that's
SECRECY SPREADS IN ACADEMIC SCIENCE
Restrictions on the publication of unclassified scientific
research and on the participation of foreign nationals in such
research are documented in a new study from the Association of
"Over the past three years, universities across the country have
reported a significant increase of situations where a sponsor has
included... language that either restricts the dissemination of
research results or the use of foreign nationals without prior
approval on certain research projects," the report states.
The authors analyzed 138 instances of such restrictions, mostly
imposed by Defense Department funders.
"The most disturbing outcome revealed by the data is the
substantial negative impact on the conduct of basic and applied
research of value to the nation which normally takes place in
institutions of higher education in the United States."
In the best case, such restrictions typically cause delay in the
negotiation of contract agreements. In the worst case, they
drive scientists away from investigation of contentious topics,
the authors found.
"Faculty and researchers are often forced to turn their attention
and talents toward research projects that do not involve these
difficulties," according to the study.
The authors said that such restrictions run contrary to the policy
enunciated in the 1985 National Security Decision Directive 189,
which directed that unclassified research should remain
See "Restrictions on Research Awards: Troublesome Clauses," report
of a task force of the Association of American Universities and
the Council on Governmental Relations, transmitted April 8, 2004:
The new study was described in "Reports Examine Academe's Role in
Keeping Secrets" by David Malakoff, Science Magazine, April 23.
Meanwhile, however, a report from the Defense Department Inspector
General (also noted by Malakoff) found that "one university
granted foreign nationals access to unclassified
export-controlled technology without proper authorization."
"Unauthorized access to unclassified export-controlled technology
could allow foreign nations to counter or reproduce the
technology and thus reduce the effectiveness of the technology,
significantly alter program direction, or degrade combat
effectiveness," the Inspector General warned.
See "Export-Controlled Technology at Contractor, University, and
Federally Funded Research and Development Center Facilities," DoD
Inspector General, March 25, 2004:
Two recently updated Congressional Research Service reports
address related issues of controlling scientific information.
"Balancing Scientific Publication and National Security Concerns:
Issues for Congress," by Dana A. Shea, updated February 2, 2004:
"'Sensitive But Unclassified' and Other Federal Security Controls
on Scientific and Technical Information: History and Current
Controversy," by Genevieve J. Knezo, udpated February 20, 2004:
THE WAR POWERS ACT: AFTER THIRTY YEARS (CRS)
The history and the application of the War Powers Act are reviewed
in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.
"During the Vietnam war, Congress searched for a way to assert
authority to decide when the United States should become involved
in a war or the armed forces be utilized in circumstances that
might lead to hostilities. On November 7, 1973, it passed the War
Powers Resolution over the veto of President Nixon."
"The record of the War Powers Resolution since its enactment has
been mixed, and after 30 years it remains controversial."
The new CRS report examines the provisions of the War Powers
Resolution, its use from 1973 through October 2001, and proposed
amendments to it.
See "The War Powers Resolution: After Thirty Years" by Richard F.
Grimmett, March 11, 2004:
See also a related CRS Issue Brief entitled "War Powers
Resolution: Presidential Compliance," updated March 16, 2004:
Direct public access to CRS products like these is not authorized
by the U.S. Congress.
THE SARS OUTBREAK IN CANADA REVISITED
The outbreak of the SARS virus in Ontario, Canada in spring of
2003 caught the Canadian public health system unprepared and
ill-equipped to respond. An official Canadian Commission report
dissects the failures and proposes remedial measures.
"The report is unflattering," a email correspondent wrote to
Secrecy News, "but it is an exceptionally good assessment of a
public health infrastructure under duress."
"You could swap certain words, like 'U.S.' for 'Ontario' or
'anthrax' for 'SARS,' and it would be a familiar story in some
On the other hand, the Canadian report does not include an
analysis of "the intersections of law enforcement and public
health that are important for a competent bioterrorism response.
We can only learn so much about intentional events by studying
See the SARS Commission Interim Report "SARS and Public Health in
Ontario," April 15, 2004 (230 pages, 925 KB PDF file):
AMENDING THE PATRIOT ACT
Over the past week, President Bush has repeatedly urged the
renewal of the USA Patriot Act, portions of which are set to
expire in 2005, and he has indicated that nothing less than
complete and uncritical endorsement of the Act is acceptable.
"The President called for Congress to renew all parts of the USA
PATRIOT Act that are scheduled to expire next year," according to
an April 19 White House Fact Sheet:
But not everyone in Congress is taking dictation from the White
A bill called the Security and Freedom Ensured (SAFE) Act, which
was introduced with bipartisan sponsorship, says it would "amend
the USA PATRIOT ACT to place reasonable limitations on the use of
surveillance and the issuance of search warrants."
The provisions of the SAFE Act were described by a Congressional
Research Service analyst in a February 19 report here:
Although the SAFE Act has not yet been considered in Committee,
much less come to a vote, the Bush Administration has declared it
would veto the measure.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF A DIRTY BOMB (CRS)
The potential impacts of a terrorist attack involving a dirty
bomb, or radiological dispersal device, are considered in a
recent report from the Congressional Research Service.
"Terrorist detonation of a dirty bomb... might cause casualties,
economic damage, and, potentially, public panic, though experts
disagree on the likely magnitude of each of these effects."
See "Radiological Dispersal Devices: Select Issues in Consequence
Management" by Dana A. Shea, March 10, 2004:
DEA VIEWS CHINA AND DRUGS
The role of China in illicit drug trafficking is assessed in a
recent "drug intelligence brief" from the U.S. Drug Enforcement
"China is a major source of precursor chemicals necessary for the
production of cocaine, heroin, and crystal methamphetamine," the
DEA brief said.
"Although China has taken aggressive actions through legislation
and regulation of production and exportation of precursor
chemicals, extensive action is required to control the illicit
diversion and smuggling of precursor chemicals."
See "China: Country Brief," Drug Enforcement Agency, February 2004
(650 KB PDF file):
RUMSFELD ON FOIA
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday recalled that "as a
young member of Congress back in the 1960s, still in my 30s, I
was a co-sponsor of the Freedom of Information Act."
"Now we all recognize that that Act causes government officials
occasional pain," Rumsfeld said in a speech to the Newspaper
Association of America and the American Society of Newspaper
Editors, "but in my view, it has been a valuable Act in helping
to get the facts to the American people."
"Our great political system needs information to be
self-correcting. While excesses and imbalances will inevitably
exist for a time, fortunately they tend not to last."
"Ultimately truth prevails," Secretary Rumsfeld said. See:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.
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