Secrecy News -- 07/08/04 (IF)
saftergood at fas.org
Thu Jul 8 16:25:38 EDT 2004
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 63
July 8, 2004
** PHYSICISTS SPEAK UP FOR MORDECHAI VANUNU
** WHITE HOUSE WARNS AGAINST NEW LIMITS TO PATRIOT ACT
** ADDENDUM REGARDING THE ARMY'S "ON POINT" STUDY
** COURT BLOCKS PUBLICATION OF CIA MEMOIR
PHYSICISTS SPEAK UP FOR MORDECHAI VANUNU
Two eminent nuclear physicists have filed sworn declarations in
support of a petition by Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai
Vanunu asking Israel's High Court of Justice to overturn travel
and other restrictions that were imposed on Vanunu by the Israeli
government following his release this year from an 18 year jail
The nominal intent of the restrictions is to prevent Vanunu from
disclosing any additional secrets about the unacknowledged
Israeli nuclear weapons program that he described to the press
two decades ago in violation of Israeli law. But many observers
see the restrictions as a new punitive measure directed at
British physicist Frank Barnaby, who first questioned Vanunu on
behalf of the London Sunday Times in 1986 about his disclosures,
said that Vanunu had a limited grasp of nuclear weapons
technology in the first place and that his information about
Israel's nuclear program was now likely to be obsolete in any
"His knowledge of the nuclear physics and engineering was limited
to an elementary grasp of the subjects," Barnaby wrote. "He had
precisely the sort of knowledge that you would expect a
technician to have and no more."
"The knowledge that Vanunu had about Israel's nuclear weapons,
about the operations at Dimona [an Israeli nuclear facility], and
about security at Dimona could not be of any value to anyone
today. He left Dimona in October 1985 and the design of today's
Israeli nuclear weapons will have been considerably changed since
then," Barnaby argued.
See Dr. Barnaby's June 14 statement here:
Nobel laureate and Manhattan Project veteran Joseph Rotblat urged
the Israeli Court not to be swayed by exaggerated secrecy claims.
"I would suggest that you would hardly find one physicist outside
Israel who believes that Mordechai Vanunu, whether or not in 1986
he neglected to mention this or that detail, constitutes any
further significant threat to anyone's security," Rotblat wrote.
See Prof. Rotblat's June 14 statement here:
Mordechai Vanunu is represented in this matter by Dan Yakir of the
Association for Civil Rights in Israel (www.acri.org.il).
In response to Vanunu's pending petition, Israeli government
officials this week told the Court that Vanunu still possesses
secret knowledge that has not previously been disclosed, as well
as the motivation to release it.
The High Court of Israel will hold a hearing on the matter on
Sunday, July 11.
Mordechai Vanunu was interviewed after his release from prison by
Israeli journalist and author Yael Lotan in a remarkable BBC
documentary that was produced by Olenka Frenkiel and broadcast
WHITE HOUSE WARNS AGAINST NEW LIMITS TO PATRIOT ACT
The White House yesterday warned the House of Representatives
against enacting any legislation that would limit the
applicability of the USA Patriot Act.
"If legislation were presented to the President that includes any
provision that forces the courts to allow notice to criminal
suspects before a search warrant is executed, the President's
senior advisors would recommend that the President veto the
bill," the White House said in a statement on the pending
Commerce, Justice and State Appropriations Act.
"If any other amendment that would weaken the USA PATRIOT Act were
adopted and presented to the President for his signature, the
President's senior advisors would recommend a veto."
See the July 7 White House statement here:
Rep. Bernie Sanders (Ind.-VT) was set to introduce an amendment
today "to reinstate legal standards for investigations which were
in place for library and bookstore records before the passage of
the USA Patriot Act."
ADDENDUM REGARDING THE ARMY'S "ON POINT" STUDY
In the Secrecy News story yesterday about the online version of the
Army's "On Point" study of the Iraq war that cannot be normally
printed, copied or saved, we were remiss not to have included an
Army viewpoint or explanation regarding the unusual formatting of
the document. Here it is.
The Army concern was that the document contained non-governmental
materials including graphics and photos which might be
copyrighted, said Dan French, a spokesman for the Center for Army
Lessons Learned said.
"We have had some unscrupulous individuals who are taking our
products and selling them on CD, even on Amazon.com," he noted.
If that were to happen with the "On Point" report, the spokesman
said, this might entail a violation of the original copyright.
Once the appropriate permissions are obtained, he said, the
document would be made available without the current
restrictions, perhaps by the end of the month.
Thanks to several Secrecy News readers, more adept than I, who
proposed a variety of ways that the existing Army format
restrictions could be overcome without much difficulty.
COURT BLOCKS PUBLICATION OF CIA MEMOIR
A federal court yesterday accepted the Central Intelligence
Agency's argument that a former CIA employee cannot publish her
memoir because the Agency says it contains classified
The former employee, who sued the CIA under the pseudonym Wendy
Lee, argued that the CIA had unlawfully imposed a prior restraint
upon her speech by improperly classifying her memoir. The CIA
insisted that the classification decisions were justified.
The Court yielded entirely to the CIA.
"The information in Lee's memoir was properly classified, and even
if it were not, it is controlled by the secrecy agreement to
which Lee is a party," wrote Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. "Lee
therefore has no First Amendment right to either publish the
information or make it available to her counsel."
The last point is particularly noteworthy. Ms. Lee was not
entitled to the full benefit of counsel because her attorney was
not granted access to the contested material by CIA.
It is "another example of the Executive Branch getting whatever it
wants in national security cases," said Mark S. Zaid, who
represents Lee. "Why, one must ask, can 'Anonymous' write a
critical book about the CIA while still working there, but a
former employee cannot?"
("Anonymous," whose actual name was reported by Jason Vest in the
Boston Phoenix last week, is author of the widely publicized book
See the July 7 decision in Wendy Lee v. Central Intelligence
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.
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