I'd like to welcome everyone here today to this vitally important hearing. I believe this is the first hearing Congress has held since September 11th on this central question of balancing security and openness in the conduct of research.
CONGRESSMAN SHERWOOD BOEHLERT (R-NY)
OPENING STATEMENT FOR SECURITY HEARING
October 10, 2002
As everyone here knows, I am fond of pointing out that "the war on terrorism will be won in the laboratory just as much as on the battlefield." I've made that line my byword to argue for a well organized, well staffed and well funded scientific enterprise. But the sentence also highlights some critical tensions that the war on terrorism has brought to a head.
For if the laboratory is a theater of war, then what are its rules of engagement? War demands secrecy; science thrives on openness. How can a free society balance those competing demands?
This is not a new question. As my catch-phrase also indicates, the Cold War raised the same issue. And during the decades of the Cold War, the government and the research community gradually developed a comfortable modus operandi - although it needed periodic fine tuning and almost broke down several times. The Cold War's rules of engagement for science continue to guide us, as they should.
But our current situation, in many ways, makes the Cold War look like the "good old days."
Today we face an enemy who is more insidious and dispersed, and a global communications network that is far more difficult to control. Perhaps more importantly, we live in a time when additional fields of science present security risks.
For the first time, the biological sciences are caught on the horns of our security dilemma - just at the point when that discipline is reaching new heights of productivity. And, to add to our difficulties, in biology, more than in any other field, the exact same research may be needed for benign and malevolent purposes.
So what is to be done? As a nation, we're just beginning to sort that out - and we hope that this hearing will contribute to that process. All I know is that we must arrive at a finely tuned and constantly recalibrated balance - and we can only do that through open, honest and trusting discussions between the government and the research community. I see this Committee as an "honest broker" in those discussions.
With that in mind, we will focus on two aspects of the problem today - the treatment of "sensitive but unclassified" information and the treatment of foreign students and faculty. That should be more than enough to keep us busy.
I'm interested not only in our witnesses' conclusions on the issues before us, but even more so in the reasoning that led them to those conclusions. That's what would help us most in grappling with these stunningly difficult matters.
I expect we will have many more hearings on this subject. In the past year, since the terrorist attacks, I think many of us have turned to Shakespeare's exclamation: "O brave new world, that has such people in it." It's going to take a while to figure out how science should operate in this brave new world.