SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
October 24, 2000

CHINESE WHITE PAPER BOOSTS TRANSPARENCY

On October 16 the People's Republic of China published its third "White Paper" on military policy. The document, entitled "Chinese National Defense in 2000," provides new details on Chinese military doctrine, organizational structure, policy towards Taiwan, and more.

Despite lacunae in several important areas, the new white paper "is a significant step toward greater openness of the Chinese armed forces," writes China scholar David Shambaugh of George Washington University in today's International Herald Tribune.

"It is a positive step forward and shows China's growing adherence to international norms. The document should mute critics of Chinese military secrecy," he says.

The new white paper is available here:

The previous two white papers from 1995 and 1998, along with an abundance of related materials, may be found here:

David Shambaugh's Herald Tribune article is posted, at least temporarily, here:


DISMAY AND DISGUST OVER THE LEAK STATUTE

The legislation adopted by Congress to criminalize any disclosure of information that the executive branch considers properly classified is being met with growing dismay and disgust.

Upon closer examination, the statute looks worse and worse. Contrary to a remark attributed to Rep. Porter Goss in today's Washington Post, the government would not have to prove in any future prosecution that the unauthorized disclosure of classified information actually injured the nation.

Instead, in an amazing abdication of power in favor of the executive branch, the conference report on the intelligence bill (H.Rep. 106-969, sect. 304) says explicitly:

"The government should not be required to prove that damage to the national security actually has or will result from the unauthorized disclosure."

This would be fiendishly clever, if it had been written by an enemy of the United States intent on subverting our political institutions. But it is no less dangerous even if it is merely ignorant.

Today's Washington Post article ("Anti-Leak Bill Alarms Media, Divides GOP") is posted here:

An editorial in yesterday's Christian Science Monitor deploring the new statute appeared here:


CIA REVERSES STANCE ON CHILE DECLASSIFICATION

Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet "reconsidered" his opposition to declassification of hundreds of documents on CIA covert action in Chile. As a result, many of them will be declassified to some extent and released on November 13.

"They [CIA officials] were not pressured," said William Leary of the National Security Council, speaking for the record. Nevertheless, the upshot is that "documents that were going to be withheld as of a few months ago are now going to be released," he said. See:


NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

"A leading U.S. expert on nuclear weapons is challenging decades of military thinking by suggesting that precision-guided conventional explosives could replace nuclear warheads on most of America's strategic missiles," writes Walter Pincus in today's Washington Post:

The reference is to a paper by Stephen M. Younger, associate director for nuclear weapons at Los Alamos, who is better known for his insistence that the "global strategic balance" was somehow at stake in the Wen Ho Lee case.

Dr. Younger also endorses development of a new generation of low-yield nuclear weapons in his June 2000 paper, entitled "Nuclear Weapons in the Twenty-First Century," which was first reported by Ian Hoffman in the Albuquerque Journal on August 15. The paper is posted here:

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