SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
October 26, 2000

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN LATIN AMERICA

Murder, kidnapping, and intimidation of journalists "place severe constraints on freedom of expression."

It is evidently necessary to assert that point in many corners of the world, including some parts of Latin America. And this is one of the points presented in a new "Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression," adopted October 19 by the Organization of American States (OAS).

The OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Santiago Canton, said rather pathetically that the declaration, composed of 13 principles, "represents the most important step for freedom of expression in recent years." He added: "Its approval not only constitutes a recognition of the importance of freedom of expression in the Americas, but also establishes international standards for more effective protection of the exercise of this right."

The text of the new Declaration is posted here:

A U.S. State Department notice of the new declaration is posted here:


CYBER-WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Information warfare has the great advantage over many other forms of conflict that, at least at its most primitive levels, it doesn’t get anybody killed.

Several Israeli government web sites were knocked out today by denial of service attacks and other forms of hostile cyberspace activity. These followed the defacing of a Hezbollah web site last week by an Israeli teenager.

The Hezbollah site was replaced with Israeli flags “to protest against the Arabic [sic] attacks in the past few days.” The teen hacker appended several paragraphs of text, but these are written in Arabic words transcribed in Hebrew letters, an approach which hardly seems optimized to reach a mass audience. See:


JAPAN DISCLOSURE LAW UNDERCUT BY INTEL COMMITTEES

The Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2001 includes the Japanese Imperial Army Disclosure Act, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a somewhat unnecessary law that is intended to promote declassification of records on Japanese war crimes committed during World War II. In a characteristically petty move, the congressional Intelligence Committees modified the language of the bill in a way that will tend to weaken its effectiveness as an instrument of declassification.

The original bill included a provision that would have nullified the CIA’s exemption for “operational” files when it comes to declassification of this particular set of records. The Senate intelligence committee removed that provision, seeming in effect to restore the CIA exemption.

The implications of this subtle change are thoroughly explored in an article by Mark Fritz in today’s Los Angeles Times, posted here:

The original text of the Feinstein bill (see section 3b for the provision that was later deleted) is posted here:

The final version of the Japanese War Crimes Disclosure Act is here:

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