SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
June 7, 2001

AN ALTERNATIVE NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW

The United States should unilaterally eliminate some 5,500 nuclear weapons from its arsenal, according to a new report sponsored by three arms control organizations.

The report was prepared as a contribution to the Bush Administration's ongoing Nuclear Posture Review, which could provide an opportunity to fundamentally rethink the role of nuclear weapons in national security.

Public input into the process is not particularly welcome. Nevertheless, in the hope of engaging public attention and influencing the outcome of the Review, a group of non-governmental scientists and other nuclear weapon specialists has prepared a new report entitled "Toward True Security: A US Nuclear Posture for the Next Decade."

Among its principal recommendations, the new report calls for deep cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The authors argue that this would serve to reduce the threat of accidental launch of Russian nuclear weapons and to strengthen the non-proliferation regime.

"No plausible threat can be foreseen that justifies the United States maintaining more than a few hundred survivable nuclear weapons over the next decade or beyond. Nor does any plausible threat require the United States to maintain the ability to launch large numbers of its nuclear weapons promptly, in a matter of minutes, or even in a matter of hours," the report states.

"We recommend that the United States unilaterally reduce its nuclear arsenal to a total of 1,000 nuclear warheads and take measures to increase the amount of time required to launch these weapons. By easing Russia's concerns about the potential vulnerability of its nuclear deterrent, these steps would give Russia an incentive to adopt a safer nuclear posture for its own nuclear arsenal. They would also provide an incentive to other nuclear weapon states to engage in multilateral negotiations for deeper, verified nuclear reductions."

The new report, which was jointly sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Federation of American Scientists, may be found here:


PERU SEEKS U.S. MONTESINOS DOCUMENTS

The Government of Peru has invoked the Freedom of Information Act to request that the U.S. Government release certain documents concerning Vladimiro Montesinos, the disgraced intelligence chief to former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori. Montesinos is wanted on suspicion of corruption, human rights violations and various other crimes.

Asked about the status of the Peruvian FOIA request, the State Department said yesterday, "This is a lengthy process but we are moving forward with all due diligence to respond." See:

A number of previously declassified documents on Montesinos have been published by the National Security Archive on its web site here:


ASHCROFT ON SECURITY POLICY

Attorney General John Ashcroft was questioned yesterday about a range of security policy issues at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Barney Frank asked Ashcroft to affirm the policy that sexual orientation shall not be a basis for denial of a security clearance.

Rep. Frank noted that "We have no cases that I'm aware of where people betrayed the country because they were gay or lesbian. Indeed, as I've reviewed the major cases of espionage, the people who committed it were all heterosexual," he observed. "I draw no inferences about heterosexuals based on that," he added jokingly.

After being prompted several times, Attorney General Ashcroft agreed that the current policy on sexual orientation and security clearances would remain unchanged.

He was also questioned about FBI misconduct in the Wen Ho Lee case, the use of secret evidence ("We have not to date during this administration used such evidence"), racial profiling, and the Jonathan Pollard case. See excerpts from the hearing here:

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Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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