SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
December 5, 2001

CIA DEFENDS DISCLOSURE OF OFFICER'S DEATH

Stung by accusations that it was exploiting the death of intelligence officer Johnny Micheal Spann in Afghanistan to gain favorable publicity, the Central Intelligence Agency this week took the unusual step of attacking its accusers and defending its disclosure policies.

"We generally don't respond to outrageous remarks made by uninformed critics. But these claims, which have been aired on several national television networks, are so reckless, malicious, and cynical that we believe it is necessary and appropriate to respond," the CIA said in a December 3 statement:

The principal target of the Agency's wrath, who goes unnamed, is former CIA counterterrorism official Larry Johnson, who blasted the CIA acknowledgment of Spann's death on PBS and MSNBC news programs.

The CIA statement noted that the decision to disclose Spann's identity was approved by "his entire chain of command" as well as by the Spann family.

CIA's official position is that it does not withhold information unnecessarily, nor does the Agency disclose information with an ulterior motive. If it ever appears otherwise, the defect must be in the eye of the beholder.

"When we've been able to publicly identify every CIA employee who has made the ultimate sacrifice, we have done so," CIA spokesman Anya Guilsher told InsideDefense.com yesterday. When the names of fallen officers are withheld, it is always for a good reason, though such reasons "may not be readily apparent or understandable."

See "CIA Defends Decision to Identify Officer Killed in Afghanistan" by Anne Plummer in InsideDefense.com:


ANTHRAX SLOWS FOIA PROCESSING

Disruptions in mail service due to anthrax contamination "have greatly delayed the delivery and receipt of Freedom of Information Act-related correspondence throughout the federal government," according to the Department of Justice.

Now the terrorists have gone too far.

"FOIA requesters must accept that the unprecedented delays in mail delivery that have been caused by the anthrax mail emergency during the past two months... will cause corresponding delays in the administration of the FOIA," the Justice Department warned in a November 30 statement.

See "Anthrax Mail Emergency Delays FOIA Correspondence":


FBI REORGANIZATION DESCRIBED

The first phase of a reorganization of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that will emphasize the Bureau's counterterrorism mission was described in a December 3 press release:

"The FBI's reorganization will strengthen our capabilities in counterterrorism, counterintelligence, cybercrime, and cooperation with state and local law enforcement," said Attorney General John Ashcroft in a press statement. "These reforms and restructuring will sharpen the FBI's capacity to act deliberately and decisively in protecting Americans' lives and liberties in the 21st Century."


E.U. CONDON REVISITED

Edward U. Condon (1902-1974) was a distinguished physicist whose biography encompassed some of the fiercest cold war conflicts over security and loyalty in American society.

As a prominent advocate of nuclear arms control and scientific internationalism, Condon clashed repeatedly with the House Committee on Un-American Activities and endured years of political harrassment.

His story is recalled by UCLA historian Jessica Wang in the December issue of Physics Today. See "Edward Condon and the Cold War Politics of Loyalty" here:

Condon's name has additional resonance in quite different quarters due to his leadership of a U.S. Air Force assessment of "the UFO problem."

To the dismay of enthusiasts, the 1968 "Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects," also known as "the Condon Report," found little substance to the issue.

"Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to conclude that further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby," the Report concluded.

The Condon Report has been published online by the National Capital Area Skeptics here:

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

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