SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 52
June 13, 2002

MIT PANEL WEIGHS CLASSIFIED RESEARCH

An ad hoc faculty committee at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this week reaffirmed MIT's longstanding attitude toward the conduct of classified research, opposing such research on campus but permitting it at the university's off-campus facilities.

"We recommend that no classified research should be carried out on campus, that no student, graduate or undergraduate, should be required to have a security clearance to perform their research, and that no thesis research should be carried out in areas requiring access to classified materials," the committee report states.

On the other hand, "There exist several organizations that can provide access to classified facilities to enable MIT faculty to carry out the classified portions of their research. The most prominent of these is MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, but several other organizations could also provide such access."

The report addresses various emerging security restrictions and provides some important real-world feedback. For example:

"Because there is no consistent understanding or definition of what would constitute 'sensitive' information, MIT should continue its policy of not agreeing to any sponsor's contractual request that research results... be reviewed for the inadvertent disclosure of 'sensitive' information. Beyond this, MIT should not accept or hold any documents on its campus that are designated 'sensitive' or 'no foreign nationals'...."

The committee report, entitled "In the Public Interest," may be found together with a June 12 MIT press release here:


THE END OF SECRECY?

"The U.S. military must consciously prepare itself to fight in an information transparent world," according to a paper published by the Air Force last year.

"The worldwide explosion in the quantity and quality of information and products available to the general public user, the ready accessibility of the information, and the affordability in acquiring any desired data or product is creating a transparent world at an alarming rate," wrote Air Force Lt. Col. Beth M. Kaspar.

"Transparency can seriously degrade several principles of war, most significantly mass, maneuver, and surprise. For example, it will provide an adversary near-real time, accurate battle-space visibility of U.S. military posture at both the strategic and theater levels," Col. Kaspar wrote.

"U.S. military planners must accept that information transparency is inevitable and proceed to minimize its affects on our military capability."

See "The End of Secrecy? Military Competitiveness in the Age of Transparency," originally published by the Center for Strategy and Technology, Air War College, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, here:

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

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