SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 81
August 21, 2002

CONGRESS STANDS UP FOR OVERSIGHT

Congressional leaders of both parties are challenging the Bush Administration's resistance to oversight and warning that it could have legislative consequences.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, observed that Congress could allow last year's USA PATRIOT Act to expire without renewal if the Justice Department did not adequately respond to congressional inquiries.

He said that his message to Attorney General John Ashcroft was, "If you want to play 'I've got a secret,' good luck getting the Patriot Act extended."

Rep. Sensenbrenner also said that he was prepared to subpoena the Attorney General to get the information the Committee needed.

See "Ashcroft threatened with Hill subpoena" by Audrey Hudson in the August 21 Washington Times:

Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, noted that he has sent more than two dozen letters to the Attorney General since last summer without receiving a response.

See "Ashcroft Assailed on Policy Review" by Dan Eggen in the August 21 Washington Post:

Justice Department spokeswoman Barbara Comstock said the Department would respond to the Committees' inquiries. "We're making every effort to be cooperative and do this as quickly as we can," she told the Post.


GREEK PRESS VIEWS RELEASE OF FRUS VOLUME

The long-delayed release last week of an official volume of historical documents on U.S. policy towards Greece, Cyprus and Turkey in the 1960s was welcomed in the Greek press.

The volume, part of the State Department's Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series, was printed two years ago but then withheld under pressure from the Central Intelligence Agency, which reportedly feared that disclosure of the historical records could have adverse political effects or even serve as a pretext for violence.

But nothing like that happened.

In fact, journalist Alexis Papahelas alleged that the CIA had deviously scheduled the new release in the middle of August, "knowing that the Greek public would not show much interest during the summer holidays."

The new FRUS volume was nevertheless reviewed at length by Mr. Papakhelas in the Athens newspaper To Vima on August 17. See the FBIS translation from the Greek original here:


NASA CANNOT READ MINDS

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration found it necessary to issue a press release yesterday insisting that it cannot read minds.

"NASA does not have the capability to read minds, nor are we suggesting that would be done," said Robert Pearce, Director, NASA's Strategy and Analysis Division in the Office of Aerospace Technology in Washington.

See the August 20 press release entitled "NASA Rejects Claims it Plans Mind Reading Capability" on the NASA web site here:

The peculiar announcement was prompted by a story in the Washington Times which reported that NASA was developing brain monitoring technology to be used by airport security personnel for identifying terrorists.

See "NASA plans to read terrorist's minds at airports" by Frank J. Murray in the August 17 Washington Times:

This month marks the 25th year of NASA's awesome Voyager mission into deep space. See the Voyager web site here:

In his memorable 1972 novel "Dying Inside," science fiction writer Robert Silverberg told the pitiful tale of a telepath who must come to terms with the loss of his extraordinary power.


LOU SCHALK, FIRST BLACKBIRD TEST PILOT

Louis W. Schalk Jr., the test pilot who was the first to fly a prototype of the legendary Blackbird spy plane in 1962, died last week.

In flight tests at the classified facility near Groom Lake, Nevada, "he reached a top speed of 2,287 mph and altitudes that exceeded 90,000," according to an obituary in today's Washington Post:

The first flight of the Blackbird on April 26, 1962, was attended by former CIA official Richard Bissell and aircraft designer Kelly Johnson.

"Both men were tough as titanium," recalled Ben R. Rich in his 1994 book Skunk Works, "but both were clearly moved watching our test pilot, Lou Schalk, gun those two tremendous engines and rip into the early-morning cloudless sky."

"It was one of those unmatched moments when all the pain and stress involved in building that damned machine melted away in the most powerful engine roar ever heard."

******************************

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

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send an email message to [email protected] with "subscribe" (without quotes) in the body of the message.

To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a blank email message to [email protected].

OR email your request to saftergood@fa[email protected]

Secrecy News is archived at:
      http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/index.html