SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 11
February 7, 2003

ARE DOD LABS DYING?

The Defense Department's network of research laboratories may be dying, according to a new internal assessment. And that is not good, according to Don J. DeYoung, a senior official at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).

"Far from being organizational dinosaurs, these laboratories are critical to the government for their independent technical advice and ability to conduct long-term, high-risk R&D, especially in areas not attractive to commercial application," DeYoung told Secrecy News.

"In the span of 18 months, the Department of Defense lost a key part of its 25-year-old ability to perform fiber optics research at NRL, the only site with this world-class defense capability," DeYoung reported in his new assessment.

"The death of this 'canary' sends warning that an ill wind is blowing for the Defense Laboratories. Without reform, their loss of expertise will worsen, eventually to the point where it affects good government and poses significant risks to national security," DeYoung wrote.

See "The Silence of the Labs" by Don J. DeYoung, published by the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at the National Defense University, January 2003, available here:

The DoD labs deserve to die, suggested former NSA director Gen. William E. Odom some years ago.

"Major savings could be achieved by abolishing virtually all the Defense Department and military service laboratories. Few of them have invented anything of note in several decades, and many of the things they are striving to develop are already available in the commercial sector," according to Odom.

"Sadly, these laboratories not only waste money on their own activities; they also resist the purchase of available technologies from the commercial sector. Because they are generally so far behind the leading edges in some areas, they cause more than duplication; they also induce retardation and sustain obsolescence," Odom wrote ("America's Military Revolution," American University Press, 1993, p. 159).

But Odom's view is asserted rather than argued, and it is effectively rebutted, at least in part, by DeYoung's plaintive analysis.


GEOSPATIAL INTELLIGENCE ARRIVES AT NIMA

The National Imagery and Mapping Agency is promoting the term "geospatial intelligence" to refer to a new, over-arching concept of its mission that stresses fusion of multiple intelligence sources in an all-digital environment.

Advances in intelligence technology and processing are so profound, according to NIMA, that geospatial intelligence amounts to "a new intelligence discipline."

"The union of three technological achievements -- precision geopositioning, advanced imagery and sensor technologies, and low cost ubiquitous digital data processing -- has made possible the convergence of geospatial and imagery analysis into the integrated discipline of geospatial intelligence."

See the new NIMA publication "Geospatial Intelligence: Capstone Concept," January 2003, here:

Incredibly, this PDF document weighs in at a preposterous 16 MB. With its thirty pages of mostly text, it has no business being that large. But it may be an indication that NIMA is now operating in such a bandwidth-rich environment that it can afford to be profligate with its file sizes.


FOI CASE COMES TO SUPREME COURT

There is cause for trepidation any time that a Freedom of Information Act matter comes before the Supreme Court since any ruling issued by the Court immediately propagates throughout the system as binding precedent.

One such matter, Department of the Treasury v. City of Chicago, will be heard by the Court next month and, public interest groups warn, it has the potential to significantly narrow the application of the FOIA if the Court sides with the Bush Administration.

For details, see "Supreme Court Case Poses Risk to Freedom of Information" on the web site of the National Security Archive, which filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief on the matter, here:

Amicus briefs were also filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, with allied press groups:

and, from a slightly different angle, by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and associates:


UK REPORT ON IRAQ PLAGIARIZED

The report on Iraqi efforts to deceive UN weapons inspectors that was published recently by the UK Office of the Prime Minister was "completely unsourced and undocumented," Secrecy News noticed yesterday.

But in fact, it was worse than that. Entire sections of the report were plagiarized -- lifted without attribution from other published sources, including even punctuation errors made by the original, unacknowledged authors.

"The British government's latest report on Iraq's non-compliance with weapons inspections, which claims to draw on 'intelligence material', has been revealed as a wholesale plagiarism of three old and publicly-available articles, one of them by a graduate student in California," according to an assessment by Cambridge analyst Glen Rangwala that circulated yesterday. See:

"The dossier may not amount to much but this is a considerable embarrassment for a government trying still to make a case for war," Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell told the BBC. See:

Speaking at the UN on Wednesday, Secretary of State Powell praised the UK document as "a fine paper... which describes in exquisite detail Iraqi deception activities".

By this morning, the link to the document on the front page of the Downing Street website had disappeared, observed Stephen Fidler of the Financial Times.

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

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