SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 57
July 7, 2003

ISRAEL'S NUCLEAR WEAPONS AT ISSUE

Controversy over Israel's reported nuclear weapons program erupted briefly on the floor of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, last week, when a Palestinian Arab Knesset member, Isam Makhoul, raised the sensitive issue, citing the FAS web site.

"The Federation of American Scientists site notes that Israel has nuclear weapons stored in the Haifa Bay area, on Mount Elabon in the Galilee, and in Kefar Zekharya near Bet Shemesh. Are these facts correct?" asked MK Makhul.

"Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East," replied Minister Gideon Ezra, employing the standard Israeli government formulation.

"Israel endorses the principle of nuclear non-proliferation," he said. At the same time, he added, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty "does not provide an adequate response to the reality that prevails in our region, as demonstrated in the past by Iraq and today by the case of Iran."

See "Arab MK Quotes US Source on Israel's Nuclear Program" by Haim Shibi, Yediot Aharonot, July 3, translated with some apparent errors (e.g. Gideon Ezra's last name) by the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, here:

A transcript of the July 2 Knesset debate on Israel's non-conventional weapons (in Hebrew) is posted here:

Israel's nuclear programs were described, for example, in this 1995 published report of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR):


INADVERTENT DISCLOSURES OF CLASSIFIED INFO

The Department of Energy has released its latest quarterly report on inadvertent disclosures of classified information.

"As a result of the Department of Energy's examination of approximately 860,000 additional pages of publicly available records accessioned by the National Archives and Records Administration, the Department discovered an additional 90 documents containing 261 pages of RD and FRD [i.e., classified nuclear weapons information] which were inadvertently released." See:


FOIA: WHERE WE ARE TODAY

A broad selection of current topics in U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) policy was explored in a Justice Department conference for government FOIA officers last week.

The topics included the Ashcroft FOIA memorandum of October 2001, the March 2002 White House memorandum on safeguarding information on weapons of mass destruction, the Homeland Security Act FOIA exemption for critical infrastructure information, amendments to the national security order on classification, last year's FOIA amendment blocking foreign government requests for intelligence records, and discussion of the first judicial rulings on public access to homeland security information.

These matters are outlined, with appropriate links, here:

The National Security Archive has published an updated reader on FOIA with historical background, how-to resources and "an itemized list of 20 significant news stories from the last 18 months that cited documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act." See:


SPOTLIGHT ON FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

"Long before the events of Sept. 11, 2001 provided it with a convenient catchall excuse for hiding its actions from public scrutiny, ours was a government enamored with classification for classification's sake," according to Charles N. Davis, executive director of the Freedom of Information Center at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

See his op-ed, "Bush administration most secretive since King George," in the Contra Costa Times, July 5:

The article is part of a new series intended to advance the cause of freedom of information published by the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service. It features weekly "opinion pieces that are available free of charge to all newspapers, including those that do not subscribe to the KRT News Service."

See "Spotlight on Freedom of Information" here:

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

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