SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 94
October 28, 2004

HAS THE INTEL BUDGET TOTAL EVER BEEN "PUBLICLY IDENTIFIED"?

A three year old Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking disclosure of historical intelligence budget figures from 1947 to 1970 has bogged down into a semantic dispute over whether the intelligence budget total has ever been "publicly identified."

In a poorly drafted September 22, 2004 declaration, then-Acting Director of Central Intelligence John E. McLaughlin stated under oath that "The aggregate intelligence budgets and the total CIA budgets have never been publicly identified, both to protect the classified nature of the intelligence programs themselves and to protect the classified intelligence methods used to transfer funds to and between intelligence agencies."

That sentence as written is false -- aggregate intelligence budgets for 1997 and 1998 were previously released in response to prior FOIA litigation. Citing the error, FAS moved the court to strike the McLaughlin declaration from the record.

CIA responded that the sentence was taken out of context and that it should be understood to mean that Congress has never publicly identified intelligence budget information.

"Former Acting DCI McLaughlin's averment ... is contained within a paragraph that describes how Congress, not the Executive branch, has historically treated aggregate and agency-specific intelligence budget figures as being secret," attorneys for the CIA wrote.

FAS replied last week with a citation showing that the 1997 and 1998 intelligence budget totals had been "publicly identified" by Congress in the Congressional Record.

Unfair! shrieked the CIA and Justice Department lawyers this week in an unusual surreply.

The information in the Congressional Record "'publicly identified' nothing more than aggregate intelligence budget figures that defendant [CIA], not Congress, had already 'publicly identified' years earlier," they told the court.

So in other words, according to government attorneys, when Acting DCI McLaughlin used the term "publicly identified" it must only be understood to mean "disclosed by Congress for the first time."

It is encouraging to note that even some current CIA employees view the Agency's handling of this case with dismay.

"I was terribly disappointed with McLaughlin's declaration," one CIA official with relevant expertise said. "That's what happens when there are too many lawyers in the picture trying to think up ways to say no, even when they don't make any sense."

"Shame on you for wasting valuable government resources," said another message. "Think of the hours all those high-priced lawyers spent in meetings to come up with those lame declarations."

"The judge may think you're a pest, but that's nothing compared to what some in CIA think you are," said a third message from a CIA official.

"CIA lawyers are pretty smug about judges agreeing with them in info disclosure cases, but at least you've given them a run for their money, not to mention getting this issue a lot of Attention."


NITZE: MASTER OF THE GAME

The role of the late Paul Nitze in defining U.S. policy on nuclear weapons throughout the Cold War is traced in a new documentary collection from the National Security Archive, with a thoughtful introduction by William Burr and Robert Wampler.

"Nitze's life in public service... placed him at the center of practically every significant decision or debate about U.S. Cold War strategy and nuclear weapons policies," they observe.

"All in all, it is a remarkable record of determined and unflagging engagement publicly and behind the closed doors of government with the key problem of the Cold War era: how to respond rationally to the fact of nuclear weapons without giving in to either despair or unfounded optimism about the security dilemmas they created."

After the Cold War, as noted by Bill Hartung in a letter to the Washington Post today, Nitze was willing to consider even the unilateral abolition of nuclear weapons. Some 15 ago, he endorsed a petition advanced by then-FAS President Jeremy J. Stone to eliminate tactical nuclear weapons from U.S. naval vessels.

See "'The Master of the Game': Paul H. Nitze and U.S. Cold War Strategy from Truman to Reagan," October 27:


STEM CELL RESEARCH (CRS)

The use of embryonic stem cells to aid the development of cures to various diseases has been a subject of presidential politics, given the candidates' disparate views on the issue.

The Congressional Research Service provided a dispassionate assessment -- for Congress, not for the general public -- in "Stem Cell Research," updated August 13, 2004:

A related CRS report entitled "Cloning: A Select Chronology, 1997-2003," updated August 19, 2003 is here:


WEIRD SCIENCE: TELEPORTATION PHYSICS

The Air Force Research Laboratory has paid for and published a new study on "teleportation physics," referring to the disembodied transport of objects across space.

The author strives to distinguish his subject from the fictional Star Trek "transporter" concept, and notes that "we are still very far away from being able to ... teleport human beings (and even simpler biological entities such as cells, etc.) and bulk inanimate objects...."

But after fifty pages of opaque physics, he concludes with an endorsement of remote viewing, psychokinesis and spoon bending by psychic Uri Geller.

"During a talk that he gave at the U.S. Capitol building, Uri caused a spoon to curve upward with no force applied, and then the spoon continued to bend after he put it back down and continued with his talk," he reports.

"There are numerous supporters within the U.S. military establishment who comprehend the significance of remote viewing and PK [psychokinesis] phenomenon [sic], and believe that they could have strategic implications," he notes.

And he repeats a warning that "foreign adversaries could exploit micro- or macro-PK to induce U.S. military fighter pilots to lose control of their aircraft and crash."

Given the looming ESP gap, the author recommends that "A research program improving on and expanding, or implementing novel variations of, the Chinese and Uri Geller-type experiments should be conducted in order to generate p-Teleportation phenomenon [sic] in the lab."

The report concludes with a ten-page bibliography on teleportation physics and a distribution list that amounts to something like a "who's who" in "alternative science."

See "Teleportation Physics Study" by Eric W. Davis, Air Force Research Lab Special Report, Edwards Air Force Base, August 2004, distribution unlimited (1.7 MB PDF file):

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

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