SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 38
April 21, 2005

COURT CLOSES HEARING ON SIBEL EDMONDS CASE

The U.S. Court of Appeals today barred public access to an unclassified hearing in the appeal of a lawsuit brought by FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds.

The unexpected action was reportedly taken at the Court's own volition, not at the request of the government, and seemed intended to suppress media coverage of the hearing rather than to protect classified information. (Members of Ms. Edmonds' legal team who do not hold security clearances were not excluded from the hearing.)

The decision to close the hearing was challenged yesterday by emergency motions from the ACLU, which represents Ms. Edmonds, the Project on Government Oversight and several other public interest and media organizations.

An April 20 ACLU news release, with a link to the motion to open the hearing, is here:

But all of the motions were promptly denied by the Court today before the oral arguments commenced behind closed doors. See the ruling here:

Following today's hearing, the ACLU issued this news release:

Sibel Edmonds' web site is here:


SOME RECENT CRS REPORTS

Some recent publications of the Congressional Research Service include the following.

"Defense Transformation: Background and Oversight Issues for Congress," updated April 4, 2005:

"Computer Attack and Cyberterrorism: Vulnerabilities and Policy Issues for Congress," updated April 1, 2005:

"Immigration: Terrorist Grounds for Exclusion of Aliens," updated March 30, 2005:

"Aviation Security-Related Findings and Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission," updated March 30, 2005:


REMEMBERING MARLA RUZICKA

Marla Ruzicka, the 28 year old relief worker and activist who was killed in Iraq last week, was movingly remembered by Senator Pat Leahy on the Senate floor. See his statement here:

On Monday, USA Today published an op-ed by Ms. Ruzicka which included the remarkable assertion that, contrary to some official claims, the U.S. military has compiled statistics on the number of Iraqi civilians killed in the course of the war there.

See "Aid worker's words--just a week before she was killed," USA Today, April 18 (flagged by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press):


REMEMBERING CHUCK HANSEN

Chuck Hansen, who died two years ago, was a pioneering investigator of the history of nuclear weapons development. He was author of "U.S. Nuclear Weapons: The Secret History," now a coveted collector's item, and of the documentary collection "Swords of Armageddon".

He was also an exceptionally skilled and persistent practitioner of the art of Freedom of Information Act requests.

In one memorable case, a FOIA request from Hansen triggered an FBI investigation -- of him! His request regarding a particular matter of sensitive nuclear history was so precisely crafted that the FBI suspected him of having unauthorized access to classified information, which he didn't. ("File a FOIA Request and Meet the FBI," Secrecy and Government Bulletin, Issue 32, Feb/Mar 1994).

Recently, FOIA requester Michael Ravnitzky asked the Department of Energy for records concerning Chuck Hansen, such as official investigations or assessments of his work.

At first, Mr. Ravnitzky's request was denied. But on appeal, DOE last month agreed to release a redacted version of a report about Hansen that was prepared for the Department in 1982.

In what might be viewed as a back-handed tribute to Mr. Hansen, however, the report's 16 pages are almost entirely blanked out.

"The information that the DOE continues to withhold concerns nuclear weapons design that is currently classified as Restricted Data," the DOE appeals panel explained.

A copy of the material released to Mr. Ravnitzky by DOE on March 21, 2005 is here:

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

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