SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 40
April 26, 2005

PHILIP MORRISON, 1915-2005

Philip Morrison, the physicist, Manhattan Project veteran, arms control activist and science educator, died over the weekend.

Like few others, Morrison's life embodied the travails of the nuclear age and pointed beyond it. He personally assembled the first atomic bomb and was among the first Americans to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He went on to become a leading critic of nuclear weapons policy.

Having been a member of the Communist Party from 1936 to 1942, he was also an object of suspicion and hostility that made his professional life at Cornell University precarious throughout the 1950s. In 1953, he was summoned to testify before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, where he took the "diminished Fifth," i.e., he spoke willingly about his own beliefs and opinions, not taking the Fifth Amendment, but he declined to discuss the views of others. Life Magazine published his picture in an article on America's fifty leading "Dupes and Fellow Travelers." (cf. Ellen Schrecker, No Ivory Tower, p. 151; Jessica Wang, American Science in an Age of Anxiety, p. 274).

As one of the original atomic scientists, Morrison helped establish the Federation of American Scientists in 1945 and was its chairman from 1973 to 1976. Shortly before his death, he had agreed to prepare an FAS obituary for his friend and colleague Hans Bethe, but sadly did not complete it.

Aside from his own considerable scientific achievements, Morrison was perhaps best known to the public as a science educator. His prolific writings for Scientific American and other outlets helped teach generations of readers to observe and to think.

See "Philip Morrison, 89, Builder of First Atom Bomb, Dies" by Dennis Overbye, New York Times, April 26:

Morrison described the bombing of Hiroshima and anticipated the effects of a future nuclear strike in a 1946 article entitled "If the Bomb Gets Out of Hand" from the FAS bestseller of the time "One World or None." It may be found here:


DIA SEEKS FOIA EXEMPTION FOR OPERATIONAL FILES

The Defense Intelligence Agency is once again asking Congress to enact an exemption from the Freedom of Information Act for DIA "operational files," i.e. certain records that document foreign intelligence collection operations or liaison relationships.

The proposed exemption is based on similar exemptions that have been granted in the last several years to other intelligence agencies, including CIA, NSA, NGA and NRO. See the DIA draft legislative language here:

DIA did not mention that it had sought an operational files exemption five years ago, and that the proposal had been rejected by Congress.

"The DIA exemption would radically reduce the amount of information released under the FOIA. Specifically, it would enshroud in secrecy files that have been invaluable for human rights investigators looking into foreign militaries," wrote Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive in a July 19, 2000 Washington Post op-ed on the earlier DIA proposal.


PUBLIC INTEREST DECLASS BOARD STALLS

The Public Interest Declassification Board, an advisory panel that was given a new lease on life in last year's intelligence reform legislation, now appears to be hovering on the edge of extinction.

Although the White House named five members to the Board last September and Congress named two more, the Board still remains unfunded and therefore unable to convene (Secrecy News, 02/11/05).

The Office of Management and Budget had recently identified funds for reprogramming to support the Board, and the National Security Council had approved the transfer, one official told Secrecy News. But then the ball was dropped, figuratively speaking, and the reprogramming never took place. Efforts by some to include funding in the recent Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act were blocked in Congress.

No more than a few tens of thousands of dollars are needed for the Board for the remainder of the current fiscal year, according to the official.

But "It is easier to get $100 million than to get $100 thousand," the official said yesterday.

Despite its somewhat grandiose name, the Public Interest Declassification Board would not have authority to declassify, nor would it answer to the public. Its primary purposes are to advise the White House on declassification priorities and to mediate classification disputes with Congressional Committees.


TENET STATEMENT ON CURVEBALL

In an April 1 statement, former Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet expressed amazement and dismay at the finding of the Silberman-Robb WMD Commission that the alleged Iraqi defector known as "Curveball," on whom U.S. intelligence relied for information about Iraqi biological weapons programs, had been identified as unreliable as early as fall of 2002.

"It is deeply troubling to me that there was information apparently available within CIA as of late September or October of 2002 indicating that Curveball may have been a fabricator," Mr. Tenet wrote.

Mr. Tenet's statement was widely quoted following the release of the WMD Commission report, but the full 7 page text does not seem to have been widely available. A copy is now here:


MILITARY INTELLIGENCE AND HOMELAND SECURITY

"The Role of Military Intelligence in Homeland Security" is considered by Stephen Dycus in the new issue of Louisiana Law Review, vol. 64, no. 4 (not available online).

Somewhat relatedly, see "Homeland Security: Establishment and Implementation of the United States Northern Command," Congressional Research Service, updated February 10, 2005:


DNI AUTHORIZED TO CLASSIFY

President Bush formally endowed the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) with authority to classify information up to the Top Secret level in an administrative order published in the Federal Register today.

The President also granted the same authority to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (DCIA).

Curiously, the DCIA had not previously been designated by the President as an original classifier. That authority was held by the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), which is a distinct office from that of the DCIA, even though the two have always been filled by the same person. Since most of the DCI's functions were transferred to the new DNI, it became necessary to make the DCIA an authorized classifier.

The President's order 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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