SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 45
May 11, 2005

THE DESTRUCTION OF THOMAS BUTLER

Dr. Thomas C. Butler, the distinguished physician and specialist in infectious disease who was sentenced to prison last year for improperly transporting medical samples, is the subject of an extraordinary profile in the latest issue of the medical journal Clinical Infectious Disease.

"Thomas Campbell Butler, at 63 years of age, is completing the first year of a 2-year sentence in federal prison, following an investigation and trial that was initiated after he voluntarily reported that he believed vials containing Yersinia pestis were missing from his laboratory at Texas Tech University," the article begins.

"We take this opportunity to remind the infectious diseases community of the plight of our esteemed colleague, whose career and family have, as a result of his efforts to protect us from infection by this organism, paid a price from which they will never recover."

Dr. Butler is credited with having saved literally millions of lives in developing countries through his pioneering work on oral hydration as a treatment for diarrheal diseases.

See "Destroying the Life and Career of a Valued Physician-Scientist Who Tried to Protect Us from Plague: Was It Really Necessary?" by Barbara E. Murray and 13 colleagues, Clinical Infectious Disease, vol. 40, no. 11, 1 June 2005:

Further background on the Butler case is available from the Federation of American Scientists here:


VICE PRESIDENT WINS ENERGY TASK FORCE CASE

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday affirmed that the Vice President's Energy Task Force was within its rights to meet behind closed doors with industry participation since the industry participants were not, strictly speaking, members of the Task Force.

The ruling is a victory for the Bush White House and a new constraint on open government.

See "D.C. Circuit Narrows Advisory Committee Openness," an analysis from the National Security Archive here:


AN ORDINARY FOIA STORY

Many FOIA requesters are likely to have unrealistic expectations about how the Freedom of Information Act process should work, and may be disappointed when voluminous responsive records do not appear on their doorstep free of charge within a few days.

But increasingly, even experienced requesters with modest hopes and low expectations are frustrated with the performance of government agencies.

In a statement prepared for a House hearing on FOIA today, a requester named Charlotte Dennett recounted her efforts to obtain 60 year old records from the Central Intelligence Agency concerning her late father, Daniel C. Dennett, a counterintelligence officer with the OSS and the Central Intelligence Group (CIG).

Although the Agency did release hundreds of routine personnel records to her, "the CIA did not provide me with anything remotely connected with my father's last months or with his death (along with six other Americans) in a March, 1947 plane crash. The CIA justified its actions by citing FOIA exemptions based on protection of Agency sources and methods and reasons of national security."

For reasons explained in her statement, Ms. Dennett did not find this claim persuasive. Her appeal of the matter extended inconclusively for several years, and it is now in litigation. See:


INTELLIGENCE BUDGET DISCLOSED IN NETHERLANDS

In the United States, where intelligence budget secrecy is a deeply rooted dogma that defies rational criticism, it takes a court order to compel the disclosure even of a forty-two year old budget figure (Secrecy News, 05/09/05).

But in other mature democracies such as the United Kingdom, Canada and elsewhere, annual publication of intelligence spending figures has now become the norm.

In the Netherlands, the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) included budget data in its latest annual report as a matter of course.

Thus, in 2004, the AIVD spent 52.2 million Euros on personnel, 32.2 million on material costs, and 3.1 million on secret expenditures.

See the 2004 AIVD annual report here (in Dutch, at pp. 109-110; 750 kb PDF file; thanks to Prof. Cees Wiebes):

A recent AIVD report analyses the threat posed by radical Islam. See "From dawa to jihad - the various threats from radical Islam to the democratic legal order," English translation dated March 2005, here:

(Dawa refers to the propagation of Islam by missionary activity, and is perhaps something like the Islamic counterpart of Christian evangelism.)


HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS (CRS)

Current and proposed funding for the Department of Homeland Security is described in a recent Congressional Research Service report with somewhat greater clarity than in DHS budget documents themselves.

See "Homeland Security Department: FY2006 Appropriations," April 14, 2005:


MEMORIES OF PHIL AND PHYLIS MORRISON

A web site devoted to the memory of the late physicist Philip Morrison and his wife Phylis with tributes from their friends, students and admirers is under construction here:

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

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