SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 65
July 15, 2005

A (RESTRICTED) HISTORY OF THE TRINITY TEST SHOT

July 16 is the sixtieth anniversary of the 1945 detonation of the first nuclear explosive, a test codenamed Trinity, at Alamogordo, New Mexico.

"A test of the atomic bomb was considered essential ... because of the enormous step from the differential and integral experiments, and theory, to a practical gadget," according to a "restricted" Los Alamos history of the event.

"No one was content that the first trial of a [nuclear explosive] should be over enemy territory, where, if the gadget failed, the surprise factor would be lost and the enemy might be presented with a large amount of active material in recoverable form."

The Los Alamos history, entitled "Trinity" by K.T. Bainbridge, was removed from the Los Alamos web site a few years ago, along with thousands of other unclassified technical reports.

The Los Alamos report library catalog states that access to the Bainbridge history is now "restricted to selected government agencies."

But a copy is available on the FAS web site.

See "Trinity," Los Alamos report no. LA-6300-H (94 pages, 4.3 MB PDF file) here:

More Trinity-related resources are available online here:


SENATE DEBATES LEAKS AND CLEARANCES

A heated Senate floor debate yesterday on whether to revoke security clearances of federal employees who disclose classified information such as the identity of a CIA covert agent contained something to annoy everyone.

Senate Democrats introduced an amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations Act that would prohibit "leakers" from holding security clearances -- a move clearly targeted at presidential adviser Karl Rove.

Republicans responded with a proposal to rescind the clearances of anyone who refers to a classified FBI report that is then used by terrorist organizations as propaganda, a not very veiled reference to comments made recently by Sen. Dick Durbin.

After 90 minutes of pointed but often ill-informed debate, both proposals were defeated. See the transcript from the Congressional Record here:


SELECTED CRS REPORTS

The Congressional Research Service noted with apparent satisfaction this week that pending appropriations bills in both the House and the Senate included "a reaffirmation of the statutory restriction on the publication of CRS products."

Nevertheless, CRS reports are increasingly finding their way into the public domain. Reports recently obtained by Secrecy News include the following:

"Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues," updated July 13, 2005:

"U.S.-EU Cooperation Against Terrorism," updated July 12, 2005:

"The Middle East Peace Talks," updated July 7, 2005:

"China's Economic Conditions," updated July 1, 2005:

"Immigration: S Visas for Criminal and Terrorist Informants," updated January 19, 2005:

"Expedited Citizenship Through Military Service: Policy and Issues," updated September 30, 2003:


CHINA VIEWS SECRECY IN THE US

An editorial in China's People's Daily yesterday took aim at the growing secrecy in the United States.

"The 'No.1' of the world invariably acts differently, it tries to be leader in everything, even in the number of 'secrets' it possesses," the paper jibed.

The editorial cited (not quite accurately) a July 3 New York Times story by reporter Scott Shane which described the growth in Official secrecy in the U.S.

Writing in what might be termed "Chinglish," the People's Daily went on to declare:

"Those with a gentle mindset are mostly sincere and transparent; while those with an impetuous mindset are greatly scared and in a state of extreme nervousness, which is followed by more secrets." One almost knows what this means.

Needless to say, the U.S. government is vastly more open than the government of China. At the same time, it is also likely true that the U.S. is far more prolific in the production of new national security secrets, due to its hypertrophied military and intelligence budgets.

See "What a large pool of US 'secrets'!" from the People's Daily Online, July 14:

"It seems that secrets have been kept, but security has not been achieved, it is really hard to give a clear explanation." Indeed.

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

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