SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 28
March 1, 2006

Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

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CHINA AND NUCLEAR SECRETS

The intense and occasionally hyperbolic controversy that erupted in the late 1990s over alleged theft of U.S. nuclear weapons secrets by the People's Republic of China is revisited in a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service.

See "China: Suspected Acquisition of U.S. Nuclear Weapon Secrets," updated February 1, 2006:

Coincidentally, a Chinese newspaper yesterday accused the United States of relentlessly seeking to acquire Chinese nuclear secrets.

"In fact, as early as 1955, from the moment China decided to develop atomic bombs, US intelligence has been doing everything it could, with whatever means necessary, to gather relevant secret information," the newspaper article said, presumably correctly.

See "The United States Has Been Probing for China's Nuclear Intelligence by Various Methods and Whatever Means Necessary" by Yu Sung, Zhongguo Tongxun She, February 28, 2006:


CRS ON EXON-FLORIO, DEFENSE TRANSFORMATION

The Exon-Florio Act of 1988, which permits the President to block foreign takeover of certain types of U.S. companies on national security grounds, has been in the news lately in connection with the proposed acquisition of six U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World.

Some useful background on that statute is provided by the Congressional Research Service in "The Exon-Florio National Security Test for Foreign Investment," updated February 23, 2006:

The substance of the Pentagon's notion of "defense transformation" and the spin surrounding it are considered in another newly-updated CRS report.

"Some observers are concerned that the Administration's regular use of the term transformation has turned the concept of transformation into an empty slogan or buzz-phrase."

"Other observers are concerned that the Administration has invoked the term transformation as an all-purpose rhetorical tool for justifying its various proposals for DOD, whether they relate to transformation or not, and for encouraging minimal debate on those proposals by tying the concept of transformation to the urgent need to fight the war on terrorism."

See "Defense Transformation: Background and Oversight Issues for Congress," updated February 17, 2006:


AIPAC COURT DENIES AMICUS STANDING TO REPORTERS COMMITTEE

The judge who presides over the prosecution of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for allegedly mishandling classified information has rejected a request from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to present an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief on the profound constitutional concerns raised by the case.

"Defendants are ably and energetically represented by counsel experienced in all facets of the case, including the constitutional challenge," wrote Judge T.S. Ellis, III.

"This prosecution is not the appropriate procedural context in which various elements of society should debate the constitutional validity or wisdom of [the Espionage Act]," the Judge wrote.

See his February 27, 2006 order here:

More information on the Reporters Committee view of the case may be found here:


PARADE MAGAZINE ON SECRECY

Parade Magazine, the Sunday supplement that is inserted into newspapers all over the country, turned its attention last week from celebrity romance and dieting tips to the problem of government secrecy.

"Concerns about overclassification cut across ideological and party lines," according to Parade.

"Besides alienating Americans from their government, the result is that many debates today are little more than rhetoric and smears, because information explaining how a policy was decided isn't available."

The Parade article serves as a kind of overture to Sunshine Week, March 13-17, which is an initiative by media organizations and others to focus public attention on the defects of unchecked government secrecy.

See "Are They Taking Away Our Freedoms?" by Lyric Wallwork Winik, Parade, February 26:

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

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