SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 111
October 25, 2006

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DOD SUPPRESSED DATA ON RISING RESEARCH LAB DEMAND

In a report to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission last year, Department of Defense officials selectively withheld data showing that demand for certain DoD research laboratory facilities was likely to increase, not decrease, in coming years.

The suppression of this information on "future excess capacity" appears to have significantly distorted the decision-making process regarding military base closures.

"The [suppressed] data would have made for an awkward situation were it not expunged because it showed that excess capacity will vanish without any BRAC actions taken," according to a sharply critical November 2005 memorandum prepared by Don J. DeYoung, a member of an internal BRAC study group.

A copy of the DeYoung memo as well as the suppressed data on "future excess capacity" at DoD laboratories were independently obtained by Secrecy News.

"It was unethical to expunge critical data from the official process, and then withhold it from the public and the affected DoD workforces," Mr. DeYoung wrote in his internal memorandum. It may also have been illegal, given a statutory requirement to provide all relevant information to Congress and the BRAC Commission.

Any decision to preserve or to shut down a particular facility is a judgment call that involves consideration of numerous factors.

But because relevant data were withheld, the resulting decisions "lacked integrity," wrote Mr. DeYoung. "A necessary and appropriate public debate was thereby eliminated."

The BRAC decision-making process also produced some results that are questionable from a public policy point of view. For example, a decision was made to close a research facility at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey even though it is a leading developer of countermeasures against Improvised Explosive Devices, which are a major threat to U.S. troops in Iraq.

A more detailed account of the DoD suppression of BRAC data on "future excess capacity" is presented in this synopsis:

For links to the uncensored version of the report including data on "future excess capacity," the censored BRAC report as presented to the Commission, the November 2005 DeYoung critique of the process, and a DoD email message suggesting that the suppressed data be classified, see this page:


RESOURCES ON SPACE POLICY

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has produced a revised edition of its "basic doctrine" which generally "explains what geospatial intelligence--or GEOINT--is, how it has evolved and how it contributes to our nation's security." See "Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) Basic Doctrine," Publication 1-0, September 2006 (6.2 MB):

The U.S. Air Force watches the skies by means of the Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) system. An introduction to GEODSS, its structure, history and contributions, was prepared by Allen Thomson in A GEODSS Sourcebook (4.2 MB):

This week the People's Republic of China successfully launched two satellites into orbit. Earlier this month, China issued a white paper on "China's Space Activities in 2006," available here:


ARGENTINA, ARSENIC AND MORE FROM CRS

Some recent reports of the Congressional Research Service which have not been made readily available to the public include the following.

"The War Crimes Act: Current Issues," updated October 2, 2006:

"Honduras: Political and Economic Situation and U.S. Relations," updated October 13, 2006:

"Argentina: Political Conditions and U.S. Relations," updated October 12, 2006:

"Arsenic in Drinking Water: Regulatory Developments and Issues," updated October 5, 2006:

"Defense: FY2007 Authorization and Appropriations," updated September 5, 2006:

"North Korea: Terrorism List Removal?" updated August 12, 2004:

"Chemical Facility Security," updated August 2, 2006:

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

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