SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 31
March 21, 2007

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THE WIKIPEDIA FACTOR IN U.S. INTELLIGENCE

The collaboratively written online encyclopedia Wikipedia, created in 2001, has steadily grown in popularity, credibility and influence to the point that it is now used and referenced in U.S. Government intelligence products.

A March 19 profile of Indian Congress Party Leader Rahul Gandhi prepared by the Open Source Center (OSC) of the Office of Director of National Intelligence is explicitly derived from "various internet sources including wikipedia.org." A March 21 OSC profile of Rajnath Singh, president of India's Bharatiya Janata Party, is likewise "sourced from wikipedia.org."

An OSC report last year on the leader of the terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Velupillai Prabhakaran, noted that he and his wife "have two children, a girl and a boy. According to wikipedia.com, the boy is named Charles Anthony and the girl, Duwaraha."

The relatively new attentiveness of U.S. intelligence agencies to Wikipedia and other unorthodox sources (including fas.org) seems like a healthy development. Of course, like any source and moreso than some, Wikipedia cannot be used uncritically.

Last December, according to another OSC report, a participant in an online jihadist forum posted a message entitled "Why Don't We Invade Wikipedia?" in which "he called on other participants to consider writing articles and adding items to the online Wikipedia encyclopedia.... and in this way, and through an Islamic lobby, apply pressure on the encyclopedia's material."

For various topics related to space physics, "Wikipedia was the most complete source of information" compared to other highly ranked web sites, according to an article in the American Geophysical Union's Eos magazine (13 March 07) by Mark B. Moldwin, et al. But some Wikipedia entries on space physics, the authors found, also contained mistaken use of terminology, factual errors and omissions.

"Wikipedia lets anyone write or edit it, which of course makes it vulnerable to vandalism--as when a picture of the evil Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars briefly adorned the entry for the new Pope [Benedict]," notes Eric Rauchway in The New Republic Online (March 21).


CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY OF PRESIDENTIAL ADVISERS (CRS)

The suggestion that it would be inherently inappropriate for presidential advisers to testify under oath before Congress regarding the firing of U.S. attorneys was swiftly batted down with numerous references to a 2004 Congressional Research Service report on the subject.

CRS analyst Harold C. Relyea identified dozens of cases in which presidential advisers had been summoned to testify to Congress, and did so.

See "Presidential Advisers' Testimony Before Congressional Committees: A Brief Overview," April 14, 2004:


VARIOUS RESOURCES

The Office of Naval Intelligence has published an unclassified assessment of Chinese naval forces, which have been modernizing and growing in capability over the past decade. See "China's Navy 2007":

The National Intelligence Council released an April 2006 "Annual Report to Congress on the Safety and Security of Russian Nuclear Facilities and Military Forces." See:

U.S. Army space operations in the 2015-2024 timeframe are considered in a recent Concept Capability Plan from U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. See "Space Operations: 2015-2024," 15 November 2006:

Military doctrine to support joint operations with foreign military forces is addressed in a new Joint Chiefs of Staff publication. See "Multinational Operations," Joint Publication JP 3-16, 7 March 2007:


THE FINANCIAL COST OF WAR (CRS)

The cost of post-9/11 U.S. military operations has now reached $510 billion, according to an updated estimate from the Congressional Research Service.

See "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11," updated March 14, 2007:

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

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