SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 76
July 24, 2007

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NEW NAVY POLICY ON BIOLOGICAL SELECT AGENTS

The U.S. Navy has issued its first security policy for protection of "biological select agents and toxins" (BSAT) at Navy facilities, a move that may signify heightened Navy interest in research involving these lethal materials.

Select agents are substances designated by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture that "present a high bioterrorism risk to national security and have the greatest potential for adverse public health impact with mass casualties of humans and/or animals or that pose a severe threat to plant health or to plant products." A few dozen particular biological agents and toxins have been so designated, including ebola and smallpox viruses, botulinum, etc.

There are currently two Navy facilities in the United States that have possession of select agents and toxins, according to the new policy: Naval Surface War Center (NSWC) Dahlgren and the Navy Medical Research Center.

"The Navy may increase the number of facilities in the future, and other Navy facilities may gain access or possession of BSAT due to non-routine events," the document states.

The Navy policy implements a 2004 Department of Defense Directive on protecting biological select agents, and a 2006 instruction from the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.

See "Minimum Security Standards for Safeguarding Biological Select Agents and Toxins (BSAT)," Chief of Naval Operations OPNAV Instruction 5530.16, July 20, 2007:


CRS REPORTS ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Recently updated reports of the Congressional Research Service on nuclear weapons-related topics include these:

"Nuclear Warheads: The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program and the Life Extension Program," updated July 16, 2007:

"Nuclear Weapons: The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program," updated July 13, 2007:

"Nuclear Weapons: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty," updated July 12, 2007:

"Nonproliferation and Threat Reduction Assistance: U.S. Programs in the Former Soviet Union," updated February 23, 2007:

"North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Development and Diplomacy," updated July 2, 2007:


A CAVEAT ON THE SPECIAL FORCES MEDICAL MANUAL

The 1982 U.S. Army medical manual for special forces presented in the last issue of Secrecy News is dangerously misleading and it should not be used in practice, one expert in military medicine warned.

"That manual is a relic of sentimental and historical interest only, advocating treatments that, if used by today's medics, would result in disciplinary measures," wrote Dr. Warner Anderson, a U.S. Army Colonel (ret.) and former associate dean of the Special Warfare Medical Group.

"The manual you reference is of great historical importance in illustrating the advances made in SOF medicine in the past 25 years. But it no more reflects current SOF practice than a 25 year-old Merck Manual reflects current Family Practice. In 2007, it is merely a curiosity."

"Readers who use some of the tips and remedies could potentially cause harm to themselves or their patients."

"I wish you would inform my fellow Secrecy News readers of these issues, correcting any false impressions," Dr. Anderson wrote.

A completely revised Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook was published in 2001. A second edition of that Handbook is now in preparation, said Gay Thompson, managing editor of the Handbook.

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

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