SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2010, Issue No. 29
April 13, 2010

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

EXPERTS ADVISE IC ON CLASSIFIED BIOSECURITY ACTIVITIES

The Biological Sciences Experts Group (BSEG) is a group of non-governmental scientists who advise the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) on activities to counter biological threats and weapons. Aside from the fact of its existence, nearly everything about the group is classified, but a few details of the enterprise have lately emerged.

The BSEG is supposed to "provide technical advice and counsel on specific scientific and technical issues relevant to the IC's mission to counter the threat posed by the potential proliferation of biological weapons and related technologies," according to an internal account. See "Biological Sciences Experts Group Concept Paper" (undated, probably 2006, FOUO):

The BSEG will "strengthen the integration of the life-science and intelligence communities and facilitate access of the IC to life-science experts outside of the Federal government." The BSEG is supposed to help intelligence agencies design experiments and collection methodologies, interpret results, and perform other kinds of technical assessments. However, "the BSEG shall neither produce analytical intelligence products nor engage in collection."

According to the original concept, the BSEG was to be comprised of 12 non-governmental individuals, supported by a larger network of experts. The membership of the BSEG is not officially disclosed, unless the individual members choose to make themselves known. The Group is managed by the National Counterproliferation Center of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and is subject to a steering committee of IC agency representatives.

It could not immediately be learned how active the BSEG has been, on what topics it was consulted, or what it may have accomplished.

For a previous account of the BSEG, see "Panel Provides Peer Review of Intelligence Research" by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, Science, December 7, 2007, p. 1538 (sub. req'd):


FBI INVITES ACADEMICS TO CONFER ON SECURITY

The Federal Bureau of Investigation will co-host a conference this month "to promote positive continuous dialogue between the U.S. Intelligence Community and the academic community." The conference will be held at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory on April 29.

Topics of discussion will include the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, which "has been an invaluable tool in providing advice to the FBI on the culture of higher education, including the traditions of openness, academic freedom, and international collaboration, while serving as a forum for discussion of national security issues."

In 2008, authors from the FBI and the Federation of American Scientists jointly reported on a survey of attitudes among scientists concerning interactions with the FBI. "The attitudes of scientists toward law enforcement personnel are not vastly different from those of the general public. However, a larger percentage of scientists indicated cooler feelings towards the FBI than the general public, suggesting that these reservations are particular to the scientific community and require specific solutions with the scientific community in mind," the survey found. "[S]cientists are suspicious of the FBI and feel that they do not work well with the scientific community."

"By taking steps to address suspicions early in any interaction and by treating scientists respectfully and professionally, law enforcement representatives are more likely to build a foundation of respect with their interaction and displace existing hostility," the authors suggested.

See "How Scientists View Law Enforcement" by Nathaniel Hafer, Cheryl J. Vos, Karen McAllister, Gretchen Lorenzi, Christopher Moore, Kavita M. Berger and Michael Stebbins, Science Progress, December 22, 2008:


OSC ON TURKEY'S "ERGENEKON" UNDERGROUND MOVEMENT

A new report from the DNI Open Source Center profiles Turkey's subversive "Ergenekon" movement.

"'Ergenekon' is the name of an alleged illegal neonationalist organization accused of planning to oust the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) government through a military coup. The organization, in turn, has been linked to the so-called 'Deep State,' alleged to be a vast, underground network of secular Turks plotting criminal acts to destabilize the government," the OSC report said.

"Ergenekon's leader, also referred to as 'Number One,' has not yet been identified," the OSC remarked.

The OSC does not make its products freely available to the public even when they are unclassified and not copyrighted. But a copy of this report was obtained by Secrecy News. See "Turkey -- Guide to Ergenekon," Open Source Center, March 19, 2010:

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

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