Experts Advise IC on Classified Biosecurity Activities

04.13.10 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

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).