Nuclear Weapons

DoD Seeks New FOIA Exemption for Unclassified WMD Info

04.18.06 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The Department of Defense is seeking a broad new exemption from the Freedom of Information Act for unclassified information relating to weapons of mass destruction.

According to the proposed legislation, “Examples of such information could include … formulas and design descriptions of lethal and incapacitating materials; maps, designs, security/emergency response plans, and vulnerability assessments for facilities containing weapons of mass destruction materials.”

The proposal is puzzling because most such information, including that which is not classified, is already exempt from the FOIA. Meanwhile, some related categories of information that are not exempt should arguably remain public.

The draft DoD language “is so broad as to potentially sweep everything related to any chemical facility into the exemption,” said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel at the National Security Archive. “There is nothing in here that explicitly protects the public’s need to know some things about these facilities, e.g. violations of the law, lack of required certifications or licenses.”

Furthermore, she said, “the lack of a temporal limit on the withholdability of the information, and the lack of any appeals mechanism, creates a potential black hole.”

She suggested that any such exemption should be more narrowly “focused on what they actually are trying to protect, which I think is vulnerability information DOD learns of regarding private facilities.”

The draft DoD FOIA exemption was first reported in “DOD Asks For New FOIA Exemption Covering WMD-Related Information” by Keith Costa, Inside the Pentagon, April 13.

publications
See all publications
Nuclear Weapons
Report
Nuclear Notebook: Russian Nuclear Weapons, 2023

The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons, and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987.. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]

05.08.23 | 1 min read
read more
Nuclear Weapons
Blog
Video Indicates that Lida Air Base Might Get Russian “Nuclear Sharing” Mission in Belarus

On 14 April 2023, the Belarusian Ministry of Defence released a short video of a Su-25 pilot explaining his new role in delivering “special [nuclear] munitions” following his training in Russia. The features seen in the video, as well as several other open-source clues, suggest that Lida Air Base––located only 40 kilometers from the Lithuanian border and the […]

04.19.23 | 7 min read
read more
Nuclear Weapons
Blog
Was There a U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accident At a Dutch Air Base? [no, it was training, see update below]

A photo in a Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) student briefing from 2022 shows four people inspecting what appears to be a damaged B61 nuclear bomb.

04.03.23 | 7 min read
read more
Nuclear Weapons
Blog
STRATCOM Says China Has More ICBM Launchers Than The United States – We Have Questions

In early-February 2023, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) had informed Congress that China now has more launchers for Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) than the United States. The report is the latest in a serious of revelations over the past four years about China’s growing nuclear weapons arsenal and the deepening […]

02.10.23 | 6 min read
read more