from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 74
August 9, 2002


Briefing slides from a controversial presentation to the Pentagon's Defense Science Board which declared that Saudi Arabia is "the kernel of evil" were published this week in Slate Magazine.

The Washington Post first reported the overtly anti-Saudi briefing, which was given last month in closed session by a RAND Corporation analyst named Laurent Murawiec. The August 6 Post story provoked diplomatic indignation in Saudi Arabia and official disavowals in Washington.

The Pentagon felt obliged to issue a statement noting that "Neither the presentations nor the Defense Policy Board members' comments reflect the official views of the Department of Defense."

But the most entertaining response came in a Slate Magazine article the next day by Jack Shafer, who asked "Just who the hell is Laurent Murawiec?"

In an analysis of the briefing and its author, Shafer found that Murawiec is a somewhat elusive figure who turns out to be no less than a former associate of "the political fantasist, convicted felon, and perpetual presidential candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr."

(Larouche, as it happens, was cited this week in the Iranian press in support of the thesis that the September 11 attacks were "a joint brainchild of George W. Bush and Associates and the Zionist entity." [Kayhan International, Tehran, August 4])

See Shafer's August 7 article entitled "The PowerPoint That Rocked the Pentagon" which also includes the previously unpublished briefing slides from the Murawiec presentation and a link to the Washington Post article:

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld complained on August 6 that the Post story, written by Thomas E. Ricks, was yet another example of a classified "leak" to the media.

"Clearly, somebody decided that it was a good idea to take something that was that potentially controversial ... and give it to a newspaper, even though the meeting was a classified meeting and a closed meeting of the Defense Policy Board," Rumsfeld said. "It's harmful in this case, for example, because it creates a misimpression that someone then has to figure out a way to correct."

The following day Secretary Rumsfeld corrected himself, explaining that "there was nothing classified in the briefer's [Murawiec's] paper. And I may have said yesterday... that it was a classified briefing, but it was not. It was a closed briefing but not a classified briefing."


Congressional frustration with Bush Administration secrecy is growing among members of both parties, according to a story in The Hill newspaper this week.

"The Bush administration's refusal to cooperate with even the most routine and basic congressional requests for information is infuriating members of Congress and violating congressional rights and responsibilities, members charge."

See "Members hit White House over secrecy," by Alexander Bolton in the August 7 edition of The Hill:


"The Secret Service / makes me nervous," wrote Irving Berlin in a song for the Broadway musical "Mr. President," which premiered in 1962. "Those White House dicks / Get all their kicks / When they observe us."

That forgotten Berlin number was exhumed and reissued on CD in a new novelty collection called "Music to Spy By," compiled for the International Spy Museum that opened in Washington last month.

"Music to Spy By" features a couple of decent tracks -- Bernard Hermann's "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and the affecting theme from "You Only Live Twice" -- as well as curios like songs from The Man from UNCLE, Get Smart, and The Avengers, plus assorted junk. See:

The International Spy Museum, a for-profit venture, is reportedly shaping up to be a commercial success. But it has already drawn criticism for its shagadelic vision of espionage and its neglect of the dark side of intelligence.

"I looked in vain for some mention of our CIA's involvement in the overthrow of democratically elected governments in Chile and Guatemala, our botched attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro or the CIA's cozy contracts with drug trafficking pilots in Southeast Asia and, more recently, Central America," wrote columnist Clarence Page in an article about the museum this week. See:

Museum staff say that they aspire to present educational programming over the coming year that will not shy away from controversy. See the Museum web site here:


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

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