from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 4
January 14, 2004


The Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) of the Central Intelligence Agency has inadvertently disclosed its "Directory of Russian Federation Defense-Related Agencies and Personnel."

The FBIS Directory provides open source information on Russian military structure, installations, intelligence agencies, and leadership, including English and Russian biographies of selected individuals.

Although all of the information is unclassified and does not reflect clandestine collection, such data is nevertheless typically withheld from public disclosure by the Central Intelligence Agency.

A few years ago, the CIA refused to confirm or deny the mere fact that it had prepared biographies of certain foreign leaders. The Agency goes so far as to claim that disclosing the amount of money spent by FBIS on open source collection and analysis would damage the security of the United States. (Selected FBIS translations are made available to the public through an online subscription service.)

The FBIS Directory, updated as recently as December 2003, was found on a publicly accessible portion of an otherwise restricted web site. A copy is posted here:


The prosecution of Texas Tech infectious disease specialist Thomas C. Butler last year on charges of smuggling biological agents and financial irregularities was an abuse of process, and his resulting conviction on charges of fraud was a miscarriage of justice, wrote Texas Tech geologist Thomas M. Lehman in an open letter to his colleagues last week.

In early December, Butler was acquitted of the most serious charges of smuggling. "He was found innocent of the charges on which he was initially arrested because he didn't do anything wrong," wrote Dr. Lehman. His procedural violations involving the transport of biological agents were honest errors committed in good faith, Dr. Lehman averred.

As for the remaining charges, they stemmed from administrative disputes with Texas Tech and possibly personal vendettas, according to Dr. Lehman, and should never have come to trial.

"As you may (or may not) know," Dr. Lehman wrote to his colleagues, "politically speaking I am a very conservative Republican -- and so it came as quite a shock to me to discover that my government and its agents, and my university and its agents, could and would actually come after a good man with the clear intent of destroying him -- even though it had to be patently obvious to them, as it was to me, that he is a good and honest man."

See the open letter to Texas Tech colleagues from Dr. Thomas Lehman here:

Dr. Lehman is renowned in certain circles for having dug up the bones of a newly discovered species of dinosaur dating from about 70 million years ago in Big Bend National Park in Texas.


The principles of freedom of information law and the degree to which they are implemented in several countries around the world are the subject of a new report published by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

See "Freedom of Information: A Comparative Legal Survey" by Toby Mendel (2003):


Contrary to a headline in the previous issue of Secrecy News, the Supreme Court did not "uphold detainee secrecy" when it declined to review a D.C. Circuit ruling that information regarding September 11 detainees could be withheld from disclosure. The Supreme Court denial of certiorari in Center for National Security Studies et al v. Department of Justice does not necessarily imply a position on the merits of the case and has no precedential significance.

Also in the previous issue: The study by Jeffrey Record on "Bounding the Global War on Terrorism" probably should not have been referred to as an "Army study." Although it was sponsored and published by the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, the study only represents the views of the author, as explained in the introductory disclaimer.


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

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