from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 115
December 30, 2004


The nature of treason, the hypothetical possibility of exchanging Aldrich Ames for an imprisoned American agent, and many other topics in espionage were touched upon in a wide-ranging interview with a senior official of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) published last week.

The most famous spies are famous only because they got caught, explains Lt.Gen. Vadim Kirpichenko, a consultant to the SVR Director, and himself the former director of KGB Directorate S (illegals).

But almost by definition, some of the most important spies never become famous in this way:

"Just a few years ago we buried a Hero of the Soviet Union under a pseudonym," he said. "Because his real identity could not be revealed: he had just finished his work."

See "By Violating the Laws of Other Countries, We Are Protecting Our Own," published in Vremya Novostey, December 25, 2004 (translated by FBIS):


"The flights of unidentified objects and phenomena in the skies over the country have increased in the recent weeks," according to a news report in Iran.

Iranian observers are not vexed by the possibility of extraterrestrial invasion, but by the more proximate threat of aerial reconnaissance and intelligence collection by foreign adversaries.

See "An increase in the number of unidentified flying objects in the country's sky," from the daily newspaper E'temad, December 25, 2004 (translated by the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service):


The People's Republic of China published its latest "white paper" on national defense on December 27, the third such publication since 2000, in which China describes its military posture, objectives and policies.

"The new White Paper basically covers all the major aspects of national defense and the buildup of the armed forces, from the downsizing by 200,000 [of the People's Liberation Army], to the beefing up of the Navy, the Air Force, and the Second Artillery, to ... military procurement, national economic mobilization, and international security cooperation," according to a description from Xinhua news agency.

The document also features some harsh words for Taiwan.

See a copy of "China's National Defense in 2004" here:

Jeffrey Lewis of the University of Maryland offered an initial take on the White Paper here:


To mark the 800th anniversary of the death of medieval Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides, a number of his manuscripts and rare early editions of his works have been digitized and made available online by the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem, Israel.

Of great interest to a small number of readers, the texts are written in Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic (Arabic written in Hebrew letters) and include some in the author's own hand. A free ActiveX viewer (available at the site) is needed to view the manuscripts, which are posted in the DjVu format. See:



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

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