SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 36
April 18, 2005

NATIONAL ACADEMY ON NUCLEAR TRANSPARENCY

Greater transparency could contribute to verifiable reductions in nuclear stockpiles and could help reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation, the National Academy of Sciences reported today.

"We believe that increasing the categories of items subject to transparency and monitoring would be valuable -- and may ultimately be essential -- as the United States and the world attempt to address the urgent and interrelated goals of reducing the dangers from existing nuclear arsenals, minimizing the spread of nuclear weaponry to additional states, and preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by terrorists," the new Academy study stated.

The authors acknowledged that "there are some tensions between sharing information about nuclear ... stockpiles and maintaining the security of those stockpiles."

Furthermore, there are limits to what any system of monitoring and transparency can achieve and therefore "a degree of uncertainty is inescapable."

However, "cooperative use of available and foreseeable technologies can substantially alleviate these tensions" to provide a net enhancement of security.

See "Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities," Committee on International Security and Arms Control, 2005:

A related study from the Frankfurt Peace Research Institute is "Looking for a Demarcation between Nuclear Transparency and Nuclear Secrecy" by Dr. Annette Schaper, PRIF Reports No. 68, Frankfurt am Main, 2004:

Speaking of nuclear transparency, the Department of Energy has not yet complied with an administrative order last month to release portions of a historical study of the production of highly enriched uranium (Secrecy News, 03/14/05).

PRESIDENT BUSH ON OPENNESS, FOIA

"I believe in open government," President Bush told the American Society of Newspaper Editors last week. "I've always believed in open government."

The President responded to questions about public access to government information, freedom of information policy including pending legislation to strengthen the FOIA, and related issues. See:

He pointed to the recent report of the Silberman-Robb WMD Commission, ninety percent of which was declassified, as an openness success story.

That report, he said, is "an example... of how I hope that we're becoming balanced between that which the public ought to know and that which, if we were to expose, would jeopardize our capacity to do our job, which is to defend America."

Others dispute that assessment. The Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation filed a lawsuit this month arguing that the WMD Commission was and remains out of compliance with the disclosure requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (noted by Dan Froomkin in the Washington Post White House Briefing). See the Center's April 6 complaint here:

Members of the WMD Commission had to threaten mass resignations repeatedly in order to gain cooperation from intelligence agencies, United Press International reported.

See "WMD panel threatened resignations" by Shaun Waterman, April 15:

See also "Bush Says His Privacy Must Be Protected" by Deb Riechmann, Associated Press, April 15:


LEVIN: IRAQ-AL QAEDA LINK WAS EXAGGERATED

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) last week released newly declassified documents to support his contention that the Bush Administration exaggerated the relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Al Qaeda to build the case for war against Iraq.

"These documents are additional compelling evidence that the Intelligence Community did not believe there was a cooperative relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, despite public comments by the highest ranking officials in our government to the contrary," Levin said.

See "Levin Releases Newly Declassified Intelligence Documents on Iraq-al Qaeda Relationship," April 15:

A congressional investigation into possible misuse and misrepresentation of intelligence by the Bush Administration prior to the Iraq war, promised last year, will be completed, said Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Pat Roberts last week on NBC Meet the Press.


DOD JOINT ELECTRONIC LIBRARY BACK ONLINE

After having been taken offline for several days (Secrecy News, 04/08/05), the Department of Defense Joint Electronic Library web site was restored late last week, minus a number of documents.

Specifically, the draft publications that apparently triggered the website suspension are no longer available on the site, though they can still be found on cryptome.org and elsewhere.

The JEL web site is here:


NEW FRUS VOLUME ON DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, CUBA

The latest volume of the official Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series provides a documentary history of U.S. policy towards the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti and Guyana during the politically turbulent years of the Johnson Administration.

Among other things, the new FRUS volume includes candid discussions of U.S. covert action against Cuba and other targets in the mid-1960s. A number of details are reported for the first time, including previously classified budget items such as the $2.08 million that was approved for covert action against Guyana between 1962 and 1968. The major part of the volume concerns the Dominican Republic, where the U.S. Marines were deployed in 1965 after the fall of the Trujillo dictatorship.

The full text of the new FRUS volume, released April 15, may be found here:


THE COSTS OF SECRECY

Indiscriminate secrecy can undermine security instead of enhancing it, the Washington Post argued in its lead editorial today, and the government does a poor job of distinguishing between what needs to be protected and what doesn't.

By way of example, the Post cited the refusal of the Central Intelligence Agency to disclose its 1963 budget. Over the objections of the CIA and the Justice Department, a federal court had to issue an order to compel the release of this antiquated information (Secrecy News, 04/05/05).

"Somehow, a more rational approach to secrecy must take hold," the Post opined.

See "The Costs of Secrecy," The Washington Post (editorial), April 18:

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

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