from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 58
June 22, 2005


Cosmos 1, an innovative solar sailing spacecraft that would use solar radiation for propulsion, reportedly suffered a launch failure today. Cosmos 1 was sponsored by Cosmos Studios and supported by The Planetary Society.

But solar sailing is "extremely promising," according to a "restricted access" report prepared at Los Alamos in 1973. The technology would enable "travel essentially at will throughout the solar system, achieving quite reasonable flight times for a broad category of interesting interplanetary missions."

The "restricted" Los Alamos report, by Theodore P. Cotter, expanded upon two earlier sources: a 1958 paper by Richard L. Garwin in the journal Jet Propulsion, and a 1951 article by the pseudonymous Russell Saunders in Astounding Science Fiction.

The concepts independently described by those two previous writers, the Los Alamos author wrote, "are physically sound, quantitatively correct and extremely promising."

Today, access to the 1973 Cotter paper is "restricted to selected government agencies," states the web site of the Los Alamos National Laboratory research library.

It is one of many thousands of unclassified technical papers that were removed from online public access in the post-9/11 clampdown on public information.

A copy is nevertheless available from the Federation of American Scientists.

See "An Encomium on Solar Sailing" by T.P. Cotter, Report No. LA-5231-MS, May 1973, 8 pp.:


The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB), an advisory group that was established by law five years ago but never actually convened, will receive its first allocation of funds next fiscal year if a bill approved in the House this week becomes law.

"The [House Appropriations] Committee directs that from amounts available in Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide, $1,000,000 shall be available for the Public Interest Declassification Board," according to the House report on the 2006 Defense Appropriations Act (House Report 109-119).

Approval of the funding would mark an end to an embarrassing impasse in which the Board has been unable to meet even though most of its members have now been named by the Bush White House and Congressional leaders.

The Board is not empowered to enact structural changes to the classification system, nor does it have any independent declassification authority. It is strictly an advisory body. Still, it provides an official venue to air concerns over classification and declassification policies. For more information, see:


The politically delicate matter of sharing classified information with allies and other foreign entities is the subject of a newly updated U.S. Army regulation.

"This regulation provides policy and procedures for the disclosure of United States Army classified military information to foreign governments and international organizations."

See Army Regulation 380-10, "Foreign Disclosure and Contacts with Foreign Representatives," updated June 22, 2005 (96 pp., 2.3 MB PDF file):


Recent reports of the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News include the following:

"Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)," June 7, 2005:

"The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA): Origin, Characteristics, and Institutional Authorities," updated June 6, 2005:

"Political Status of Puerto Rico: Background, Options, and Issues in the 109th Congress," May 25, 2005:

"U.S.-Mexico Economic Relations: Trends, Issues, and Implications," May 25, 2005:

"U.S. Treatment of Prisoners in Iraq: Selected Legal Issues," updated May 19, 2005:

"International Financial Institutions: Funding U.S. Participation," May 3, 2005:


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

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