from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 41
March 30, 2006

Secrecy News Blog:

Support Secrecy News:


Must the President of the United States obey the law? Ordinarily, the answer of course is yes, unless the law itself is unconstitutional.

It is "uncontroversial," wrote then-Assistant Attorney General Walter Dellinger in a 1994 memorandum for the Clinton White House, that "there are circumstances in which the President may appropriately decline to enforce a statute that he views as unconstitutional."

See "Presidential Authority to Decline to Execute Unconstitutional Statutes," Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice, November 2, 1994:

However, the President does not have the last word on what is or is not constitutional. That decision belongs to the Supreme Court.

A new bill introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) yesterday would set the stage for the Supreme Court to consider the legality of the Bush Administration's warrantless surveillance program by granting legal standing to litigants seeking to challenge the program.

"Did the President go outside the ambit of the law about asking for a warrant?" asked Sen. Schumer. "Some think yes, and they are pretty sure of that. Some think no, and they are pretty sure of it. They are pretty sure that he couldn't. Many are not sure at all."

"The most logical place for this to be settled is in the U.S. Supreme Court," he said in his March 29 introductory statement on the new bill (S. 2468). See:

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on March 28 featuring four former judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and other expert witnesses who testified on issues surrounding the warrantless surveillance program and Senator Specter's legislative proposal on the subject.

Prepared statements from Sen. Leahy, FISA expert Morton Halperin of the Center for American Progress, and former Justice official David Kris (but not yet the statements of the judges) can be found here:

A rare interview with FISA Court Judge George Kazen of Laredo, Texas appeared in the Dallas Morning News earlier this week.

See "Judge juggles busy docket, secret duty" by Todd J. Gilman, Dallas Morning News, March 28 (free but intrusive registration required):


The People's Republic of China is making significant strides in science and technology areas related to national security and commercial enterprise, according to a new "bibliometric" study of Chinese scientific publications performed by the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research.

"China's output of research articles has expanded dramatically in the last decade. In terms of sheer numbers of research articles, especially in critical technologies (e.g., nanotechnology, energetic materials), it is among the leaders," according to the study.

"In terms of investment strategy relative to that of the USA, China is investing more heavily in the hard science areas that underpin modern defense and commercial activities, whereas the USA is investing more heavily in the medical, psychological, and social problem (e.g., drug use) science areas that underpin improvement of individual health and comfort," the authors said.

The 500 page study proceeds from a series of straightforward observations and analyses to several increasingly dense methodological appendices that are unintelligible to non-specialists.

A copy of the study was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "The Structure and Infrastructure of Chinese Science and Technology" by Ronald N. Kostoff, Office of Naval Research, et al, 2006 (3.9 MB PDF file):


The activities of Pakistan's notorious Abdul Qadeer Khan in proliferating nuclear weapons technology are examined in detail in a recent Master's Thesis, along with an analysis of their enabling conditions and some of their larger implications.

"The A. Q. Khan nuclear supplier network constitutes the most severe loss of control over nuclear technology ever," wrote author Christopher O. Clary.

"For the first time in history all of the keys to a nuclear weapon-- the supplier networks, the material, the enrichment technology, and the warhead designs--were outside of state oversight and control."

"This thesis demonstrates that Khan's nuclear enterprise evolved out of a portion of the Pakistani procurement network of the 1970s and 1980s. It presents new information on how the Pakistani state organized, managed, and oversaw its nuclear weapons laboratories."

See "The A.Q. Khan Network: Causes and Implications" by Christopher O. Clary, Naval Postgraduate School, December 2005:


Some notable new (or newly acquired) publications of the Congressional Research Service include the following.

"North Korean Counterfeiting of U.S. Currency," March 22, 2006:

"Science and Technology Policy: Issues for the 109th Congress," updated February 3, 2006:

"The Jackson-Vanik Amendment: A Survey," updated August 1, 2005:


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

The Secrecy News blog is at:

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send an email message to [email protected] with "subscribe" (without quotes) in the body of the message.

To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a blank email message to [email protected].

OR email your request to [email protected]

Secrecy News is archived at:

SUPPORT Secrecy News with a donation here: