from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 108
October 12, 2006

Secrecy News Blog:

Support Secrecy News:


Actual or purported national security secrets are routinely published not only by mainstream news organizations and best-selling authors but also by journals of opinion on the political left and right and the occasional blog. The ability to freely traverse the boundaries of classified government information, with only rare and isolated limitations, is practically a defining characteristic of American journalism.

But how do reporters and editors decide to publish classified information? How do they assess and respond to the concerns of government officials? What are the consequences?

These questions are explored in depth in a long article in the latest issue of American Journalism Review.

See "Judgment Calls" by Rachel Smolkin, AJR, October/November 2006:


The use of stealth techniques and technologies to reduce the signatures of intelligence or military satellites is a subject that seems to be properly classified, for the most part. But it has also left discernable traces in the public domain.

Those traces were assembled by Allen Thomson in his Stealth Satellite Sourcebook, which has been recently updated (148 pages, 7 MB PDF file):

See also "Stealth satellites: Cold War myth or operational reality?" by John Croft, C4ISR Journal, October 4, 2006:


A newly enacted law requires the creation of a publicly searchable online database of government grants and contracts. The implications of that law and the challenges ahead were explored by the Congressional Research Service in a new report.

See "The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act: Background, Overview, and Implementation Issues," October 6, 2006:

An impressive prototype of such a public database was unveiled this week by the public interest group OMB Watch. See:

Also new from CRS is "Nuclear Weapons: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty," updated October 3, 2006 (prior to the North Korean nuclear test):


The steady stream of new military doctrinal and other publications includes several items which will be of interest and importance to some Secrecy News readers.

"Counterland Operations," Air Force Doctrine Document 2-1.3, 11 September 2006, refers to the use of U.S. air and space assets against enemy land-based forces. See:

Security for U.S. ships crossing the Panama Canal is the subject of a new Navy Instruction. "Vessels transiting the Panama Canal encounter situations in which they are isolated from any forces of the United States which could provide additional security if required. These instances provide an opportunity for unfriendly agents to harass or damage a vessel, or potentially embarrass the United States."

See "Definition and Security Requirements for High Value Transits of the Panama Canal," OPNAV Instruction 3100.9A, October 2, 2006:

The U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's "Operational Law Handbook" has recently been updated (August 2006). The Handbook "provides references and describes tactics and techniques for the practice of operational law....[and is intended to] help judge advocates recognize, analyze, and resolve the problems they will encounter in the operational context." See:


"If you would converse with me," Voltaire is supposed to have said, "define your terms!"

Several new military dictionaries make it easier to define elusive or obscure military terms.

The Department of Defense has updated (for the second time this year) its massive "Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms," Joint Publication 1-02, through 17 September 2006 (752 pages, 2.2 MB PDF file):

It explains that a "blast wave," for example, is "a sharply defined wave of increased pressure rapidly propagated through a surrounding medium from a center of detonation or similar disturbance."

But what is it in French?

For that one must turn to another new dictionary prepared by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which not only defines thousands of military terms ("blowback," "laser guided weapon," etc.) but also provides translations into Voltaire's language.

So, one learns, "blast wave" is "onde de souffle."

See "NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions (English and French)," North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 2006 (344 pages, 3.5 MB):

And for good measure there is also a new "NATO Glossary of Abbreviations Used in NATO Documents and Publications," 2006 (432 pages, 1.4 MB):


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: