from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 122
December 1, 2006

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Habeas corpus refers to the right of a person who has been detained by the government to challenge his detention in a court of law. Although the U.S. Constitution does not permit the suspension of habeas corpus except in case of invasion or rebellion, last September Congress did so anyway at the behest of the Bush Administration.

In a startling display of how easy it can be to disable even the most elementary constitutional protections, Congress enacted the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which would deprive suspected enemy combatants held abroad of their ability to seek judicial review of their status.

Proposed limits on habeas corpus were the subject of an intense and contentious hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee recently, the record of which has just been published.

See "Examining Proposals to Limit Guantanamo Detainees' Access to Habeas Corpus Review," Senate Judiciary Committee, September 25:

Some of the more electric moments in the hearing were recounted in The New Yorker this week in a profile of Sen. Arlen Specter, who inexplicably condemned the proposed new restrictions on habeas corpus and then voted in favor of them.

See "Killing Habeas Corpus" by Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, December 4:

"In my view, [the Military Commissions Act] has dishonored our Nation's proud history," said Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who introduced legislation on November 16 that would repeal several of the Act's provisions. See:


The elite JASON defense science advisory panel, most of whose deliberations and conclusions are classified, surfaced publicly for a moment with two new releases.

One new JASON report addresses the feasibility of reducing Defense Department dependence on fossil fuels.

"In light of an increasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, as well as rising fuel costs for the U.S. and the DoD, and implications with regard to national security and national defense, JASON was charged in 2006 by the DDR&E [Director, Defense Research and Engineering] with assessing pathways to reduce DoD's dependence on fossil fuels."

A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Reducing DoD Fossil-Fuel Dependence," JASON report JSR-06-135, September 2006 (105 pages, 4.5 MB PDF):

The second release is an unclassified summary of a JASON review of plutonium aging in nuclear weapons, which found that most plutonium weapon "pits" have "credible lifetimes of at least 100 years." This important conclusion diminishes the case for any new nuclear weapon development.

See the unclassified executive summary of the JASON report on "Pit Lifetime" here (flagged by


U.S. Navy research on "mind control techniques" cannot be performed on human subjects without the authorization of the Under Secretary of the Navy, according to a new Navy Instruction.

"The Under Secretary of the Navy (UNSECNAV) is the Approval Authority for research involving ... severe or unusual intrusions, either physical or psychological, on human subjects (such as consciousness-altering drugs or mind-control techniques)."

The nature and scope of any such Navy research could not be immediately discovered.

See "Human Research Protection Program," Secretary of the Navy Instruction 3900.39D, November 6, 2006 [at section 7(a)(2), page 9]:


U.S. Air Force policy on "information operations" -- which includes electronic warfare, psychological operations, military deception, counter-propaganda and more -- is described in a recently updated Air Force Policy Document.

See "Information Operations," AFPD 10-7, 6 September 2006 (revised 8 Oct 06):

The apparent involvement of the North Korean government in drug trafficking and the implications of such activity for U.S. policy are the subject of a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service (first reported by U.S. News and World Report).

See "Drug Trafficking and North Korea: Issues for U.S. Policy," updated November 27, 2006:

Now that the 109th Congress is drawing to a close, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has belatedly issued a report summarizing its activities during the 108th Congress (2003-2004). See, if you care to, "Committee Activities," Senate Report 109-360, November 16:


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

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