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Secrecy News -- 02/19/04

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood.nul>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2004 12:50:48 -0500
Fwd Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2004 14:30:10 -0500
Subject: Secrecy News -- 02/19/04


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 20
February 19, 2004


**	LOST AND FOUND: LOS ALAMOS TECHNICAL REPORTS
**	A REVIEW OF CRITICALITY ACCIDENTS
**	ENRICO FERMI: "WHERE IS EVERYBODY?"
**	DOE REPORT ON INADVERTENT DISCLOSURES
**	BOOK: THE CONDOR YEARS
**	INTELLIGENCE REVIEW FOREVER


LOST AND FOUND: LOS ALAMOS TECHNICAL REPORTS

In 1997, as part of its "Library Without Walls" project, Los
Alamos National Laboratory began offering online public access
to thousands of unclassified reports reflecting fifty years of
research in nuclear science and technology, and related topics.

Five years later, as part of the post-September 11 purge of
government web sites, public access to this material was
terminated.

But in a spectacular information-salvage operation, most of
these Los Alamos documents, comprising nearly ten gigabytes,
were acquired and preserved by independent researchers Gregory
Walker and Carey Sublette.

"We archived them," said Sublette, "before the 'Library Without
Walls' became the 'Library of Walls'."

Indexes of the recovered Los Alamos reports are posted here:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/doe/lanl/index.html

Selected reports of special interest will be posted in weeks and
months to come. As time and disk space allow, Secrecy News will
entertain requests to post particular documents listed in the
indexes.


A REVIEW OF CRITICALITY ACCIDENTS

Among the Los Alamos documents preserved by Walker and Sublette
is a 1967 account of all known nuclear "criticality" accidents
as of that time.

A criticality accident is an unintended acceleration of the
chain reaction of neutrons in a mass of fissile material. In a
worst case scenario, supercriticality can lead to fuel melting
and explosion. Of 34 criticality incidents identified by the Los
Alamos report, six of them resulted in a total of eight deaths.

Does public access to such reports matter? Would an ordinary
member of the public have any interest in a technical account of
past criticality accidents?

The answer is yes. In fact, twenty years ago the history of
nuclear reactor criticality accidents was at the center of a
public dispute over the safety of the small research reactor on
the UCLA campus before it was permanently shut down in 1984.

The Los Angeles-based Committee to Bridge the Gap, led by Dan
Hirsch, successfully challenged relicensing of the UCLA reactor
after pointing out that the water-cooled, graphite moderated
reactor core had positive reactivity coefficients, a significant
design flaw, and was vulnerable to an accidental power
excursion. Public access to technical reports bearing on the
problem played a crucial role in clarifying the issue and
ensuring public safety.

See "A Review of Criticality Accidents" by William R. Stratton,
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory report number LA-3611, January
1967 (112 pages, 3.9 MB PDF file):

http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/doe/lanl/la-3611.pdf


ENRICO FERMI: "WHERE IS EVERYBODY?"

According to an often repeated anecdote, physicist Enrico Fermi
once wondered aloud about the existence of extraterrestrial
beings and why they had not shown up on Earth: "Where is
everybody?"

In another Los Alamos report that was withdrawn from online
public access, Los Alamos scientist Eric M. Jones tracked down
the three colleagues with whom Fermi discussed the matter --
 Edward Teller, Herbert York, and Emil Konopinski -- and
obtained their written recollections of the 1950 conversation.

See "'Where is Everybody?': An Account of Fermi's Question," Los
Alamos National Laboratory report number LA-10311-MS, March 1985
(17 pages, 1 MB PDF file):

http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/doe/lanl/la-10311-ms.pdf


DOE REPORT ON INADVERTENT DISCLOSURES

The Department of Energy this week published its most recent
periodic report on inadvertent disclosures of classified nuclear
weapons information in declassified files at the National
Archives.

Out of 1.2 million pages reviewed, DOE officials identified 574
pages containing classified information that should not have
been disclosed. The most frequently identified subject of the
inadvertent disclosures concerned "storage locations" (of
nuclear weapons) and "stockpile quantities."

The value of this archival document hunt is questionable.

Considering that validated nuclear weapons designs and
production equipment are reportedly in international
circulation, and that thousands of kilograms of highly enriched
uranium exported by the U.S. have yet to be recovered, the
dogged pursuit of inadvertently disclosed historical details,
"classified" though they may be, seems more and more absurd.

See the Twelfth Report on Inadvertent Releases of Restricted
Data and Formerly Restricted Data under Executive Order 12958,
August 2003, declassified version released February 2004:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/doe/inadvertent12.pdf


BOOK: THE CONDOR YEARS

From 1973 to 1980, military dictatorships in Chile, Argentina,
Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil collaborated in an
alliance known "Condor." The alliance employed the full
apparatus of torture, "disappearances," and other extreme human
rights abuses in the name of combating Marxist insurgents.
Thousands of innocent civilians were killed.

Investigative journalist John Dinges tells the story of Condor,
and fills in many heretofore missing gaps in the record, in a
well-received new book called "The Condor Years: How Pinochet
and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents." See:

http://www.johndinges.com/condor/

Some of the documents obtained by Dinges, regarding an
assassination threat against former New York mayor Ed Koch, were
published by the National Security Archive, where he is a
fellow. See:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB112/index.htm


INTELLIGENCE REVIEW FOREVER

The state of U.S. intelligence is such that "It is not
surprising that hypotheses tend to harden into dogma, that their
sensitivity to changed conditions is not articulated, and that
new data are not sought to test them."

Remarkably, this critique of intelligence comes from the CIA
itself. And as perfectly apt as it may sound today, it was
written in 1971.

The same critique notes an imbalance between collection and
analysis, tensions between civilian and military intelligence,
and the structural weakness that limits the effectiveness of the
DCI.

The enduring relevance of these and other criticisms more than
30 years later suggests that efforts to reform the U.S.
intelligence bureaucracy are futile and possibly diversionary.

See "A Review of the Intelligence Community," March 10, 1971,
released in declassified form in 1998 (50 pages, 800 KB PDF
file):

http://www.fas.org/irp/cia/product/review1971.pdf


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

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send email to
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Secrecy News is archived at:
http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/index.html

_______________________
Steven Aftergood
Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists
web:  www.fas.org/sgp/index.html
email: saftergood.nul
voice: (202) 454-4691




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