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Secrecy News -- 03/25/04

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood.nul>
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 2004 11:48:10 -0500
Fwd Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2004 07:13:06 -0500
Subject: Secrecy News -- 03/25/04


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 29
March 25, 2004


**	DOD RELEASES STUDY ON ANTHRAX LESSONS LEARNED
**	THE PASSION OF THOMAS BUTLER
**	THE MYTH OF THE PRESIDENT'S DAILY BRIEF
**	A REJOINDER ON POLYGRAPH
**	A LEGAL REVIEW OF THE MOAB BOMB
**	INSCOM: ARMY INTEL AGENTS EXCEEDED THEIR AUTHORITY
**	A NEW ANTI-SECRECY COALITION


DOD RELEASES STUDY ON ANTHRAX LESSONS LEARNED

After nearly two years of refusing to grant public access to an
unclassified report on lessons learned from the anthrax letter
attacks of 2001, the Pentagon has finally released a redacted
version of the document.

"The anthrax attacks revealed weaknesses in almost every aspect
of U.S. biopreparedness and response," the report said.  "As
simple as these attacks were, their impact was far-reaching."

The report, authored by David Heyman of the Center for Strategic
and International Studies, is based on a daylong forum convened
by CSIS under contract to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency
(DTRA) in December 2001.

It provides a detailed and informative but hardly unsuspected
inventory of shortcomings in emergency preparedness and
response.

Ironically, the Defense Department's two-year denial of repeated
requests for release of the document exemplifies one of the
central problems identified in the report.

"The failure to communicate a clear message to the public was
one of the greatest problems observed during the anthrax
attacks... [including] failure to provide timely and accurate
information."

The Department's inability to efficiently process requests for
this document suggests that it still has a long way to go to
remedy this particular failure.

The redacted version of the report was finally released in
response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) appeal.

A copy of "Lessons from the Anthrax Attacks: Implications for
U.S. Bioterrorism Preparedness" is posted here (2 MB PDF file):

http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/cbw/dtra02.pdf

The Pentagon did not contend that the withheld portions of the
anthrax report are classified (exemption 1), even though they
are said to concern "vulnerabilities and capabilities of the US
Government to respond to another... attack."

Rather, in an expansive interpretation of the law, it said that
release of the redacted portions would make it possible to
"circumvent Department of Defense rules and practices...."
(exemption 2).

See the March 15 transmittal letter from H.J. McIntyre of the
DoD FOIA Policy Office here:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2004/03/dod031504.pdf


THE PASSION OF THOMAS BUTLER

Dr. Thomas C. Butler is as great a benefactor to humanity as
anyone is ever likely to meet.

He dedicated his career to the study of infectious disease and
is an internationally renowned expert on plague.  His early
medical research is credited with saving the lives of *millions*
of children around the world each year by advancing oral
hydration as a treatment for diarrhea.

But over the past several months, Dr. Butler has been
humiliated, fined, and compelled to surrender his medical
license, as the result of various procedural violations
committed in the course of his research, such as improperly
shipping bacteria samples abroad via Federal Express.

On March 10, he was sentenced to two years in prison.

He could well have been condemned to an even longer sentence,
observed the Honorable Judge Sam R. Cummings of the Northern
District of Texas.

But the court decided to be merciful, in light of the fact that
"the defendant's research and discoveries have led to the
salvage of millions of lives throughout the world."

"There is not a case on record that could better exemplify a
great service to society as a whole that is substantially
extraordinary," Judge Cummings said.

Alternatively, one could say that there is not a case on record
that could better exemplify the shortsighted application of the
law in a manner that is madly inappropriate to the circumstances
of the case.

After the first million lives that he saves, a defendant is
entitled to some leeway when it comes to the commission of non-
malicious crimes, one might have supposed.  It is hard to
witness the professional destruction of Dr. Butler and to call
it justice.

See the transcript of the March 10 sentencing hearing here:

http://www.fas.org/butler/sentence.html

See also "Butler gets 2 years in prison" by John Dudley Miller,
The Scientist, March 11 (free registration required):

http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20040311/02


THE MYTH OF THE PRESIDENT'S DAILY BRIEF

The President's Daily Brief (PDB), the daily intelligence
briefing prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency, is one of
those categories of classified information that are sometimes
termed classification "icons" because their near-absolute
secrecy status exceeds any national security justification that
can be rationally offered.  (The intelligence budget total is
another such "icon.")

The myth of the PDB as a sacrosanct document that may never be
disclosed was exploded by Tom Blanton of the National Security
Archive in an online essay and document collection this week
that includes excerpts of several PDBs that have in fact entered
the public domain, with or without authorization.

See "The President's Daily Brief" by Tom Blanton, March 22:

http://www.nsarchive.org/NSAEBB/NSAEBB116/index.htm

See also "Who's Afraid of the PDB?  Why Bush should show the
9/11 commission his briefs" by Tom Blanton in Slate.com, March
22:

http://slate.msn.com/id/2097476/

An August 6, 2001 edition of the PDB has become a particular
focus of controversy because it reportedly described the threat
to the U.S. from Al Qaida.  The White House has refused to
release this key document, and has only permitted the 9-11
Commission to gain partial access to it under exceedingly
restricted circumstances.

But in remarks during a March 24 roundtable interview that
seemed to cast doubt on the legitimacy of such secrecy, National
Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice indicated that this particular
PDB was not that sensitive or interesting:

"This document was a kind of analytic step-back piece that says
we know that al Qaeda has been interested in striking the
American homeland, and then it's historical.  Most of it is
about, he admired the 1993 events at the World Trade Center --
 the bombing in '93. Some things about '97 and '98. There's
mention of hijacking for the purpose of getting the release of
prisoners. So it's not in the context of flying airplanes into
buildings. It mentions that al Qaeda has tried to infiltrate
people into the United States."

"But it's all kind of things that you've heard before...," she
said.  See:

 http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/03/20040324-
25.html


A REJOINDER ON POLYGRAPH

It is not correct to say that no spy has ever been caught as a
result of polygraph testing.

John F. Sullivan, who served as a CIA polygrapher for 31 years,
wrote to set the record straight, noting that the polygraph
played a role in the identification of spies such as Sharon
Scranage and James Nicholson.

See his "Rejoinder on Polygraph" here:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/eprint/sullivan.html

Mr. Sullivan is not an uncritical proponent of polygraph
testing.  Nor does he insist, against the findings of the
National Academy of Sciences and others, that the polygraph is
scientifically valid in the way that other diagnostic tools are.

"I have always believed that trying to sell polygraph as a
science was a mistake, and as I stated in my book, polygraph is
92% art and 8% science," he told Secrecy News.

"There are Rembrandts and finger painters among polygraph
examiners, and when done by a 'Rembrandt,' polygraph is very
effective," he wrote in an email. "When done by a finger
painter, polygraph is ineffective, often abusive, and can be
dangerous."

This is a striking analogy since it places the emphasis on the
intuitive gifts of the examiner rather than on the technique or
technology of the test.  One can study and teach painting, but
no training program can reliably produce "Rembrandts" at will.


A LEGAL REVIEW OF THE MOAB BOMB

According to Defense Department regulations, all weapons are to
be reviewed for compliance with international law prior to their
use in conflict.

An Air Force review of the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), a
huge 21,000 pound air-dropped explosive that is also informally
known as the "Mother of All Bombs," was conducted last year.

In a three page analysis, the Air Force Judge Advocate General
concluded that "the MOAB weapon... is consistent with the
international legal obligations of the United States, including
the LOAC [law of armed conflict]."  See (thanks to RT):

http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/dumb/moab.pdf

For more on MOAB, see:

 http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/moab.h
tm


INSCOM: ARMY INTEL AGENTS EXCEEDED THEIR AUTHORITY

Army intelligence officers who asked the University of Texas Law
School to provide them with a roster of attendees at a recent
conference, in order to identify a "suspicious" participant in
the conference, exceeded their authority, according to an
internal investigation conducted by the Army's Intelligence and
Security Command (INSCOM).

The investigation followed news reports about the incident,
including a March 9 Wall Street Journal story.

"INSCOM's review concluded that the special agents and their
detachment commander exceeded their authority by requesting
information about individuals who were not within the Army's
counterintelligence investigative jurisdiction," according to a
March 12 news release.  See:

http://www.fas.org/irp/news/2004/03/inscom031204.pdf


A NEW ANTI-SECRECY COALITION

In response to the continuing escalation in official secrecy, a
new coalition of organizations and individuals under the aegis
OpenTheGovernment.org is emerging to advance the interests of
openness and accountability.

"The public's right to know promotes equal and equitable access
to government, encourages integrity in official conduct, and
prevents undisclosed and undue influence from special
interests," according to the coalition's statement of values.
"OpenTheGovernment.org seeks to advance the public's right to
know and to reduce secrecy in government."

Among its first activities is an effort to identify the "ten
most wanted" documents that should be publicly accessible but
are not.

See the coalition web site here:

http://www.openthegovernment.org/


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

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_______________________
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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