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Secrecy News -- 03/22/07

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood.nul>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 11:26:23 -0400
Fwd Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 07:39:39 -0400
Subject: Secrecy News -- 03/22/07

from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 32
March 22, 2007

Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

Support Secrecy News:



In what is being characterized by subordinates as an act of
"managerial dementia," the Director of the Congressional
Research Service this week prohibited all public distribution of
CRS products without prior approval from senior agency

"I have concluded that prior approval should now be required at
the division or office level before products are distributed to
members of the public," wrote CRS Director Daniel P. Mullohan in
a memo to all CRS staff. "This policy is effective immediately."

While CRS has long refused (with Congressional concurrence) to
make its electronic database of reports available to the public
online, it has still been possible for members of the press,
other researchers, and other government officials to request
specific reports from the congressional support agency.

But now, "to avoid inconsistencies and to increase
accountability, CRS policy requires prior approval at the
division level before products can be disseminated to non-
congressionals," Director Mullohan wrote.

The new policy demonstrates that "this is an organization in
freefall," according to one CRS analyst. "We are now indeed
working for Captain Queeg."

"We're all sort of shaking," another CRS staffer told Secrecy
News. "I can't do my work."

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't talk to someone in
another agency, another organization, or someone else outside of
Congress and we share information," the staffer said. "Now I
can't do that?"

A copy of the March 20 memorandum from Director Mullohan,
entitled "Distribution of CRS Products to Non-Congressionals,"
was obtained by Secrecy News and is available here:


It was also reported by Elizabeth Williamson in the Washington
Post today.

None of the CRS personnel contacted by Secrecy News was able to
explain exactly what propmpted CRS Director Mulhollan to issue
the policy memorandum this week.

While other parts of government strive to eliminate unnecessary
obstacles to information sharing, the new CRS policy may be seen
as an experiment in what happens when barriers to information
sharing are arbitrarily increased. It probably won't be good.

With some frequency, CRS analysts contact FAS with requests for
information or documents. (A recent CRS report on Chinese naval
modernization reprinted a large excerpt of an analysis of
Chinese submarine patrols by FAS analyst Hans Kristensen.) We
haven't been shy about requesting information or documents in
return. And both sides seem to have benefitted.

"More important, Congress has benefitted," a staffer said. But
now such working relationships may be jeopardized.


Beginning in the mid-1950s, the U.S. Army conducted research
involving thousands of human subjects on various chemical
agents, including LSD, BZ and marijuana derivatives, to assess
their utility for chemical warfare applications.

Now one of the leading participants in that enterprise, Dr.
James S. Ketchum, has published a memoir entitled "Chemical
Warfare: Secrets Almost Forgotten."

"It is a detailed autobiographical reconstruction of the
Edgewood Arsenal program of evaluating possible incapacitating
agents in human volunteers (enlisted men) during the 1960s," he
told Secrecy News. "It reveals facts buried in restricted
archives for many years and includes a voluminous appendix of
research data acquired, much of which has not previously been
released to the public."

The self-published volume is a candid, not entirely flattering,
sometimes morbidly amusing account of a little-documented aspect
of Army research.

"I had early misgivings that my [manuscript] might raise some
red flags in [the Army] Security Office, but was pleasantly
surprised when none appeared," he writes.

Among other things, Dr. Ketchum co-authored the chapter on
incapacitating agents in the CBW volume of Textbook of Military

"Definitely someone to take seriously," a colleague of Secrecy
News wrote. "Although I expect to disagree with much of his
opinion, the historical information will be very useful, much of
it not available elsewhere."

Further background and book order information is available here:



"Classified research constitutes a much smaller portion of the
U.S. biodefense program than many might suspect," according to
Gerald L. Epstein, a specialist at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies.

"Nevertheless, classified DHS biodefense research will
constitute one of the most controversial parts of the U.S.
biodefense program," he observed in Congressional testimony
earlier this month.

"Even more so than in other areas of science, the biological
sciences have enjoyed a tradition of openness and international
collaboration--and this heavy presumption of openness should
continue. Since disease continues to kill millions of people
around the world each year, any restrictions on relevant
scientific knowledge could have serious consequences," he told a
House Science Subcommittee.

"Yet the existence of hostile, witting adversaries that are
determined to wreak devastation and that are known to be
interested in biological weapons mandates that this openness not
be absolute."

In March 8 testimony, Dr. Epstein presented his views on how to
reconcile these conflicting imperatives. See (at pp. 6-8):


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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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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