Friday, October 25, 2002
1. SCIENCE AND SECURITY: RESTRAINING
Every government relishes the power to hold secrets. Good news is made
public; those who leak bad news are punished. The Presidents of the National
Academies issued a statement last Friday warning that the Bush Administration
has gone too far in attempting to control scientific information that
might aid terrorists. They were particularly critical of the resurrection
of the category of "sensitive but unclassified" information, invented
in the early '80s by the Reagan Administration. Led by the American Physical
Society, which issued a strongly worded statement on Freedom of Scientific
Information in 1983 www.aps.org/statements/83_2.cfm,
scientific opposition persuaded the White House to back down in 1995,
issuing National Security Decision Directive 189:
"No restrictions may be placed on the conduct or reporting
of federally funded fundamental research that has not received national
security classification, except as provided in applicable U.S. statutes."
The statement of the Academy presidents called on the federal
government to "affirm and maintain" the principle of NSDD 189.
2. LEAKS: ADMINISTRATION'S TOP PLUMBER
VOWS TO STOP THE LEAKS.
President Clinton vetoed legislation that would have made it a felony
to leak classified information that does not involve espionage (WN
17 Nov 00). But although he says such leaks have resulted in only
one conviction in 50 years, Attorney General John Ashcroft insists strict
enforcement is what's needed, not tougher laws. Alas, conscientious government
employees willing to risk their careers by leaking classified documents,
may be the only check on government excesses carried out behind the screen
of national security. In March, for example, The Nuclear Posture Review,
a Pentagon report describing a plan to develop a new class of small nuclear
weapons, suddenly showed up on the Web (WN 15
Mar 02). Thirty years earlier, it was the "Pentagon Papers."
3. PSEUDO SECRETS: WAS THAT REALLY JOHN
So now who's opposing government secrecy? Well, it's not exactly on the
same level as the Pentagon Papers, but at a press conference on Tuesday,
the Sci Fi Channel released a report on "Science and the Failure to Investigate
Unidentified Aerial Phenomena." Among those calling for the government
to give us all the information on UFOs was John Podesta, Chief of Staff
to President Clinton and now a Washington lobbyist. Meanwhile, Robert
Gentry, "world renowned nuclear physicist," is suing Cornell, NSF and
Los Alamos over censorship of scientific evidence against the big bang.
4. GLOBAL WARMING: THE CLIMATE OF THE
TALKS HAS CHANGED.
The latest round began this week in New Delhi. The focus is on ways to
adapt to change, rather than cutting emissions (WN
14 Jun 02).