Friday, 20 March 1987 Washington, DC

that contain "sensitive but unclassified information" has receded, at least temporarily (WN 27 Feb 87). In a stunning reversal of policy, Frank Carlucci, the new National Security Advisor to the President, announced in a conciliatory letter to Rep. Jack Brooks (D-TX), Chairman of the Government Operations Committee, that NTISSP-2, the notorious "Poindexter Memorandum," was being rescinded. It was this directive that defined "sensitive but unclassified information" as information affecting "national security or other Federal Government interests," a definition that could fit a giraffe. Carlucci also said that NSDD 145, National Policy on Telecommunications and Automated Information Systems Security, which in Brook's words created a "shadow government," was being reviewed. The reversal is attributable to the solid opposition of groups such as the library associations and scientific societies.

Although Carlucci declined to testify on grounds of executive privilege, he refused to extend that protection to Poindexter. showed up before the Committee on Tuesday, but confined himself to puffing on his pipe taking the Fifth. Secretary of Commerce Baldrige and Deputy Secretary of Defense Taft testified that responsibility for computer security should be moved to a civilian agency.

Perhaps the most significant testimony on Tuesday came at the end, after most of the press had left to file their stories. Harold Relyea of the Library of Congress discussed the whole phenomenon of National Security Decision Directives (NSDD's). Out of some 200 NSDD's, all but five are secret, and are not generally available even to Congress. They have apparently been used to authorize such things as the disinformation campaign against Libya and $50M for Argentina to train Contras. He said they bring us very close to the most dangerous practice of totalitarian government -- rule by secret law.

at the APS meeting on Wednesday, thousands of scientists overflowed the ballroom of the New York Hilton into corridors and lobby areas where monitors were set up. The meeting did not end until 3:15 a.m. on Thursday, when the last of the five-minute reports was given. Perhaps the most important news was that everyone seems to be able to produce 90+K material. A group in Karlsruhe showed a good transition at 125K. Asked by a reporter about room temperature superconductors, Paul Chu noted that the first applications will be in electronics, and on the dark-side of a satellite, 90K is above room temperature. The astonishing pace of developments at Zurich, Tokyo, Beijing, Houston, Murray Hill, and elsewhere, is testament to the progress that can be made in the absence of constraints on scientific communication.

Bob Park can be reached via email at
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the University, but they should be.