from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 20
March 13, 2002


News reports describing the contents of a classified Defense Department report on U.S. nuclear weapons policy generated a wave of commentary and concern here and abroad. But the underlying document remains inaccessible.

In a March 12 editorial entitled "America as Nuclear Rogue," the New York Times robustly criticized the "new Pentagon planning paper that became public last weekend."

But at least part of that characterization was inaccurate: The planning paper has not become public, even though the New York Times obtained a copy.

Despite the mounting controversy, few Americans have actually had the opportunity to make their own assessment of the meaning of the Bush Administration's Nuclear Posture Review, as the policy document is officially known.

In a letter to the New York Times editorial board, the Federation of American Scientists today asked the Times to post the document on the Times web site, in view of its considerable national security policy significance.

If there were legitimate classification concerns associated with portions of the document, there would be ways to address those without withholding the entire report.

No reply from the Times was immediately forthcoming.

"Administration officials did not seem especially perturbed by the leak of the Nuclear Posture Review, even though the report was officially classified," noted Doyle McManus in the Los Angeles Times on March 12. "Some said privately that a national debate on nuclear strategy might be healthy."


Imposing discipline and democratic controls on intelligence agencies can be the toughest of nuts to crack for a new democracy, and even for an older democracy. In several Latin American countries, a hearty band of legislators and citizen activists have undertaken this ambitious task with some small measure of success.

Argentina recently adopted a law to regulate its intelligence services (Ley de Inteligencia Nacional) which is available here (in Spanish):

The benefits and inadequacies of the law were analyzed by Argentine law professor and legislative adviser José Manuel Ugarte:

Prof. Ugarte authored an extended argument for reform of Argentine intelligence in a 2000 paper entitled "Sistema Nacional de Inteligencia argentino, Cambiar ya!" which may be found here:


Stung and annoyed by the U.S. State Department's critique of human right practices in China, the Chinese government this week issued its own evaluation of human rights practices in the United States. The U.S. was found wanting.

The State Department report on human rights in China, released on March 4, is posted here:

It is safe to say that the world would be a better place if the concerns identified in both reports were taken to heart.


Nearly 60,000 pages of Presidential records from the Reagan Administration will be made available to the public on March 15.

The release follows a review by representatives of both Presidents Reagan and Bush, pursuant to the November 1 Bush executive order that imposed new restrictions on public access to records of former Presidents. Approximately 150 pages that were due to be released under the Presidential Records Act are still under review, according to a National Archives press release:

The release will not affect the pending lawsuit brought by Public Citizen and other organizations which challenges the legality of the November 1 executive order.


The White House on March 12 released the text of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 3 which directs the establishment of a Homeland Security Advisory System to help disseminate information regarding the risk of terrorist acts.

The President instructed the Attorney General and the Homeland Security Director to "seek the views of government officials at all levels and of public interest groups and the private sector on the proposed Homeland Security Advisory System." See:

A White House fact sheet on the proposed Homeland Security Advisory System is available here:


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

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