from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 90
September 17, 2002


An Advanced KH-11 reconnaissance satellite employing infrared and low-light optical capabilities flies north over Baghdad "at roughly 2 a.m. local time daily," reported Craig Covault in Aviation Week and Space Technology this week.

"Then at about 3 p.m. Baghdad time, the satellite again passes over the Iraqi capital area, this time on a southward pass using its full daylight optical capabilities to image targets."

That kind of information may be classified, but it is not secret. Nor did anyone "leak" it without authorization. It can be, and is, discerned by those who make a habit of watching the skies and publishing their observations.

Covault summarized the course of each of the six U.S. intelligence satellites covering Iraq in "Secret NRO Recons Eye Iraqi Threats" in the September 16 Aviation Week and Space Technology here:

"The utilization of space technology is now more vital than ever to assuring national and global security," reported Leonard David in "The War on Terror on Earth, in Orbit and in the Future" in on September 11:


The current state of information disclosure policy in international financial and trade organizations such as the World Bank is the subject of a new analysis authored by Toby J. McIntosh and posted on the web site:

In the name of transparency in international trade, the People's Republic of China earlier this year established an English language web site providing documentation on maritime lawsuits involving foreign parties in Chinese courts.

"From now on, all foreign-related maritime adjudication literature that does not involve state secrets, including material that used to be circulated internally only, judicial interpretation drafts for discussion, suggestions derived from discussions on matters, and minutes of trial-related discussions, will be translated into English and published to the outside world via the Internet," according to an August 22 news report from the Xinhua News Agency.

"This means that China is faithfully fulfilling the promise it made upon accession to the World Trade Organization [WTO] to make the administration of justice in China more transparent to the international community." See the new web site here:


"I was orphaned at the age of one."

That is not the opening line of a Dickens novel, but the beginning of a confession by Pavlos Serifis of the Greek terrorist organization November 17. Serifis, like many of the group's other members, was arrested in recent months by the Greek police.

Serifis describes the 1975 assassination of Athens CIA station chief Richard Welch, in which he took part, and provides other details of the history, personnel and activities of the November 17 guerrilla group. His statement was published in the newspaper To Vima on August 29 and translated by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service. See:


The Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence organization, has produced a snazzy new recruiting ad that was published on the web last week:

The "flash" presentation culminates in an application form for would-be Mossad operatives to fill in and transmit.

But the security of the site, or rather the lack of any security, was promptly mocked in the Israeli press. "Any child could break into the Mossad's internet site," wrote Dror Globerman and Eytan Rabin in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv on September 13. Subsequently, the application form was modified to permit encrypted transmission.


"Secrecy has become a central policy of the Bush administration in nearly all aspects of the war on terrorism, from the battlefield in Afghanistan to the nationwide investigation of terror at home." See "A Policy of Secrecy in War on Terror" by Tom Brune in Newsday, September 15:

Hugh DeWitt of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has been an outspoken critic of Lab and government policies for many of his 45 years there. His persistent campaigns against excessive secrecy and nuclear testing were described by Andrea Widener in "Lab Critic Acts from the Inside" in the Contra Costa Times, September 15:


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

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