from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 108
October 29, 2002


"Since the end of the Cold War in 1991,... characteristics of American spies have changed," according to a new Defense Department study of Americans who commit espionage.

"Americans who began spying during the 1990s have been older, with a median age of 39, and more demographically heterogeneous, with more women and more ethnic minorities," the study found. During the Cold War, by comparison, most American spies were white males younger than 30.

The new spies also tend to be civilian rather than military, are more likely to volunteer than to be recruited, are more likely to be naturalized citizens, and are more likely to have foreign attachments.

In one finding with particular relevance for security policy, the report stated that "Very few people apply for access to classified information intending to commit espionage." It follows that "optimal use of personnel security resources for countering espionage would focus more on periodic reevaluation and continuing assessment of experienced cleared personnel," rather than intensive focus on new applicants.

The new study, dated July 2002 and released this week by the Defense Personnel Security Research Center in Monterey, California, is based on an open source analysis of 150 cases of espionage against the United States committed since 1947.

"Unfortunately for the student of espionage, government records include more cases of espionage than are described here, but access to these is classified and restricted to the relatively small, cleared community," the report states.

A copy of the report, "Espionage Against the United States by American Citizens 1947-2001" by Katherine L. Herbig and Martin F. Wiskoff, is available here:


Newly published responses from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department to questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee address a wide range of global security concerns that contrast in tone, and occasionally in substance, with responses from the Central Intelligence Agency.

From missile proliferation and arms transfers to the security of the Russian nuclear stockpile, and numerous other topics, the responses provide summary assessments, occasional new bits of information-- or intriguing equivocations.

The DIA responses, which notably include a shocking forecast of the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa and elsewhere, are posted here:

The State Department responses are posted here:

Like the previously reported CIA responses, these items were published two weeks ago in the hearing record of the February 6, 2002, Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on "The Worldwide Threat in 2002."


The diverse new national security concerns confronting scientists, particularly microbiologists, are examined by Ronald M. Atlas, president of the American Society for Microbiology, in an essay in the latest edition of Science Magazine:

See "National Security and the Biological Research Community" in Science, 25 October 2002, pp. 753-4 or online here (subscribers only):

Related issues are also discussed in "New Antiterrorism Tenets Trouble Scientists," by Peg Brickley in The Scientist, October 28:


The unfolding relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency and academia is investigated in "Good Company" by Chris Mooney in the November 18 issue of The American Prospect, available here:


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

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