from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 18
February 13, 2004


"General George Washington, as Commanding General of the Continental Army,... literally became America's first director of military intelligence," according to a research paper prepared by a US Marine Corps graduate student. "He directed the operations that were conducted, and performed his own analysis."

"The Continental Army's effectiveness in intelligence includes examples of the proper use of espionage, counterintelligence, communications security, codebreaking, deception, operational security, surveillance, reconnaissance, reporting and analysis."

Uncritical and naive in presentation ("Sun Tzu said it quite well"), the author nevertheless provides a convenient introduction to his chosen subject and references to more complete and discriminating accounts.

See "George Washington, America's First Director of Military Intelligence" by LCDR Michael S. Prather, Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia, 2002:


President of the United States. Absent without leave. Deserters.

These terms, much in the news lately, may have first appeared together in close proximity in an 1863 proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln, who ordered all soldiers who were absent without leave to promptly return to duty and promised amnesty if they did.

"All soldiers now absent from their respective regiments without leave, who shall, on or before the first day of April, report themselves... may be restored to their respective regiments without punishment, except the forfeiture of pay and allowances during their absence; and all who do not return within the time above specified shall be arrested as deserters, and punished as the law provides," President Lincoln declared.

See A Proclamation by the President of the United States Respecting Soldiers absent without leave, March 10, 1863:


"The independent commission President Bush has appointed to look at the failure of intelligence in our country will never, ever be accepted for a number of reasons, not only the breadth and scope of the investigation but because of the co-chair, Laurence Silberman."

So said Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) in a pointed critique of the new White House advisory panel on intelligence on February 11.

Sen. Reid singled out Judge Silberman, the new panel co-chair, as a particularly objectionable figure, calling him "a long-time political operative in the far right of the Republican Party." See:

Judge Silberman rejected that characterization in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, published February 12.

"My whole career is one of independence and integrity," he said. "I have been confirmed six times by the U.S. Senate without a negative vote."

President Bush yesterday named the last two members of the nine-member intelligence advisory panel, Charles M. Vest and Henry S. Rowen. See:

While the new White House panel is purely advisory and has no authority to investigate the White House, the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday agreed to expand its review to include an examination of how Administration officials publicly presented intelligence concerning Iraq, as reported today in the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post.


Over the past fifty years, the U.S. has exported, and failed to recover, tons of weapons-grade highly enriched enriched uranium (HEU) to foreign countries as part of the Atoms for Peace program.

Because HEU is used principally in research and test reactors, not power reactors, it is often located in low-security civilian facilities such as universities. This material therefore poses an extraordinary proliferation hazard, due to the threat of theft or diversion. A first generation nuclear explosive can be devised with no more than a few tens of kilograms of HEU.

According to a new report from the Department of Energy Inspector General, the U.S. has neglected to take all necessary steps to recover and secure such material.

"As of August 2003, the Department was likely to recover only about half of the approximately 5,200 kilograms of HEU" that it set out to recover in a 1996 initiative.

"Moreover, there was no effort to recover an additional 12,300 kilograms of HEU dispersed to foreign countries which was not included" in the 1996 program.

See "Recovery of Highly Enriched Uranium Provided to Foreign Countries," DOE Inspector General Audit Report, February 9 (1 MB PDF file):


Life will be discovered on Mars, the CIA predicted. Unfortunately, it will be communist!

As late as 1989, the CIA estimated that it was "likely" that the soon-to-collapse Soviet Union would undertake a manned mission to Mars.

"We believe the Soviets are planning for a manned Mars landing mission some time after the year 2000," the CIA analysis stated.

See "Soviet Options for a Manned Mars Landing Mission," CIA Directorate of Intelligence, December 1989, released in "sanitized" form in 1999, here:

Numerous declassified intelligence documents on the Soviet space program, from the early 1960s to the early 1990s, have been declassified and disclosed by the CIA. A selection of such documents (thanks to Jeff Brower and AT) may be found here:

Anyone with even a passing interest in the history of Soviet space will want to get a copy of "The Moon Race End Game: A New Assessment of Soviet Crewed Lunar Aspirations, Part 1" by Peter Pesavento and Charles P. Vick, in the current issue of Quest Magazine (volume 11, no. 1, 2004).

The authors take full advantage of the latest declassified documents and, by interviews with government officials, go beyond what is in the declassified record.

The article is not available online, but information about Quest Magazine may be found here:


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

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send an email message to with "subscribe" (without quotes) in the body of the message.

To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a blank email message to

OR email your request to

Secrecy News is archived at: