from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 30
March 26, 2004


In a major study of the future of U.S. strategic military forces that was disclosed today, the Defense Science Board (DSB) urged a reorientation of the U.S. nuclear weapons program towards smaller, more versatile weapons.

"The nuclear weapons program as currently conceived -- a program focused primarily on refurbishing the legacy stockpile -- will not meet the country's future needs," the influential Pentagon advisory group argued.

"Nuclear weapons are needed that produce much lower collateral damage (great precision, deep penetration, greatly reduced radioactivity); have robust performance margins; are devised for ease of manufacture and maintenance; and produce special effects (e.g., enhanced EMP, enhanced neutron flux, reduced fission yield)."

At the same time, the DSB acknowledged that mission requirements for nuclear weapons have changed.

"While we could previously execute some military operations only with nuclear weapons, we can now execute many of these with highly precise conventional weaponry. The benefits of this shift are significant.... U.S. interests are best served by preserving into the future the half-century plus non-use of nuclear weapons."

The DSB study also examined future intelligence requirements and noted a variety of shortfalls, including "the inability to identify and then track the location of adversary leadership and/or components of WMD."

"These physically small entities are essentially impossible to find without in situ, intrusive sensors and probably HUMINT as well. There has not been enough progress to date given the post-September 11 need for such systems."

The comprehensive DSB study also assessed future command and control issues as well as current and future delivery systems (aircraft and missiles).

See the Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Future Strategic Strike Forces, dated February 2004 and made public today, here (166 pages, 4.4 MB PDF file):


A Pentagon move to classify a set of previously disclosed recommendations regarding missile defense testing was challenged yesterday by two Democratic congressmen in a letter to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

"We are writing to request an explanation of the Defense Department's decision to retroactively classify assessments by independent Pentagon test evaluators that are highly critical of the testing program for the national missile defense system," wrote Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. John F. Tierney (D-MA).

The congressmen noted that the recommendations in question had already been "released to the public, and... distributed widely."

"The decision to classify the 50 specific recommendations set forth by the Pentagon's chief testing officer is highly dubious," they wrote.

"It appears to be an attempt to stymie public debate through the use of the classification system."

See the March 25 letter from Reps. Waxman and Tierney here:


A new collection of declassified documents concerning the genocide in Rwanda, which took place ten years ago, has been published by the National Security Archive.

See "The U.S. and Genocide in Rwanda 1994: Information, Intelligence and the U.S. Response" edited with an introductory essay by William Ferroggiaro, March 24:


In a speech on the forty-fifth anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan People's Uprising, the Dalai Lama urged greater freedom of information as a driver of peaceful political change in China.

"China is undergoing a process of deep change. In order to effect this change smoothly and without chaos and violence I believe it is essential that there be more openness and greater freedom of information and proper awareness among the general public," he said.

"We should seek truth from facts--facts that are not falsified. Without this China cannot hope to achieve genuine stability."

"How can there be stability if things must be hidden and people are not able to speak out their true feelings?"

The full text of the Dalai Lama's March 10 speech was entered into the Congressional Record here:


A new book by former Nixon White House counsel and Watergate whistleblower John W. Dean brings his special experience and perspective to bear on the Bush Administration, and finds it "worse than Watergate," which is also the book's title.

"To compare the Bush-Cheney presidency with Nixon's tenure and Watergate and assert that it is worse than Watergate is not a charge to be made lightly. Nor do I."

But Dean sees in Administration policies the potential for a profound unraveling of the constitutional order, particularly should there be another large terrorist attack.

"There is... only one antidote: an end to the obsessive, unjustified, and disproportionate secrecy that defines the Bush-Cheney White House," he writes.

Dean synthesizes a vast number of stories of secrecy run amok and weaves them into an appalling fabric. This is not a dispassionate book. It is angry and judgmental, a self-proclaimed polemic. It will resonate most strongly with those who have already figured out for themselves that there is something profoundly wrong with the workings of our government today.

See more information on "Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush" by John W. Dean (Little, Brown, April 2004) here:


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

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