from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 76
August 5, 2005


The role of private contractors supporting deployed military forces and reconstruction efforts in Iraq is the subject of a new report to Congress from the Department of Defense.

The extensive U.S. reliance on contractors in Iraq is a sensitive subject, involving complex questions of oversight and authority.

"The interaction between U.S. military forces and security contractors in Iraq is one of coordination rather than control because private security contractors have no direct contractual relationship with the Commander," the new report states.

The report describes the legal status of contractors, addresses questions of misconduct, and provides various data on casualty and fatality figures for contractor personnel.

The report, which was required by the FY 2005 Defense Authorization Act, has not been publicly released. A copy was obtained by researcher David Isenberg.

See "Public Law 108-375, Section 1206 Report" here (1.6 MB PDF file):


The Justice Department announced the indictment of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), along with former Defense Department official Larry Franklin, for "conspiracy to communicate national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it."

A copy of the August 4 indictment is here:

In a news release, U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty declared firmly that "When it comes to classified information, there is a clear line in the law. Today's charges are about crossing that line."

But the law governing unauthorized disclosures of classified information is not "a clear line." It is a blurry and discontinuous line. Laws on disclosures of classified national defense information do not apply to disclosures of classified non-defense intelligence or diplomatic information. Laws on classified nuclear weapons information differ from both.

That is what motivated Congress in 2000 to enact an anti-leak statute that would have categorically outlawed all such unauthorized disclosures. The move was vetoed by President Clinton, at the urging of press organizations and open government advocates who saw it as an emerging Official Secrets Act.

"Those entrusted with safeguarding our nation's secrets must remain faithful to that trust," Mr. McNulty continued.

Then he added piously: "Those not authorized to receive classified information must resist the temptation to acquire it, no matter what their motivation may be."

But as a practical matter, receipt of formally classified information is part of the daily business of national security reporting, and occasionally of government watchdogging. Even Mr. McNulty did not propose to indict the reporters to whom the former AIPAC officials allegedly communicated their information.

In other words, Mr. McNulty's public statement is not a reliable guide to law or policy on national security classification.

A copy of the August 4 Justice Department news release with Mr. McNulty's remarks is here:


A revised and updated Navy counterintelligence policy was issued last month.

See Department of the Navy Counterintelligence, Secretary of the Navy Instruction 3850.2C, 22 July 2005:


The quantum physicist Asher Peres, who died last January in Haifa, Israel, is remembered by colleagues in an obituary in the current issue of Physics Today.

Peres was the author of the highly regarded 1993 text "Quantum Theory: Concepts and Methods" (which Secrecy News has not read).

In that book, his colleagues recall, Peres mentioned Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, "for which [he] had little use," only in a single entry in the index -- which pointed to that same page of the index.

In 1983, during the Israel-Lebanon war, Prof. Peres nominated Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for the Nobel Prize in Physics, explaining that he deserved it just as much as the Nobel Peace Prize that he had received in 1978.

The obituary for Asher Peres, written by Joseph E. Avron and three other colleagues, may be found in the August 2005 issue of Physics Today (subscription required):

A pre-print version of the obituary is available here:


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

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