from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 1
January 3, 2007

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A new internet initiative called Wikileaks seeks to promote good government and democratization by enabling anonymous disclosure and publication of confidential government records.

"WikiLeaks is developing an uncensorable version of WikiPedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis," according to the project web site.

"Our primary targets are highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia, central eurasia, the middle east and sub-saharan Africa, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations."

"A system [that] enables everyone to leak safely to a ready audience is the most cost effective means of promoting good government -- in health and medicine, in food supply, in human rights, in arms control and democratic institutions."

Wikileaks says that it has already acquired over one million documents that it is now preparing for publication.

The project web site is not yet fully "live." But an initial offering -- a document purportedly authored by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys of Somalia's radical Islamic Courts Union -- is posted in a zipped file here:

An analysis of the document's authenticity and implications is posted here:

Wikileaks invited Secrecy News to serve on its advisory board. We explained that we do not favor automated or indiscriminate publication of confidential records.

In the absence of accountable editorial oversight, publication can more easily become an act of aggression or an incitement to violence, not to mention an invasion of privacy or an offense against good taste.

So we disagree on first principles? No problem, replied Wikileaks:

"Advisory positions are just that -- advisory! If you want to advise us to censor, then by all means do so."

See Wikileaks here:

While Wikileaks seeks to make unauthorized disclosures technologically immune to government control, an opposing school of thought proposes to expand U.S. government authority to seize control of information that is already in the public domain when its continued availability is deemed unacceptably dangerous.

"Although existing authorities do not directly address the subject, it appears that reasonable restrictions upon the possession and dissemination of catastrophically dangerous information can be constitutionally implemented," suggests Stewart Harris of the Appalachian School of Law.

See "Restrictions are justifiable," National Law Journal, December 11, 2006:


Foreign efforts to gather information on defense-related U.S. technologies are characterized in a 2006 report by the Defense Security Service (DSS) Counterintelligence Office.

"In 2005, DSS identified 106 countries associated with suspicious activities based on U.S. cleared defense industry reporting, up from 90 countries in 2004."

Information systems, lasers, sensors and aeronautics were among the technology areas most frequently targeted by foreign intelligence.

The unclassified DSS report is posted on the DSS web site, but is password-protected to block public access. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Technology Collection Trends in the U.S. Defense Industry," Defense Security Service, June 2006 (33 pages, 2.5 MB PDF):

The report was first reported by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times today. See his "Foreign spy activity surges to fill technology gap":


The State Department today invited public comment on its proposed revision of regulations on the control of classified national security information. See this January 3 Federal Register notice:

The People's Republic of China published a new edition of its annual White Paper on national defense on December 29. Boasting of increased transparency, the document features a new section on defense expenditures. See "China's National Defense in 2006":

A comprehensive overview of records management in the U.S. Army is presented in "Guide to Recordkeeping in the Army," Pamphlet 25-403, December 20, 2006:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently provided over 100 pages of answers to Senate questions for the record from a May 2, 2006 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on FBI Oversight. The responses on diverse topics concerning FBI operations were completed in July, but were only cleared for release to Congress on November 30, and were recently published in a Committee hearing volume. See the FBI responses here (147 pages, 7 MB PDF):


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

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