from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 110
November 5, 2007

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The value of a publication like this can sometimes be hard to define, and its impact difficult to trace. Yet we believe that Secrecy News has made an identifiable contribution, particularly by introducing significant government information and documents into the public domain.

So, for example, the Washington Post reported on October 16 that a controversial internal U.S. government report on Iraqi corruption had been made "widely available on the Internet." In fact, a Google search indicates that the report was made available only on the Federation of American Scientists web site, where it was published by Secrecy News.

The New York Times reported on October 30 that "several advocacy groups" had filed legal challenges seeking disclosure of the intelligence budget total after September 11, 2001. But there is no record of such a legal challenge brought by anyone other than the FAS Project on Government Secrecy, Secrecy News' publisher.

A widely-noted New Yorker article (February 19) on torture and U.S. government policy stated that the Intelligence Science Board had "released a report" criticizing coercive interrogation. In private correspondence, however, author Jane Mayer courteously acknowledged that she merely assumed the Board had released the report and that she had actually read it on the FAS web site after it was posted there by Secrecy News. (It has since been published elsewhere.)

What these stories indirectly confirm, even without crediting Secrecy News, is that we have succeeded in creating an effective conduit for transmitting restricted or inaccessible government information to the public.

With almost every issue of Secrecy News, we publish government records that members of the general public cannot readily locate elsewhere-- unique resources on foreign affairs and domestic surveillance, psychological operations and special operations, and much more. And we make them available on demand and without charge to a large audience. (Less than a day after we published a U.S. Army Field Manual on "Survival" last week, it had already been downloaded more than 35,000 times.)

We were fortunate to have had support for this work over the past year from several philanthropic foundations-- including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the HKH Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and the Stewart S. Mott Charitable Trust. But their assistance does not cover all of our costs.

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

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