from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2011, Issue No. 3
January 7, 2011

Secrecy News Blog:


The Obama Administration yesterday announced an unprecedented fifth prosecution in a case involving unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

Former Central Intelligence Agency officer Jeffrey A. Sterling was arrested on charges of disclosing classified intelligence information concerning a foreign nuclear weapons program to an unnamed author. From the context, it is evident that the alleged recipient [referred to as Author A] is New York Times reporter James Risen and the foreign nuclear program is that of Iran.

A copy of the indictment, dated December 22, 2010 and unsealed January 6, 2011, is here:

Aside from the intrinsic interest of the allegations, the indictment includes numerous incidental details worthy of note. For example:

The record number of leak prosecutions in the Obama Administration now include Mr. Sterling, former FBI linguist Shamai Leibowitz, former NSA official Thomas A. Drake, Army private Bradley Manning, and former State Department contractor Stephen Kim.

See further coverage in "Former CIA officer Jeffrey A. Sterling charged in leak probe" by Greg Miller, Washington Post, January 7:

and "Ex-C.I.A. Officer Named in Disclosure Indictment" by Charlie Savage, New York Times," January 7:


Although concealment and misdirection of adversaries are primordial acts, the word "camouflage" did not enter the English language until World War I. Author Nicholas Rankin observed in his book "A Genius for Deception" that "the Oxford English Dictionary's first example of published usage is from the Daily Mail in May 1917: 'The act of hiding anything from your enemy is termed "camouflage".'"

Nearly a century later, there is a full-fledged theory of camouflage, which is neatly presented in a new U.S. Army manual. The theory carefully distinguishes among related techniques such as hiding, blending, disguising, disrupting and decoying, each of which means something different.

The manual provides practical advice. When selecting foliage for camouflage, "coniferous vegetation is preferred to deciduous vegetation since it maintains a valid chlorophyll response" -- against an enemy's infrared sensors -- "longer after being cut."

And it reflects the lessons of experience. "Warfare often results in personnel losses from fratricide. Fratricide compels commanders to consider [camouflage's] effect on unit recognition by friendly troops."

See "Camouflage, Concealment, and Decoys," Army Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures 3-34.39, November 2010:


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

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