from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2011, Issue No. 57
June 16, 2011

Secrecy News Blog:


The government yesterday filed a formal response in federal court in opposition to the public use of WikiLeaks documents by a habeas attorney who represents a client in U.S. military detention at Guantanamo Bay. Those documents are or may be classified, the government insisted, and must continue to be treated as such.

In an April 27 motion, attorney David Remes had asked the Court to authorize "full and unfettered access" to WikiLeaks documents pertaining to his client, and to affirm that he "may publicly view, download, print, copy, disseminate, and discuss the documents and their contents, without fear of any sanctions."

"Any member of the general public can view these files, download them, print them, circulate them, and comment on them," Mr. Remes wrote. "Undersigned counsel, however, fears that he will face potential sanctions, legal or otherwise, if he does exactly the same things without express government permission."

In its response yesterday, the government said that Mr. Remes (and other habeas attorneys) may "view" the documents on a non-governmental computer, but may not "download, print, copy, disseminate, [or] discuss these documents" in public.

To justify its position, the government argued that it had not confirmed the authenticity of any particular WikiLeaks document, and that the restrictions on attorneys' use of the documents serve to maintain the possibility that one or more of the documents is not genuine.

"Although the Government has confirmed that purported detainee assessments were leaked to WikiLeaks, the Government has neither confirmed nor denied that any particular individual report appearing on the WikiLeaks website is an official government document," the government attorneys wrote.

"The Government must refrain from confirming whether any particular reports disseminated by WikiLeaks are genuine detainee assessments or not, to avoid the risk of even greater harm to national security than may have already been caused by WikiLeaks' disclosures."

This argument seems weakened, however, by the fact that the Government has not identified even one document among the many thousands released by WikiLeaks that is not genuine or is not what it appears to be. In the absence of even a single such case of falsification, the documents may be understood to be presumptively authentic even if government officials will not deign to say so.

It will be up to the Court to decide which party's perspective is legally compelling.


The Department of Defense has created a new DoD Laboratory Network to coordinate existing programs on the assessment of and response to the use of weapons of mass destruction.

The new Network is intended "to provide timely, high-quality, actionable results for early detection, confirmation, response, and effective consequence management of acts of terrorism or warfare involving CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear] agents; infectious disease outbreaks; and other all-hazards agent events requiring a DoD integrated incident response."

The initiative was set forth in DoD Instruction 6440.03, "DoD Laboratory Network (DLN)," June 10, 2011:

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy has updated its "Minimum Security Standards for Safeguarding Biological Select Agents and Toxins," OPNAV Instruction 5530.16A, 11 May 2011:

The Department of Defense has also issued new guidance on regulating access to classified nuclear weapons information, including the relatively new (2006) category known as "Sigma 20" information, which pertains to improvised nuclear devices. See "Access to and Dissemination of Restricted Data and Formerly Restricted Data," DoD Instruction 5210.02, 03 June 2011:


In his new book "Tiger Trap," veteran intelligence author David Wise turns his attention to the history of Chinese espionage against the United States and the sometimes clumsy, self-defeating U.S. response.

While the subject matter often lends itself to exaggeration or anti-China animus, Mr. Wise generally evades these hazards and sticks close to the facts. And though at least the outlines of individual episodes described in the book have previously been reported, the author fills in numerous gaps in the public record, including some previously classified details. The book presents Chinese espionage successes and failures, some brilliant U.S. counterintelligence strokes and some egregious failures, some suspects who were falsely accused and others who got away nearly unscathed.

It all adds up to a lively and surprisingly cohesive narrative, especially since many of the individual stories overlap with one or more of the others. "Chinese spy cases have tendrils that often seem to reach out and become entangled in other cases," Mr. Wise writes.

When it comes to espionage, "China may be America's single most effective and dangerous adversary," according to Mr. Wise. "It managed over the years to penetrate both the CIA and the FBI. It acquired highly classified and guarded nuclear weapons secrets."

"Without exaggerating the danger of Chinese espionage, or magnifying the threat, it is a fact that China's spying on America is ongoing, current, and shows no sign of diminishing. The conflict is no less real for being mostly unseen." It goes without saying that U.S. intelligence also collects against China.

"Tiger Trap: America's Secret Spy War with China" by David Wise was published this week by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Some other newly received books in our "to read" pile include these:

"Abuse of Power: How Cold War Surveillance and Secrecy Policy Shaped the Response to 9/11" by Athan G. Theoharis, Temple University Press, May 31, 2011:

"15 Minutes: General Curtis LeMay and the Countdown to Nuclear Annihilation" by L. Douglas Keeney, St. Martin's Press, February 2011:

"Atom Bombs: The Top Secret Inside Story of Little Boy and Fat Man" by John Coster-Mullen, 2011:


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

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