from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2018, Issue No. 51
August 10, 2018

Secrecy News Blog:


A dozen classified programs that involved research on human subjects were underway last year at the Department of Energy.

Human subjects research refers broadly to the collection of scientific data from human subjects. This could involve physical procedures that are performed on the subjects, or simply interviews and other forms of interaction with them.

Little information is publicly available about the latest DOE programs, most of which have opaque, non-descriptive names such as Tristan, Idaho Bailiff and Moose Drool. But a list of the classified programs was released this week under the Freedom of Information Act.

Human subjects research erupted into national controversy 25 years ago with reporting by Eileen Welsome of the Albuquerque Tribune on human radiation experiments that had been conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission, many of which were performed without the consent of the subjects. A presidential advisory committee was convened to document the record and to recommend appropriate policy responses.

In 2016, the Department of Energy issued updated guidelines on human subjects research, which included a requirement to produce a listing of all classified projects involving human subjects. It is that listing that has now been released.

"Research using human subjects provides important medical and scientific benefits to individuals and to society. The need for this research does not, however, outweigh the need to protect individual rights and interests," according to the 2016 DOE guidance on protection of human subjects in classified research.

An extravagantly horrific example of fictional human subject research was imagined by Lindsay Anderson in his 1973 film O Lucky Man! which captured the zeitgeist for a moment.


New reports from the Congressional Research Service this week include the following.

Advising the President: Rules Governing Access and Accountability of Presidential Advisors, CRS Legal Sidebar, August 6, 2018:

The European Deterrence Initiative: A Budgetary Overview, CRS In Focus, August 8, 2018:

Iran's Threats, the Strait of Hormuz, and Oil Markets: In Brief, August 6, 2018:

Nord Stream 2: A Geopolitical Lightning Rod, CRS In Focus, August 7, 2018:

Proposals to Impose Sanctions on Russian Sovereign Debt, CRS Insight, August 6, 2018:

Buprenorphine and the Opioid Crisis: A Primer for Congress, August 3, 2018:

Regulation of Cell-Cultured Meat, CRS In Focus, August 9, 2018:

Description of Proposed Changes to Implementation of the Endangered Species Act, CRS In Focus, August 8, 2018:

Abortion, Justice Kennedy, and Judge Kavanaugh, CRS Legal Sidebar, August 8, 2018:


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

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