NSD-26

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Thu Mar 27 14:28:13 MST 2003


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 94
September 26, 2002


THE US GOVERNMENT AND IRAQI BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
GAO REPORT ON FOIA ACTIVITY
SENATE CLEARS 2003 INTEL AUTHORIZATION BILL
ODDS AND ENDS

THE US GOVERNMENT AND IRAQI BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS
"Did the United States help Iraq to acquire the building blocks of
biological weapons during the Iran-Iraq War? Are we, in fact, now facing the
possibility of reaping what we have sown?"

When Senator Robert Byrd posed those bothersome questions to Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a September 19 hearing, Rumsfeld dismissed the
matter with a curt "I doubt it."

But in fact there is abundant documentary and reportorial evidence to
demonstrate that "the U.S. Government provided nearly two dozen viral and
bacterial samples to Iraqi scientists in 1985--samples that included the
plague, botulism, and anthrax, among other deadly diseases."

A 1995 letter from then-director of the Centers for Disease Control David
Satcher to Sen. Donald Riegle itemizes "all biological materials, including
viruses, retroviruses, bacteria, and fungi, which CDC provided to the
government of Iraq from October 1, 1984, through October 13, 1993."

Sen. Byrd assembled all of the key evidence -- the Satcher letter, a recent
Newsweek article by Christopher Dickey and Evan Thomas, the transcript of
his exchange with Secretary Rumsfeld, and an excerpt from a 1994 Senate
Banking Committee report -- and inserted this information in the
Congressional Record on September 20. See:


http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2002_cr/s092002.html
Columnist Robert D. Novak discussed the issue in a Washington Post op-ed
column today, available here:


http://www.townhall.com/columnists/robertnovak/rn20020926.shtml
The prevailing US attitude toward Iraq during those years was articulated in
President George H.W. Bush's upbeat National Security Directive 26 of
October 2, 1989 on "U.S. Policy Toward the Persian Gulf":

"Normal relations between the United States and Iraq would serve our
longer-term interests and promote stability in both the Gulf and the Middle
East. The United States Government should propose economic and political
incentives for Iraq to moderate its behavior and to increase our influence
with Iraq."

"At the same time, the Iraqi leadership must understand that any illegal use
of chemical and/or biological weapons will lead to economic and political
sanctions, for which we would seek the broadest possible support from our
allies and friends," the previous President Bush wrote.

A copy of NSD 26, declassified in 1999, is posted here:


http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nsd/nsd26.pdf
The gathering momentum for a US war with Iraq signals the decline of
American democracy, argues columnist Michael Kinsley today.

Public deliberation about whether to go to war has been crippled by the fact
that "crucial information for an independent decision is unavailable to
us... We aren't capable of answering the actual questions at hand: Is Saddam
Hussein an imminent threat to our national and personal security, and is a
war to remove him from power the only way to end that threat?"

See "Ours Not to Reason Why" by Michael Kinsley in Slate Magazine:


http://slate.msn.com/?id=2071538


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GAO REPORT ON FOIA ACTIVITY

The General Accounting Office has issued a comprehensive new report on
implementation of the Freedom of Information Act in dozens of federal
agencies, noting that "backlogs of pending requests governmentwide are
substantial and growing, indicating that agencies are falling behind in
processing requests."

The Department of Energy, for example, took 16 days to process simple
requests in 1999, but needed 211 days in 2001. More complex requests took
DOE a median of 55 days to process in 1999, but required a dysfunctional
1,788 days by 2001, the GAO found.

The impact of September 11 was assessed differently by agency officials and
FOIA requesters, the GAO said.

"Agency officials characterized the effects on FOIA implementation as
relatively minor, except for mail delays associated with the anthrax
problem. In contrast, members of the requester community expressed general
concern about information dissemination and access to government information
in light of removal of information from government Web sites after September
11."

See GAO Report GAO-02-493, "Update on Implementation of the 1996 Electronic
Freedom of Information Act Amendments" (in a massive 2 MB PDF file) here:


http://www.fas.org/sgp/foia/gao02493.pdf


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SENATE CLEARS 2003 INTEL AUTHORIZATION BILL

"I can assure my colleagues that this bill provides a significant increase
in funding to the U.S. intelligence community," said Sen. Richard Shelby.

So assured, the Senate proceeded September 25 to approve the 2003
intelligence authorization bill on a voice vote. See:


http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2002_cr/s092502.html
The fifth public hearing of the congressional joint inquiry into September
11 today featured perfunctory testimony from former FBI counterterrorism
official Dale Watson. See:


http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2002_hr/092602watson.html


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ODDS AND ENDS

"Academia is suddenly finding itself a central target of new security laws
and regulations," writes Mark Clayton in the Christian Science Monitor
today. "As fall semester gets under way, university scientists worry that
freedom of inquiry, open access, and internationalization - long valued in
US higher education - are at risk."

See "Academia becomes target for new security laws":


http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0924/p11s02-lehl.html


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