Secret Science: Federal Control of American Science and Technology

Secret Science: Federal Control of American Science and Technology

Secret Science: Federal Control of American Science and Technology

Secret Science: Federal Control of American Science and Technology

Synopsis

This book is a plea for scientific openness and free access to information. It demonstrates the futility of scientific secrecy and the weakness of national arguments against open communication. From the restriction of technologically advanced exports, to the classification of research as restricted or secret, to the monitoring (and censoring) of scientific publications and library collections, to the pre-emption by the Pentagon of scientific and technological research, the U.S. federal government has achieved a state of unprecedented control over American science and technology. This, despite the end of the Cold War. Foerstel examines this continuing trend toward the state as chief sponsor, promoter, and supervisor of scientific research and its unsettling ramifications. Foerstel concludes that scientific secrecy is counterproductive to American interests, particularly in an era when economics has come to define national security. His controversial analysis will be of interest to scientists, historians, and,students of government alike.

Excerpt

Military and state secrets have been protected by the American government since George Washington's presidency, but without clear statutory authority. Instead, the authority of the Presidency itself has been the principal basis for the entire network of security classification, with the possible exception of the Atomic Energy Act. The specific criteria used in imposing secrecy on government documents through classification were introduced by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1940, with authority claimed under a defense installations law. After Pearl Harbor, the First War Powers Act gave the President the power to control all communications with foreign powers, eventually including the publication of any information that might compromise American military or foreign policy interests or aid U.S. adversaries. The use of classification categories, ranging from Confidential to Top Secret and beyond, was established through a series of Executive Orders, and the fundamentals of that system remain in effect today.

At the conclusion of World War II, Dr. Vannevar Bush, science adviser to the President, warned that the nation must proceed with caution in carrying over wartime methods to the very different conditions of peace. He recommended removal of the rigid controls in order to recover freedom of inquiry and the healthy competitive spirit necessary for the expansion of the frontiers of scientific knowledge.

Instead, the prompt declaration of the Cold War introduced a period . . .

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