[FPSPACE] open source materials in classified reports
nodin at sbcglobal.net
Sat Nov 17 14:35:14 EST 2007
While Sven Grahn may have been surprised to see his article "stamped" in big red letters and Peter Pesavento gives a fair-enough explanation, I can painfully relate to both.
In July 1992 at Baikonur, I engaged discussion with the Energiya Foreign Affairs Officer, Boris M. Lokhmatchev. Boris was definitely clued into what my position was within the U.S. Intelligence Community, which also included my military background. Out of the blue, Boris asked me several questions regarding the early parts of my career, and then asked, "Just how did you see our rockets 25 years ago, Ed?" Because the answer was highly classified in the U.S., I could not tell him. My first response to this was, "Who told you that I saw your rockets, Boris?" As with many of his leading questions, I asked how he knew things about my past. But, he repeatedly asked the last question. There was a copy of Douglas Hart's Encyclopedia of SOVIET Spacecraft, obviously unclassified, open to the photoreconnaisance section on the table in front of us. Pointing to the open book, I finally answered, "Of course, Boris, you already know that both of our countries have had this kind
of satellite for many years." "Nyet! Nyet!" was his response, "There has to be something else." There was and he knew it, but I couldn't say, and still won't.
At my first debriefing after my return to the U.S., I faithfully recounted my conversation with Boris in its entirety. I had kept a detailed daily diary. It was then that security determined that Hart's book as well as my diary were at least Secret because I had effectively confirmed that elements of Hart's book were fact! The problem was compounded, they said, because I admitted the well-known fact, even stated openly in the press by former President Lyndon B. Johnson, that the U.S. indeed had photoreconnaisance satellites good enough to "see Soviet rockets." The entire transcript of that unclassified conversation and my diary were stamped "SECRET" in big red letters! That conversation with Boris, unfortunately, also began my career-ending downward spiral with security. Over the next six years, CIA leveled several charges against me for revealing classified information to Russian agents, spying for the Russians and acting as a mole for the Federation of American
Scientists! Ultimately, all chagres were dropped, but my career already had been ruined.
While we may not always agree what things should be classified, we don't make the rules. The reasons unclassified information or many publications become classified under certain conditions may vary a little from time to time. This is particularly true when open source and unclassified information might be confirmed through classified sources when it was originally no more than speculation, a wild guess, or even a well known fact.
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