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  Latest News  
  June 13,  2005
Volume 83, Number 24
p. 8


  Science And Security
Eminent panel calls for continued openness on basic research

Baltimore Brown


A white paper considering the benefits of an open scientific enterprise versus the risks to national security in a post-9/11 environment concludes, on balance, that the U.S. would be better served if the government avoids needless incursions on openness.

The paper--produced by a distinguished panel of scientists and security experts sitting as the Commission on Scientific Communication & National Security--argues that a Reagan-era policy directive on scientific openness should be continued. That directive states, "To the maximum extent possible, the products of fundamental research [should] remain unrestricted."

The commission was created two years ago by the Center for Strategic & International Studies. It is chaired by Harold Brown, a former Defense secretary, and Nobel Laureate David Baltimore, president of Caltech. Brown believes departing from the directive's principles "is likely to damage U.S. prosperity and security in the long run more than it protects them in the short run."

Of concern to the commission is how the Commerce Department will control "deemed exports." That is, Commerce is considering whether to require licenses for access to equipment that normally would be controlled if exported outside the U.S. but is being used in U.S. labs to conduct basic research. If Commerce regulates such equipment as deemed exports, researchers would be required to get an export license if the equipment were to be used by foreign nationals.

Commerce has issued a request for public comment on a proposed policy, and the commission's report will be submitted in response to that request. "The scientific community may be seriously affected by Commerce's proposed regulation," Baltimore says. "I certainly hope this report will be a blueprint for altering the proposed regulations."

Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, expects that the commission's "well articulated" paper "is likely to find a receptive audience. I detect a sensitivity at Commerce to the concerns of university researchers."

  Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2005

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