NAS PUT ON HOLD
Pentagon stops public release of study, documents on nonlethal weapons
Many of the unclassified documents collected for a study sponsored by the Pentagon on nonlethal weapons and deposited in the National Academy of Sciences' public access file were not initially released to the public as federal law requires.
On March 12, Edward Hammond, director of the Sunshine Project--an international watchdog group monitoring the control of biological weapons--asked for 77 documents relating to chemical and biological weapons. These were culled from 266 documents placed on file at least six months prior to his request. Hammond was told by the NAS security officer that a hold had been placed on them for security reasons following Sept. 11, 2001, but was not told who placed the hold.
The documents underpin a study commissioned by the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program directed by Marine Col. George P. Fenton and the Office of Naval Research. The study was completed last November but has been undergoing security classification review. On May 22, Fenton's office informed NAS that the study--originally unclassified--is now to be considered classified until determined otherwise, NAS spokesman William J. Skane says.
The panoply includes the following:
- Riot control agents such as stun guns
- Calming agents
- Malodorous fogs
- Genetically modified bacteria and fungi that eat asphalt, gunk-up engine oils, or break down plastics
Earlier in May, Fenton told Hammond that he had not placed the hold on the requested documents. Skane says, "Fenton is lying."
Skane says NAS has repeatedly asked Fenton's office for guidance on which documents it can release and which, because of reclassification, it cannot. NAS has yet to receive an answer on many of the 77 requested documents, although the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate recently released 42 for public distribution. Hammond has received 35 of those, three of which are for proposed studies that he claims would violate the Biological Weapons Convention.
In the meantime, E. William Colglazier, NAS executive officer, is seeking out higher Pentagon authority to pry the study loose for release to the public.