Monday, June 06, 2005

Government Censorship or Solid Exercise of the Patriot Act

This just in from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Is this proper execution of government censorship or have we just witnessed more erosion to the freedom of expression?

It's a short article, so here's the whole thing:

Citing security concerns, federal officials have asked the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences not to publish a Stanford University researcher's paper on biological terrorism. The journal has pulled the paper from its May 30 online edition and is evaluating whether to revise it before publication.

The paper -- by a business-school professor, Lawrence M. Wein, and a graduate student, Yifan Liu -- details how terrorists might attack the nation's milk supply with botulinum toxin, and offers suggestions for how to thwart such an attack.

Mr. Wein declined on Friday to be interviewed for this article, but in an essay he wrote for the op-ed page of The New York Times last Monday, he called for stricter regulations to ensure that the milk supply "is vigilantly guarded, from cow to consumer." The guidelines in place now are voluntary, he wrote.

Marc W. Wolfson, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said officials there and at the Food and Drug Administration had been alarmed by the level of detail the paper provides. He said it was the first time the agency had asked a journal to remove a paper that had already been accepted for publication.

"It was basically a road map on how you could use botulinum toxin to taint the milk supply in the United States," he said. "We felt that the benefits of printing the article were outweighed by the potential harm it could do."

The federal request was made on May 27, in a letter sent by Stewart Simonson, assistant secretary for public-health emergency preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services, to Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, which publishes the prestigious journal.

Mr. Alberts declined to comment on the situation, but a spokesman for the journal provided a statement saying that the journal and the academy "have agreed to take another look at the paper in question ... and new release dates will be announced."

Mr. Wolfson said senior officials at the two federal agencies would meet with the journal's editors this week to discuss the paper further.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization chartered by Congress to advise policy makers on scientific and technical issues.

End Article:

Puts the whole Got Milk campaign in a differentl light doesn't it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Security through obscurity

It doesn't work for computers. It won't work for milk. Suppressing a NAS report is advertising a vulnerability.

Has no one in the government ever played chess? If you're going to win, you have to think beyond the first move.