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The federal government has historically allowed
open publication of federally funded research.
National Security Decision Directive 189 (NSDD-189)
states that basic research results could only
be controlled by classification. This policy is
still in effect. However, after September 11,
2001 the U.S. was left with a heightened sense
of vulnerability. The scientific community, traditionally
thriving on the open and free flow of information,
must now seriously consider whether and to what
extent to restrict the publication of certain
studies for the sake of national security. In
discussions among journal editors, researchers,
government officials, and others, most participants
share the view that some information maybe too
sensitive for publication. How to identify and
restrict that information remains a source of
dispute.  Research communities still strongly
hold to their view that scientific information
should remain open and accessible.
The federal government uses three methods to
restrict publication and dissemination of research:
classification, export controls, and pre-publication
review. Classification is the traditional means
of controlling scientific information. Most academic
institutions do not carry out classified research,
because they see it as being in conflict with
their mission. Others permit it to be done off
Export controls limit the transfer of information
and technology. The Department of Commerce implements
Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which
prohibit export of dual-use technologies on the
Commerce Control List without license. The Department
of State implements the International Traffic
in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which controls export
of items such as armaments and military technologies
on the Munitions Control List. Both have exemptions
for fundamental research. Export controls on information
use the concept of a "deemed export,"
which is the transfer of information, not physical
goods, to a foreign national without first obtaining
an export license for that technology. George
W. Bush invoked the International Economic Emergency
Powers Act (P.L. 95-223) to maintain export control
since the Export Administration Act of 1979 (P.L.
96-72) was not reauthorized by the 107th Congress.
Export controls of information are particularly
worrisome to universities, since it limits free
and open access to information in the classroom.
 A report by the Department of Commerce's Inspector
General recommended stricter enforcement of current
export controls to stem flow of sensitive technology
to foreign nationals. The report also found that
if the DOC requires deemed export licenses for
the use of controlled equipment by foreign nationals
for fundamental research, the impact and burden
on universities would be significant and "strike
at the core goal of universities in promoting
scholarship regardless of national origin."
Pre-publication review is sometimes used as a
condition for accepting research grants or contracts.
These restrictions are usually narrowly-targeted,
and do not apply to whole fields of research.
Universities generally do not approve of prepublication
review, and many have refused research grants
and contracts where this was a condition for accepting
the government's funding. 
In February 2001, researchers published an article
describing their attempt to create a mouse contraceptive
by inserting a gene into the mousepox virus that
resulted in a deadly virus that killed mice vaccinated
against mousepox. The paper was condemned for
illustrating how to make a virus more deadly.
 In October 2001, the full genome of Yersinia
pestis, the bacteria that causes bubonic and pneumonic
plague was published in the journal Nature. A
study published in May 2002 "provided details
about how smallpox uses a protein to evade the
human immune system." Some feared that enemies
could use this information to produce bioweapons.
In July 2002, a study describing how to make
a poliovirus from mail-order DNA was published.
Florida Rep. Dave Weldon described this as "'a
blueprint that could conceivably enable terrorists
to inexpensively create human pathogens for release...'"
 The full genome sequence of Coxiellia burnetii,
the agent causing Q fever was published in Proceedings
of the National Academies of Science (PNAS) in
April 2003. During the same month, the annotated
genome of Bacillus anthracis, the agent causing
anthrax, was published in Nature.  A George
Mason University graduate student's dissertation
came under scrutiny in July 2003 and might become
classified. The student "mapped every business
and industrial sector in the American economy,
layering on top the fiber-optic network that connects
them," thus laying bare the "country's
nervous system." 
In September 2003, the Office of Foreign Assets
Control (OFAC) under the Treasury Department ruled
that publishers may publish but not edit scientific
works by authors living in countries under trade
embargo, such as Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Cuba.
This interpretation was based on the International
Emergency Economic Powers Act.  In April of
2004, OFAC reversed its earlier ruling and allowed
the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
(IEEE) to resume publishing, editing, and peer
reviewing scholarly manuscripts submitted by authors
living in countries under trade embargo. OFAC
acknowledged that IEEE's publishing process falls
under the Berman Amendment to trade law, which
exempts the exchange of information from sanctions.
Despite this reversal, members of scientific and
engineering societies in embargoed countries are
still prohibited from taking advantage of services
offered to full members. This ruling does not
necessarily extend to other publishers. 
A major challenge in this dispute is the dual-use
nature of microbiology and biotechnology when
research results used for legitimate reasons can
also be used as weapons.  Some argue that
scientific knowledge is not necessarily beneficial.
Bioethicist Arthur Caplan worries that, "'We
have to get away from the ethos that knowledge
is good. ... Information will kill us in the techno-terrorist
age.'" Furthermore, scientists cannot possibly
develop defenses against all conceivable biological
warfare threats,  and publication of what
scientists do know could expose the nation's strengths
and weaknesses. This is the controversy surrounding
the George Mason University graduate student's
dissertation, which has been called "'a cookbook
of how to exploit the vulnerabilities of our nation's
infrastructure.'" Those who oppose restrictions
contend that they would deter researchers from
pursuing studies that could be beneficial, and
that they would only delay the spread of information,
since it could be rediscovered. After the
American Society for Microbiology (ASM) changed
the review policies for its eleven journals, requiring
editors to be alert for sensitive information,
they found that some authors began imposing self-censorship.
ASM's president, Ronald Atlas, argues against
such actions, as well as proposals to limit or
remove the methods section of research papers.
"Science, by its definition, is supposed
to be repeatable, and if we permit publication
of manuscripts that lack sufficient detail...we
will be undercutting science." Additionally,
some scientists believe that instead of endangering
national security, openness will benefit security
if "researchers have access to information
that may lead to new vaccines, detectors, and
treatments." This latter view emphasizes
the importance of scientific review, scrutiny,
and replication among colleagues in order to reduce
the likelihood of mistakes and to promote advancement.
It is widely accepted that any review process
must be clear, unambiguous, and internationally
accepted for it to be effective. White House Office
of Science and Technology Policy Director John
H. Marburger states that such a process will garner
international support.  A National Academy
of Sciences' committee to reviewed current publication
mechanisms for biotechnology, and issued a report
urging the government to continue to support NSDD-189,
as well as develop new mechanisms to assess and
respond to potentially hazardous research. 
Some agencies have already taken steps to restrict
the flow of dangerous information. In 2002, several
universities reported increasing restrictions
and requirements on government contracts, primarily
relating to publications and the participation
of foreign nationals in government funded defense
related research. This generated protest by universities,
which argue the restrictions compromise the openness
of university research.  As a result, DoD
subsequently dropped a number of the restrictions.
In February 2003, the editors of more than twenty
leading scientific journals announced that they
will review, and either edit or reject articles
that could pose danger to national security. This
voluntary act of self-censorship is seen by some
as the scientific community's response to "a
thinly veiled threat of government censorship
by the Bush administration." Marburger
asserts the need to plan future processes carefully,
since ill-planned security measures "can
backfire if they do not significantly improve
security" relative to the cost they impose
on science and federal agencies. 
. 1 Joint Editors and Author Group. "Statement
on Scientific Publication and Security."
Science. 299(2003): 1149.
. Shea, Dana A. "Balancing Scientific
Publication and National Security Concerns: Issues
for Congress." CRS Report for Congress. February
2, 2004. (RL31695).
. "Deemed Export Controls May Not Stop
the Transfer of Sensitive Technology to Foreign
Nationals in the U.S." Department of Commerce's
Inspector General report (IPE-16176, March 2004)
. Monastersky, Richard. "Publish and Perish?"
The Chronicle of Higher Education. October 11,
. Shea, Ibid.
. Monastersky, Ibid.
. Shea, Ibid.
. Blumenfeld, Laura. "Dissertation Could
be Security Threat." Washington Post. July
8, 2003: A01.
. Kumagai, Jean. "Will U.S. Sanctions
Have Chilling Effect on Scholarly Publishing?"
IEEE Spectrum Online. 15 October 2003.
. Kugamai, Jean and William Sweet. "U.S.
Treasury Department Issues Free Press Ruling."
Spectrum Online. 12 April 2004.
. Zilinskas, Raymond A., and Jonathan B. Tucker.
"Limiting the Contribution of the Open Scientific
Literature to the Biological Weapons Threat."
Journal of Homeland Security. December 2002.
. Blumenfeld, Ibid.
. Zilinskas, Ibid.
. Schmid, Randolph E. "Some Scientists
Worry Published Research May Be Used By Terrorists."
Associated Press. July 27, 2002
. Shea, Dana A. "Balancing Scientific
Publication and National Concerns: Issues for
Congress." CRS Report for Congress, RL31695.
January 10, 2003
. Schultz, William G. "Science at a Time
of Terror." Chemical and Engineering News.
January 27, 2003.
. "Biotechnology Research in an Age of
Terrorism." National Research Council, 2004.
. Gast, Alice P. and Julie T. Norris. "Troublesome
Clauses in Research Awards." MIT Memorandum.
January 29, 2003.
. Seattle Post-Intelligencer Editorial Board.
"Not So Fast on Self-Censorship." Seattle
Post-Intelligencer. February 28, 2003.
. Marburger, John. "The War on Terrorism:
What Does it Mean for Science?" AAAS Symposium.
December 18, 2001.
Resources Inspector General of the Department
of Defense report on export of sensitive technologies
CRS report "Balancing Scientific Publication
and National Security Concerns: Issues for Congress"
(02/02/04, PDF format)