DOD Officials Acted in Accordance With Executive Order for Addressing Security Classification Concerns

GAO-01-737R: Published: Jun 12, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 12, 2001.

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Donald G. Fulwider
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This report investigates whether the Department of Defense (DOD) misused the security classification process to stifle public discussion of problems with the National Missile Defense System. On May 11, 2000, Dr. Theodore Postol reported an alleged incident of fraud to John Podesta, former White House Chief of Staff. Dr. Postol wrote a letter that alleged scientific fraud by contractors involved in developing the National Missile Defense system for DOD's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO). The letter contained Dr. Postol's analysis of public data and extracts from documents he used to reach his conclusion. BMDO's decision to classify Dr. Postol's letter prompted him to write another letter to Mr. Podesta complaining that the classification was an attempt to restrict his public exposure of scientific fraud. Dr. Postol wrote a third letter to Mr. Podesta complaining that an unscheduled visit by the Defense Security Service (DSS) was an attempt to intimidate him and violate his First Amendment rights. GAO found that DOD's decision to conduct a security classification review was performed in accordance with Executive Order 12958. Similarly, BMDO's subsequent request that DSS contact Dr. Postol to discuss concerns that his letter contained classified information was made in accordance with DOD's regulations. The discovery by BMDO officials that the documents enclosed with Dr. Postol's letter were similar to classified DOD documents prompted the security classification review and DSS visit to Dr. Postol.

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