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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities I. Introduction “Second only to a weapon of mass destruction detonating in an American city, we can think of nothing more dangerous than a failure to manage properly science, technology, and education for the common good over the next quarter century.” U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (February 2001)2 The tragedy of September 11, 2001, the subsequent anthrax attacks, and ongoing terror threats internationally have markedly changed national and international security. As concerns about threats and terrorist activities have become global, so have the rapid transfer of information and ubiquitous communication. The confluence of the globalization of U.S. businesses and the revolution in information storage and transmittal have changed the landscape on which to build national security. Advanced information and technology have become more valuable at the same time that they are more broadly shared. As a consequence, the United States faces major dilemmas with regard to the dissemination of scientific/technological information and dual-use technology. During its deliberations, the committee heard presentations from a variety of government officials concerning the security threats that are confronting the United States. The officials were not always able to offer concrete examples of the reality of these threats, but they clearly perceived vulnerabilities to which all in the university community should be sensitive. They discussed a threat that has several dimensions. First, there is concern that the United States’ porous borders could allow terrorists to enter the country and attack U.S. citizens. Some of these terrorists might pose as (or in fact be) students in order to gain entry and find cover in a university community. Hence, it is argued that there is a need for programs to police the entry of students and to verify their activities. This situation is different from that of the Cold War because of the variety of countries that are spawning grounds for such terrorists and because during the Cold War, those who 2 U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (Hart-Rudman Commission, Phase III). 2001. Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change. February 15.
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities sought to penetrate our borders under false pretenses were spies, not terrorists on missions of destruction. Second, there is concern that terrorists might use U.S. advanced technology against us. Some universities are vulnerable because of the presence of dangerous pathogens or other research materials that could be used as weapons. Moreover, there is concern that terrorists aspiring to apply advanced technology in weapons might develop the technical capability to do so through a university education. This situation too is different from that of the Cold War because the Soviet Union was a sophisticated adversary, at least with respect to weapons technology, while current terrorists are not. Hence, it is argued that there is a need for special programs to screen foreign students from a range of countries who might study in “sensitive” fields. Third, there is a more generalized concern about state actors and their access to advanced technologies of military significance. The U.S. military edge is built on the skillful application of advanced technology. There is concern that other countries might benefit militarily from access to scientific or technical information that is available at universities. This too is somewhat different from Cold War days because of the diffuse group of countries that might be judged to be potential adversaries; because research in some areas (e.g., biotechnology) is now far closer to application than in the past; and because, in some fields, the civilian applications of technology available at universities may be ahead of military applications of that same technology. Finally, there are concerns that arise from the reality that America’s economic well-being is founded on the maintenance of its scientific and technological edge. Government security officials expressed the general concern that foreign countries seek to penetrate U.S. universities (as well as U.S. businesses) for the purpose of obtaining early access to technology so that they can supplant U.S. capabilities and reap the economic gains for themselves.3 This too is somewhat different from the situation during the Cold War, because the world is increasingly “flat,” and individuals from most anywhere can connect, collaborate, innovate, and compete. Consequently, many countries now seek to exploit advanced technology as an engine of economic growth. Especially in the case of China, experts who spoke before the committee were sometimes vague regarding whether they 3 Timothy D. Bereznay, 2006. Remarks made at the Committee on a New Government-University Partnership for Science and Security Northeast Regional Meeting at MIT. May 16. Available at www7.nationalacademies.org/stl/032895.pdf. Accessed February 14, 2007
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities were most concerned about traditional security-related espionage or more competitive economic espionage where high-technology research data are concerned. In the view of this committee, none of these concerns should be dismissed or disregarded. And indeed, the committee heard, and from professional experience knew, that the university community has responded to concerns raised by the September 11th terrorist events by strengthening current policies and implementing new policies stemming from new federal regulations such as the USA PATRIOT Act. (See Box 1A.) BOX 1A Examples of the Academic Research Community’s Response to Security Concerns Since 9/11 universities have taken on considerably more activities to educate faculty and students about national security concerns, to comply with federal regulations, and to tighten their physical security. Some of these actions include the following: Providing increased training to research staff on various compliance, safety, and security issues Implementing additional processes related to the hiring of staff and to lists that have to be checked for exclusions Meeting higher security requirements for certain human studies (e.g., research techniques for identifying potential terrorists or airport screening methods) Responding to national security letters Responding to the increased presence of and requests from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Balancing demand for security (from sponsors, contractors, regulatory agencies) with increasing requests for transparency from public groups. Universities also have made changes for handling select agents and other microbiological agents of concern (e.g., SARS): Creating peer review groups to address new security and safety requirements and integrate them into current operations Identifying researchers who possess select agents rather than those who just transfer those agents—development of new processes to assure that only de minimis quantities of toxins on the select agent and Toxins list are used in identified laboratories Increased correspondence with agencies and colleagues regarding the applicability of regulations and the nature of regulatory inspections/reviews Education of investigators, laboratory staff, biosafety committee, human subjects protections committee, animal care and use committee, research administrators, business officers, etc., on the need for and means to address laboratory security and accountability Incorporating the capacity for increased surveillance and security systems into laboratory renovations Installing security systems to limit access to environmental health and safety offices where inventories of hazardous materials and security measures are stored Holding more meetings with an increasing array of campus stakeholders—including meetings with lawyers, architects, engineers, research compliance directors, police, occupational health, etc.— rather than just investigators and their staff.
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities The committee concluded, however, that these concerns do not justify the use of extreme measures that serve to significantly disrupt the openness that has characterized the U.S. scientific and technology enterprise. The committee reached this conclusion because policies aimed to minimize the threats described above also can pose significant risks to our Nation’s ability to remain economically and militarily secure. The committee expressed the belief that the United States cannot achieve national security in the 21st century without economic security. As a result, it is critical that actions taken to protect us from our enemies do not compromise our competitive status in the global economy. Economic security cannot be achieved without a balanced approach to openness in scientific and technological exchange, education, and information sharing. Equally essential is the sustained provision of resources devoted to advanced research, so that the United States can maintain its lead in key technological areas. A robust scientific and technological enterprise is critical to both national security and the U.S. economy. Participants in the regional meetings repeatedly spoke about three situations that illustrate the dilemma that the scientific and security communities face. First, the publication of research on pathogens could provide terrorists with recipes for their production, enabling an attack that could endanger our population. As a consequence, one reaction might be to restrict such publications. Yet a considerable amount of this research is performed outside the United States and is already available to those who might do us harm. Given such a situation, it is possible that we will face an attack enabled by advanced research in the coming years even if the United States were to impose restrictions on the publication of such information. Moreover, a failure to publish information might inhibit the development of the capability to treat those affected and prevent the spread of any resulting diseases. Open and rapid publication, rather than restrictions on publication, facilitates the rapid development of understanding on the part of researchers studying the pathogens. Second, the exportation of advanced technology that can be used in both the civilian and military sectors (so-called dual-use technology) has the potential, if misused, to benefit adversaries. The United State’s approach has been to keep in check such exportation through export control regulations. One consequence of such controls, however, is that we lose our economic standing and growth and stand to lose competitive advantage to companies outside the United States that do not face such controls.
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities Third, the training of foreign students in advanced dual-use technology may provide their countries of origin with increased understanding of some of those technologies when the students return. As a consequence, it has been proposed that access to such dual-use technology by foreign students at U.S. research universities be controlled through “deemed” export controls. Universities would have to obtain export licenses from one or more government agencies to permit foreign students to use such equipment to the extent that through modification or maintenance they gain knowledge of how it works. The Nation has, however, become highly dependent on foreign students who remain in this country because of its scientific, technological, and economic strengths. The proposed deemed export controls are likely to reduce the flow of highly talented foreign students into this country, endangering our scientific and technological leadership in the very areas we seek to protect. It is in the context of these dilemmas that the committee began its work. In its 2005 prepublication report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, a National Academies committee wrote, “Although many people assume that the United States will always be a world leader in science and technology, this may not continue to be the case inasmuch as great minds and ideas exist throughout the world.”4 Not only does U.S. technology-based industry compete on an international level, but U.S. academic institutions also must compete for researchers and students, a relatively new and uneasy transition for some institutions. It is not just that U.S. institutions must compete against foreign institutions for students, but that a U.S. institution seeking the best students and researchers must be open to looking overseas. In other words, when much of the talent comes from abroad, an institution unwilling to acknowledge that it is in an international competition not only risks losing students, but also risks losing its technical edge. The United States must continue to make every effort to attract U.S.-born students to science and engineering careers while remaining open to attracting the best and brightest foreign students as well. Furthermore, upon being screened and granted a visa and permission to study at a U.S. research institution, a foreign-born student studying here should be accorded the same opportunities for study and research as his or her native born peers. 4 National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2005. Rising Above the Gathering Storm Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission found that “China has become central to the global supply chain for technology goods of increasing sophistication, and its technology research and development activities are steadily and substantially expanding….Advances in China’s technology infrastructure and industries, along with similar advances in other developing countries, pose a significant competitive challenge that has begun to erode U.S. technology leadership.”5 These trends have led many high-level government officials to aggressively assert the relationship between scientific and technological leadership and national security. For example, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England has said, “The greatest long-term threat to U.S. national security is not terrorists wielding a nuclear or biological weapon, but the erosion of America’s place as a world leader in science and technology.”6 Thus, we as a Nation must redefine and expand our understanding of the nature of security and how it is linked to economic competitiveness and the health of the scientific and technological enterprise. During the 45 years of the Cold War, national security was defined in narrow military terms: the containment of the Soviet Union behind its Eastern European Iron Curtain and the prevention of the use of nuclear weapons through deterrence and negotiations. “As of September 11, 2001, a new third dimension, stateless nations, was forced onto the security chess board. Stateless nations, or ‘nonstate actors’ as they are called, do not play with the same figures or pieces,”7 and as such they require us to reconsider how we think about scientific openness and national security. However, while the nature of the threat may have changed since the Cold War period, “the risks to scientific and technological progress and the potential negative effects of imposing restrictions remain similar.”8 A broader view of security also must recognize that safety is increasingly international and shared, that nation-state borders are increasingly porous, that information—including scientific information—is increasingly ubiquitous, that intense communication is necessary to dispel 5 Hearings before the U.S. Economic and Security Review Commission. April 2005. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. 6 Inside the Pentagon. 2006. England: Decline of S&T capabilities Is the Greatest ‘Long-Term Threat.’ InsideWashington Publishers: November 2. 7 Gary Hart. 2006. The Shield and the Cloak: The Security of the Commons. New York: Oxford University Press. 8 Mitchell B. Wallerstein. 2003. “After the Cold War: A New Calculus for Science and Security.” Academe. 89(5):10-15.
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities misunderstanding, and that scientific collaboration across borders enhances cooperation and international security. Thus, in implementing new security measures, we must be cognizant that policies that consider only our desire for protection through additional restrictions and controls may be doomed to failure if they are not properly balanced against the need for communication and collaboration by scientists and engineers in an increasingly global and competitive world. Charge to the Committee With encouragement from the House Committee on Science and Technology and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) requested that the National Research Council’s Committee on Science, Technology, and Law establish an ad hoc Committee on a New Government-University Partnership for Science and Security. The committee was composed of individuals with a wide array of experience in academic and government service, including individuals who served or are currently serving in senior government or committee positions within the following organizations: Central Intelligence Agency Defense Science Board Department of Defense Department of Energy Department of State National Nuclear Security Administration National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity National Security Agency National Security Council Nuclear Regulatory Commission Senate Armed Services Committee and Intelligence Oversight Committee U.S. Air Force U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century, and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities The committee was charged with organizing three regional workshops to: bring together faculty and research administrators, government officials from research and national security agencies, and congressional members; focus on: restrictive clauses in federal contracts and grants, the dissemination of scientific information, sensitive but unclassified information, and the management of biological agents in academic research; and issue a report identifying the committee’s findings from the workshops and the committee’s recommendations. Each regional workshop addressed all four topics, although with different emphases depending on the research focus of a particular host institution/region.9 This report reflects the key issues raised during the regional meetings. In its deliberations, the committee fully recognized the legitimate concerns of those tasked with securing our borders. Interestingly, even with such a divergent range of committee expertise and speaker/participant input, there was an overwhelming consensus that to keep the country secure and to maintain our freedoms, we must strive to keep U.S. universities open, welcome students and scholars from around the world, and participate in international research, while limiting access when warranted and placing appropriate restrictions on narrow and well-defined high-risk areas. Response to the Charge The committee assiduously sought the advice of senior representatives of the security and intelligence communities and heard from current and past senior government officials from the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the FBI, CIA, DOD, the Department of Commerce, and DOE. The 9 Regional meetings were held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, May 15-16, 2006; Georgia Institute of Technology/Emory University, June 5-6, 2006; and Stanford University, September 27-28, 2006. Unedited transcripts from the meetings can be found at www.nationalacademies.org/stl. See Appendix E for the meeting agendas.
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities advice that was received was at every point balanced with an understanding of the intricately linked connections among scientific knowledge, economic progress, and national security. At no point did the committee consider sacrificing intelligence collection and border security in the name of education—scientific or otherwise. On the other hand, it concluded that U.S. leadership in science and technology, gained in part by the interchange of ideas within the international community, is central to achieving national security in the 21st century. The leaders of the United States must understand, and in turn must help all Americans understand, that as a Nation we have no exclusive ownership of ideas or knowledge and that scientific discoveries and technological advances made in the United States often rely on knowledge created outside its borders. Prudence requires close stewardship of the most harmful and dangerous products of human ingenuity. But closing U.S. science off from the rest of the international scientific community in an effort to protect ourselves against unspecified dangers could isolate us from an increasingly integrated and competitive global community. The task of achieving the appropriate balance between the need for rapid, open communication among scholars and the safeguarding of information that could be used to do U.S. citizens harm is challenging, requiring the continual and sustained attention of the scientific and security communities. The committee concluded that the United States can and must strike this balance so that our extraordinary creativity and productivity can continue to flourish and propel the Nation into a prosperous future. This report reflects the key issues raised during the regional meetings. In particular, it discusses the principles that should be used in balancing the need for openness with the need for restrictions. It also discusses the principles that should be used in creating new paradigms for government-academic cooperation in order to institutionalize ongoing dialogue and the search for solutions to the tensions that are inherent when attempting to balance openness and watchfulness. In general, the committee focused its discussions on five issues central to promoting a robust scientific and technological enterprise essential to our economic and national security. These topics arose repeatedly during the three regional meetings: The need for rational and coherent policies governing openness and control of scientific and technical information and the tools and products of research
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Science and Security in a Post 9/11 World: A Report Based on Regional Discussions Between the Science and Security Communities The centrality of human capital in science and engineering—that is, the education and free movement of students and scholars among institutions and across borders The need for discussion and education in, and between, the scientific and security communities The requirement for rational, transparent, and international approaches to controlling dual-use life science research, and The need for ongoing dialogue between the scientific and security communities and improved strategies for assessing and addressing threats. In this report the committee discusses the background for the concerns that persist in these areas. It also makes recommendations for addressing these concerns while calling on the university community and government to seek a new and enduring partnership dedicated to dialogue and ongoing solutions. The committee’s efforts are by no means the first to try to shape a reasonable policy for moving forward in the complex worlds of science and security. In general, the committee’s findings and recommendations build on and emphasize the importance of these prior efforts. (See Appendix B.) Understanding the realities of the 21st century, the committee recognizes that we must continue to protect our Nation’s most vital national security secrets. It is important for university leadership and the national security community to define those few key secrets that require safeguarding and to review them regularly. The committee recommended an institutionalized dialogue that will allow the government and university communities to regularly reassess security needs. The committee further recommended that the United States take the steps necessary to expand its presence in the global scientific community. It supported the recommendations of several NRC/NAS committees and others who over the past few years have addressed the need to recapitalize the U.S. educational base in the sciences and technologies, invest in and rebuild the Nation’s research laboratories in both the public and private sectors, and host the most advanced collaborative research in the world.
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