believe these operations rank higher in priority even than the collection of military intelligence…. This network seeks to exploit the “soft underbelly”—the individuals who, out of idealism or greed, fall victim to intelligence schemes; our traditions of an open press and unrestricted access to knowledge; and finally, the desire of academia to jealously preserve its prerogatives as a community of scholars unencumbered by government regulation. Certainly, these freedoms provide the underpinning of the American way of life. It is time, however, to ask what price we must pay if we are unable to protect our secrets? [“Taking Back the Rope: Technology Transfer and U.S. Security,” speech before the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, Washington, D.C., March 29, 1982, pp. 5–6].
The same dilemma was the focus of a speech by Admiral B.R.Inman, then Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, before the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science:
There is an overlap between technological information and national security which inevitably produces tension. This tension results from the scientist’s desire for unconstrained research and publication on the one hand, and the federal government’s need to protect certain information from potential foreign adversaries who might use that information against this nation. Both are powerful forces. Thus, it should not be a surprise that finding a workable and just balance between them is quite difficult [“National Security and Technical Information,” speech before AAAS, Washington, D.C., January 7, 1982, p. 1],
Why the recent concern? Administration officials and members of Congress began to question whether the nation’s long-standing mechanisms for protecting militarily relevant secrets is still adequate, given the convergence of several independent recent trends in military technology (see Appendix B for the historical context of the current public debate).
Four perceived trends may explain the new sense of alarm. First, it is perceived that, at least in some important areas of military technology, the U.S. lead over the Soviet Union is diminishing. Since American security in the post-World War II era has depended largely on technological superiority, the possible erosion of that edge is seen as significant. It is also perceived that—owing in part to the difficulties of nurturing scientific and technological growth in a closed society—the relative Soviet gains would not have been possible without the absorption of Western technologies. Those who take this view cite the high priority given by Eastern bloc intelligence services to the collection—by both overt and covert means—of scientific and technical information from the United States and its allies.