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Scientific Communication and National Security (1982)

Chapter: Appendix G: Letter from Five University Presidients

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix G: Letter from Five University Presidients." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1982. Scientific Communication and National Security. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/253.
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Appendix G
LETTER FROM FIVE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS

Stanford University

Office of the President

Stanford, California 94305

February 27, 1981

The Honorable Malcolm Baldrige

Secretary of Commerce

14th Street Washington, D.C. 20230

The Honorable Alexander M.Haig, Jr.

Secretary of State

2201 C Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20520

The Honorable Caspar Weinberger

Secretary of Defense

The Pentagon Washington, D.C. 20301

Dear Messrs. Baldrige, Haig, and Weinberger:

I am sending the attached letter on behalf of the Presidents of Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and Stanford University to convey our grave concern about attempts to extend export restrictions to American colleges and universities. We are most anxious to cooperate in the development of alternative measures to best serve the interests of American economic development and security and would be pleased to meet with you or members of your staff to explore these issues further.

Sincerely yours,



Donald Kennedy

Suggested Citation:"Appendix G: Letter from Five University Presidients." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1982. Scientific Communication and National Security. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/253.
×

The Honorable Malcolm Baldrige

Secretary of Commerce

14th Street Washington, D.C. 20230

The Honorable Alexander M.Haig, Jr.

Secretary of State

2201 C Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20520

The Honorable Caspar Weinberger

Secretary of Defense

The Pentagon Washington, D.C. 20301

Dear Messrs. Baldrige, Haig, and Weinberger:

We are writing to request clarification of the applicability of certain export restrictions to teaching and research activities conducted by American universities. We are deeply concerned about recent attempts to apply to universities the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Examples of such efforts by government agencies include a December 12, 1980, memorandum by the Director of the Very High Speed Integrated Circuit (VHSIC) Program Office, attempts to restrict publication of unclassified university research results arising from DOD-sponsored projects, and a Department of Commerce mandate to at least one university barring certain foreign scholars from that university’s sponsored research activities due to their citizenship. Unfortunately, these initiatives appear to be only the first of many such actions to follow.

The ITAR and EAR regulations have existed for a number of years, and have not until now been applied to traditional university activities. The new construction of these regulations appears to contemplate government restrictions of research publications and of discourse among scholars, as well as discrimination based on nationality in the employment of faculty and the admission of students and visiting scholars. In the broad scientific and technical areas defined in the regulations, faculty could not conduct classroom lectures when foreign students were present, engage in the exchange of information with foreign visitors, present papers or participate in discussions at symposia and conferences where foreign nationals were present, employ foreign nationals to work in their laboratories, or publish research findings in the open literature. Nor could universities, in effect, admit foreign nationals to graduate studies in those areas. Such restrictions would conflict with the fundamental precepts that define the role and operation of this nation’s universities.

The regulations could be interpreted to cover instruction and research which, although potentially useful in military applications, have much broader utility in such other areas as medical systems and communication equipment. Such interpretations of the regulations,

Suggested Citation:"Appendix G: Letter from Five University Presidients." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1982. Scientific Communication and National Security. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/253.
×

coupled with their severe criminal penalties, could have a very real and unintended chilling effect on legitimate academic exchange.

Restricting the free flow of information among scientists and engineers would alter fundamentally the system that produced the scientific and technological lead that the government is now trying to protect and leave us with nothing to protect in the very near future. The way to protect that lead is to make sure that the country’s best talent is encouraged to work in the relevant areas, not to try to build a wall around past discoveries.

It should be recognized that the only realistic way to “contain” VHSIC research is to classify the whole program. In our view this would be a self-defeating effort: the science underlying high technologies cannot be put back into the bottle. Furthermore, most universities have concluded that performance of classified research is incompatible with their essential purposes. University scientists would prefer, for the most part, to change their field of interest rather than have their research and teaching so constrained. Forcing high technology research out of universities would decrease our nation’s competitive position, since the research would have to be carried out more slowly and less effectively in a classified atmosphere. Moreover, we would foreclose future research directions that would be otherwise discovered by having a continuous flow of new graduates from the university programs which have been flourishing up to this point. Elimination of such teaching and research from academic laboratories would endanger the future of graduate programs in engineering, computer science, and related fields and would result in a tremendous loss of potential high technology otherwise available to American industry. The new restrictions represent the worst possible direction: they fail to protect the status quo and virtually guarantee that there will be no future.

Moreover, application of export restrictions to universities would pose significant practical difficulties. It would be virtually impossible for most universities to administer such restrictions given the necessarily decentralized and fluid nature of most campuses. Because it is so inconsistent with their character, universities are neither structured nor staffed to police the flow of legitimate visitors to a given laboratory or the dissemination of information by their faculty at international conferences, or, indeed, even in a campus classroom where foreign students happen to be present.

The December 12, 1980, memorandum mentioned earlier pertaining to the VHSIC Program assumes basic research can be differentiated from areas such as device design and fabrication techniques, process equipment, and software, for which approval of publication or presentation normally would be denied. Such distinctions are proposed to be made by government employees, using criteria of questionable reliability and suitability. There is no such easy separation in any engineering curriculum intended to be relevant to our national industrial needs and problems. Furthermore, producing graduates with no “hands-on” experience in these areas would be of little value to American high technology industries.

The proposed extension of the restrictions to university activities ought not be made without a thorough assessment of the policy implica-

Suggested Citation:"Appendix G: Letter from Five University Presidients." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1982. Scientific Communication and National Security. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/253.
×

tions, the necessity and prospective effectiveness of the restrictions, the extent of disruption of the established role and operations of universities, and the serious legal and constitutional questions raised.

In the interim, it might be mutally advantageous for DOD to continue (selectively and sparingly) to rely on its classified research facilities to carry out the most sensitive segments of the VHSIC program. That has been its practice in previous years, and is far preferable to the application of these restrictive and virtually unenforceable regulations to universities. For those university activities which remain unclassified, we urge the government to cease all attempts to apply the restrictions until the broader issues are resolved.

We hope that after examining this issue carefully, you will clarify what has always been our understanding—namely, that the regulations are not intended to limit academic exchange arising from unclassified research and teaching.

Sincerely yours,


Donald Kennedy

President, Stanford University


Marvin L.Goldberger

President, California Institute of Technology


Paul E.Gray

President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Frank H.T.Rhodes

President, Cornell University


David S.Saxon

President, University of California

Suggested Citation:"Appendix G: Letter from Five University Presidients." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1982. Scientific Communication and National Security. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/253.
×
Page 136
Suggested Citation:"Appendix G: Letter from Five University Presidients." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1982. Scientific Communication and National Security. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/253.
×
Page 137
Suggested Citation:"Appendix G: Letter from Five University Presidients." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1982. Scientific Communication and National Security. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/253.
×
Page 138
Suggested Citation:"Appendix G: Letter from Five University Presidients." Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Engineering. 1982. Scientific Communication and National Security. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/253.
×
Page 139
Next: Appendix H: Statement of Admiral B.R. Inman for the May 11, 1982, Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Investigations Hearing on Technology Transfer »
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The military, political, and economic preeminence of the United States during the post-World War II era is based to a substantial degree on its superior rate of achievement in science and technology, as well as on its capacity to translate these achievements into products and processes that contribute to economic prosperity and the national defense. The success of the U.S. scientific enterprise has been facilitated by many factors, important among them the opportunity for American scientists and engineers to pursue their research-and to communicate with each other-in a free and open environment.

During the last two administrations, however, concern has arisen that the characteristically open U.S. scientific community has served as one of the channels through which critical information and know-how are flowing to the Soviet Union and to other potential adversary countries; openness in science is thus perceived to present short-term national security risks in addition to its longer-term national security benefits in improved U.S. military technology.

The Panel on Scientific Communication and National Security was asked to examine the various aspects of the application of controls to scientific communication and to suggest how to balance competing national objectives so as to best serve the general welfare. The Panel held three two-day meetings in Washington at which it was briefed by representatives of the departments of Defense, State, and Commerce, and by representatives of the intelligence community, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. The Panel also heard presentations by members of the research community and by university representatives. In addition to these briefings, the Rand Corporation prepared an independent analysis of the transfer of sensitive technology from the United States to the Soviet Union. To determine the views of scientists and administrators at major research universities, the Panel asked a group of faculty members and administrative officials at Cornell University to prepare a paper incorporating their own views and those of counterparts at other universities.

The main thrust of the Panel's findings is completely reflected in this document. However, the Panel has also produced a classified version of the subpanel report based on the secret intelligence information it was given; this statement is available at the Academy to those with the appropriate security clearance.

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