Science and Security, Again

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Science  22 Aug 2008:
Vol. 321, Issue 5892, pp. 1019
DOI: 10.1126/science.1163738

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The struggle between open Science and National Security is an old story. Back in 1981, government attempts to limit foreign visitors to U.S. laboratories and control access to fundamental research projects led to widespread academic anger. The Department of Defense–Universities Forum in the early 1980s, of which I was co-chair, struggled to resolve difficulties presented by applications (for example, of international arms traffic regulations) to withhold access to basic, nonmilitary research. For years, only limited gains were made, but in 1985, to everyone's surprise, President Ronald Reagan ended this long-running controversy by executing National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 189. NSDD 189 provided that only classification could be used to limit the disclosure of basic research results. It was a stunning policy shift that delighted the scientific community.