SECURITY STUDIES PROGRAMMr. John Podesta
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
292 Main Street (E38-603)
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
June 21, 2000
White House Chief of Staff
The White House
Washington, DC 20501
By FAX: 202 456-1121
Dear Mr. Podesta:
I am writing to ask you to explain why three Defense Security Service investigators would arrive unannounced at my M.I.T. office carrying a letter for me to read that was classified SECRET. The investigators invited me into a seminar room at the M.I.T. Center for International Studies, closed all three doors to the room, and then proceeded to try and present me with the classified letter. Since the seminar room is on the M.I.T. campus, anyone could have inadvertently entered this room at any time. The lead investigator seemed to believe that I had an obligation to read this letter, even if it provided me with government-controlled information I did not want or need to access. I explained to him that I had no obligation to read a letter that could provide me with government-controlled information, and that reading such a letter could interfere with my First Amendment rights by obligating me to not discuss information I had obtained without access to classified information. The investigator indicated that he did not accept that I had such rights but he did not press the matter further.
None of the investigators could explain why they had approached me more than one month after my letter to the White House of 11 May 2000 was declared SECRET by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. They were also unaware that I had obtained all the information in my letter to the White House from open court documents. Nor could they explain who had sent them to me at this late time, and whether the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization was being properly investigated for releasing classified information, if in fact this has occurred.
Unfortunately, the conduct of the Defense Security Service is sufficiently bizarre and heavy-handed that it cannot be rule out that this unannounced meeting was an attempt at intimidation. In my experience, I have never had three agents confront me unannounced, and I know for a fact that this is not a normal procedure.
I would therefore appreciate it if you would have this matter fully investigated and provide me with an explanation of how this occurred, why this occurred at such a late time after the White House received my letter, and why I was being presented with a classified document to read in an unprotected open area. I have received no direct communication from the White House during this entire affair. This concerns me as it creates the impression that important national security matters are being treated as purely political by the White House. I am sure that even with the large commitment of public relations resources the White House has been using to deal with the press on this matter, you should be able to find someone on your staff capable of responsibly communicating with me directly.
Sincerely,Cc: Leon Fuerth, Assistant to the Vice President for Security Affairs,
Theodore A. Postol
Professor of Science, Technology, and National Security Policy
Security Studies Program
Program in Science, Technology, and Society
FAX: 202 456-9500
T. A. Postol -2- February 18, 1999 Hans Binnendijk, Assistant to the President and Director Defense and Arms Control Policy
FAX: Voice: (202) 456-9190
Phil Coyle, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, Department of Defense;
FAX: (703) 693-5248