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W.House Withdraws Documents on Germ Warfare

The Bush administration has begun withdrawing from public release more than 6,000 documents that deal primarily with the manufacture of chemical and germ weapons, according to Sunday's New York Times.

"We're working hard for a set of guidelines so terrorists can't use information that this country produces against us," Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge told the Times. The administration is also asking scientific societies to limit what they publish in research reports, the newspaper said.

Steven Garfinkel, former director of the government's Information Security Oversight Office, told the newspaper that attempts to obtain the reports would still be possible under the Freedom of Information Act. He said delays would be instituted to control distribution. "It comes down to a risk-benefit ratio," Robert Rich, president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology told the newspaper. "I think the risk of forgone advances is much greater than the information getting into the wrong hands."

Ronald Atlas, president-elect of the American Society of Microbiology, told the Times a White House proposal to eliminate sections of articles that would allow other laboratories to replicate results "takes apart the whole foundation of science." The administration has asked the society to limit "potentially dangerous" information in the 11 journals it publishes, according to the Times.

News source: Reuters

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