secrecy {fragments}

~ musings on secrecy ~

Insect Cyborgs & Insect-based MAVS/NAVS

Under the Freedom of Information Act, in July 2015 I requested the following information from DARPA:

DARPA’s role in the development and application of Hybrid Insect Microelectromechanical Systems and microelectromechanical (HI-MEMS) systems. My request also includes release of records on the following subjects:

• Bioelectronic neuromuscular interfaces for insect cyborg flight control
• The Controlled Biological and Biomimetic Systems Program
• Insect-based MAVS/NAVS (Micro and Nano Air Vehicles)
• Insect cyborgs
• Microfluidic control of insect locomotor activity
• Radio-frequency system for neural flight control
• The use of Hybrid Insect Microelectromechanical Systems and microelectromechanical (MEMS) specifically related to bees

DARPA released 88 pages, including one report titled “ Microsystems, Scaling, and Integration” found in DTIC.  Page 70 of the .pdf contains the header “Key Experiments in 1940s,” which is suggestive of a deepening interest – perhaps even by ARPA, the predecessor of DARPA – in creating “technology to reliably integrate microsystems payloads on insects to enable insect cyborgs” (p. 68).  Reading these documents can’t help but bring up those perennial ethical questions regarding human use and exploitation of animals in war, combat, and surveillance.

Here’s the 88 page doc released under FOIA: 15-f-1559-case-documents.

Written by S.

October 23, 2016 at 12:55 am

New Book

Written by S.

September 10, 2016 at 12:16 am

Posted in national security

Rep. Brian Babin Questions Former EPA Official on Agency’s Culture of Secrecy

Ran across this gem on youtube on EPA’s “culture of secrecy.” Rep. Babin questions former EPA staff member David Schnare but unfortunately there is no mention of how certain laws enable this culture (although the discussion of FOIA is enlightening).

To this end, I’ll shamelessly promote an article I wrote in 2014 on environmental secrecy, published in Sociological Imagination (not a full text journal). My article is here in pdf.


Recommended citation:

Maret, S. (2014). The Moynihan Commission’s secrecy by regulation and its value to environmental sociology. Sociological Imagination, 50(2), 105-137.

Written by S.

August 30, 2016 at 7:04 pm

“Sanitized” CAIB

While searching the CIA’s CREST database at College Park,  I retrieved a “sanitized” copy of Covert Action Information Bulletin, or CAIB (summer 1982 #17). CAIB was first published in 1978, with a title change with #43 to Covert Action Quarterly. Both iterations of the periodical included articles by many well-known journalists and activists. The subject of #17 is “US Fakes Data in Chemical War,” which examined the moratorium on chemical weapons and public concern (and secrecy) with biological warfare during the Nixon administration. The editors write that, “biological warfare is a crime against humanity, and the U.S. government insists it is not engaged in it. The evidence we present refutes those denials.”

The point of this post is not to dismiss the important forensic research published by CAIB/CAQ contributors, or foster debate regarding the parapolitcs of one of its founders, former CIA officer Philip Agee. What I find fascinating is that CIA would “sanitize” and approve for release material that is open source, a publication that had subscribers, could be copied, widely distributed – and held by public and academic libraries.* Nothing appears redacted within the fifty-two page issue, so not sure what “sanitized” for release actually means. This seems almost a failure of the security classification system in terms of cloaking embarrassing or contrary information.

As far as I can tell, a .pdf of #17 isn’t on the Web. Here it is: 17_CAIB fakedata


* A few years after the Church Committee hearings, two years before the CIA Information Act of 1984, and a good three years before CIA v Sims. It was the Reagan years of EO 12356.

Written by S.

June 17, 2016 at 9:08 pm

Privacy Toolkit Circa 1993

The other day I ran across some ancient copies of Whole Earth Review. The fall 1993 issue stood out because of its still compelling discussion of the right to privacy, surveillance,”target marketers,” and privacy law. “A Privacy Toolkit,” compiled by Robert Luhn, is almost an annotated bibliography, and includes reviews of Gary Marx’s Undercover,  Abbie Hoffman and Jonathan Silver’s 1987 Steal This Urine Test, and Lee Lapin’s How to Get Anything on Anybody: The Encyclopedia of Personal Surveillance (Paladin Press, 1991). Of particular interest is Marc Rotenberg’s “Privacy Shelf,” which recommends Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis’ influential 1890 Harvard Law Review article “The Right to Privacy.” In 1993, Rotenberg was Director of the Washington DC office of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (he is now Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center or EPIC). There’s also a mention of advocacy groups, such as EFF.

Here’s the Toolkit: PrivacyToolkit_Whole Earth

Written by S.

June 17, 2016 at 8:04 pm

Posted in privacy, surveillance