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1984: CIVIL LIBERTIES AND THE NATIONAL
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 1983
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:30 a.m., in room 2226, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Robert W. Kastenmeier (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Kastenmeier and Berman.
Staff present: David W. Beier and Deborah Leavy, counsels; Joseph V. Wolfe, associate counsel; and Audrey Marcus, clerk. Mr. KASTENMEIER. The committee will come to order.
Today we continue a set of hearings begun yesterday on 1984, civil liberties and the national security state. The focus of today's hearing is the conflict between academic freedom, scientific communication, and restrictions thereon based on national security considerations.
Our first witness will be C. Peter Magrath, and I note that one of our colleagues and close friend of the president of the University of Minnesota is here. Perhaps he would like to present Dr. Magrath to the committee. I am talking about Congressman Jim Oberstar. Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I will spare you, the committee and myself, a long introduction. With this virus I have, my voice is not in form. But it is an honor and a privilege to present Dr. Peter Magrath, president of the University of Minnesota, who in his tenure has brought a new excitement to the university, an atmosphere of academic ferment and inquisitiveness that is the hallmark of a first-rate academic institution. He has involved himself with the academic affairs of the university in a way that few of his predecessors have done. He has brought a new excitement about the institution and attracted toplevel professorial talent to the University of Minnesota. He brings personal warmth and keen insight to all he undertakes, and it is a pleasure for me to present him to the committee.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. We thank our colleague for that generous introduction of Dr. Magrath, which I am sure is well deserved, whom we hope will provide an overview of the potential conflicts between academic freedom and national security, and on the free flow of information.
Also we would ask to join Dr. Magrath another very important witness, Dr. Frank Press, who is president of the National Academy of Sciences and a former Presidential Science Adviser. Dr. Press will address a recent report on national security concerns as they affect the sciences.
We will have following them another panel involving representatives of several other institutions who will address instances of restrictions on scientific information.
So our witnesses will describe in greater detail how the academic and scientific community has increasingly found itself in an adversarial situation with the executive branch. The number of conflicts has led to the appointment of various study committees and commissions. The common theme of the reports issued by these groups is a need to articulate the values that are preserved by the free flow of information. In part, one of the purposes of this morning's hearing is to provide a wider public forum for an expression of these values.
This morning we will address other important policy questions: One, to what extent does the first amendment protect the free flow of scientific information; two, are the values from an unencumbered exchange of information intended to work for the benefit of all Americans, not just academics and scientists; three, is it fair or appropriate to expect the academic and scientific communities to negotiate their first amendment rights with the executive branch; four, what role should the Congress play in calculating the criteria to be used before restrictions are placed on this flow of information. So it is my hope through this hearing and through subsequent submissions from interested parties and organizations that the committee will receive guidance and suggestions about the desirability and the feasibility of legislation in this area.
Before calling on our first witness, I would like to recall the words of James Madison, who said:
Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
[The following was received for the record:]
C. Peter Magrath
Testimony Before the House Subcommittee on Courts,
Mr. Chairman and Honorable Members of this Committee:
My name is C. Peter Magrath, and I am President of the University of Minnesota. I appreciate the invitation to discuss with you a concern shared by a growing number of university presidents and their faculties.
Broadly stated, the concern involves a conflict between openness and secrecy, between academic freedom and prior restraint, between the pursuit of knowledge and the definition of national security. More specifically, the conflict grows out of the Administration's efforts to advance American defense interests by restricting the free flow of information among scientists, researchers, and engineers.
The restrictions, which have been issued by the Departments of Defense, State, Commerce, and Energy over the past 2 years, take a variety of forms. There are Presidential directives that authorize prior governmental review of any publication by individuals who ever had access to classified information, and presumably, this includes university scholars as well.
There are regulations that permit the Executive Branch to restrain the presentation, publication, or mere scholarly exchange of papers that are neither classified nor drawn from classified sources.
There are instructions to limit the access of certain foreign students and scholars to college classrooms and laboratories.
And there are surveillance requests to gumshoe international
visitors across the campus and the local community.
Specific examples of the first two types of restrictions will be provided by other speakers, but permit me to offer a personal experience which
illustrates the latter two directives.
In 1981, the University of Minnesota received a number of letters, phone calls, and campus visits by federal agents regarding a visiting scholar from the People's Republic of China by the name of Qi Yulu. The State Department had previously approved Mr. Qi's study plans under a national policy that expressly "encourages the training of Chinese scholars in modern technology and science." Subsequently, the policy seemed to change, for the University was asked to curtail the academic program of our visitor.
According to the State Department, Mr. Qi was to have no access to unpublished or classified government-funded research; no access to computer hardware design or maintenance; and no access to source codes or their development. In addition, the University was to limit the scholar's access to published software alone; provide him minimal involvement in applied research; and report, in advance, any visits he might make to industrial or research facilities. Ironically, within those constraints, we were told to offer M. Qi as full an academic program as possible.
The directives were confusing to say the least. For example, the State Department proposed limiting the scholar's access to classified research, yet in common with virtually all of higher education, the University of Minnesota accepts and conducts no such research. There was to be only minimal involvement in applied research, but a definition of either "minimal" or "applied" was never given. There was to be a full academic program, yet for this computer
scientist, most of our computer technology was off limits. And, of course, there was the problem of advising federal officials as to the constant whereabouts of Mr. Qi Yulu, an assignment that would force the University to confine him or else contact the State Department several times a day as to his on and off campus itinerary.
However, even more disturbing than the confusing nature of the State Department's directives were their chilling implications. They struck at the very heart of a free university, if not a free society, for they advocated secrecy and surveillance, the restraint of expression and the disregard of academic freedom. Scholarship simply cannot thrive in secrecy; research cannot be advanced under wraps.
Instead, scientific progress flourishes best
in the free competition of ideas. It is that openness and competition which explains why the United States is preeminent in most scientific fields. And it is the absence of openness and competition in the Soviet system which confirms an observation of Nobel laureate, P.W. Anderson, namely, "Security and secrecy impede scientific and technical progress tend (ing) to cloak
inefficiency, ignorance, and corruption more often than it hides genuine technical secrets."
This is not to imply that the protection of "genuine technical secrets" is an inappropriate concern of our government. The concern is understandable; the objectives legitimate. Few Americans, and even fewer members of the research community, advocate the dissemination of information that directly compromises national defense. However, what is questionable and alarming are
the means by which such objectives are pursued. To attempt to plug national security leaks by muffling those who pose no security risk makes little sense. It amounts to caulking the wrong part of the wrong ship, and in the end, the efforts prove to be unnecessary, intimidating, and counterproductive.