BALANCING NATIONAL SECURITY AND OPEN SCIENCE: A PROPOSAL FOR DUE PROCESS VETTING

BRIAN J. GORMAN


7 Yale J.L. & Tech. 491 


Since 9/11 and the anthrax attacks of the same year, the national security and scientific communities have been grappling with a dilemma over the danger posed by the publication of “dual use” science that may advance basic science and aid bioterrorists at the same time. A spate of life science articles recognized as having the ability to aid bioterrorists or enemy combatants have been published amid much consternation. The national security community turned to experts in the life sciences to develop options to address this dilemma, but the scientific community has responded defiantly at times with surprising recommendations to expose and distribute sensitive articles even more widely despite the obvious risks to national security. After succumbing to pressure from the government, the scientific community ultimately adopted a censorship policy for sensitive research. Thus the censorship policy begs questions as to whether it is sincere and whether it will dissuade researchers from pursuing biodefense research. This paper attempts to move the debate away from emotions and politics to specific methodologies to address this dilemma. A Due Process Vetting System is presented along with a Risk Assessment Scale and a Least Restrictive Classification System for the communication, assessment and disposition of sensitive life science research in a manner consistent with national security interests.

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