Books by Herbert N. Foerstel

Released: April 1, 1993

Foerstel's Surveillance in the Stacks (1991) was a science librarian's response to the FBI's ``Library Awareness Program,'' in which the feds asked for records of ``suspicious'' foreign nationals consulting technical reference books. Here, the author (Engineering and Physical Sciences Library/University of Maryland) expands his scope to examine the broader issue of governmental control of scientific research and publication in a free society. While government interest in the military applications of scientific research has a long history, Foerstel concentrates on the cold war period, in which national security became the justification for unprecedented control over research and publication. Measures originally put in place during WW II (to keep the atomic bomb out of Nazi hands) gained a new lease with the emergence of the Soviets as the perceived threat to world peace. In practical terms, this meant that any scientist with a leftist past was a fair target for the security apparatus: J. Robert Oppenheimer is only the best known of the scientists victimized by the shift in political winds. Foerstel documents the growth of the ``Black Budget''—funds for research so secret that its very existence is kept hidden from Congress. Another growth area for governmental control is cryptography, especially the use of computers to generate and read encoded documents. An especially disturbing area of governmental encroachment, Foerstel says, is the attempt to control the spread of unclassified information, with the government arguing that a hostile power may add together innocent facts to arrive at dangerous conclusions- -the ``mosaic theory'' of intelligence. Often dry and pedestrian, but compelling for its detailed and extensively documented treatment of the damage done to science in the name of security. Required reading for anyone concerned with continued abuses of power by the military- industrial complex. Read full book review >