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May 15, 1971 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1971-05-15

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Classified research: The inside story

alive and well at the Uni-
vetsity. Scientists and engin-
eers heir are conhinuing several
do,,n srcret proects to improve
American military effectiveness
despi'e a camnairn lest term to
rid the University of such war
In guarded laborOlories they
are d-vroping better methods
of drtecting troop concentra-
tions and movements for im-
proving missile capabilities, and
enabling offensive aircraft and
missiles to perform their mis-
sions without fear of attack.
One of the reasons classified
research on campus is allowed
to prosper is a watchdog com-
mittee supposedly supervising
such activity, which, in the
words of former committee
member Michael Knox, 'con-
tinues to be an ally of the mili-
tary research establishment."
This committee is scheduled
to present a report to Senate
Assembly Monday, reviewing its
own procedures and possibly
suggesting some changes.
From its inception the com-
mittee has worked in secret, its
meetings closed and all state-
ments about its activities fun-
nelled through t h e group's
chairman, dentistry Prof. Ger-
ald Charbeneau.
The Daily, however, has ob-
tained copies of previously con-
fidential minutes of the Classi-
fied R e a e a r c h Committee's
meetings over the last several
The minutes paint a revealing
portrait of a highly conservative
but hard-working committee,
reluctant to change its proce-
dures, broaden its membership
or reject proposals for secret re-
search by University research-
Among the items culled from
the committee's minutes are the
0 The committee has been
under pressure from both op-
ponents and proponents of clas-
sified research and has develop-
ed a strategy of standard re-
sponse to their criticism.
"We are criticized on the one
hand, by those who oppose all
classified research of any sort
in a university environment,"
Charbeneau wrote in a memo-
randum last December.
"These persons point to the
fact that we rarely block sub-
mission of a proposal as proof
we are ineffective, that we are
simply not doing our job, or that
we are really part of the 'classi-
fled research enterprise.' "
Charbeneau stated the com-

quired number of votes by
*The directors of the t w o
largest University laboratories
involved in classified research
on campus requested the com-
mittee to stop its project-by-
project review of proposals for
classified research snd instead
periodically review their opera-
tions, eliminating prior aproval
of projects.
"Our present process places
exorbitant demands on the time
of committee members, and on
the time and patience of some
members of our research staff,"
wrote Willow Run Director Wil-
liam Brown and Cooley Elec-
tronics Lab Director Thomas
Butler to the group last October.
Butler and Brown raised the
possibility that critical research
proposals would not be acted on
by the committee until after
their deadline with possible
"tragic consequences."
"As matters now stand the
committee gets a rather super-
ficial exposure to the activities
of the research units," the y
stated, explaining that it is haz-
ardous to judge an overall re-
search program in terms of sin-
gle projects.
The committee's response to
the researchers, who a r e still
visibly annoyed by the necessity
of individual project approva,
was negative.
. When former Student Gov-
ernment Council President Mar-
ty Scott attempted to enter a
committee meeting, the group
fled to another meeting room.
"The meeting was disrupted
by the presence of Marty Scott,
President, Student Government
Council, who wanted to observe
the Committee's deliberations,"
the minutes from March 12 state.
"The meeting location was
changed . . . Mr. Scott was pre-
vented from attending the meet-
ing by a security guard."
* Under pressure, the Radio

-Daily-amo ussne
Senate Assembly meeting on research issue

effort not to d e 1 a y proposals
past deadlines and maintains
strict confidentiality of its pro-
* There has been some scrut-
iny of projects by the commit-
tee, but only three times since
its inception in 1968 have pro-
posals been rejected and clear-
ly military projects have often
been approved.
For example, last December
the committee discussed a pro-
posal for a project titled "Re-
ducing Detectability of U.S. Mil-
itary Vehicles by Remote Sens-
ing Devices."
The committee reviewed the
project summary and found the
description "somewhat vague,
the relation of the proposed re-
search to a weapon or weapon
system of some concern and the
characteristics of the sponsor
unclear," the minutes state.
T h e principal investigator,
called in by the committee for
further information, explained
that "the work would be done
entirely at Willow Run and that
any facility would probably be
a tank."
"Although the information re-
sulting from the research could
be used to increase our capa-
bility to detect enemy vehicles,
he stated that such was not the
mission of the research," the
minutes continued.
In discussions that followed,
Knox objected that the propos-
al would make weapons more
effective and therefore violated
University policy against pro-
jects "t h e specific purpose cf
which is to destroy human life."
"Others pointed out that the
proposed sponsor (U.S. Army
Tank and Automotive Com-
mand) is probably no w o r s e
than others and should not be a
basis for rejection, that the De-
partment of Defense u s e s
knowledge from many sources-
classified and unclassified - in
the development of its weapons,
that it is not possible in many
cases to separate those which
have so 1 e military application
from those which have little or
none, and that this project is at
least one step removed from he
weaponr," according to the min
The proposal was eventually
approved by an 8-1 vote with
two abstentions.
* Several attempts were made
within the committee to change
the policies under which t h e
panel operates but they w e r e
On Feb. 5 Knox moved that
the committee not accept pro-
jects from the Department of
Defense, the results or data of
which would be classified.
Opponents of the motion ar-
gued that they "would not like
to see the government deprived
of the expertise of those Uni-
versity researchers who are en-
gaged in classified research,"
that the University would lose
some non-classified research if
secret projects were banned, and
that some open publications are
possible from most projects,
Proponents of the motion said
it would lead to pressure for
lower classification and that

openness is desirable at a uni-
The motion was tabled, re-
considered at another meeting
and defeated 9-2.
* The committee considered
and then rejected proposals to
allow the seating of more stu-
dents and observers on the com-
Last Dec. 14 Knox moved that
an additional graduate student
and three undergraduates be
put on the committee.
"The members in favor of the
motion felt that such a move
would provide representation
from a large constituency; those
opposing wondered if under-
graduates would have the ma-
turity to deal with the issues,"
the minutes of the meeting stat-
The motion was defeated 7-2.
In addition, on March 28 the
committee considered a propos-
al by Ron Fleming. Grad, that
two people opposed to classified
research be seated as non-vot-
ing observers on the committee.
The motion was defeated 8-3,
although the committee did in-
vite social w o r k Prof. Roger
Lind, vice chairman of SACUA
and an opponent of classified
research, to the meetings. Lind
later declined the invitation.
* Within the committee
Knox was barbequed for writ-
ing a public l e t t e r criticizing
classified military research en
The committee passed a reso-
lution Feb. 10 stating that the
committee was "disturbed by he
release of information on the
activities and operation of the
committee and is of the opinion
that the release of the letter by
Michael Knox is clearly con-
trary to the guidelines of the
Romance languages Prof. Guy
Merimier submitted a memo-
randum to the committee which
stated that by writing the open
letter, Knox was "taking the lass'
in his own hands.
"In order to foster his own
personal views, Mr.Knox chose
the Marxist-Leninist revolution-
ary approach which c a n only
lead to chaos, confusion a n d
disorder," Mermier continued,
calling on Knox to resign.
Knox declined to do so be-
cause he said he felt that by
writing a letter expressing dis-
satisfaction with research poli-
cies he had not violated t he
guidelines or done something
* The committee's practice of
rounding up the required seven
votes to pass a proposal by tele-
phone after meetings was criti-
cized by committee members.
"It was agreed the committee
could be criticized for conduct-
ing its business this way," the
minutes of the Sept. 11, 1970
meeting said. "It was also agreed
that absent members lack the
benefit of discussion concerning
a proposal."
Although the committee dis-
cussed different ways of approv-
ing proposals at the time, it
kept the seven vote require-
ment and still obtains the re-

measures could not be carried
This arrangement was chang-
ed, however, when William
Brown was appointed director of
Willow Run and reorganized the
place. Willow Run continues to
receive support for electronics
countermeasures research.
* Criticism of classified re-
search peaked in March and the
committee was not spared. Sen-
ate Assembly at that time or-
dered the group to review its
procedures and policies.
The committee's report, to be
released Monday, will probably
not produce recommendations
for great changes in the group's
operation, if preliminary state-
ments are any indication.
Last month several of the com-
mittee members wrote private
statements expressing their views
on the committee's policies and
few of them called for any ma-
jor reforms.
"I favor continuation of clas-
sified research with proposals
to be screened as at present un-
der existing research policy
guidelines," wrote engineering
Prof. Ralph Hiatt.
"It can be argued that income
tax dollars contribute more to
the war than the research effort.
In most cases it is easier to
convert dollars into death dealing
weapons than techniques or de-
vices developed in a university
research laboratory," his state-
ment explained.
Medical Prof. Arthur French
defended the committee in his
statement, saying that military-
oriented reconnaissance pro-
jects are "an essential way of
warning our soldiers (including
draftees) of danger to their
"In my opinion there is no for-
mula which can be used to pre-
determine the ultimate principal
use, nor the "specific purpose"
nor the "clearly forseeable pur-
pose" of most of the research re-
sults," wrote engineering Prof.
Leslie Jones.
Political science Prof. Wil-
liam Zimmerman, a new member
of the committee, wrote that he
impressed as to the extent that
people could differ in the inter-
pretation of the rommittee's
present guidelines, especialy
the one prohibiting research "the
specific purpose of which is to
destroy human life."
Finally, committee chairman
Prof. Gerald Charbeneaa sug-
gested in his statement that the
Research Policies Committee, an-
other Senate Assembly commit-
tee, review all classified con-
tracts during the past year for
an additional test of their ap-
Charbeneau suggested that if
the projects of the past year are
deemed appropriate that classi-
fied research projects no longer
face proposal-by-proposal review
and instead a group periodically
review contracts after they are
already in effect.
SO CLASSIFIED research mon-
ey continues to flow in, sup-
porting University researchers
willing to sell their talents and
aid U.S. military adventures by
developing means to find and de-
stroy human beings.
They have been supported by
a committee that, instead of be-
ing a strict watchdog over sec-
ret research, has acquiesced to
and rationalized their efforts.
Protected by secrecy and in-
difference, the Classified Re-
search Committee will roll on un-
til the University community
realizes its ineffectiveness and
moves to aler or abolish it.


Michael Knox
Science Laboratory at Willow
Run agreed to stop all work in
electronics countermeasures,
but reneged on the promise when
the laboratories were reorganiz-
"After 30 November 1970 no
further electronics countermea-
sures proposals would be submit-
ted by the Radio Science Lab,"
W.R. De Hart wrote to Vice
President Norman in April, 1970.
"No further countermeasures
work would be conducted by the
Radio Science Laboratory after
30 November, 1971 by which date
the personnel of the Radio Sci-
ence Laboratory will have either
left the University or be engaged
in other work."
DeHart complained in the let-
ter that the committee's reluct-
ance to pass a proposal and its
position on other reviews had
made it evident that a continued
program in electronic counter-


Gerald learteneau
mittee responds to such criti-
cism by saying the group judges
each project individually, seeks
adequate information on pro-
posals, is representative of the
University community a n d is
not controlled by the adminis-
tration or researchers.
"On the other hand, we are
often looked upon as an obstacle
by those who conduct classified
research," he said. "Perhaps
many would say we are an un-
necessary obstacle to free scien-
\-tific inquiry which happens to
include research in areas o u r
government considers sensitive
and has therefore imposed a se-
curity classification."
Responses to such criticism,
Charbeneau wrote, include that
the committee tries to under-
stand the research programs of
the laboratories, makes every

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Edited and managed by students at the
University of Michigan
Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual
opinions of the author. This must be noted in all reprints.
Saturday, May 15, 1971 News Phone: 764-0552

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