Bulletin of the American Physical Society
APS April Meeting 2019
Volume 64, Number 3
Saturday–Tuesday, April 13–16, 2019; Denver, Colorado
Session D06: Secrecy and Espionage in Science
3:30 PM–5:18 PM,
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Sheraton Room: Governor's Square 15
Sponsoring Units: FHP FPS
Chair: Daniel Kennefick, University of Arkansas
Abstract: D06.00001 : Scientific Internationalism, Scientific Intelligence, Or Both?*
3:30 PM–4:06 PM
Audra J Wolfe
Audra J Wolfe
From the late 1940s through the late 1960s, the US foreign policy establishment saw a particularly American way of thinking about “scientific freedom” as essential to winning the Cold War. Emerging contemporaneously with the establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), these ideas deeply influenced the United States’ approach to scientific intelligence in the early Cold War.
In 1950, the State Department issued a report, Science in Foreign Relations, that proposed using science and scientists as tools for informal diplomacy. The public portion of the report outlined ways that the State Department could incorporate scientific expertise into its operations. A classified appendix proposed using civilian, unwitting American scientists to gather scientific intelligence. The CIA’s first science advisors meanwhile outlined ambitious plans for a “scientific order of battle” that envisioned the agency’s Scientific Branch as a global panopticon for science, absorbing all possible information on all possible topics produced by any scientist or technical professional anywhere in the world.
Following the release of Science and Foreign Relations, both the State Department and the CIA briefly experimented with science advisors and attachés. Science attachés promoted the idea of American scientific institutions as uniquely open to international collaboration. Despite genuine enthusiasm for such programs within the State Department and the CIA, science attachés failed to gain a toehold in the foreign policy apparatus of the early 1950s. These early programs nevertheless established long-lasting relationships between U.S. scientific institutions and the intelligence establishment. The United States’ commitment to international scientific cooperation was never primarily about scientific values; it was scientific internationalism for the sake of anti-Communism.
*Portions of this project were funded by a Scholars Award (no. 1026715) from the National Science Foundation.
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