The CIA alleges that a 500-page manuscript written by Danny B. Stillman, a former intelligence specialist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, contains classified information. Sullivan brought the lawsuit against the CIA, claiming that it was his First Amendment right to publish the book titled "Inside China's Nuclear Weapons Program."
In a judgment filed last week, a federal court in Washington, DC, found that the CIA was within its right to block disclosure of 23 sections of the manuscript. Since those portions amount to 15 percent of the total manuscript and contain the most interesting and valuable information, Stillman said he would not publish the book, according to the FAS Project on Government Secrecy.
While a government employee and after his retirement in 1993, Stillman traveled to China nine times and "engaged in extensive discussions with Chinese scientists, government officials, and nuclear weapons designers," according to the court decision.
Stillman submitted the manuscript for review by relevant government agencies, as required by the non-disclosure agreement signed by government employees with security clearance. He maintains that it does not contain classified information.
The U.S. Department of Energy, which has primary classification authority over nuclear weapons design data, gave the manuscript full approval.
The CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Defense demurred.
Stillman claimed that the information collected during trips to China after his retirement as a full-time government employee did not fall within the scope of the non-disclosure he signed.
However, according to the judge's decision, the court did not read Stillman's secrecy agreements so narrowly.
"The agreements that Stillman signed while still employed at LANL contain incredibly broad language requiring Stillman to protect classified information both during and after employment with the United States government," the court found.
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