Sneha Girap (Editor)

Steven Aftergood

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Name  Steven Aftergood

Steven Aftergood httpsfasorgsgpaftergood3jpg

Is wikileaks julian assange a hero glenn greenwald vs steven aftergood of secrecy news 2 of 3

Steven Aftergood (born 1956 in Los Angeles) is a specialist in physics and a political activist. He is a critic of U.S. government secrecy, generally favoring more openness. He directs the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy and is the author of the Federation blog/newsletter Secrecy News.


Is wikileaks julian assange a hero glenn greenwald vs steven aftergood of secrecy news 1 of 3

Life and career

Aftergood has a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles (1977) and has published research in solid-state physics. He joined the FAS staff in 1989.

He spent years advocating against an operating research nuclear reactor at UCLA with the Committee to Bridge the Gap. Public protests led to its shut-down.

In 1991, Aftergood exposed the highly classified Project Timberwind, an unacknowledged U.S. Department of Defense special access program to develop a nuclear thermal rocket.

In 1997 he was the plaintiff in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency which led to the declassification and publication of the U.S. government's total intelligence budget ($26.6 billion in 1997) for the first time in fifty years.

In 2006, Aftergood won a FOIA lawsuit against the National Reconnaissance Office to release unclassified budget records.

In 2009, his article "Reducing Government Secrecy: Finding What Works" appeared in the Yale Law & Policy Review.


The scandal around WikiLeaks was a challenge for Aftergood's work. Although he has published thousands of leaked documents on the Secrecy News blog he runs for the FAS, he turned down an invitation to join WikiLeaks' board of advisers. Instead he strongly criticized WikiLeaks and its leader, Julian Assange.

"I would say also that WikiLeaks is a response to a genuine problem, namely the over control of information of public policy significance," Aftergood said. However, he added, "If you are a Mormon or a Mason or a college girl who is a member of a sorority with a secret initiation ritual..they will violate your privacy and your freedom of association without a second thought." In a later article on the Secrecy News blog, he acknowledged that "WikiLeaks has published a considerable number of valuable official records that had been kept unnecessarily secret and were otherwise unavailable, including some that I had attempted and failed to obtain myself." However, he stated that "WikiLeaks must be counted among the enemies of open society because it does not respect the rule of law nor does it honor the rights of individuals".


He received the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer Award in 2010.

Selected publications

  • "An Inquiry Into The Dynamics Of Government Secrecy", Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, 48:2 (2013) (PDF) 
  • "Reducing Government Secrecy: Finding What Works", Yale Law and Policy Review, 27: 399-416 (2009) (PDF) 
  • "Ethics: Taming our technologies", Nature, 536: 271-272 (2016) 
  • References

    Steven Aftergood Wikipedia