cast biographies
A film by Peter Galison and Robb Moss

Mike Levin

Mike Levin Meyer J. "Mike" Levin served four years in the U. S. Army during World War II and was a Field Artillery officer with the Seventh Armored Division in Europe. After the war, he began an intelligence career with the National Security Agency spanning the forty six years between 1947 and 1993. In 1993, he was awarded the nation's highest intelligence honor, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal by the Director of Central Intelligence. After retiring from government, Levin continued to work as a consultant in intelligence matters, and he is still active as a consultant. He has also served on the boards of many civic community groups, and is currently Vice Chair of LABQUEST, a government/community partnership coordinating the consolidation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at the Federal Research Center at White Oak, Maryland. Levin was an organizer and first Vice President of the new National Museum of Language and he is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

Tom Blanton

Tom Blanton Thomas S. Blanton is Director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington D.C., which the Los Angeles Times has described as "the world's largest nongovernmental library of declassified documents." Blanton served as the Archive's first Director of Planning & Research beginning in 1986, became Deputy Director in 1989, and Executive Director in 1992. He filed his first Freedom of Information Act request in 1976 as a weekly newspaper reporter in Minnesota. Included among many hundreds that he has filed subsequently was the FOIA request (and subsequent lawsuit with Public Citizen Litigation Group) that forced the release of Oliver North's Iran-contra diaries in 1990. He has authored numerous books and articles that have appeared in major news outlets.

Melissa Boyle Mahle

Melissa Boyle Mahle Melissa Boyle Mahle is a former US intelligence officer and expert on the Middle East and Counterterrorism. She joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1988, working in clandestine operations with Near East Division, Directorate of Operations, and was Chief of Base, Jerusalem, 1997-2001. During her time at the Agency, she completed assignments throughout the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa as the Agency's top-ranked female Arabist. She is the author of Denial and Deception: An Insider's View of the CIA from Iran-Contra to 9/11 (2004). She received a Presidential Letter of Appreciation for her work on the Middle East Peace Process and numerous exceptional performance awards from the CIA for her recruitment of agents and collection of intelligence. Since leaving the government in 2002, Ms. Mahle has worked as a private consultant on Middle Eastern political and security affairs.

Ben Wizner

Ben Wizner Ben Wizner has been a staff attorney at the ACLU since 2001, specializing in national security, human rights, and first amendment issues. He has litigated several post-9/11 civil liberties cases in which the government has invoked the state secrets privilege, including El-Masri v. United States (a challenge to the CIA's abduction, detention, and torture of an innocent German citizen); Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. (a suit against a private aviation services company for facilitating the CIA's rendition to torture of five Muslim men); and Edmonds v. Department of Justice (a whistleblower retaliation suit on behalf of an FBI translator fired for reporting serious misconduct). Wizner was a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is a graduate of Harvard College and New York University School of Law.

James B. Bruce

James B. Bruce James B. Bruce is a Senior Political Scientist at the RAND Corporation's Washington office. Having served for nearly 24 years in a variety of assignments, he retired from the Central Intelligence Agency at the end of 2005 as a senior executive officer. He was a senior staff member of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (Silberman-Robb WMD Commission), and a fellow at CIA's Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis. He previously served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Science and Technology in the National Intelligence Council, and has held management positions in both the CIA Directorate of Intelligence and the Directorate of Operations. He has authored numerous classified studies including National Intelligence Estimates and his focus on the relationship between U.S. intelligence effectiveness and the protection of sources and methods has highlighted the adverse impact of unauthorized disclosures. His unclassified publications have appeared in Studies in Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Journal, World Politics, and several anthologies. He is the co-editor of and a major contributor to Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations (Georgetown University Press, forthcoming in March, 2008). He has taught graduate courses on intelligence at Georgetown University since 1994 and was previously a faculty member at the National War College.

Barton Gellman

Barton Gellman Barton Gellman is a special projects reporter on the national staff of the Washington Post, following tours as diplomatic correspondent, Jerusalem bureau chief, Pentagon correspondent, and D.C. Superior Court reporter. He shared the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2002 and has been a jury-nominated finalist (for individual and team entries) three times. His work has also been honored by the Overseas Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists (Sigma Delta Chi), and American Society of Newspaper Editors. Gellman earned a masters degree in politics at University College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar. He is the author of Contending with Kennan: Toward a Philosophy of American Power, a study of the post-World War II "containment" doctrine and its architect, George F. Kennan. He has broken a number of major stories in The Washington Post, including the "Ring Around Washington," an account of a failed nuclear terrorism detection system erected by the Bush administration in secret in 2001.

Steve Garfinkel

Steve Garfinkel Steve Garfinkel was the second Director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), from 1980 until 2002. ISOO was established in 1978 by President Carter to oversee the whole of the classified world that fell under Executive Office control, from the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy to law enforcement and intelligence organizations including the FBI, CIA, and NSA. As the director of ISOO through many administrations, Garfinkel oversaw a decades-long effort to bring the world of secrets under control. After receiving a law degree from George Washington University Law School in 1970, Garfinkel worked in the General Services Administration's Office of General Counsel, where he was assigned to relatively new areas of the law, including the Freedom of Information Act and civil rights. He has also served as the senior attorney for the National Archives and Records Administration. Among other projects, Garfinkel helped to draft Executive Order 12958 in 1995, establishing the first post-Cold War security-classification system.

Patricia J. Herring

Patricia J. Herring Patricia J. Herring (formerly Patricia J. Reynolds) was a participant in the United States Supreme Court case United States v. Reynolds (1953), a landmark case which established the "state secrets privilege." She was the widow of Robert Reynolds, an employee of Radio Corporation of America, an Air Force contractor, who along with eight other men were killed during a crash of a B-29 bomber testing experimental equipment in 1948. Herring, and two other widows, sued the Air Force for full disclosure of the Air Force accident report; the Air Force claimed that the report contained information pertaining to "secret electronic equipment" and refused to provide the information, which the Supreme Court 6-3 upheld without having seen the reports in question, setting a legal precedent which has been invoked many times since then. In 2000, the maintenance reports in question were discovered to have been declassified and were found to not only not contain any information pertaining to the equipment at all, but to also include evidence of Air Force negligence in regards to maintaining the plane in working order. Herring, since remarried, has filed multiple petitions with the Supreme Court to re-examine the case, starting in 2003, but they have been repeatedly denied, most recently in March 2006.

Wilson Brown

Wilson Brown Wilson M. Brown, III, is an attorney at Drinker Biddle (formerly Drinker, Biddle, and Reath), the firm which originally represented the plaintiffs in United States v. Reynolds (1953). Mr. Brown served as counsel for Patricia (Reynolds) Herring, Judy (Palya) Loether and the other plaintiffs in their efforts since 2003 to have the Supreme Court to reexamine the Reynolds case in light of the declassified information which indicated Air Force fraud and negligence.

Siegfried Hecker

Siegfried Hecker Siegfried S. Hecker was Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1986 until 1997, and prior to that was head of the laboratory's Materials Science and Technology Division. He is a metallurgist by training, having earned his BS, MS, and PhD from Case Western Reserve University. Hecker's research interests include plutonium science, nuclear weapon policy and international security, nuclear security (including nonproliferation and counter terrorism), and cooperative nuclear threat reduction. Over the past 15 years, he has fostered cooperation with the Russian nuclear laboratories to secure and safeguard the vast stockpile of ex-Soviet fissile materials. His current interests include the challenges of nuclear India, Pakistan, North Korea, and the nuclear aspirations of Iran. He is a co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Hecker has been part of multiple delegations that have visited North Korea to discuss their nuclear program, including one in January 2004, where he was allowed to view and hold North Korean plutonium, and another in November 2006, only weeks after the first North Korean nuclear test.

Steven Aftergood

Steven Aftergood Steven Aftergood is a senior research analyst at the Federation of American Scientists. The Federation of American Scientists, founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists, is a non-profit national organization of scientists and engineers concerned with issues of science and national security policy. Having joined its staff in 1989, Aftergood directs the FAS Project on Government Secrecy, which works to reduce the scope of government secrecy and to promote reform of official secrecy practices. He is also the author of Secrecy News, an email newsletter (and blog) which reports on new developments in secrecy policy for more than 10,000 subscribers in media, government, and among the general public. He has authored or co-authored papers and essays in Scientific American, Science, New Scientist, Journal of Geophysical Research, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, and Issues in Science and Technology, on topics including space nuclear power, atmospheric effects of launch vehicles, and government information policy.

Neal Katyal

Neal Katyal Neal K. Katyal, a Professor at Georgetown University Law School, won Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, a case that challenged the policy of military trials at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba, in the United States Supreme Court in June 2006 along with Lt. Commander Charles Swift. The Supreme Court sided with him by a 5-3 vote, finding that President Bush's tribunals violated the constitutional separation of powers, domestic military law, and international law. Katyal previously served as National Security Adviser in the U.S. Justice Department and was commissioned by President Clinton to write a report on the need for more legal pro bono work. He also served as Vice President Al Gore's co-counsel in the Supreme Court election dispute of 2000, and represented the Deans of most major private law schools in the landmark University of Michigan affirmative-action case Grutter v. Bollinger (2003). Among many other accolades, Katyal was named Lawyer of the Year in 2006 by Lawyers USA, Runner-Up for Lawyer of the Year 2006 by National Law Journal, and one of the top 50 litigators nationwide 45 years old or younger by American Lawyer (2007).

Charles Swift

Charles Swift Lt. Commander Charles D. Swift is a Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) in the U.S. Navy, Judge Advocate General's Corps, and is best known for being the legal counsel of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, and along with Neal Katyal was successful in winning the United States Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006). Swift and Katyal successfully argued that the military commission that tried Hamdan violated U.S. law as well as the Geneva Conventions. Despite being named one of the "100 most influential lawyers in America" by the National Law Journal in 2006 and a runner-up for Lawyer of the Year by the National Law Journal in 2005, he learned two weeks after the Hamdan decision that he would be passed up for promotion and was forced into retirement under the military's "up or out" promotion policy.

Judy (Palya) Loether

Judy (Palya) Loether Judy (Palya) Loether is the daughter of Al Payla, one of the RCA employees killed in a 1949 crash of a B-29 while conducting military electronics research. Her mother was a plaintiff in the Supreme Court case which established the "state secrets privilege," United States v. Reynolds (1953) when the Air Force denied the widows of the victims access to the crash accident report. In February 2000, Ms. Loether found that the complete accident report from the 1949 crash had since been declassified four years earlier, and discovered that it contained no confidential details about the equipment being tested on the B-29. Instead, she found that the reports indicated that numerous maintenance orders had not been complied with, implying negligence on the part of the Air Force. Ms. Loether then got in contact with the plaintiffs from the original Reynolds case, including Patricia (Reynolds) Herring, as well as with the then-head of litigation (Wilson M. Brown) of the law firm that had represented them. Since 2003, the Reynolds plaintiffs have attempted to have the Supreme Court to reexamine the Reynolds case in light of the declassified information which indicated Air Force fraud and negligence.