On to Appendix F.
CLASSIFICATION OF INTELLIGENCE INFORMATION
The earliest intelligence activities of the United States were carried out by the Committee on Secret Correspondence of the Continental Congress. This committee was created on November 29, 1775, to correspond with "friends" in other parts of the world.1 This committee even had authority to keep certain information secret from the Continental Congress. For example, when the Continental Congress requested certain information from the committee on May 10, 1776, it authorized the committee to withhold "the names of the persons they have employed, or with whom they have corresponded."*, 2
* By this action the Continental Congress essentially classified the "confidential sources" of the Committee on Secret Correspondence. Was this the first classification guidance of the U.S. Government?GENERAL INFORMATION
Intelligence operations generally concern either information gathering or covert operations. Most intelligence information is obtained from open sources, but some is gathered clandestinely. Executive Order (EO) 12356 permits classification of information about intelligence activities or intelligence sources or methods.3
Intelligence activities usually are categorized as either counterintelligence or foreign intelligence. The Department of Defense (DoD) has defined counterintelligence and foreign intelligence as follows:
Counterintelligence is information gathered and activities conducted to protect against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassinations conducted for or on behalf of foreign powers, organizations, persons, or international terrorist activities, but not including personnel, physical, document, or communications security programs.Intelligence information could also encompass foreign government information, which may be classified under Sect. 1.3(a)(3) of EO 12356.
Foreign intelligence is information relating to the capabilities, intentions, and activities of foreign powers, organizations, or persons, but not including counterintelligence except for information on international terrorist activities.+, 4
+ A Department of Energy order defines foreign intelligence as "information relating to the capabilities, intentions and activities of foreign powers, organizations or persons" [U.S. Department of Energy, DOE Order 5635.1A, "Control of Classified Documents and Information," Feb. 12, 1988, Attachment 2, Item 42.a, p. 6].
Unauthorized disclosure of intelligence sources or methods is presumed to cause damage to the national security.5
Intelligence sources and methods are "the heart of all intelligence operations."6 The following definition of a confidential source is given in EO 12356:"Confidential source" means any individual or organization that has provided, or that may reasonably be expected to provide, information to the United States on matters pertaining to the national security with the expectation, express or implied, that the information and relationship, or both, be held in confidence.7The Supreme Court has defined an intelligence source as follows: "An intelligence source provides, or is engaged to provide, information the [Central Intelligence] Agency needs to fulfill its statutory obligations."8 The DoD has defined an intelligence source as "A person or technical means providing intelligence."4
Important sources of intelligence information must be classified. Disclosure of the identity of a source would essentially prevent the source from being of further use (the adversary would take steps to close that source) and would probably endanger the life of the identified source.* The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 19829 provides penalties for unauthorized disclosure of intelligence agents and sources—either directly by someone who has access to classified information about those agents and sources or by someone who is trying to identify and expose covert agents.10
* A well-known example of the adverse effects of disclosure occurred after Philip Agee, an ex-Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent, publicly identified Richard Welch as the CIA station chief in Athens, Greece. Welch was assassinated shortly thereafter ["Plugging the Leak: The Case for a Legislative Resolution of the Conflict Between the Demands of Secrecy and the Need for an Open Government," Va. Law Rev., 71, 801–868 (1985), pp. 802–803, note 10, quoting The New York Times, Dec. 24, 1975, p. 1, col. 3, and p. 10, col. 3].DoD has defined an intelligence method as "Any process, mode of analysis, means of gathering data, or processing system or equipment used to produce intelligence."4 Disclosure of intelligence methods would allow the target nation to develop countermeasures and stop the flow of intelligence information. With respect to intelligence gathering by technological methods, it costs much less to negate a system then to develop and deploy the system.11 Therefore, it is important to classify and protect the specific techniques used to gather intelligence. Classified information on intelligence methods might be disclosed indirectly by intelligence reports, because their content may give clues as to the identity of methods (or agents) used to gather the information. Consequently, the products of intelligence are frequently classified because they contain information that reveals an intelligence source or method.12
Section 102(d)(3) of the National Security Act of 194713 makes the Director of Central Intelligence responsible for protecting intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure. The director has "very broad authority to protect all sources of intelligence information from disclosure."14
50 U.S.C. Sect. 413 concerns congressional oversight of intelligence operations. It requires Congress to establish procedures to protect against unauthorized disclosure of intelligence sources and methods.
DoD has developed some basic considerations for classification of intelligence information. Those considerations are essentially as follows:15
1. In general, resource information should not be classified unless it reveals some aspect of the intelligence mission and its revelation would jeopardize the effectiveness of a particular function. An example of classifiable resource information is the intelligence contingency fund.Normally, intelligence will remain classified for a longer duration than other types of classified information. EO 10964, the first Executive Order to establish automatic downgrading and declassification for certain types of classified information, specifically excluded intelligence information from automatic downgrading or declassification.16 However, intelligence should only remain classified as long as is necessary to protect a certain source or method. Intelligence that is critical to an understanding of our national policy should be disseminated as soon as national security permits.
2. Intelligence concerning foreign weapons systems may be classified based on what is generally known about a particular system or its components. Normally, the less that is publicly known about a particular system or component, the higher its level of classification.
3. Intelligence identifying a particular source or method is classified as well as the evaluation of the particular source or method.
4. Intelligence that does not identify or reveal a sensitive source or method is usually not classified unless the information contains other classified information such as intelligence plans, policies, or operations.
5. Intelligence that reveals the identity of a conventional source or method normally does not require classification. However, if the information is communicated to the DoD by a foreign government under a government-to-government agreement, it must be protected at the level and for the length of time the transmitting government desires. If the information is obtained from a conventional source or method, and the information is provided freely without any agreement or other restriction, expressed or implied, the classification, if any, should be based solely on the content of the information provided.
6. Intelligence that reveals the identification of all known and possible enemy capabilities to collect and exploit information from a given or similar operation is classified. This threat includes known enemy intelligence collection and analysis capabilities, efforts, and successes. An integral part of these data is an assessment of enemy human intelligence, signals intelligence, and reconnaissance satellite capabilities.
7. An intelligence estimate is normally classified, because it contains sensitive sources, methods, or raw or evaluated intelligence.
8. An intelligence requirement is classified when it reveals what is not known, what is necessary to know, and why. Moreover, the requirement may recommend a sensitive source or method or other military intelligence required or contain technical and operational characteristics of classified weapons systems.
9. The classification of relationships with foreign intelligence organizations is related to the following considerations.
a. Normally, the fact of broad, general intelligence cooperation with foreign countries or groups of countries with which the United States maintains formal military alliances or agreements (e.g., the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is not classified.10. Information that reveals counterintelligence activities, identities of undercover personnel or units or clandestine human agents, or methods of operations and analytical techniques for the interpretation of intelligence data is classified.
b. The fact of intelligence cooperation between the United States and a specific governmental component in an allied country or general description of the nature of intelligence cooperation between the United States and any allied country may be classified. The fact of intelligence cooperation between the United States and specifically named countries or their governmental components with which the United States is not allied is always classified.
c. Details or specifics concerning any intelligence exchange agreement are classified. In some instances, the mere fact of such an agreement may be classified.
d. The identities of foreign governmental or military personnel who provide intelligence information under such agreements or liaison relationships may be classified.
11. Cryptologic information (including cryptologic sources and methods) is classified.
12. Information concerning electronics intelligence, telemetry intelligence, and electronic warfare is usually classified.
13. The intelligence community normally considers the following categories of information to be classified.
a. Cryptologic and cryptographic information signals intelligence, or imagery intelligence
c. Special access programs
d. Information that identifies clandestine organizations, agents, sources, or methods
e. Information on personnel under official or nonofficial cover, or revelation of a cover arrangement
f. Covertly obtained intelligence reports and the derivative information which would divulge intelligence sources or methods
g. Methods or procedures used to acquire, produce, or support intelligence activities
h. Intelligence organizational structure, size, installations, security, objectives, and budge
i. Information that would divulge intelligence interests, value, or extent of knowledge on a subject
j. Training provided to or by an intelligence organization which would indicate its capability or identify personnel
k. Personnel recruiting, hiring, training, assignment, and evaluation policies
l. Information that could lead to foreign political, economic, or military action against the United States or its allies
m. Events leading to international tension that would affect U.S. foreign policy
n. Diplomatic or economic activities affecting national security or international security negotiations
o. Information affecting U.S. plans to meet diplomatic contingencies affecting national security
p. Nonattributable activities conducted abroad in support of U.S. foreign policy
q. U.S. surreptitious collection [of information] in a foreign nation which would affect relations with the country
r. Covert relationships with international organizations or foreign governments
s. Information related to political or economic instabilities in a foreign country threatening U.S. lives and installations there
t. Information divulging U.S. intelligence and assessment capabilities
u. U.S. and allies' defense plans and capabilities that enable a foreign entity to develop countermeasures
v. Information disclosing U.S. systems and weapons capabilities or deployment
w. Information on research, development, and engineering that enables the United States to maintain an advantage of value to national security
x. Information on technical systems for collecting and producing intelligence
y. U.S. nuclear programs and facilities
z. Foreign nuclear programs, facilities, and intentions
aa. Contractual relationships that reveal the specific interest and expertise of an intelligence organization
bb. Information that could result in action that would place an individual in jeopardy
cc. Information on secret writing when it relates to specific chemicals, reagents, developing [solutions], and microdots
dd. [Information about] U.S. military space programs [related to intelligence gathering]
1. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Vol. 3 (for the period 1775), U.S. Govt. Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1905, p. 392; Secret Journals of the Acts and Proceedings of Congress, Vol. 2, Thomas B. Wait, Boston, 1820, p. 5.
2. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Vol. 4 (for the period 1776), U.S. Govt. Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1906, p. 345.
3. Executive Order 12356, Fed. Reg., 47, 14874 (Apr. 6, 1982), §1.3(a)(4). Hereafter cited as "EO 12356."
4. U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Defense Handbook for Writing Security Classification Guidance, DoD 5200.1-H, March 1986, §6-2, p. 6-1. Hereafter cited as "DoD 5200.1-H."
5. EO 12356, §1.3(c).
6. Central Intelligence Agency v. Sims, 471 U.S. 159, 167 (1985).
7. EO 12356, §6.1(f).
8. Central Intelligence Agency v. Sims, 471 U.S. 159, 177 (1985).
9. 50 U.S.C. §421-426 (1982).
10. 50 U.S.C. §421(a)-(c).
11. J. Vorona, "Sources, Methods & Technology--A Means to Assess the Threat," J. Natl. Class. Mgmt. Soc., 13, 1–5 (1977), p. 1.
12. A. M. Cox, The Myths of National Security, The Perils of Secret Government, Beacon Press, Boston, 1975, p. 70.
13. 50 U.S.C. §403(d)(3).
14. Central Intelligence Agency v. Sims, 471 U.S. 159, 168–169 (1985).
15. DoD 5200.1-H, §6.3.
16. Executive Order 10964, "Amendment of Executive Order No. 10501, Entitled `Safeguarding Official Information in the Interests of the United States,'" Fed. Reg., 26, 8932, §1(B) (Sept. 22, 1961).