The Honorable Gordon H. Smith
Department of EnergyJune 9, 2003
Washington, DC 20585
One World Trade Center
121 SW. Salmon Street
Portland, OR 97204
Dear Senator Smith:
I have been asked to respond to your letter of January 6, 2003, to Mr. Dan Broulillette, Assistant Secretary, Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), requesting information about a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from one of your constituents, Mr. Roger Heusser. Mr. Heusser requested a DOE draft report entitled "Highly Enriched Uranium: Striking a Balance" dated January 2001. The draft report is a predecisional, deliberative document that was withheld from the public by Exemption 5 of the FOIA. The office responsible for preparing the report also believes the report contains unclassified but sensitive security information that terrorists could use as a road map to the locations of DOE fissile nuclear materials and by that provides targeting information for potential malevolent acts.
On April 10, 2002, DOE notified Mr. Heusser of the denial of his FOIA request and advised him of his legal right of appeal and eventual judicial review of his request if necessary. Subsequently, the Department's Office of Hearings and Appeals dismissed Mr. Heusser's appeal on May 23, 2002. The reason given for the denial was that the report was undergoing an additional declassification review caused by the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and the resulting heightened security concerns. Currently, the Department considers Mr. Heusser's request for the report and his appeal to be closed.
Although my office did not initially prepare the report I have been assigned the management responsibility for it. I have recently directed that a revision of the report be prepared that will remove the sensitive portions that caused the original document to be withheld from the public. The revised report will need to be fully coordinated within the Department, including the National Nuclear Security Administration. We intend to quickly complete the revised report and coordination in order to make this information available to the public, at which time, Mr. Heusser will receive a copy of the revised report.
Joseph S. Mahaley
Office of Security