from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 125
December 20, 2002
ADDITIONAL VIEWS ON CONGRESSIONAL 9/11 PANEL
- ADDITIONAL VIEWS ON CONGRESSIONAL 9/11 PANEL
- REP. HORN SPEAKS OUT ON FOIA
- DECLASSIFICATION OF NAZI WAR CRIMES RECORDS
- RESOURCES ON IRAQ
Several members of the congressional Joint Inquiry into September 11 released additional statements this week, amplifying or dissenting from the conclusions of the joint committee's December 10 report and shedding new light on the inner workings of intelligence oversight.
Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) criticized the joint committee leadership for improperly excluding the other members from committee deliberations and ignoring their complaints.
"The inquiry was conducted and overseen in a way that left rank-and-file Members at a distinct disadvantage...," Senators Kyl and Roberts wrote. "There was no debate about the Report... Throughout the process, rank-and-file Members complained about irregularities.... Upon instructions from the Chairmen -- and in violation of SSCI rules -- the [joint inquiry staff] often failed to tell Members and staff of important non-compartmented information it discovered in a timely manner."
The Senators also presented some astute criticisms of the contents of the final report. For example:
"The Report ... does not really grapple with the contradiction between the high-ranking officials' complaints about inadequate resources and the fact that, according to the Office of Management and Budget, the intelligence agencies usually got what they asked for."
And not least, the Kyl/Roberts statement offers some insight into the attitudes and approach of Senator Roberts, who is expected to be the next chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
For example, it appears that Roberts advocates new anti-leak legislation, a cause previously identified with Senator Richard Shelby. Thus, Senators Kyl and Roberts wrote:
"Another change in the law that could improve the institutional framework would be further congressional legislation to enable the U.S. Government to deter and punish unauthorized disclosure of security-related information."
See the Additional Views of Senator Jon Kyl and Senator Pat Roberts here:
Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA) offered additional views that were more supportive of the final joint inquiry report in a December 19 statement here:
REP. HORN SPEAKS OUT ON FOIA
"I would ... encourage FOIA requesters to persevere in demanding the greatest access to information consistent with the public interest," said Rep. Stephen Horn (R-CA), an outstanding congressional champion of the Freedom of Information Act who is retiring this year.
Furthermore, "I urge them to reach out to those in Congress who are responsible for FOIA oversight in order to ensure that those in the Legislative Branch understand the issues from a front-line perspective," he said.
The Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy (OIP) conducted an extensive and rather insightful interview with Rep. Horn on the past, present and future of FOIA, congressional oversight, homeland security and related themes.
See the transcript of the interview, published December 19, here:
A tip of the hat is due to the Justice Department Office of Information and Privacy, which had no obligation to conduct this kind of interview or to publish it. Doing so signifies a genuine commitment to the FOIA process on the part of the OIP that one can only be grateful for. OIP staff attorneys are not to blame if one of their agency clients is corrupt.
DECLASSIFICATION OF NAZI WAR CRIMES RECORDS
The last big declassification initiative enacted by Congress was the 1998 Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act, later amended to include the Japanese Imperial Government Disclosure Act.
The progress of the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Interagency Working Group in fulfilling these mandates is described in the November 2002 issue of the newsletter Disclosure, which is posted here (thanks to MJR):
The most recent meeting minutes of the Interagency Working Group are available here:
RESOURCES ON IRAQ
A U.S. State Department Fact Sheet entitled "Illustrative Examples of Omissions From the Iraqi Declaration to the United Nations Security Council," published December 19, is available here:
"Congressional Action on Iraq 1990-2002: A Compilation of Legislation," by Jeremy M. Sharp, Congressional Research Service, updated December 5, 2002, is available here:
"Iraq: Weapons Threat, Compliance, Sanctions, and U.S. Policy," by Kenneth Katzman, Congressional Research Service, updated December 10, 2002, may be found here:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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