from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 55
June 30, 2003
CIA "UNABLE TO LOCATE" 1947-48 INTELLIGENCE BUDGETS
- CIA "UNABLE TO LOCATE" 1947-48 INTELLIGENCE BUDGETS
- LEVIN PRESSES CIA ON IRAQI WMD
- CIA MODIFIES WEB PAGE ON IRAQI CENTRIFUGES
- SENATORS OPPOSE OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT IN HONG KONG
- CITIZEN'S GUIDE ON USING THE FOIA
In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking declassification of the intelligence budget totals from 1947 and 1948, the Central Intelligence Agency now says that it cannot find this information.
"We are unable to locate a document containing, or a series of documents from which we may deduce, the aggregate U.S. intelligence budget figure for Fiscal Year 1947," wrote Kathryn I. Dyer, CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator, in a June 27 letter to the Federation of American Scientists.
Likewise, "We are unable to locate a document containing, or a series of documents from which we may deduce, the aggregate U.S. intelligence budget figure for Fiscal Year 1948."
One is tempted to suggest that CIA look for the missing budget documents next to the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. But that would be silly.
Ms. Dyer did cite a previously undisclosed document entitled "Schedule of Funds Appropriated for Intelligence Activities for the Fiscal Year 1947" which indicated a "Grand Total for State, War and Navy" of $30,855,300.
However, she said, "we cannot vouch with certainty that this figure represents the aggregate U.S. intelligence budget figure for Fiscal Year 1947." See her June 27 letter here:
While disappointing, the latest CIA response actually marks some incremental progress in overcoming mindless budget secrecy. This historical budget information was originally sought in a 1995 FOIA request. Its release was immediately denied as classified information, a position that CIA affirmed in 2000 on appeal. Under pressure of litigation, however, the Agency has shifted its position, no longer invoking national security or intelligence sources and methods and disclosing at least the above-cited Grand Total figure.
And the case is not over yet. We are possibly as stubborn in our determination to win disclosure of such intelligence budget data as the CIA is to suppress it.
(A CIA response to a related lawsuit seeking declassification of the 2002 intelligence budget total has been deferred until July 11.)
LEVIN PRESSES CIA ON IRAQI WMD
While most congressional leaders remain politely deferential, not to say obsequious, towards the Bush Administration on the subject of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) is stepping forward to raise some of the awkward questions others prefer to ask behind closed doors, if at all.
For example, in a June 26 letter, Senator Levin, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, probed the reported dispute among intelligence analysts over the significance of the mysterious Iraqi trailers. CIA and DIA had described the trailers conclusively as "mobile biological warfare agent production plants." State Department analysts reportedly demurred.
"Why isn't this dissenting view noted on the CIA's website?" Senator Levin wanted to know.
Moreover, "Is it standard practice for the CIA to put reports like this [on the Iraqi trailers] on its web site? If so, what is the purpose of doing so? If not, why was an exception made in this case and what was the purpose of doing so?"
See Senator Levin's June 26 letter here:
The question of the State Department's dissenting view of the subject was batted about at a June 26 State Department press briefing:
On June 27, Senator Levin "directed his staff on the [Senate Armed Services] committee to begin an inquiry into the objectivity and credibility of the intelligence concerning the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq immediately before the war and the alleged Iraq-al Qaeda connection, and the effect of such intelligence on Department of Defense policy decisions, military planning and conduct of operations in Iraq." See:
CIA MODIFIES WEB PAGE ON IRAQI CENTRIFUGES
The Central Intelligence Agency has abruptly removed from its web site published photographs of centrifuge equipment and engineering drawings hidden in Iraq in 1991 and recently handed over to the Agency by Dr. Mahdi Shukur Ubaydi, a senior Iraqi nuclear scientist.
The photographs had been featured in a June 26 news release from the CIA, reposted here in its complete form:
A notice from Cryptome.org, which spotted the change in the CIA web site, suggests that the photos were withdrawn because they might have permitted identification of the product manufacturer. See:
SENATORS OPPOSE OFFICIAL SECRETS ACT IN HONG KONG
Two leading conservative senators have introduced a resolution condemning the tide of secrecy that threatens to wash over Hong Kong if a proposed national security law is enacted next month.
"The law, as now drafted, is vague and overly broad in its definitions of subversion, sedition, and official secrets," said Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS).
"This horrendous bill would allow the Hong Kong Government to prosecute members of the news media for publishing information that would arbitrarily be deemed a 'state secret'," he said.
In protest, Senator Brownback and Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 14 on June 27. See:
CITIZEN'S GUIDE ON USING THE FOIA
The House Government Reform Committee has just published an updated edition of "A Citizen's Guide on Using the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 to Request Government Records."
The new publication is the eleventh edition of the Guide, a popular handbook which has been "one of the most widely read congressional committee reports in history."
A copy of the June 23, 2003 Citizen's Guide is posted here:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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