from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 75
September 12, 2003
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GETS DECLASSIFIED DOC DATABASE
- LIBRARY OF CONGRESS GETS DECLASSIFIED DOC DATABASE
- APPEALS COURT REBUFFS VP ON ENERGY TASK FORCE
- UK REPORT ON IRAQ INTEL
- TERRORISTS AND SUICIDE ATTACKS
- NEW LEGISLATION ON SHAD, IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION
- INTELLIGENCE OVERSIGHT DROPS THE BALL
- UPDATE ON THE AIR FORCE GULF WAR STUDY
The Library of Congress has recently acquired a new database of declassified documents that is available to members of the public who use the Library in Washington, DC, though it cannot be remotely accessed.
The Declassified Documents Reference System, which was purchased from The Gale Group, "provides full-text access to over 500,000 pages of previously classified government documents."
"Covering major post-World War II era international events from the Cold War to the Vietnam War and beyond, this source enables users to locate a selection of U.S. government documents from the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department, the Department of Defense, the National Security Council, the White House, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as many other government agencies. The documents range in size and scope from telegrams, correspondence, and unevaluated field reports, to lengthy background studies and detailed minutes of cabinet-level meetings."
The database "is accessible through any PC in the Library," an official said. "You as a taxpayer do have access to this."
The official said the Library is considering acquiring other declassified document collections, such as those produced by the National Security Archive.
APPEALS COURT REBUFFS VP ON ENERGY TASK FORCE
The U.S. Court of Appeals rejected another request by the Bush Administration for reconsideration of a lower court order requiring disclosure of documents concerning the Vice President's Energy Task Force.
"The Vice President has been told by multiple courts that he is not above the law. Perhaps now he will give up his legal stonewalling and begin complying with court orders to turn over his secret Energy Task Force documents," stated Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, which brought suit against the Task Force. See:
UK REPORT ON IRAQ INTEL
The Intelligence and Security Committee of the UK House of Commons released a report on September 11 on the question of "whether the available intelligence, which informed the decision to invade Iraq, was adequate and properly assessed and whether it was accurately reflected in Government publications."
Despite criticism of various omissions and misplaced emphases, the report generally endorses the UK intelligence posture with respect to Iraq.
"We accept that there was convincing intelligence that Iraq had active chemical, biological and nuclear programmes and the capability to produce chemical and biological weapons." However, published assessments "did not highlight in the key judgements the uncertainties and gaps in the UK's knowledge about the Iraqi biological and chemical weapons."
See "Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction -- Intelligence and Assessments," Intelligence and Security Committee, September 2003:
TERRORISTS AND SUICIDE ATTACKS
A new report from the Congressional Research Service takes a sober look at suicide bombings, a subject that is difficult to consider dispassionately.
"What are suicide attacks? What have been the patterns and motivations for terrorist organizations using suicide attacks in the past? What terrorist groups and other organizations are most likely to launch such attacks? How great a threat are terrorist suicide attacks to the United States, at home and abroad? How can the United States counter such a threat?"
See "Terrorists and Suicide Attacks" by Audrey Kurth Cronin, Congressional Research Service, August 28:
NEW LEGISLATION ON SHAD, IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION
A bill was introduced in the House to provide health care for veterans who were exposed to hazardous biological and chemical agents in the course of classified biowarfare tests conducted from 1962 to 1973 under the Defense Department's Project SHAD.
"It is time for us to make at least some amends to our veterans involved in these experiments, often without their consent, knowledge or adequate protection," said Rep. Ciro D. Rodriguez (D-TX).
See the introduction of the Health Care for Veterans of Project 112 / Project SHAD Act of 2003 (HR 2433), September 10:
Democratic members of the Senate, frustrated with an unresponsive White House, found it necessary to introduce legislation requiring an official report on reconstruction in Iraq.
"After months of dodging questions, giving half-answers, and ignoring Congressional requests, the time has come for this Administration to level with the American people and Congress and spell-out its plan for rebuilding [Iraq]," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on September 9. See:
INTELLIGENCE OVERSIGHT DROPS THE BALL
We have a report from the UK Parliament regarding intelligence and the war in Iraq. But where is its counterpart from the US Congress?
And by the way, what has Congress resolved to do about the missing 28 pages in the report of the Congressional Joint Inquiry into September 11 that the Bush Administration refused to declassify? Or about the "outing" of Iraq policy critic Amb. Joseph Wilson's wife as a clandestine intelligence officer? We have no idea.
And we are not the only ones surprised and disappointed by the flaccid state of congressional intelligence oversight.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein noted that she had advocated a series of proposed reforms of U.S. intelligence, including a bill to establish a Director of National Intelligence bill, which was one of the recommendations of the Joint Inquiry.
"Yet we still have not had a hearing on that bill," she said on September 11. "It still has not moved. When I make inquiries, I am told: Now is really not the time. When is it going to be the time?"
"The Intelligence Committees of both the House and Senate are charged with oversight of the intelligence structure. But I do not believe we are doing our job in that respect with respect to the organization of our intelligence community," Sen. Feinstein said. See:
UPDATE ON THE AIR FORCE GULF WAR STUDY
The Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base has removed the notice from its website stating that its copy of the unclassified 1993 Gulf War Air Power Survey was withdrawn from the site at the request of the Air Force Declassification Office because of unspecified "sensitive information."
Instead, the Air University web site has added a link to the copy of the Air Power Survey which was posted by the Federation of American Scientists this week (SN, Sept. 10).
"Thank you for your service," an Air University official wrote to us.
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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