from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 86
October 8, 2003
PENTAGON DIRECTIVES REMOVED FROM PUBLIC ACCESS
- PENTAGON DIRECTIVES REMOVED FROM PUBLIC ACCESS
- WHY IS THE COST OF THE IRAQI WMD SEARCH CLASSIFIED?
- WHITE HOUSE LEAK INVESTIGATION PROCEEDS
- DECLASSIFIED DOCS ON THE 1973 ARAB-ISRAEL WAR
- ANTI-TERRORISM INTELLIGENCE TOOLS IMPROVEMENT ACT
- INTELLIGENCE BUDGET DISCLOSURE IN SERBIA
In a new retreat from public oversight, the Department of Defense has blocked public access to the online database of DoD directives maintained by the Defense Technical Information Center.
These unclassified DoD directives, which define nearly every aspect of Department policy and procedure, have been publicly available online for almost as long as the Pentagon has been on the world wide web.
Now the directive database website has been restricted to official users only. See:
"If this represents a permanent change, it is a shocking development," said private researcher Robert Todd. "I can't believe they've gone overboard like this."
Many DoD directives may still be found elsewhere online, including on the FAS website here:
WHY IS THE COST OF THE IRAQI WMD SEARCH CLASSIFIED?
Despite repeated questioning, Bush Administration officials have been unable to provide an explanation as to why the cost of the continuing search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is classified.
According to the New York Times, the Administration is asking for over $600 million in additional funds for the Iraq Survey Group, the team led by David Kay that is investigating Iraqi WMD programs, or about twice its estimated budget to date.
See "Officials Say Bush Seeks $600 Million to Hunt Iraq Arms" by James Risen and Judith Miller, New York Times, October 2:
But incredibly, that fact is classified. Several alert reporters posed an obvious follow-up question: Why?
In a vivid illustration of the capriciousness of much classification policy, officials were unable to articulate a reason why this sort of information should be kept secret.
"I can't get into the classified section of budget appropriations," replied White House spokesman Scott McClellan at a press briefing on October 2.
"I don't classify these things," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld evasively. "I'm sure that they have classifications for good reason."
"I'm sure no one in this room wants me to discuss classified information," Scott McClellan added with apparent sarcasm when the subject was raised again on October 6. See:
(Asked whether the reported $600 million supplemental figure was accurate, Senator Mitch McConnell, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said "Yes, it is about $600 million," according to the Associated Press on October 7. A staffer later told AP, not quite credibly, that the Senator's statement was based on news reports, not on actual classified documents.)
(The projected $900 million total budget for the Iraq Survey Group "represents about four times the entire annual budget of the International Atomic Energy Agency for its inspection work around the world," IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky told Agence France Presse.)
The activities of the Iraq Survey Group, while sensitive in some respects, are not intrinsically beyond public description. Group leader David Kay explained some of the details of the WMD search this way on ABC's This Week on October 5:
"I need between 1200 and 1500 people.... We need the resources to award... reward money if, in fact, people step forward. We need to continue an activity that allows us to go through those 130 ammunition storage points and determine what is there. We need to continue doing what we're doing."
But why, another reporter asked him at an October 2 press stakeout, "Why is the amount of money this job is going to cost, why is that secret?"
"Beats me," Dr. Kay replied.
WHITE HOUSE LEAK INVESTIGATION PROCEEDS
The unauthorized disclosure of the identity of an undercover CIA officer continued to dominate the White House daily press briefing yesterday.
"The President has made it very clear that the leaking of classified information is a serious matter, and he takes it very seriously," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
But this artful statement blurred the distinction between information such as the CIA officer's identity, which is protected by a specific statute, and most other types of classified information, which are not protected by specific statutes.
DECLASSIFIED DOCS ON THE 1973 ARAB-ISRAEL WAR
The National Security Archive has published an extensive new collection of declassified U.S. government documents concerning the 1973 Arab-Israel war, on the 30th anniversary of that war.
The collection, edited by Archive scholar William Burr, traces the war from impending hostilities through cease-fire, collapse of the cease-fire, and final resolution, as mirrored in U.S. government deliberations. See:
ANTI-TERRORISM INTELLIGENCE TOOLS IMPROVEMENT ACT
Most recent legislative initiatives concerning domestic anti-terrorism activity have been aimed at curtailing or refining the surveillance authorities that were previously granted in the USA Patriot Act.
But two influential House Committee chairmen have introduced a bill that would expand and reinforce those authorities.
The "Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Tools Improvement Act" (H.R. 3179) would provide new penalties for violating the non-disclosure provisions of so-called "national security letters"; provide for judicial enforcement of requests for information under such national security letters; and facilitate the use of information collected under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in immigration proceedings.
The bill was introduced on September 25 by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Porter Goss, chair of the House Intelligence Committee. See:
INTELLIGENCE BUDGET DISCLOSURE IN SERBIA
The Republic of Serbia has joined the growing number of countries that publicly disclose their annual level of intelligence spending in the interest of government accountability.
The United States is still not among them.
The intelligence agency of Serbia, known as the Bezbednosno-Informativna Agencija or BIA, recently disclosed on its web site that in 2003 the BIA initially received 1.6 billion yud, out of a total national budget of 261.5 billion yud.
See the impressive new BIA website here:
Intelligence budget disclosure is increasingly becoming the norm in enlightened democracies. It is now routine in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada and elsewhere (SN, 6/12/03).
But the U.S. cannot risk providing the same kind of government accountability as Serbia and the others, according to the CIA.
To do so, Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet averred under penalty of perjury last March, would cause "damage" to the national security of the United States and would compromise intelligence methods.
DCI Tenet's 15 page sworn statement on the matter was provided in opposition to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, which is still pending, seeking declassification of the 2002 intelligence budget total. See:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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