from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 11
February 1, 2005
DOE DENIES RELEASE OF HIGHLY ENRICHED URANIUM STUDY In a radical shift in information disclosure and nuclear nonproliferation policies, the Department of Energy last week formally denied release of a history of highly enriched uranium (HEU) production that it had promised to publish nearly a decade ago. DOE said that the study was exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act because it is an "internal" document that is also "pre-decisional." "The responsive document is internal because it does not purport to regulate activities among members of the public," wrote DOE security officer Marshall O. Combs. This is a bizarre redefinition of the FOIA exemption for "internal" agency records that would probably exempt the majority of government records from public disclosure, including most historical records, since they do not specifically regulate public activities. The new DOE definition would turn the FOIA into the Freedom From Information Act. As evidence that the document is pre-decisional and deliberative in nature, Mr. Combs notes that the cover page states that it "Contains Deliberative Process Information." Legally, this is flimsy stuff. The study was written for publication and it is unclassified, as confirmed in a DOE classification review. That means it "could not reasonably be expected to cause damage to the national security." In particular, the HEU study does not meet the standard for classification of "vulnerabilities... of systems, installations, infrastructures, ... relating to the national security." (Executive Order 13292, section 1.4g). Mr. Combs cannot gainsay the fact that the study has been reviewed and declassified. Inexplicably, however, he still insists that "disclosure of the information would permit terrorists to assess the nation's vulnerability and target locations to damage the nation's critical infrastructure." And while he cannot claim that disclosure would "damage national security" (which would make it properly classified), he offers the legally meaningless claim that it would be "harmful to the nation's security." As a whole, the DOE denial letter is a monument to the Ashcroft FOIA policy, cited by Combs, which encourages agencies to confabulate legal arguments against disclosure. The denial will be appealed. See a copy of the January 24 denial letter here:
- DOE DENIES RELEASE OF HIGHLY ENRICHED URANIUM STUDY
- NEW OFFICIAL RESOURCES ON SECURITY POLICY, OVERSIGHT
- STILL MORE FROM CRS
NEW OFFICIAL RESOURCES ON SECURITY POLICY, OVERSIGHTThe rules of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence were republished in the Congressional Record yesterday, as slightly modified last year. A copy is posted here:
STILL MORE FROM CRSThe tiresome Congressional Research Service does not permit direct public access to its products. The following new or newly updated CRS reports were obtained by Secrecy News. "Military Aviation: Issues and Options for Combating Terrorism and Counterinsurgency," January 24, 2005:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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