from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 72
August 1, 2005
- FORMER DDCI LOBBIED FOR CLASSIFIED FUNDS
- SSCI THREAT HEARING OMITS QUESTIONS FOR THE RECORD
- HOUSE HEARING ON OVERCLASSIFICATION
- CORRECTING THE CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
- CORRECTING SECRECY NEWS
- CORRECTING SECRECY NEWS (2)
FORMER DDCI LOBBIED FOR CLASSIFIED FUNDS
A former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence lobbied Congress and the CIA last year seeking "funding for [a] classified program" on behalf of Lockheed Martin Corporation.John N. McMahon, who served as DDCI from 1982 to 1986, spent and earned an unspecified amount less than $10,000 in lobbying for the otherwise unidentified classified program, according to a report that he filed this year with the Senate Office of Public Records. The intelligence appropriations process, which allocates billions of dollars each year to the aerospace industry, is rife with mostly invisible lobbying activity from which the general public is excluded. While Mr. McMahon and Lockheed Martin have as much right as anyone else to advocate their interests, they do not have more of a right. The fact that they are permitted to pursue their agenda under the shield of national security classification tends to skew the appropriations process towards industry and may help explain the troubled acquisition policies of U.S. intelligence agencies. A copy of Mr. McMahon's 2004 lobbying report, spotted by writer Tim Shorrock, is posted here:
A summary of Mr. McMahon's CIA career is available here:
SSCI THREAT HEARING OMITS QUESTIONS FOR THE RECORD
The hearing record for the February 2005 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) annual threat briefing has just been published. But for the second year in a row, it does not include the Questions for the Record (QFRs) that were normally included in the past.The QFRs were typically the most valuable part of the hearing record. Senators would do their best to pose penetrating, sometimes provocative questions, and as often as not the intelligence agencies would respond with concise factual replies that added valuable new information to the public record. (See, e.g., Secrecy News, 10/31/03). The Senate Committee did not respond to a request for an explanation as to why this material was omitted. But without the QFRs, the utility of the hearing record -- and of the Senate Intelligence Committee itself -- is diminished. See "Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States," Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, February 16, 2005:
HOUSE HEARING ON OVERCLASSIFICATION
The record of a lively and interesting March 2005 hearing held by a House Government Reform Subcommittee on "Overclassification and Pseudo-Classification" has also just been published. See:
CORRECTING THE CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
In a recent report on Japan-U.S. Relations, the Congressional Research Service stated that "Japan contributes almost 20% of the U.N. budget, significantly more than any country except the United States."
But reader S., writing from Japan, disputed that assertion.Japan, he noted, contributed $346 million to the United Nations budget this year, while the U.S. contributed only $73 million, less than five other nations. "Does 'contribute' have another meaning in Congress?" he wrote. According to the Global Policy Forum, Japan has paid its $346 million U.N. budget assessment in full, while the U.S. is in arrears for current and past years in the amount of $608 million. See:
CORRECTING SECRECY NEWS
Secrecy News (07/28/05) mistakenly said that Sen. Edward Kennedy was wrong to assert that the 15.6 million classification actions performed in the last year represented a "record" high. Sen. Kennedy had it right.The Information Security Oversight Office did report a higher number -- 22,322,895 classification actions -- in its 1985 report to the President. But following the adoption of a revised sampling method in 1986, ISOO went back and recalculated the values previously reported. The 1985 figure was revised downward to 15 million. Therefore the 15.6 million classification actions reported in 2004 and cited by Sen. Kennedy were a "record" high. Thanks to Rick Blum of OpenTheGovernment.org and Pete Weitzel of the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government (www.cjog.net) for noting the error.
CORRECTING SECRECY NEWS (2)
Writing in the Washington Times, the "other" John Roberts took Secrecy News to task today for linking Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. with the Iran-Contra scandal (SN, 07/20/05)."Someone should have called to ask whether Judge Roberts and I were, or weren't, the same person," suggested John B. Roberts II, the individual who was named in passing in the Independent Counsel report on Iran-Contra. "Instead, Secrecy News rushed to publish." Secrecy News did confirm that "John Roberts" was employed at the White House at the time, but admittedly failed to consider the possibility that there were two or more individuals with the same name. The error was corrected within an hour, however, not "a day after." See "The Scandal That Wasn't" by John B. Roberts II, Washington Times, August 1:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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