from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2008, Issue No. 35
April 9, 2008
Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/
- SOME CLASSIFIED DOD ASSETS ARE TOO SECRET TO PROTECT
- HOUSE DEMS WARN DHS ON DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM
- COLLAPSE OF BEE COLONIES EXPLAINED?
- NATIONAL FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CONFERENCE
SOME CLASSIFIED DOD ASSETS ARE TOO SECRET TO PROTECT
In a stark illustration of how secrecy may undermine rather than reinforce security, the Government Accountability Office found that the Department of Defense has omitted many of its most sensitive assets from critical infrastructure protection planning because they are too secret to be identified.
"DOD has not taken adequate steps to ensure that highly sensitive critical assets associated with SCI and SAPs are accounted for," the GAO reported last week. SCI means sensitive compartmented information that is derived from intelligence sources. SAPs are special access programs.
Only critical assets that are classified at the collateral level -- i.e. plain Secret or Top Secret, but not compartmented or special access -- are being processed in the Defense Critical Infrastructure Program, the GAO found. But if they are classified as SCI or special access, they have been excluded.
The Defense Intelligence Agency, for example, has withheld a list of over 80 critical assets because they are SCI and the infrastructure protection program is not equipped to receive such information.
"Unless critical SCI and SAP assets are identified and prioritized, DOD will lack sufficient information to assure the availability of the department's most critical assets," the GAO stated.
The Pentagon concurred with the GAO's recommendation that critical SCI and SAP assets should be incorporated in infrastructure protection.
See "Defense Critical Infrastructure: DOD's Risk Analysis of Its Critical Infrastructure Omits Highly Sensitive Assets," April 2, 2008:
HOUSE DEMS WARN DHS ON DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM
The Department of Homeland Security has not adequately addressed the civil liberties concerns associated with the new National Applications Office (NAO) that would promote the use of intelligence capabilities such as overhead surveillance for homeland security and other domestic purposes, three Democratic Congressmen said this week.
"Turning America's spy satellites on the homeland for domestic law enforcement purposes is no trivial matter," wrote Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, along with Rep. Jane Harman and Rep. Christopher P. Carney.
"Although we support any Department effort to engage in more effective and responsive information sharing with our nation's first preventers, the serious privacy and civil liberties issues that the NAO raises are manifold and multifaceted," they wrote in an April 7 letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
"Job number one needs to be the completion of a detailed legal framework and SOPs applicable to all NAO domains.... Only after we have had an opportunity to review these documents and to bring the privacy and civil liberties community into the process should NAO commence hiring and other development efforts."
"Should you proceed with the NAO without addressing our concerns, we will take appropriate steps to discontinue it," they told DHS.
The National Applications Office was formally established as "an advocate for IC [intelligence community] capabilities to serve, among others, non-traditional users in the civil, homeland security, and law enforcement communities."
The February 2008 charter of the National Applications Office is here:
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the Department of Homeland Security will provide additional documentation to the House Homeland Security Committee in response to its concerns. See "Privacy Fears Threaten Satellite Program" by Siobhan Gorman, April 8:
COLLAPSE OF BEE COLONIES EXPLAINED?
The cause of the mysterious deaths of large numbers of honey bees across the United States that began in 2006 has apparently been discovered.
Scientists from the Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center and the University of California at San Francisco identified both a virus and a parasite that are associated with the massive decline in the honey bee population.
See "Scientists Identify Pathogens That May Be Causing Global Honey-Bee Deaths," Science Daily, April 26 (thanks to CB):
Update: This is old news. The Science Daily story dates from April 2007!
Additional background on the issue is available in "Recent Honey Bee Colony Declines," Congressional Research Service, updated August 14, 2007:
NATIONAL FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CONFERENCE
Freedom of Information Act practitioners and advocates will gather in Philadelphia on May 9-10 to compare notes and exchange views at the National Freedom of Information Coalition 2008 FOI Summit.
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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