from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2009, Issue No. 33
April 6, 2009
Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/
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- ROSLYN MAZER TO BE ODNI INSPECTOR GENERAL
- TACTICS IN COUNTERINSURGENCY AGAIN ONLINE
- CIA'S CREST LEAVES CAVITY IN PUBLIC DOMAIN
ROSLYN MAZER TO BE ODNI INSPECTOR GENERAL
The Director of National Intelligence last week named Roslyn A. Mazer of the Department of Justice to be the next Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
What makes this an intriguing appointment is that from 1996 to 2000 Ms. Mazer was the first chair of the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), which is among the most successful classification reform initiatives of the last half century. At a time when agency Inspectors General may be asked to assume greater oversight over classification policy, she brings an exceptional depth of knowledge and experience to the subject.
One of the ISCAP's functions is to consider appeals from public requesters for release of information that executive agencies have withheld as classified. Under Ms. Mazer's leadership from 1996 to 2000, the ISCAP declassified information in an astounding 80% of the documents that were presented for its review.
In fact, Ms. Mazer's ISCAP was so successful in overturning spurious classification claims that the Central Intelligence Agency begged for relief from ISCAP jurisdiction. The CIA plea was rejected in a 1999 Office of Legal Counsel decision. But in his 2003 executive order on classification, President Bush granted the CIA a veto over ISCAP declassification rulings.
In a 1998 speech to a conference of intelligence agency classification officials, Ms. Mazer criticized what she termed "the Lewis Carroll element of classification policy" which leads to "keeping classified categories of information that everyone already knows."
During the Cold War, "closed regimes found themselves hopelessly and fatally outpaced by open societies, and ultimately collapsed from exhaustion," she reminded the assembled intelligence officials. "This is the reason why our democracy endures, why we live under the oldest living constitutional democracy, and why we cannot export democracy like bananas to formerly closed societies."
"We prevailed over those societies because of our passion for openness, for trusting our citizens more than we empower our leaders. We celebrate our openness. In fact, it is unnecessary secrecy that is timid and cowardly. Openness is courageous. Be courageous. Be as open as you responsibly can."
Ms. Mazer will succeed Edward Maguire, the outgoing ODNI Inspector General who presented his own critique of the ODNI in testimony before a hearing of Rep. Anna Eshoo's House Intelligence subcommittee last week ("IG Report Blasts the Director of National Intelligence," Secrecy News, April 2, 2009).
TACTICS IN COUNTERINSURGENCY AGAIN ONLINE
"Tactics in Counterinsurgency," a new Army Field Manual that was published on the website of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and then removed from public access, is now available on the FAS website.
The new manual, a substantial addition to the literature of counterinsurgency, was reported last week in the Washington Post and Inside the Army. "After The Post raised questions about its contents last week," wrote Walter Pincus of the Post on March 31, "it was taken down" from the Army website, even though the document is marked for unrestricted release.
An email inquiry to the Army inquiring why it had been removed was not answered.
See "Tactics in Counterinsurgency," U.S. Army Field Manual Interim 3-24.2, March 2009 (6.2 MB PDF, 307 pages):
"Setbacks are normal in counterinsurgency, as in every other form of war," the new manual advises (p. C-5).
"You will make mistakes, lose people, or occasionally kill or detain the wrong person.... If this happens, donít lose heart, simply drop back to the previous phase of your game plan and recover your balance."
CIA'S CREST LEAVES CAVITY IN PUBLIC DOMAIN
The curious refusal of the Central Intelligence Agency to provide online access to its "CREST" database of declassified documents was examined last week in Mother Jones magazine.
"In a quiet, fluorescently lit room in the National Archives' auxiliary campus in suburban College Park, Maryland, 10 miles outside of Washington, are four computer terminals, each providing instant access to the more than 10 million pages of documents the CIA has declassified since 1995. There's only one problem: these are the only publicly available computers in the world that do so."
See "Inside the CIA's (Sort of) Secret Document Stash" by Bruce Falconer, Mother Jones, April 3:
A mostly favorable review of the CREST database was provided by historians David M. Barrett and Raymond Wasko in "Sampling CIA's New Document Retrieval System: McCone's Telephone Conversations during the Six Crises Tempest," Intelligence and National Security vol. 20, no. 2, June 2005, pp. 332-340 (not online).
By denying online public access to the CREST database, the Central Intelligence Agency appears to be at odds with the President's executive order on classification. That order states (EO 13292, section 3.7): "The Director of the Information Security Oversight Office, in conjunction with those agencies that originate classified information, shall coordinate the linkage and effective utilization of existing agency databases of records that have been declassified and publicly released."
But by refusing to place the CREST database online (or to release it to others who will do so), the CIA is undermining the "effective utilization" of this existing agency database.
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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