White House Names Three to Intel Oversight Board

At a time when the legality of U.S. intelligence activities such as the NSA surveillance program is a live issue, President Bush announced that he would name three individuals to the Intelligence Oversight Board, which is supposed to notify the President of any unlawful activities performed by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The three appointees are Adm. David E. Jeremiah, attorney Arthur B. Culvahouse and former Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans. All three are members of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

As prescribed in Executive Order 12863, the Intelligence Oversight Board “shall prepare for the President reports of intelligence activities that the IOB believes may be unlawful or contrary to Executive order or Presidential directive.”

The IOB, like the PFIAB, is a White House advisory body that works exclusively for the President, and only rarely releases any information to the public.

CRS on Probable Cause and Reasonable Suspicion

The terms “probable cause” and “reasonable suspicion” have almost become household words by now due to continuing public controversy over the legality of the NSA surveillance program.

The legal definitions of these terms were examined in a new memorandum prepared by the Congressional Research Service for the Senate Intelligence Committee. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See “Probable Cause, Reasonable Suspicion, and Reasonableness Standards in the Context of the Fourth Amendment and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” January 30, 2006.

Two leading Democratic members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees wrote to the Director of the
Congressional Research Service yesterday to reject charges of CRS “bias” that were leveled by Rep. Pete Hoekstra, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, last week.

“We write to correct the record,” wrote Senator Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Jane Harman on February 7.

“We have found these CRS documents very helpful in conducting our oversight responsibilities, and disagree that they are ‘speculating with respect to highly sensitive national security matters’ as Chairman Hoekstra asserts.”

“Indeed, the legal analyses provided by CRS have been especially informative given the Executive Branch’s unwillingness to provide information to the Congress or to the American public as is appropriate,” they wrote.

National Reconnaissance Journal

The National Reconnaissance Office has published a new Journal in unclassified format.

“National Reconnaissance: Journal of the Discipline and Practice” is intended “for the education and information of the NRO community” and to promote “the study, dialogue, and understanding of the discipline, practice, and history of national reconnaissance.”

The centerpiece of the first issue is a critical article originally published in 2002 by Robert J. Kohler, a former CIA and NRO official on “The Decline of the National Reconnaissance Office.” It is followed by a rejoinder from NRO deputy director Dennis Fitzgerald, a newly updated reply from Mr. Kohler, and a further response from Mr. Fitzgerald.

In what may be a reflection of NRO ambivalence about publishing an unclassified journal, the new publication is not available on the agency web site. Nor would the NRO Center for the Study of National Reconnaissance agree to provide the journal in softcopy.

But a scanned copy of the full text of the journal is now available on the Federation of American Scientists web site (thanks to J).

See “National Reconnaissance: Journal of the Discipline and Practice,” first unclassified issue, 2005.


For several decades the Naval Security Group (NAVSECGRU) Command has been the Navy’s cryptologic organization, with responsibility for signals intelligence and communications security and with NAVSECGRU Activities scattered around much of the world.

But now the NAVSECGRU Command has been disestablished and all NAVSECGRU Activities and Detachments have been renamed as Navy Information Operations Commands (NIOCs) and Detachments (NIODs).

See OPNAV Note 5450, Disestablishing the Naval Security Group Command, December 29, 2005.

The Naval Security Group Command, headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland, was designated by that name in 1968, according to Jeffrey Richelson’s The U.S. Intelligence Community (4th edition, p. 84).

Inadvertent Tracking of “Sight Sensitive” Objects

Air Force personnel are warned in a recent instruction not to track low observable (LO) or “sight sensitive” aircraft during test flights at Edwards Air Force Base.

“Low observable” is another term for stealth, and “sight sensitive” refers to objects that yield sensitive information simply by visual inspection.

“It is strictly forbidden to train tracking sensors (e.g. radar, infrared, electro-optical, personal cameras, sound recording devices, etc.) on any LO or sight-sensitive assets,” the Air Force instruction states.

“The single exception to this rule is to promote safety of flight.” Even then, “Recording of data will immediately terminate upon the termination of the flight safety incident.”

See “Security Procedures for Inadvertent Tracking and Sensor Acquisition of Low Observable and Sight Sensitive Programs,” Edwards Air Force Base Instruction 31-17, 14 November 2005 (thanks to RT).

German Parliament To Debate US Nuclear Withdrawal

A resolution introduced in the German Parliament last week calls for the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany. The resolution, which was submitted by nine parliamentarians from the newly formed party Die Linken, also calls for the German Air Force to end its controversial NATO mission to deliver U.S. nuclear bombs in times of war.

The U.S. Air Force currently has some 440 nuclear bombs in Europe deployed at eight bases in six NATO countries. About 76 percent of Germans favor a withdrawal, but NATO insists the weapons provide a crucial bond between Europe and the United States.

NATO’s defense ministers are set to meet in Taormina, Italy, on February 9-10 for an informal meeting. Nuclear weapons are not on the agenda.

History of Highly Enriched Uranium Released

After nearly a decade of pressure from openness advocates inside and outside of government, the Department of Energy has finally released its landmark history of the production of highly enriched uranium (HEU).

The study “was commissioned [in 1996] to facilitate discussions of HEU storage, safety, and security with stakeholders, to encourage other nations to declassify and release similar data, and to support the national policy on transparency of nuclear materials.”

The newly released report “contains details of the U.S. HEU inventory as of September 30, 1996, and provides a historical material balance that summarizes over 50 years of U.S. activities that produced, acquired, and utilized HEU.”

“This report combines previously released data along with newly declassified information that has allowed DOE to issue, for the first time, a comprehensive report on HEU.”

“From 1945 through 1996, a total of 1,045.4 metric tons of uranium containing 859.2 metric tons of uranium-235 was produced in the United States at three facilities utilizing two different production technologies.”

“As of September 30, 1996, the total U.S. inventory of HEU was 740.7 MTU containing 620.3 MTU-235.”

Rich in detail, the 173 page report has been only minimally redacted (sanitized).

The report was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Federation of American Scientists.

See “Highly Enriched Uranium: Striking A Balance,” U.S. Department of Energy, January 2001.

CRS, NSA and the Question of Congressional Notification

Last week, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) lashed out at the Congressional Research Service for asserting that the Bush Administration may have had a legal responsibility to notify more than just eight members of Congress regarding the NSA surveillance activity.

Rep. Hoekstra, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, did not merely suggest that the CRS might be wrong; he claimed that the agency was actually biased against Bush Administration policy (“Mau-Mauing the Congressional Research Service”).

In fact, however, it is increasingly clear that Rep. Hoekstra is the one who misunderstood and misrepresented the requirements of the law.

Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) put the matter plainly at a February 6 Senate hearing on the NSA surveillance program, explaining that the statute which permits limited notification to eight members of Congress is relevant only to covert actions, and not to the NSA program.

“When you look at that section [50 USC 413(b)], the only thing this references as far as what this Group of Eight does is receive reports in regard to covert action. So that’s really all it is. It does not cover a situation like we’re talking about here at all,” Sen. DeWine said.

“We all have a great deal of respect for these eight people… They’re leaders of the Congress. But there’s no statutory authority for this group, other than the section that has to do with covert operation, and this [the NSA activity] is not a covert operation as defined in this specific section.”

“I don’t mean to be impolite… I guess I’m just kind of a strict constructionist, kind of a conservative guy, and that’s how I read the statute,” Sen. DeWine said.

See, relatedly, “Hoekstra blasts CRS for ‘bias'” by Jackie Kucinich, The Hill, February 7.

DoD on Improving FOIA Operations

The Department of Defense is moving ahead smartly in response to President Bush’s executive order (EO) 13392 directing agencies to improve the processing of Freedom of Information Act requests.

Many outside observers were puzzled by the issuance of the December 14, 2005 order, since the current Administration has been no friend of FOIA or of public access to government information generally.

But even a perfunctory gesture from the President of the United States can have policy consequences, and agencies are now sorting through those consequences.

“Recent heightened interest in the FOIA from the public, the media, watchdog organizations, and the Congress has resulted in the need for the Federal Agencies to re-examine their FOIA programs,” wrote Michael B. Donley, DoD Director of Administration and Management.

“Historically, DoD Component FOIA programs have been under-emphasized, resulting in inadequate staffing and funding,” he wrote.

“To comply with the provisions of the EO, DoD Components must ensure that proper procedures are established and adequate resources are applied to their FOIA programs.”

The Project on Government Oversight obtained the DoD memorandum and provided a copy to Secrecy News.

See “Executive Order 13392 on the Freedom of Information Act — DoD Implementation,” memorandum for senior Department officials, February 1, 2006.

Meanwhile, however, the Pentagon public affairs office has been playing secrecy games with reporters, withholding budget documents from the press until the last possible moment.

See “DOD denies reporters budget prep time” by Pamela Hess, United Press International, February 6, 2006.

Air Force Special Operations

U.S. Air Force doctrine on special operations is presented in a new Air Force publication.

“This publication provides the overarching doctrinal guidance for the conduct of Air Force special operations across the full range of military operations. It describes the characteristics, capabilities, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) core tasks, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) core missions, typical organization, and command and control of AF Special Operations Forces.”

“The doctrine in this document is authoritative, but not directive…. Airmen should read it, discuss it, and practice it.”

See “Special Operations,” Air Force Doctrine Document 2-7, 16 December 2005.