DoD Issues Doctrine on Coping with WMD Attacks

With the failure to stop and reverse the spread of nuclear weapons, military planners do not have the luxury of ignoring the possibility that such weapons might be used against military or civilian targets, abroad or at home.

A new Department of Defense doctrinal publication (pdf) defines policies and procedures for managing “the consequences from all deliberate and inadvertent releases of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear agents or substances, and high-yield explosives with potential to cause mass casualties and large levels of destruction.”

See “Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High-Yield Explosives Consequence Management,” Joint Publication 3-41, Joint Chiefs of Staff, October 2, 2006.

Another new DoD policy addresses protection of military installations “against terrorist use of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high explosive weapons.” See “DoD AntiTerrorism Standards” (pdf), DoD Instruction 2000.16, October 2, 2006.

And a recent DoD Directive offers a new glimpse of the organization of U.S. nuclear command and control. See “U.S. Nuclear Command and Control System Support Staff” (pdf), DoD Directive 3150.06, August 25, 2006.

Congress Appropriates $40 Million for DHS Counter-MANPADS Program

Last week President Bush signed the Fiscal Year 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which includes $40 million for the Department of Homeland Security’s Counter-MANPADS Program – a multi-year initiative launched in 2003 to evaluate the feasibility of installing anti-missile systems on commercial airliners. The appropriation is nearly 10 times higher than the amount requested by the administration, and increases to $270 million the total amount appropriated for the program.

Appropriators supplemented the administration’s request for the program after proponents of anti-missile systems intervened on its behalf. In February, Rep. Steve Israel called the budget request “lip service” and accused the administration of “ma[king] a decision to effectively kill the counter-MANPADS program…” A month later, Senator Barbara Boxer sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff calling the administration’s decision to reduce funding for the program “misguided and dangerous.”
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Intelligence Information Sharing Lags, Officials Say

Five years after September 11, the government’s capacity to share intelligence and threat information with state and local officials (not to mention the public) remains sub-optimal, some of those officials complain.

“Much of the needed intelligence information is locked away from those who need it in the field or on the scene because of outdated cold war mentalities regarding classification of intelligence information,” said Illinois State Police Col. Kenneth Bouche (pdf) at a September 7 hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee.

“Critical information must be unclassified and disseminated appropriately if it is to be of any use in preventing domestic terrorism,” he said.

“The federal government must work towards a goal of declassifying information to the maximum extent possible,” Col. Bouche urged.

The Democratic staff of the House Homeland Security Committee issued a report last week proposing seven initiatives aimed at “improving information sharing between the intelligence community and state, local, and tribal law enforcement.”

See “LEAP: A Law Enforcement Assistance and Partnership Strategy” (pdf), September 28.

Senate Bill Would Enable GAO to Aid Intelligence Oversight

A bill introduced by Congressional Democrats would empower the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to perform financial audits and other oversight of U.S. intelligence agencies, a function that those agencies have long resisted.

“Since 9/11, effective [intelligence] oversight is needed now more than ever,” said Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) in a September 28 floor statement.

“However, now the Congress cannot do its job properly, in part, because its key investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, is not given adequate access to the intelligence community.”

“Unfortunately, the intelligence community stonewalls the GAO when committees of jurisdiction request that GAO investigate problems,” Sen. Akaka said.

“If the GAO had been able to conduct basic auditing functions of the CIA, perhaps some of the problems that were so clearly exposed following the terrorist attacks in September 2001 would have been resolved. And yet, it is extraordinary that five years after 9-11 the same problems persist,” he said.

He introduced two related Congressional Research Service memoranda into the Congressional Record: one on “Congressional Oversight of Intelligence” and another on “Overview of ‘Classified’ and ‘Sensitive But Unclassified’ Information.”

See Sen. Akaka’s full September 28 statement on “The Intelligence Community Audit Act of 2006.”

If nothing else, the Akaka bill may provide a clue as to the direction of intelligence oversight in the future, if Democrats take control of Congress.

Under current leadership, intelligence oversight has fractured and decayed. For the second year in a row, Congress failed to pass an intelligence authorization bill this year.

Congress Imposes Limits on Sensitive Security Information

Congress adopted legislation that limits the ability of the Department of Homeland Security to withhold so-called “sensitive security information” (SSI), which is a category of restricted information related to transportation security.

The 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations Act would, among other things, require “the release of certain SSI information that is three years old unless the Secretary makes a written determination that identifies a rational reason why the information must remain SSI.”

The measure was signed into law by the President on October 4.

Former Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage (R-Idaho), who died this week, once challenged an airport security official who wanted to pat her down before boarding an airliner. She demanded to see the regulation that authorized such an action. The official refused, indicating that it was SSI and could not be shared with a member of the public. Rep. Chenoweth declined to submit, and took a car instead.

I retold this story in “The Secrets of Flight,” Slate, November 18, 2004.

Whether the government can impose such “secret law” is a question that has recently been presented to the Supreme Court by John Gilmore, who was told that he could not have access to the regulation requiring him to show his identification at the airport.

Death Gratuities for Defense Intel Officers Killed in Action

Family members of U.S. military intelligence personnel who are killed while engaged in clandestine intelligence operations may be eligible for special monetary gratuities, according to a recently updated Defense Department Instruction (pdf).

“A gratuity shall be paid to the dependents of any member of the Armed Forces or of any employee of the Department of Defense assigned to duty with a DoD intelligence component, whose identity is disguised or concealed; or who is within a category of individuals determined by the Secretary of Defense to be engaged in clandestine intelligence activities; and who, after October 14, 1980, dies because of injuries (excluding disease) sustained outside the United States and whose death resulted from hostile or terrorist activities, or occurred in connection with an intelligence activity having a substantial element of risk.”

The new policy was issued by Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen A. Cambone.

See “Payment of Death Gratuity to Survivors of Certain DoD Personnel Assigned to Intelligence Duties,” DoD Instruction 1341.08, 25 August 2006.

Energy Dept Will Significantly Reduce Polygraph Testing

After years of public controversy, the Department of Energy has adopted a new polygraph testing policy that it said “will significantly reduce the number of individuals who will undergo a polygraph examination.”

In particular, “DOE has decided to alter the role of polygraph testing as a required element of the counterintelligence evaluation program by eliminating such testing for general screening of applicants for employment and incumbent employees without specific cause,” according to a notice published in the Federal Register.

The use of the polygraph for “general screening” of employees has been its most commonly criticized application.

DOE rejected arguments that polygraph testing should be eliminated entirely, indicating that such a position “cannot be reconciled” with Congressional direction to DOE to develop a new polygraph policy.

The new policy will still “require a counterintelligence [polygraph] evaluation for applicants for certain high-risk positions and every five years for incumbents of those positions,” the DOE notice said.

See “Counterintelligence Evaluation Regulations,” Federal Register, September 29.

I discussed “Polygraph Testing and the DOE National Laboratories” in a 3 November 2000 essay in Science Magazine.

On October 2, a federal court rejected (pdf) a legal challenge to polygraph testing that was filed by six applicants for jobs at the FBI and the Secret Service who were denied employment after they failed a polygraph test, as noted on the web site

National Archives Confronts Declassification Challenges

With hundreds of millions of pages to be reviewed for declassification in the coming decade, the National Archives (NARA) faces an enormous logistical challenge if it is to discharge its responsibility to open up the historical record to the American public.

A new “Report on Declassification Challenges” (pdf) suggests that the Archives, led by National Archivist Dr. Allen Weinstein, is taking the matter seriously.

“Over the next ten years,… NARA needs to be positioned to effectively and efficiently process more than 766 million pages of classified federal records,” the Report notes.

“Even without the challenges identified in this report, the sheer volume requiring declassification processing by NARA with its limited resources is itself a significant challenge.”

The August 2006 report, publicly released last week, lays out the magnitude of the current declassification burden and sketches a proposed concept for operations for a new National Declassification Initiative to help expedite the process.

For a variety of reasons, including resource limitations and bureaucratic resistance from some agencies, the success of the new initiative is not assured.

But neither is declassification an “optional” activity that can be easily dispensed with. To the contrary, the Report says, declassification is an integral part of classification policy.

“One of the principal means of maintaining the effectiveness of the security classification system is the prompt removal of classification controls from information that no longer requires protection in the interest of national security.”

The new Report was released by the Archivist “in the spirit of transparency and to ensure that all quarters are aware of the challenges faced by NARA in this area, our ongoing efforts to address them, and to highlight the commitment of NARA to fulfilling our responsibilities to both safeguard information that requires continued protection and otherwise seek the prompt declassification and release of information.”

A Slew of CRS Reports

Some new products of the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News include the following (all pdf).

“Enemy Combatant Detainees: Habeas Corpus Challenges in Federal Court,” updated September 26, 2006.

“Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006: S. 3931 and Title II of S. 3929, the Terrorist Tracking, Identification, and Prosecution Act of 2006,” September 25, 2006.

“Intelligence Spending: Public Disclosure Issues,” updated September 25, 2006.

“Selected Procedural Safeguards in Federal, Military, and International Courts,” updated September 18, 2006.

“East Asian Regional Architecture: New Economic and Security Arrangements and U.S. Policy,” September 18, 2006.

“Critical Infrastructure: The National Asset Database,” September 14, 2006.

“Information Operations and Cyberwar: Capabilities and Related Policy Issues,” updated September 14, 2006.

“China/Taiwan: Evolution of the ‘One China’ Policy — Key Statements from Washington, Beijing, and Taipei,” updated September 7, 2006.

“Immigration: Terrorist Grounds for Exclusion of Aliens,” updated September 5, 2006.

“Pages of the United States Congress: Selection, Duties, and Program Administration,” updated August 14, 2006.