Iraq’s Looted Arms Depots: What the GAO Didn’t Mention

In a recent report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) attributes the looting of Iraq’s arms depots to the “ovewhelming size and number” of these depots and “prewar planning priorities and certain assumptions that proved to be invalid.” The report finds that the US military “did not adequately secure these [conventional munitions storage] sites during and immediately after the conclusion of major combat operations” and “did not plan for or set up a program to centrally manage and destroy enemy munitions until August 2003…” The munitions looted from Iraqi arsenals, claims the GAO, have been used extensively in the deadly improvised explosive device (IED) attacks that have become tragically commonplace in Iraq.

But the IED threat is only part of the story. Iraq’s arsenals were also brimming with shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles, thousands of which disappeared during the widespread looting of the regime’s numerous arms depots in 2003.
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Army Sees Gap in Jurisdiction Over Military Contractors

Contractors accompanying U.S. military forces in Iraq or elsewhere who commit crimes may be beyond the reach of law enforcement, a recent Army publication warns (pdf), because the Defense Department has not yet updated its regulations to conform to a Congressional mandate, resulting in a “gap” in legal jurisdiction.

“In November 2006, Congress expanded UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] authority over contractor personnel authorized to accompany the force. However, as of February 2007, DOD has provided no implementation guidance for this change in law.”

See “Contractors Accompanying the Force – Training Support Package” (pdf), 12 March 2007 (at page 31).

As of mid-March, there was still no such implementation guidance.

“The liability and accountability of contractor personnel in most cases is already provided for in U.S. law, international agreements, conventions, treaties, and Status of Forces Agreements,” another Army document explains (pdf, at page 26).

“However, in some cases a gap may emerge where the contractor personnel are not subject to the UCMJ (only in time of declared war) and the contractor commits an offense in an area that is not subject to the jurisdiction of an allied government (for example, an offense committed in enemy territory).”

“In such cases, the contractor’s crime may go unpunished unless other federal laws, such as the military extraterritorial jurisdiction act (MEJA) or the war crimes act (WCA) apply, or the contractor is otherwise subject to the UCMJ (for example, a military retiree).”

1967 Hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Declassified transcripts of dozens of closed hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1967 have now been published.

The hearings feature testimony by Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms and other Johnson Administration officials on Soviet nuclear weapons policy, anti-ballistic missiles, Vietnam, the Middle East, and other topics of contemporary concern.

See “Executive Sessions of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Together with Joint Sessions with the Senate Armed Services Committee (Historical Series),” Volume XIX, 1967, made public in 2007.

Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq, and More from CRS

“The humanitarian crisis many feared would take place in March 2003 as a result of the war in Iraq appears to be unfolding,” says a new report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.

“It is estimated that in total (including those displaced prior to the war) there may be two million Iraqi refugees who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and other neighboring states, and approximately two million Iraqis who have been displaced within Iraq itself.” See “Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: A Deepening Humanitarian Crisis?,” March 23, 2007.

Another Congressional Research Service report provides a detailed examination of the pending defense supplemental appropriations bills, which include congressional direction on redeployment or withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. See “FY2007 Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Other Purposes” (pdf), updated March 28, 2007.

Other recent CRS products which have not been made readily available to the public include the following (all pdf).

“V-22 Osprey Tilt-Rotor Aircraft,” updated March 13, 2007.

“U.S. Assistance to the Former Soviet Union,” updated March 1, 2007.

“Nuclear Power: Outlook for New U.S. Reactors,” updated March 9, 2007.

“Military Medical Care: Questions and Answers,” updated March 7, 2007.

“Military Construction, Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs: FY2007 Appropriations,” updated March 6, 2007.

“U.S. International HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Spending: FY2004-FY2008,” updated March 6, 2007.

Clandestine Services History: The Berlin Tunnel

The Central Intelligence Agency has released a newly declassified version of its closely-held internal history of the Berlin Tunnel Operation (pdf), which was an effort in the mid-1950s to tap into Soviet communications through a tunnel constructed in the Soviet sector of Berlin. The operation was famously compromised by a Soviet mole in British intelligence before it even began.

The official CIA history of the operation was prepared in 1968 and published — in two copies. A declassified version was finally approved for release in February 2007.

See “Clandestine Services History: The Berlin Tunnel Operation, 1952-1956,” 24 June 1968.

CIA internal histories are a largely untapped resource since the Agency has been slow to declassify and release them.

A previously published CIA account of the Berlin Tunnel operation, which includes links to limited excerpts from other internal histories of the episode, is here.

A clandestine services history of the 1953 coup in Iran was leaked to the New York Times in 2000, after the CIA refused to declassify it. The document is available from the National Security Archive.

Former CIA Polygrapher Files Lawsuit Against Agency

A former polygrapher for the Central Intelligence Agency has filed a lawsuit (pdf) alleging that the Agency unlawfully retaliated against him for publishing a critical account of CIA polygraph programs.

John Sullivan, author of the forthcoming book “Gatekeeper: Memoirs of a CIA Polygraph Examiner,” argued that his security clearance was improperly revoked in the course of a lengthy pre-publication review dispute, though it was ultimately restored.

“The CIA’s treatment of John Sullivan, a former employee who dared speak out, is indicative of a pattern and practice by the CIA of unlawful and disgraceful retaliation through the abuse of the security clearance process,” said Mark S. Zaid, the attorney who is representing Mr. Sullivan.

The allegations were described in an April 5 press release.

The CIA response to the lawsuit will be posted when it is filed.

IG Report on DoD Intel Office Declassified

At the request of Sen. Carl Levin, the Department of Defense has declassified most of its February 2007 Inspector General report (large pdf) on the pre-Iraq war activities of the DoD Office of Special Plans, led by Douglas Feith.

“It is important for the public to see why the Pentagon’s Inspector General concluded that Secretary Feith’s office ‘developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al-Qaeda relationship,’ which included ‘conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community,’ and why the Inspector General concluded that these actions were ‘inappropriate’,” Sen. Levin said.

“Until today, those details were classified and outside the public’s view.”

See this news release from Sen. Levin, with a link to the newly declassified report.

Mr. Feith’s Office issued a January 2007 rebuttal (pdf) to a draft version of the IG report.

Various Resources

“Congressional Access to Classified National Security Information” is the subject of a report prepared by Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies on the occasion of a March 30 forum on the subject sponsored by and the Center for American Progress.

Government attorneys defended (pdf) their contention that some evidence to be presented to the jury in the upcoming trial of two former AIPAC officials should be withheld from the public, a position criticized by the defense as prejudicial and unconstitutional. See the government brief (first reported April 5 by the New York Sun) here.

Having declassified some eight million pages of historical records relating to Nazi and Japanese Imperial Army war crimes, the largest single-subject declassification program has now come to a close, the National Archives noted in an April 2 news release.

As a public service, the National Archives posts a new daily document of historical interest each day on its web site. Not all of them will be of interest to everyone, but the series as a whole has the potential to serve as an educational stimulus for students and citizens. Today’s (April 5) document is a 1940 photograph of “Leon Trotsky and American admirers.”

CIA Blocks Book on Chinese Nuclear Weapons

An eagerly awaited book on the history of the Chinese nuclear weapons program will not be published due to objections from the Central Intelligence Agency, which said it contains classified information.

A federal court last week ruled (pdf) that the CIA was within its rights to block disclosure of 23 sections of a manuscript by former Los Alamos intelligence specialist Danny B. Stillman, who had brought a lawsuit asserting his First Amendment right to publish the volume.

During the 1990s, Mr. Stillman traveled to China nine times, including six trips that took place after his retirement in 1993. He visited nuclear weapons facilities and “engaged in extensive discussions with Chinese scientists, government officials, and nuclear weapons designers,” resulting in a 506-page manuscript entitled “Inside China’s Nuclear Weapons Program.”

Since he was a Los Alamos employee prior to retirement, and maintained a security clearance thereafter, he submitted his manuscript to the government for pre-publication review, as required by the non-disclosure agreements that he had signed.

His book was written for publication and did not include classified information, in the author’s judgment.

Significantly, the Department of Energy, which has principal classification authority over nuclear weapons design data, concurred. After initial resistance, DOE gave its approval for publication of the entire volume.

But the Central Intelligence Agency, DIA and DoD were opposed.

In a March 30 ruling, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the DC District Court wrote that the non-disclosure agreements signed by Mr. Stillman contain “incredibly broad language” with regard to protection of classified information.

And upon review, the Court said it was persuaded that “the government has properly classified the twenty-three passages in Stillman’s manuscript.”

Since those passages constitute about 15% of the total manuscript and include some of the most interesting and valuable information that he gathered in his travels to China, the author said he would not publish the remainder.

A Survey of Geospatial Data on Haiti

A study (pdf) performed recently for the U.S. Department of Agriculture documented the search for geospatial information — satellite imagery, maps, aerial photography and other records — on Haiti.

In so doing, the authors provided a template and a guide to accessing the wealth of worldwide geospatial data that is now in the public domain. Detailed information on products and sources is given.

See “Geospatial Data Availability for Haiti: An Aid in the Development of GIS-Based Natural Resource Assessments for Conservation Planning” by Maya Quiñones, William Gould, and Carlos D. Rodríguez-Pedraza, U.S. Department of Agriculture, February 2007.