DNI Discloses National Intelligence Program Budget

As required by law, the Director of National Intelligence today disclosed (pdf) that the budget for the National Intelligence Program in Fiscal Year 2007 was $43.5 billion.

The disclosure was strongly resisted by the intelligence bureaucracy, and for that very reason it may have significant repercussions for national security classification policy.

Although the aggregate intelligence budget figures for 1997 and 1998 ($26.6 and $26.7 billion respectively) had previously been disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Federation of American Scientists, intelligence officials literally swore under oath that any further disclosures would damage national security.

“Information about the intelligence budget is of great interest to nations and non-state groups (e.g., terrorists and drug traffickers) wishing to calculate the strengths and weaknesses of the United States and their own points of vulnerability to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies,” then-DCI George J. Tenet told a federal court in April 2003, explaining his position that disclosure of the intelligence budget total would cause “serious damage” to the United States.

Even historical budget information from half a century ago “must be withheld from public disclosure… because its release would tend to reveal intelligence methods,” declared then-acting DCI John E. McLaughlin (pdf) in a 2004 lawsuit, also filed by FAS.

Deferring to executive authority, federal judges including Judge Thomas F. Hogan and Judge Ricardo M. Urbina (pdf) accepted these statements at face value and ruled in favor of continued secrecy.

But now it appears that such information may safely be disclosed after all.

Because the new disclosure is so sharply at odds with past practice, it may introduce some positive instability into a recalcitrant classification system. The question implicitly arises, if intelligence officials were wrong to classify this information, what other data are they wrongly withholding?

Some historical background on U.S. intelligence spending may be found here.

And see “2007 Spying Said to Cost $50 Billion” by Walter Pincus, Washington Post, October 30.

National Academy of Science Report Calls for Putting the Brakes on the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) Program.

This afternoon, a committee of the National Research Council, a research arm of the National Academy of Science, issued a report that is extremely critical of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, or GNEP, an administration plan to restart separating plutonium from used commercial nuclear reactor fuel, something the United States has not done for three decades. I have argued that the goals of GNEP, while scientifically possible and perhaps someday economically justifiable, are decades premature. I am relieved to discover that the committee report comes to essentially the same conclusion.
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A Response to Congresswoman Tauscher’s Article in Nonproliferation Review

A recent article, “Achieving Nuclear Balance”, in Nonproliferation Review, by Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, Chairwoman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, includes a sobering summary of the dangerous nuclear policies of the Bush administration, including its desire for new nuclear weapons and an expansion of the roles of nuclear weapons. Congresswoman Tauscher has been an important voice of reason in the nuclear debate and one of the primary forces behind efforts to force a fundamental review of the missions of nuclear weapons, to ask what nuclear weapons are for.

Nevertheless, her arguments in support of exploring the Reliable Replacement Warhead are mistaken and based on deeply rooted but ultimately unsupported assumptions. Her essay highlights the critical importance of carefully defining terms and avoiding being fooled by our own euphemisms.
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Congressman Markey on the US-India Nuclear Deal

Last week, Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass) visited FAS to talk about the India-US deal. Markey, who strongly supports closer ties with India, opposes the nuclear deal because it undermines the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). A transcript and video of his comments are on the FAS website.

What I found most interesting about his talk was a graphic showing the growth in U.S.-Indian trade over the past few decades. (Our chart is not a reproduction of the chart used my Mr. Markey but created from the same data.) It goes up…and up and up. It has gone up even during politically difficult times, for example, after the 1974 Indian nuclear test. The Congressman’s point is that, when people argue for the nuclear deal because it will allow a blossoming of trade between the two countries, they miss the point entirely. Trade with India has been growing for years, it continues to grow now, and it will grow in the future whether we have a nuclear deal or not. So the trade benefit is simply not there. But the harm done to the NPT definitely remains.
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DNI Issues Directives on History, Sourcing, Priorities

“The United States Intelligence Community (IC) has an obligation to learn from its history and its performance and to document its activities,” Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell wrote in a newly disclosed Intelligence Community Directive.

Towards that end, “each IC agency/organization shall establish and maintain a professional historical capability… to document, analyze and advance an understanding of the history of the agency or organization and its predecessors.”

See “Intelligence Community History Programs” (pdf), Intelligence Community Directive 180, August 29, 2007.

Another new DNI directive instructs intelligence analysts that “disseminated analytic products must contain consistent and structured sourcing information for all significant and substantive reporting or other information upon which the product’s analytic judgments, assessments, estimates, or confidence levels depend.”

“Thorough and consistent documentation enhances the credibility and transparency of intelligence analysis and enables consumers to better understand the quantity and quality of information underlying the analysis.”

See “Sourcing Requirements for Disseminated Analytic Products” (pdf), Intelligence Community Directive 206, October 17, 2007.

Intelligence collection and analysis objectives are defined and ranked through something called the National Intelligence Priorities Framework (NIPF), which “is the DNI’s sole mechanism for establishing national intelligence priorities.”

Based on topics approved by the President, the NIPF provides a process for prioritizing competing intelligence requirements and allocating resources accordingly.

See “Roles and Responsibilities for the National Intelligence Priorities Framework” (pdf), Intelligence Community Directive 204, September 13, 2007.

National Academy Defends Open Research Policies

Poorly considered security restrictions on unclassified research and limits on foreign scientists’ access to U.S. laboratories could erode U.S. scientific and engineering prowess, a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences concluded.

“The success of U.S. science and engineering has been built on a system of information sharing and open communication, not only among U.S. institutions, but also with the international science and technology communities.”

“Given the current diminishing rates of new scientific and engineering talent in the United States … the size of the U.S. research and development effort cannot be sustained without a significant and steady infusion of foreign nationals,” the report said.

See “To Maintain National Security, U.S. Policies Should Continue to Promote Open Exchange of Research,” NAS news release, October 18.

White House Seeks to Ratify Nuclear Protection Policy

To submit an international arms control agreement to the U.S. Senate for ratification has not always been the Bush Administration’s first instinct. But last month the White House asked the Senate to ratify a 2005 Amendment to the 1980 Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

“This Amendment is important in the campaign against international nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation,” President Bush wrote in his transmittal letter.

“It will require each State Party to the Amendment to establish, implement, and maintain an appropriate physical protection regime applicable to nuclear material and nuclear facilities used for peaceful purposes.”

The pending Amendment along with a State Department overview and related materials were recently printed for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. See “Amendment to Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material” (pdf), submitted by the President of the United States to the U.S. Senate, September 4, 2007.

International progress on ratifying the Amendment “remains slow,” lamented Mohamed El Baradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in a September 10 statement. Of the 128 States that are party to the 1980 Convention, only 11 have approved the 2005 Amendment, he said.

FAS Obtains DHS Report on Programs to Counter the Shoulder-fired Missile Threat

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the FAS, the Department of Homeland Security has released a December 2005 report to Congress on the status of DHS’s efforts to counter the threat from man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) to commercial airliners.

The report, which Congress required as part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, sheds new light on several key DHS counter-MANPADS efforts, including airport vulnerability assessments, contingency plans for MANPADS attacks, and intelligence sharing and law enforcement training. These efforts are part of a multi-faceted U.S. campaign to deprive terrorists of access to these weapons and mitigate the threat from missiles that are already in terrorist arsenals.
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Covert Action, and More from CRS

Notable new reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been made widely available to the public include the following (all pdf).

“Covert Action: Legislative Background and Possible Policy Questions,” updated October 11, 2007.

“U.S.-China Counterterrorism Cooperation: Issues for U.S. Policy,” updated October 10, 2007.

“Mexico’s Drug Cartels,” October 16, 2007.

“Burma-U.S. Relations,” updated October 4, 2007.

“The Export Administration Act: Evolution, Provisions, and Debate,” updated September 28, 2007.

“Status of a Member of the House Who Has Been Indicted for or Convicted of a Felony,” updated October 5, 2007:

Joint Staff Views Peace Operations

A new publication (pdf) from the Joint Chiefs of Staff defines military doctrine regarding “peace operations.”

Peace operations utilize “all instruments of national power with military missions to contain conflict, redress the peace, and shape the environment to support reconciliation and rebuilding and facilitate the transition to legitimate governance. Peace operations include peacekeeping, peace enforcement, peacemaking, peace building, and conflict prevention efforts.”

There are 15 fundamental elements of peace operations, according to the new doctrine, including: transparency, impartiality, credibility, freedom of movement, restraint and minimum force, and so on.

See “Peace Operations,” Joint Publication JP 3-07.3, October 17, 2007.