STRATCOM Cancels Controversial Preemption Strike Plan

The controversial preemption strike plan CONPLAN 8022 has been canceled and the mission instead merged with the main U.S. strategic war plan.

By Hans M. Kristensen

The U.S. military has canceled a controversial war plan designed to strike adversaries promptly – even preemptively – with conventional and nuclear weapons. The strike plan was known as Concept Plan (CONPLAN) 8022 and first entered into effect in the summer of 2004 to provide the president with a prompt, global strike capability against time-urgent and mobile targets.

CONPLAN 8022 was the first attempt to operationalize the “Global Strike” mission assigned to U.S. Strategic Command in January 2003. The mission was triggered by new White House guidance following the terrorist attacks in September 2001 and fear of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Lack of leadership and definition has since placed Global Strike in limbo, with little progress and prompt effects instead being incorporated into other existing strike plans. “Global Strike” is now described as a much broader mission synonymous with the “New Triad” first articulated by the Bush administration’s 2001 Nuclear Posture Review.

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Bill Gertz Explains Importance of Confidential Sources

In advance of his obligatory appearance in a California court on July 24 regarding possible violations of grand jury secrecy, Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz filed a sworn declaration (pdf) describing the importance of confidential government sources and their role in his work “related to the growing threat from the People’s Republic of China.”

“Confidential sources provide information necessary to the reporter’s function of keeping the public informed of events of national interest,” he explained. “Without the information provided by confidential sources, these events — or important aspects of these events — would remain shielded from public and congressional scrutiny and oversight.”

“In my experience U.S. government employees are willing to provide sensitive government information only to those reporters and journalists whom they trust,” Mr. Gertz wrote. “A reporter who is forced to disclose the identity of a U.S. government employee who had confidentially provided information for a news story would irreparably damage his and others’ ability to cover similar stories in the future.”

“From a broader perspective, if compelled disclosure of the identities of confidential sources becomes commonplace, it would have a very damaging chilling effect on potential sources throughout government at all levels, in the business community, and across a wide spectrum of public and private organizations whose operations and activities affect the American public,” the Gertz declaration said.

But Tai Mak, one of the defendants in the criminal case reported in the 2006 story by Mr. Gertz that led to his pending subpoena, said the court should aggressively pursue its investigation of the apparent violation of grand jury secrecy.

Tai Mak, who has pleaded guilty to export control violations, urged the court not to quash the subpoena against Mr. Gertz.

“The improper leak of Grand Jury material puts extremely important constitutional and other substantial rights at stake,” the Tai Mak brief (pdf) stated. “It is necessary and appropriate that the parties, the Court, and the public, be apprised of all the facts and circumstances that are relevant to the protection of those rights.”

An Office of Technology Assessment Archive

The Federation of American Scientists is offering a new online collection of resources pertaining to the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), the congressional advisory organization that produced an enduring body of science policy literature before it was terminated by Congress in 1995.

“The OTA was an invaluable resource that informed Congress about an incredibly broad range of science and technology issues,” said Henry Kelly, President of the Federation of American Scientists and a former OTA staff member. “Numerous reports, on subjects such as transportation, energy, health care, and information technology remain relevant more than 10 years after OTA issued its final report.”

The new archive includes all of the official OTA publications, which have also been published online by Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, as well as various previously unreleased documents and memoranda, interviews, and related materials.

GAO on Information Sharing

The complexities and limited successes of government efforts to improve the sharing of terrorism-related information were examined in a new report from the Government Accountability Office published today. See “Information Sharing Environment: Definition of the Results to Be Achieved in Improving Terrorism-Related Information Sharing Is Needed to Guide Implementation and Assess Progress” (pdf), June 2008.

The report was summarized in GAO testimony presented today (pdf) to the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) and the House Oversight Committee, introduced and marked up two bills to limit the use of dissemination controls on unclassified information and to reduce overclassification. The bills, drafted in comparative secrecy with limited external review, had not been publicly released at the middle of the day. Statements by Rep. Waxman describing the intended purpose of the bills are here (pdf) and here (pdf).

Aircraft Recovery Operations

A new U.S. Army field manual presents guidance on Army aircraft recovery operations (pdf).

“Aircraft recovery missions include the assessment, repair, and retrieval, if possible, of aircraft forced down due to component malfunction, accident, or combat-related damage that prevents the continued safe flight or operation of the aircraft,” the manual explains.

“The aircraft recovery mission is complete upon the return of all personnel and either: The return of the aircraft through self-recovery or dedicated recovery utilizing aerial or surface recovery methods and techniques; [or] the selective cannibalization and destruction or abandonment of the aircraft.”

See “Aircraft Recovery Operations,” U.S. Army Field Manual 3-04.513, July 2008.

A U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber crashed near Guam on July 21.

FAS Launches OTA Archive

Today the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) launched the Office of Technology Assessment Archive, The site allows the public to access over 720 reports and documents produced by OTA during its 23 year history, including many that have not been available to the public previously. OTA served as an independent branch of the U.S. Congress that provided nonpartisan science and technology advice from 1972 until it was defunded and forced to close in 1995. Continue reading

Intel Official Blasts NYT Disclosure of CIA Interrogator’s Name

When the New York Times published the name of a Central Intelligence Agency interrogator last month, it potentially placed him in jeopardy for no valid reason, wrote Joel Brenner, the ODNI National Counterintelligence Executive, in a letter to the New York Times Public Editor that was distributed by the ODNI last week.

“Journalists face difficult decisions every day about the prudence of publishing private information,” Mr. Brenner wrote. “But in this case the decision to out the individual had nothing to do with the media’s responsibility to inform the public about important government policies or actions.”

In a ground-breaking story by reporter Scott Shane on June 22, the Times described how a CIA interrogator had successfully managed the interrogation of 9/11 conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed using legal, non-coercive means. But over the objections of the CIA and the interrogator himself, the Times chose to disclose his name.

An editor’s note accompanying the story noted that the interrogator had never worked under cover and asserted that publication of his name “was necessary for the credibility and completeness of the article.”

In a July 6 article, the New York Times public editor, Clark Hoyt, investigated the decision to publish the name and concurred with it. To withhold such information, he wrote, “especially in this age of increasing government secrecy, would leave news organizations hobbled when trying to tell the public about some of the government’s most important and controversial actions.”

That’s “nonsense,” responded Joel Brenner, the ODNI official. Disclosure of the individual’s name “had nothing to do with the media’s responsibility to inform the public about important government policies or actions,” he wrote. “The Times was going to tell the public about these interrogations whether the interrogator’s name was used or not.”

According to Clark Hoyt, Times executive editor Bill Keller said that he had discounted a request from CIA director Michael Hayden to withhold the name because the CIA could not cite a specific threat to the interrogator. “I had this impression that he [Hayden] was doing it out of respect for [the interrogator]’s and his family’s concerns more than a concern the C.I.A. had.”

Mr. Brenner wrote that the Times “trivialized the risk to the man by putting him to the impossible burden of showing with near certainty that he would be harmed. This was morally confused.”

One might also argue against Mr. Keller that the concerns of the interrogator and his family were entitled to more consideration than those of the CIA, not less, since it was his privacy and his security that were at stake. But that was not the Times’ view, nor that of most other reporters and columnists who have commented on the subject.

The Times has previously been criticized not only for disclosing classified information but also for withholding it from publication. Although Times reporters learned of the Bush Administration’s warrantless electronic surveillance program in 2004, it was not reported in the newspaper until December 2005. In effect, critics said, the Times helped the Administration for more than a year to conceal the classified program despite its probable illegality.

U.S. intelligence officials, meanwhile, are poorly positioned to offer rational criticism of press disclosure practices since their own secrecy practices are so manifestly irrational.

For example, although the 2007 budget for the National Intelligence Program was officially declassified and published last year ($43.5 billion), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said last month (pdf) that the 2006 budget figure will remain classified.

Protecting “Critical Program Information” Within DoD

The Department of Defense last week issued new guidelines (pdf) for protecting “critical program information” (CPI), a term that refers to the most sensitive technology information in DoD research, development and acquisition programs.

CPI consists of those program elements “that, if compromised, could cause significant degradation in mission effectiveness; shorten the expected combat-effective life of the system; reduce technological advantage; significantly alter program direction; or enable an adversary to defeat, counter, copy, or reverse engineer the technology or capability.”

CPI “includes technology that would reduce the US technological advantage if it came under foreign control.”

“It is DoD policy… to provide uncompromised and secure military systems to the warfighter by performing comprehensive protection of CPI.”

The new CPI instruction, issued by James. R. Clapper, Jr., the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, updates and expands upon a prior directive (pdf) from 1997.

Among the interesting changes adopted in the new instruction is an increased role for security oversight by the DoD Inspector General, who is called upon to “develop a uniform system of periodic inspections” to ensure compliance with CPI protection requirements, and to “publish an annual report of significant findings, recommendations, and best practices.”

Though it is not specifically addressed in the new instruction, the use of agency inspectors general to conduct oversight of classification and declassification activity is the single most promising near-term option for augmenting oversight of the government secrecy system. Increased IG oversight of CPI may serve as a useful precedent for validating the IG’s capacity to perform that function and advancing its classification oversight role.

See “Critical Program Information (CPI) Protection Within the Department of Defense,” DoD Instruction 5200.39, July 16, 2008.

The RISOP is Dead – Long Live RISOP-Like Nuclear Planning

Launch control officers at Minot Air Force Base practice launching their high-alert ICBM. But the hypothetical Russian nuclear strike plan that originally led to the requirement to have nuclear forces on alert has been canceled. So why are the ICBMs still on alert?

By Hans M. Kristensen

The U.S. military has canceled the Red Integrated Strategic Offensive Plan (RISOP), a hypothetical Russian nuclear strike plan against the United States created and used for decades by U.S. nuclear war planners to improve U.S. nuclear strike plans against Russia.

The cancellation appears to substantiate the claim made by Bush administration and military official, that the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review removed Russia as an immediate contingency for U.S. nuclear strike planning. But implementing the shift was not a high priority, lasting almost the entire first term of the administration.

Despite the shift, however, declassified documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act also show that RISOP-like and “red” analysis continues, and that that the cancellation was necessary to allow STRATCOM to broaden nuclear strike planning beyond Russia. Continue reading

Reporter Bill Gertz Ordered to Testify on “Newsworthiness”

Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz has been ordered to appear (pdf) in a California court next week and to testify on the “newsworthiness” of his reporting in 2006 on a case involving alleged Chinese espionage.

Mr. Gertz was subpoenaed by the court on April 30 and ordered to reveal who disclosed restricted grand jury information to him. Mr. Gertz’s attorneys moved to quash the subpoena, arguing among other things that grand jury information had not in fact been revealed and that Mr. Gertz had a First Amendment interest in protecting his sources.

While the motion to quash is still pending, Mr. Gertz is nevertheless required to appear in court on July 24.

“Regardless of whether Mr. Gertz discloses his sources, the Court expects that Mr. Gertz will be prepared to testify regarding the newsworthiness of this case and, more particularly, the reasons why maintaining the confidentiality of his sources is critical to his ability to engage in investigative reporting,” wrote Judge Cormac J. Carney.

“If the Court is to properly evaluate Mr. Gertz’s First Amendment arguments [against disclosure of his sources], Mr. Gertz must particularize them to this case,” Judge Carney instructed in a Minute Order filed July 14.

Justice Department attorneys had sought to delay the proceedings, and had filed a sealed, ex parte declaration with the Court to justify their position. When Judge Carney indicated that he would unseal the declaration, the Justice Department asked him not to do so since it would reveal internal Department deliberations that apparently remain unresolved.

“The [sealed] declaration describes discussions that have occurred within DOJ regarding the position the government should take in response to the court’s subpoena of Mr. Gertz and explains that no decision on that issue has yet been made,” according to a government pleading (pdf) filed yesterday.

In any event, “The subpoena for Mr. Gertz was issued by the Court, not the Government,” Judge Carney wrote. “If the Government is unable to participate,… the hearing will nonetheless go forward.”

The latest developments in the case were first reported by Josh Gerstein in “Advocates Concerned About a Reporter’s Court Appearance,” New York Sun, July 17.