IC Media Policy Should be Revised, Sen. Wyden Says

An Intelligence Community Directive that prohibited unauthorized contacts with the news media is overbroad and needs to be corrected, said Sen. Ron Wyden last week on the Senate floor. “I will tell you, I am troubled by how sweeping in nature this is,” Senator Wyden said about the Directive, ICD 119, issued last March. (See Intelligence Directive Bars Unauthorized Contacts with News Media, Secrecy News, April 21). “The new policy makes it clear that intelligence […]

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Unaccompanied Alien Children, and More from CRS

“The number of unaccompanied alien children arriving in the United States has reached alarming numbers that strain the system put in place over the past decade to handle such cases,” says a new report from the Congressional Research Service. See Unaccompanied Alien Children: An Overview, June 13, 2014. Other new or newly updated CRS reports that Congress has withheld from online public distribution include the following. Domestic Federal Law Enforcement Coordination: Through the Lens of […]

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The Fourth Amendment Third-Party Doctrine, & More from CRS

People who voluntarily share information with a third party are not entitled to an expectation of privacy concerning that information under the so-called “third-party doctrine” that currently prevails in judicial interpretations of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The implications of the third-party doctrine are profound, a new report from the Congressional Research Service explains. It “permits the government access to, as a matter of Fourth Amendment law, a vast amount of information about individuals, […]

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US Army Reflections on the Value of Military History

Far from being a subject of merely antiquarian interest, military history is an essential tool for training of soldiers and for institutional accountability, according to newly updated Army doctrine. But only if it is done right. In Military History Operations (ATP 1-20, June 2014), the Army discusses what military history is for, its development over time, and the proper way to produce it. Some excerpts: “The history of Army operations and activities is not documented […]

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Overclassification: Is There a Limit?

Is there any act of overclassification that is so egregious that the classifier would be held accountable for abusing his classification authority? The answer is unknown, since no one has ever been held accountable in such a case. As far as can be determined, no classifier has ever been found to have willfully or culpably defied the rules set forth in the President’s executive order on national security classification. In a complaint filed last year […]

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NSA Releases NSPD-54 on Cybersecurity Policy

In January 2008, the Bush Administration issued the Top Secret National Security Presidential Directive 54 on Cybersecurity Policy which “establishes United States policy, strategy, guidelines, and implementation actions to secure cyberspace.” Despite its relevance to a central public policy issue, both the Bush and Obama Administrations had refused to release the Directive. But last week, in response to a five-year Freedom of Information Act effort by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the National Security Agency […]

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House Adopts a Comprehensive Reporters Privilege

Late at night on Thursday, May 29, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) introduced an amendment to the FY 2015 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill to provide a near-absolute shield for reporters against compulsory disclosure of their confidential sources. “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to compel a journalist or reporter to testify about information or sources that the journalist or reporter states in a motion to quash the subpoena […]

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Secrecy System Shows New Signs of Contraction

In 2012, the number of newly created national security secrets (or “original classification decisions”) dropped by a startling 42% from the year before, according to the Information Security Oversight Office. It was the largest annual drop ever reported by ISOO, yielding the lowest annual production of new secrets since such numbers began to be collected in 1979. (Secrecy System Shows Signs of Contraction, Secrecy News, June 25, 2013). Now it seems that this 2012 decline […]

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House Intelligence Bill Fumbled Transparency

Intelligence community whistleblowers would have been able to submit their complaints to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) under a proposed¬†amendment to the intelligence authorization act that was offered last week by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). This could have been an elegant solution to the whistleblowing conundrum posed by Edward Snowden. It made little sense for Snowden to bring his concerns about bulk collection of American phone records to the congressional intelligence committees, […]

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CIA Underestimates the Population of Syria

The population of Syria is 17,951,639, according to the CIA World Factbook. That figure (oddly identified as a “July 2014″ estimate) is wrong, according to everyone else. The discrepancy was noted yesterday in the intelligence newsletter Nightwatch. “NightWatch consulted six separate sources for the total population of Syria. They agreed that it is between 22 and 23 million people, not 17.9 million as indicated in the CIA World Factbook. There are about 7 million Syrians […]

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