Secrecy and Security News
- House panel cuts funds for Defense Department records release by Philip Taylor, Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, May 27. "A House proposal to slash the U.S. Department of Defense's records-declassification budget from $200 million to $20 million would effectively halt the release of documents classified more than 25 years ago. ... 'That is bad security policy,' said Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, a group devoted to decreasing government secrecy."
- China Spy Furor May Be Overreaction by John Diamond, Associated Press, May 26. "The loss of U.S. nuclear secrets to China represents, at worst, a marginal threat to national security, according to arms control advocates and defense experts whose views have been largely drowned out in the furor over Chinese espionage."
- The First American Visit to Dimona, National Security Archive, May 27. The National Security Archive has just added a set of 16 new documents to its Web collection on Israel's nuclear history.
- 1984 Defense Estimate Details Chinese Nuclear Espionage, National Security Archive, May 27. "This April 1984 Defense Estimative Brief describes the then ongoing efforts of China to make 'qualitative improvements' in its nuclear arsenal 'from both overt contact with U.S. scientists and technology, and the covert acquisition of U.S. technology'."
- Statement of Attorney General Reno on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), May 27. "I believe that it is my sworn duty to ensure that only FISA cases with evidence sufficient to show the 'probable cause' required by the statute are presented to the Court."
- Senator Lott Outlines Proposed Security Reforms, May 26. These "reforms," adopted May 27 by voice vote, would require the Department of Energy to do a page-by-page review of most of the 600 million pages of documents that have already been declassified!
- Proposed Security Reforms Introduced by Senator Lott, text of amendments to the FY2000 defense authorization act, May 26.
- China Spy Probe Puts Spotlight on Hush-Hush Court by Naftali Bendavid, Chicago Tribune, May 27. "This case gives me confidence that the process is not a rubber stamp and that you really do need probable cause to get one of these applications approved," said Steven Aftergood, director of the government secrecy project at the Federation of American Scientists.
- White House Response to the Cox Committee Report on Chinese Espionage, May 25. "The Administration agrees with the substance of nearly all the Committee's recommendations, many of which we have been implementing for months, and in some cases, years."
- Report of the Cox Committee, Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China, May 25.
- Statement of Attorney General Reno on FISA and the Los Alamos Espionage Case, May 24. "The Justice Department has not -- nor will it -- authorize [electronic surveillance or physical search of an espionage suspect] when, as in this case, the standards of the Constitution and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) have not been met."
- Secrecy in Government, Commentary Magazine, May 1999. Senator Daniel P. Moynihan discusses Truman and Venona. Richard Perle replies with a citation from the March 1999 Secrecy & Government Bulletin, and poses the question: "Can we really have government secrecy in a country that allows such a journal?"
- Excerpts of Clinton Secrets in Book, by John Diamond, Associated Press, May 20. "The unauthorized publication of classified documents that in most cases are just a year or two old is rare. It has touched off widespread concern in the intelligence community."
- 1998 Annual Report to Congress on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), from Attorney General Janet Reno, April 29. There were 796 applications for electronic surveillance or physical search under the FISA in 1998. All were approved.
- Guatemalan Death Squad Dossier Uncovered, May 20. "The Guatemalan military kept detailed records of its death squad operations, according to a document released by four human rights and public interest groups today."
- House Cuts Funds for Pentagon Declassification Activities, May 19. The House Armed Services Committee recommended that funding for declassification be cut by approximately 90%, rendering compliance with declassification requirements impossible.
- Introduction of the Human Rights Information Act, statement of Rep. Tom Lantos, May 14. "The legislation would apply the declassification procedures of the previously enacted JFK Assassination Records Act to human rights records."
- Missing Persons in Southeast Asia, statement of Rep. Benjamin Gilman, May 13. "I rise today to introduce legislation designed to declassify the records of the House Select Committee on Missing Persons in Southeast Asia."
- Ensuring Proper Compensation for Marshall Islanders, statement of House Delegate Faleomavaega, May 12. "Because of the recent declassification by the Department of Energy of previously classified documents, we now know that our government has not always been candid and forthright with the people of
the Marshall Islands."
- Mandatory Penalties for Exposing the Identities of Intelligence Agents, statement of Rep. Tom DeLay, May 18. "In this day of vicious, global terrorism, exposing current or former intelligence agents should be subject to severe and mandatory criminal penalties."
- The Perils of Keeping Secrets, a review of Senator Daniel P. Moynihan's book Secrecy: The American Experience by Steven Aftergood, in Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 1999.
- Secrecy, a review of Senator Daniel P. Moynihan's book Secrecy: The American Experience by Steven Aftergood, in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March/April 1999.
- Amendment to Protect Identities of Retired Covert Agents, adopted in the House, May 13. "My amendment simply increases the criminal penalty for individuals who expose covert agents and expands the Intelligence
Identities Protection Act to protect the identities of former agents as well."
- Explosive Reactions by Philip Yam, Scientific American, June 1999. "Backlash from a nuclear espionage case might hurt science and do little to bolster national security."
- House Requires Report on Intelligence Surveillance of U.S. Citizens, May 13. Citing media reports on Project Echelon, Rep. Bob Barr offered an amendment to the FY2000 intelligence authorization act seeking clarification of the legal standards for electronic surveillance of Americans.
- House Requires CIA to Report on 1973 Coup in Chile, May 13. An amendment to the FY2000 intelligence authorization act will require CIA to describe its role in Pinochet's ascension to power.
- Conference on Open Sources for Intelligence, May 23-26, Washington, DC. For the very first time, all three of the newly created Assistant Directors of Central Intelligence-James Simon, Charles Allen and John Gannon-will appear publicly to discuss the effect of open sources of information on the all-source collection process.
- Canadian Conference on Security and Intelligence, June 12-13. The Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence is holding its annual conference at Trinity College, University of
- CIA Sued Over Broken Promises on Declassification, May 13. Challenging seven years of the CIA's broken promises on declassification, the National Security Archive at George Washington University today filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the CIA to force the declassification of key documents on the agency's role in the European elections of 1948 and the coup in Iran in 1953.
- Secrets Stolen, But Which Ones and How Many? APBOnline.com, May 14. As the smoke clears from nuclear spying allegations against China, intelligence analysts are forwarding dueling theories about any resulting gains in China's military development.
- Pulling the Woolsey: Concealing Black Programs, Inside the Pentagon, May 13. "I have a confession to make. When I was under secretary of the Navy I used to put programs into the black in
order to be able to avoid the requirements of the [budget] process," Woolsey said.
- Czech Republic Adopts Freedom of Information Law, May 11.
- Richardson Unveils Security Reform Package, DOE Press Release, May 11. Energy Secretary Richardson announces an overhaul of security at DOE, including an 18 month deferral of the April 2000 deadline for automatic declassification of 25 year old documents.
- Cold War Files Frozen After Secrets Leaked By John Fleck and Patrick Armijo, Albuquerque Journal, May 12. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson on Tuesday extended a moratorium on wholesale declassification of old Cold War documents to prevent accidental disclosure of nuclear weapons secrets.... Aftergood, an advocate of declassification, cautioned against halting the effort to make old documents public, saying linking it to the current espionage scandal is inappropriate. "It's great PR, but it's bad policy," he said.
- Rep. Goss Blasts NSA for Claiming Attorney-Client Privilege Against Congress, May 7. "Recently, and perhaps for the first time in the committee's history, an Intelligence Community element of the United States Government asserted a claim of attorney-client privilege as a basis for withholding documents from the committee's review."
- Human Rights Information Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R. 1625 on April 29. To provide a process for declassifying on an expedited basis certain documents relating to human rights abuses in Guatemala, Honduras, and other regions.
- Japan Adopts Freedom of Information Law, Kyodo News, May 7. The Japanese House of Representatives passed into law a freedom-of-information bill that would provide public access to internal documents at government ministries and agencies.
- Taiwan Drafts Laws on Information Access, State Secrets, Taipei Lien-Ho Pao, April 30. The Executive Yuan has decided to make government information available to the public by adopting the "Draft Law for Government Information Accessibility" yesterday.
- Draft Amendment to Executive Order 12958. This pending amendment would extend the deadline for automatic declassification of 25 year old records by an additional 18 months.
- America's Secret History, by Eric Alterman, Intellectualcapital.com, May 6. The virus of secrecy precludes an accurate account of our history.
- Helms Committee Wants More Unclassified Info in Arms Control Report, Inside the Pentagon, May 6. Unclassified reports should reveal more information about which countries are complying with arms control treaties.
- British Government Acts to Create a Culture of Openness, Home Office press release, March 12.
- DoD Historical Records Declassification Advisory Panel, transcript of the March 5, 1999 meeting on declassification issues affecting release of Defense Department records.
Older News: December 1998 - April 1999
maintained by Steven Aftergood