SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
March 2, 2001

BUSH REORGANIZES NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL

President Bush has placed his imprint on the structure of national security decision making with the issuance of his first National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD-1). The closely held document has not been formally released, but a copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

The new Directive preserves the NSC Principals Committee and the NSC Deputies Committee, which are the top-level interagency forums for deliberation on national security policy. But it abolishes President Clinton's system of Interagency Working Groups.

To replace them, the Directive establishes eleven Policy Coordination Committees (PCCs) on topics including Proliferation, Counterproliferation, and Homeland Defense; Intelligence and Counterintelligence; Counter-Terrorism and National Preparedness; and Records Access and Information Security.

(The word "counter-terrorism" is hyphenated in the Directive, but "counterproliferation" and "counterintelligence" are not.)

As a consequence of the new Directive, much of the Clinton Administration's prodigious security policy apparatus will be swept away, though portions of it will be reconstituted within the new Policy Coordination Committee framework. Thus, the functions of the Security Policy Board will be distributed among the new PCCs.

The new series of National Security Presidential Directives will replace both the presidential decision directives and the presidential review directives of past Administrations.

Although NSPD-1 is unclassified, the Bush Administration has declined to release it. But a copy of the seven page directive, obtained from a public-spirited source, is posted here:


ASHCROFT ON POLYGRAPH TESTING

Attorney General John Ashcroft gave a qualified endorsement to polygraph testing at the FBI at a press conference yesterday.

"It's my understanding that there have been cases in the past that polygraphing did not work on. I think you could name them. So the polygraph is not a sure way. The polygraph is said to have about 15 percent false positives and has an impact on the way an agency operates," he said.

"Nevertheless, I believe that there are applications for polygraph that are important, and the director and I have agreed that because of the national security involved and the risks involved and the very important consequences of breaches, that we should elevate the use of polygraph in certain cases as it relates to the Bureau."

His remarks on polygraph testing and the Hanssen case are posted here:


CHINA VIEWS HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE U.S.

The United States has no right to regard itself as "the arbiter of human rights throughout the world," complained China in response to the U.S. State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2000, released last week.

"Through distortions and fabrications, [the U.S. State Department] gathered human rights offenses against over 190 countries and regions in the world, including China, and falsely accused these countries and regions of certain abuses," the Chinese State Council Information Office in Beijing said. "However, the US report on human rights around the world completely avoided and had nothing to say about the United States' own human rights situation."

To remedy this omission, the Chinese government prepared its own Report on "The US Human Rights Record in 2000."

The Chinese report includes some allegations that are fanciful, such as the claim that the US has violated an international covenant against advocacy of racial or religious hatred "by selling or allowing the sale of Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler's notorious anti-Semitic autobiography, ever since 1933.... It is estimated that at least 300,000 copies of the book have been sold over the past 20 years, generating $300,000 to $700,000 in profits."

Other allegations are harder to dispute, including critiques of violence in American society and of the role of money in political affairs. Overall, the report offers a salutary insight into the views of a foreign observer of the United States.

The text of the February 27 report, translated by the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, is posted here:

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