SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
April 13, 2001

DOE IG FINDS NO RACIAL PROFILING

A limited investigation conducted by the Department of Energy Inspector General (DOE IG) in the aftermath of the Wen Ho Lee case found no evidence that racial profiling is a factor in the granting, denial or revocation of security clearances by DOE.

"Information reviewed by the Office of Inspector General did not support concerns regarding unfair treatment based on national origin in the security processes reviewed," wrote Gregory H. Friedman, the DOE IG, in an April 3 memorandum to the Secretary of Energy.

Mr. Friedman carefully noted, however, that his review did not encompass the "strong and continuing allegations about bias and profiling" reported by the DOE Ombudsman. The Ombudsman declined to provide the underlying data, citing the confidentiality of the complaints he had received.

Mr. Friedman also said that the Department had not adequately implemented the recommendations of a 1994 General Accounting Office report which found that the clearances of certain racial or ethnic groups in certain offices were suspended more often than would be statistically expected.

Finally, Mr. Friedman noted that his review did not include an examination of the Wen Ho Lee case itself since that is the subject of a review by the Department of Justice.

The Justice Department investigation of the Lee case, announced by then-Attorney General Janet Reno on September 22, is still ongoing, a Department official said on March 22.

Mr. Friedman's "Special Review of Profiling Concerns at the Department of Energy" is posted here:


GAO PUSHES FOR ACCESS TO NSC RECORDS

Over the past year, the General Accounting Office (GAO) of the U.S. Congress has engaged in a remarkable tug of war with the National Security Council (NSC) over access to records concerning U.S. support for U.N. peacekeeping operations. Details of the struggle for access were provided in a GAO report to Congress that was published last month "by mistake" and withdrawn from circulation.

At the request of the House Committee on International Relations, the GAO began an investigation in 1999 into how the Clinton Administration determined whether to support peacekeeping activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, Kosovo, and Sierra Leone. The GAO project required access to records held by the State Department, the Defense Department and the National Security Council.

"We have been unable to complete the study because of difficulties in getting access to some of these records," GAO officials wrote in a March 6, 2001 report to Congress.

"Our [unsuccessful] experience in trying to obtain access to executive branch records concerning U.S. decisions to support new or expanded U.N. peacekeeping operations has impaired our ability to conduct meaningful oversight work for Congress that is timely, independent, objective, fact-based, accurate, and complete," the officials wrote last month.

The March 6 report to Congress provides a rather gripping account -- if quarrels over access to government information can be gripping -- of the clash between executive branch policymakers and congressional overseers. The GAO report and attachments, totaling 28 pages, document the escalating conflict between GAO and the executive branch, leading all the way up to a notice to the President informing him of an intent to seek "judicial enforcement" of its demand for access.

The report was published "by mistake" on the GAO web site, a GAO official said, and it has been removed. "Ordinarily, documents reporting the status of ongoing jobs are not supposed to be posted on the web," the official said.

However, the withdrawn report and attachments, entitled "U.N. Peacekeeping: GAO's Access to Records on Executive Branch Decision-making" (GAO-01-440R) were acquired by FAS and are now posted here:

Despite the change of Administrations, the dispute with the NSC continues, an official said today. "Their concern is the same," the official said. "They want to avoid a chilling of the deliberative process in the executive branch."

The GAO official expressed cautious optimism today that the conflict would be satisfactorily resolved. "I think we'll get what we need." A related dispute with the Defense Department was settled last month without the threatened need for litigation. State Department cooperation was achieved late last year. A final GAO report on the subject could be published in "a couple of months."

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