SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
July 30, 2001

SUPPRESSED INDONESIA HISTORY PUBLISHED

An attempt by CIA and State Department officials to block the disclosure of historical records concerning U.S. policy towards Indonesia in the 1960s was frustrated Friday when the non-governmental National Security Archive published them on its web site.

The records, contained in a new volume of the official Foreign Relations of the United States series, recall the bloody Indonesian army campaign of 1965-1966 against the Indonesia Communist Party and suggest that the U.S. government was, at a minimum, complicit in the purge in which at least 100,000 people were killed.

Aside from the historical interest of the documents themselves, the new disclosure is a remarkable illustration of the power of the world wide web, which makes this officially suppressed history universally available in a way that it would not have been in the past.

See the National Security Archive release (mirrored) here:

Though all of the newly-disclosed Indonesia records had been declassified, CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield told the New York Times that the government wanted to delay publication "to avoid roiling relations at a time of political turmoil in Indonesia."

But Hassan Wirayuda of the Indonesia Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this history has no bearing on current political issues in his country.

"It is the U.S. government who considers the issue sensitive and not us," he told the Jakarta Post today.

"The role of U.S. intelligence in the anticommunist movement was widely known," said Anhar Gonggong of the University of Indonesia.

The fact that U.S. officials supplied the names of Communist party members to the Indonesian army who then executed them was reported by journalist Kathy Kadane in 1990. See:

A 1985 study on "The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-1967" by Berkeley professor Peter Dale Scott may be found here:


SENATOR PUSHES SECURITY LOCK UPGRADE

Pentagon officials noted with concern last week that Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) is renewing his efforts to force the Defense Department and each of its contractors to upgrade the locks on safes and vaults containing classified information, using a high-tech lock manufactured by the Mas-Hamilton Group, Inc., a company that is based in the Senator's home state of Kentucky.

The word from Capitol Hill was that Senator Bunning was proposing language in the FY 2002 Defense Authorization Act that would require all classified information storage containers maintained by the Defense Department and its contractors to have the Mas-Hamilton electronic lock installed by December 31, 2004.

"Such a requirement will expedite the current timetable implemented by the former administration," according to Sen. Bunning's proposed report language obtained by Secrecy News, "and will increase the security of classified documents spread throughout the DoD and industry."

For years, Sen. Bunning and others have been adding unrequested money to the defense budget earmarked for new locks, much to the disgust of many security professionals.

Critics point out that there is no documented case in which classified information has been compromised due to use of a conventional mechanical lock. And, they insist, there are several higher priorities for expending the limited funds available for security, such as reducing the huge backlog of cleared personnel awaiting background reinvestigations, improving cyber-security, and so forth.

Many officials are also rankled by the Senator's habit of invoking "national security" to advance his constituents' commercial interests.

"Of course [Sen. Bunning] has his own agenda that is hardly objective," complained one Pentagon official last week, "but we can't go back and say that."

The official also noted pointedly that Douglas Feith, the new Bush Administration Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, formerly served as a lobbyist for Mas-Hamilton and its locks.

But another security expert defended the need for the new locks. "Mas-Hamilton does have a financial stake in the outcome of the debate, but that should not cloud the arguments that favor lock retrofit and container replacement."

"The truth is that the security equipment in use today, particularly within the defense contractor establishment, is woefully inadequate for the protection of the nation's secrets," the private security expert said. "Non-FF-L-2740 locks [i.e. mechanical locks, unlike those produced by Mas-Hamilton] can be penetrated surreptitiously within 20 minutes and barlock containers can be penetrated surreptitiously within seconds."


NRO BUDGET DETAILS DISCLOSED

Fine-grain details of the classified budget for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which runs the nation's spy satellites, were disclosed last week by Col. Donald Langridge, chief of the Army element at NRO.

The annual budget for the NRO has been around $6 billion in recent years. While the exact amount remains classified, Colonel Langridge told Defense Daily (July 23, 2001) that "the breakdown of the FY '02 NRO budget ... is 57.7 percent for acquisition activities, 8 percent for launch, 9 percent for research and development, 18.1 percent for operations and 7.2 percent for infrastructure."

Official disclosure of this level of intelligence budget detail is unusual. Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet has sworn under oath that disclosure of the total intelligence budget figure could threaten national security and compromise intelligence sources and methods. In the absence of effective oversight from Congress, wayward CIA officials even claim that disclosure of fifty year old intelligence budget data could cause damage to national security.

This year's intelligence budget authorization process is way behind schedule. The Congressional Budget Justification Books for intelligence spending in FY 2002 have still not been delivered to the congressional intelligence committees, a staffer said last week. The unusual delay is apparently due to the Pentagon's ongoing defense review, which encompasses intelligence programs.

Meanwhile, "The National Reconnaissance Office lost contact with a U.S. spy satellite last week, causing a major gap in intelligence monitoring of world hot spots," according to a July 26 report by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times. See:

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Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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