SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
October 12, 2001

BUSH YIELDS TO CONGRESS ON ACCESS RESTRICTIONS

The White House on Wednesday abandoned its October 5 memo that limited congressional briefings involving classified information to eight members of Congress, following strong congressional criticism.

"It's important that members of Congress have information that they need to do their proper oversight activities," explained newly enlightened White House spokesman Ari Fleischer on October 10. See:

On Friday, the White House further eased restrictions so as to permit classified briefings to all members of the Intelligence Committees, not just the Committee leaders, according to an Associated Press report.


HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE STRESSES SECRECY OATH

The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct sent a memo today to all Members reminding them to comply with their oath to protect classified information.

"Violations of the Classified Information Oath ... are violations of the Code of Official Conduct and are sanctionable as such," the memo stated.

"At all times and especially in this time of our country's war on terrorism the Committee on Standards takes the obligations imposed by the Classified Information Oath with the greatest seriousness."

See the October 12 memorandum here:


PUBLIC ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT INFO CURTAILED

"Several critics of secrecy in government complained that the Bush administration was using the crisis created by the terror attacks to clamp down inappropriately on the flow of information to the public," writes Ken Fireman in Newsday. See:

The National Imagery and Mapping Agency has purchased exclusive rights to all of the commercial high-resolution satellite imagery of Afghanistan offered by imagery vendor Space Imaging, thereby precluding public access to this unclassified product, UPI reported on Friday. See:

The non-profit OMB Watch is compiling an inventory of government web sites that have modified or removed information from public access following September 11. See:


REVISITING INTELLIGENCE REFORM

Senator Arlen Specter is circulating a new draft bill somewhat grandiosely entitled "The Intelligence Reform Act of 2001."

Intelligence reform held out great promise in the mid-1990s, but eventually came to naught. Some of the minor reforms that were adopted, such as intelligence budget disclosure, were later reversed.

Senator Specter's bill focuses modestly on the recommendation of the Aspin-Brown-Rudman Commission to strengthen the role of the Director of Central Intelligence.

He presented the bill, along with companion legislation on homeland security, on the Senate floor on October 10. See:

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

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