SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
November 7, 2001

BUSH ORDER ON PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS BLASTED

The new Bush Administration executive order that creates problematic new procedures for public access to presidential records was severely criticized at a congressional hearing yesterday and some members of Congress are now calling on the President to rescind it.

"I am concerned that the new procedures may create additional delays and barriers to releasing ... records," said Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Efficiency which held a hearing on the matter.

A Justice Department witness demurred. "There is no reason to anticipate... greater withholding of records," said acting assistant attorney general M. Edward Whelan III.

The issue was examined at yesterday's hearing with impressive rigor from various points of view. Scott L. Nelson of Public Citizen Litigation Group provided a particularly acute analysis of the new executive order's legal and policy defects.

See the witnesses' prepared statements here:

"The Executive Order violates the intent of Congress and keeps the public in the dark," wrote Reps. Henry Waxman and Janice Schakowsky in a November 6 letter to President Bush. "We urge you to rescind that order." See:

See also "Bush Urged to Rescind Order on Presidential Materials" by George Lardner in the Washington Post:


FBI REBUFFS REQUEST FOR DETAINEE INFORMATION

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has denied a Freedom of Information Act request seeking information on the identities and status of individuals detained in connection with the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies said an appeal was immediately filed. Related FOIA requests are still pending at the Department of Justice and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

"The information sought is not that complicated," the Washington Post editorialized today. The government "could tell or try to tell a lot more about this seemingly massive law enforcement effort than it has." See:


ODDS AND ENDS

  • The Defense Department's personnel security system is clogged with people holding security clearances they no longer need. Some contractors possess multiple clearances they are no longer entitled to. One individual was recently found to hold 21 different clearances, said Rosalind Baybutt, Deputy Director for Industrial Security in the Office of Secretary of Defense. "If you're not using them," she told industry representatives at a meeting of the NISP Policy Advisory Committee today, "please get these people out of our inventory."

  • The long-delayed FY 2000 annual report of the Information Security Oversight Office had to be trashed after it arrived back from the printer last Friday colored orange, white and blue. "Guess which color was wrong?" said an ISOO spokesman. A reprinted version should be released in a couple of days.

  • As the Bush Administration considers amendments to the executive order on classification and declassification policy, the Central Intelligence Agency is pressing its own secrecy agenda. In particular, the CIA is seeking a new categorical exemption from disclosure for the President's Daily Brief, no matter how old or insensitive it might be. This self-serving proposal is viewed with weary contempt by at least some other agencies, since it would promote reflexive secrecy rather than a more discriminating approach to classification. But nothing has been ruled out.

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

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