SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 18
February 28, 2003

TTIC TAKES SHAPE

In his State of the Union address, President Bush announced the creation of a new interagency intelligence organization to be known as the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC) "to merge and analyze all threat information in a single location."

But the Presidential announcement seemed to have preceded any clear conception of how the new Center would operate, and only now are some of the details beginning to come to light.

The proposed structure and function of the TTIC were outlined this week in testimony before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee by Winston P. Wiley, chair of the TTIC senior steering group. See:

Among the questions raised by the new proposal are why the TTIC is subordinated to the Director of Central Intelligence rather than the Department of Homeland Security; how it relates to the existing DCI Counterterrorist Center, which is already supposed to provide an interagency focus to the anti-terrorism effort; and its potential to erode the legal barrier that separates the CIA and other foreign intelligence agencies from domestic surveillance and law enforcement.

But never mind all that. "TTIC is very good news for the American people and very bad news for terrorists," Mr. Wiley promised.

A February 14 White House fact sheet on TTIC, entitled "Strengthening Intelligence to Protect America," may be found here:

A description of the DCI Counterterrorist Center, whose mission appears to overlap significantly with that of the new TTIC, is available here:


DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE MAY UNDERGO CHANGES

Stephen A. Cambone, nominated to the newly created post of Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, laid out his vision of the agenda for military intelligence in response to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee this week.

While mostly general in nature, his comments implied that the vast Pentagon intelligence apparatus may be poised for significant restructuring or reorganization.

If confirmed, Dr. Cambone said, his office would initiate an evaluation of "the timeliness, relevance, and utility" of current military intelligence products. "That evaluation would be used to recommend, as appropriate, changes in policy, plans, programs, requirements, and resource allocations to meet the needs of DoD officials." See:


CIA ESTIMATE ON NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Exposure of North Korea's uranium enrichment program led to the collapse of the 1994 US-DPRK Agreed Framework late last year. But with the demise of the Framework, North Korea now has an even more direct path to nuclear weapons through the production of plutonium.

That is what emerges from an unpublished CIA estimate that was provided to Congress last November.

The CIA noted that North Korea's uranium enrichment plant would not be fully operational before "mid-decade" -- a fact that has been overlooked in some journalistic accounts -- and then could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for two or more nuclear weapons per year. With the collapse of the Agreed Framework, however, North Korea can now pursue plutonium-fueled weapons more quickly and in greater quantities through reprocessing of reactor fuel.

The unclassified CIA estimate was previously reported by Bill Gertz of the Washington Times, but the text has not been generally available. It may now be found here:


SOUTH AFRICAN NUCLEAR SECRECY PROBED

In 1993, South Africa announced that it had accomplished what no other country had even attempted: the dismantlement of its nuclear weapons program.

"As one of the few states to acquire a nuclear weapons arsenal and the only state ever to destroy one, the South African case presents a rare opportunity to study the causes and processes of nuclear acquisition and disarmament. South Africa's nuclear history thus is a potentially valuable source of lessons for global nonproliferation policy," according to a report of a conference on the subject held last year.

"But secrecy remains a major obstacle to further inquiry and disclosure, as most former programme employees fear the legal repercussions of revealing new details about the programme, including non-technical information posing no possible proliferation hazard."

Historians, former officials and others gathered last summer in South Africa under the auspices of the South African History Archive and Queens College to consider the history of the country's nuclear weapons program and the feasibility of relaxing the secrecy which continues to surround it. The proceedings of that July 2002 conference were published this week. See (thanks to DB and PL):


NASA PUBLISHES COLUMBIA FOIA MATERIALS ONLINE

While NASA officials are grilled over who knew what when about possible damage to space shuttle Columbia prior to its destruction upon reentry February 1, NASA is pushing more and more of its internal documentation on the matter into the public domain.

In one innovative move, the agency has posted on its website a list of categories of information concerning Columbia that have been requested under the Freedom of Information Act and indicated that "responsive records will be posted as they are released."

NASA's Columbia FOIA website, which already contains several tens of megabytes of disclosed data, is here (thanks to MJR):


ATTORNEY'S ACCESS TO CLASSIFIED INFO DENIED

The author of a manuscript on the Chinese nuclear weapons program which the government says contains classified information may not show the manuscript to his attorney, a federal appeals court ruled this week.

Danny B. Stillman, a former Los Alamos National Laboratory employee, had submitted his manuscript for pre-publication review, as required. Upon review, the Defense Department and the CIA moved to prohibit publication on grounds that classified information was involved. Stillman filed suit to challenge the validity of the government's classification claim. His attorney, Mark S. Zaid, who holds a security clearance, sought access to the manuscript, and it was authorized last year in D.C. District Court. But the government objected, and filed an appeal, which resulted in this week's reversal.

"The district court abused its discretion by unnecessarily deciding that a plaintiff has a first amendment right for his attorney to receive access to classified information," the appeals court ruled strangely.

Instead, before making such a decision, the lower court should have attempted to "resolve the classification issue without the assistance of defense counsel." Accordingly, the case was sent back to the lower court. See the February 25 ruling here:


SCIENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY

Scientists and university administrators continue to express skepticism about the utility of new national security controls on academic research, and frustration with their impact on university science.

See "Sept. 11 Research Limits Draw Fire," by Nathan J. Heller, The Harvard Crimson, February 24, here (thanks to JJ):

Scientists contend that "Key elements of the sweeping new security rules are vague, confusing, and possibly counterproductive," reports David Malakoff in "Security Rules Leave Labs Wanting More Guidance," Science, February 21:

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

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