SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 36
April 29, 2003

GRAHAM HITS BUSH SECRECY

Among the contenders for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination who are striving to distinguish themselves and enhance their public persona, it is Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) more than anyone else who has seized upon official secrecy as a potential weakness for the Bush Administration.

"This administration has practiced pervasive secrecy and put millions of documents under seal," Graham said in a recent speech quoted by the St. Petersburg Times. He further warned that "excessive secrecy will undermine the public's confidence in our government and its essential institutions."

Sen. Graham, the former Senate Intelligence Committee chair, criticized the Administration in particular for its excruciatingly slow declassification review of the final report of last year's congressional joint inquiry into September 11, which has still not been released.

A CIA spokesman told the St. Petersburg Times that the delayed release of the report was due to the fact that there are "lives at risk." But Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL) said intelligence agencies "are quibbling about things that have been discussed" in public hearings.

See "Work that gave Graham expertise muzzles him" by Bill Adair, St. Petersburg Times, April 28:


DOD MAY QUESTION FOIA REQUESTERS ON FOREIGN TIES

Department of Defense (DoD) intelligence agencies can ask individuals who submit Freedom of Information Act requests to demonstrate that they do not represent a foreign government or an international organization, according to new Pentagon guidance that implements a law passed last year.

"Any DoD element of the IC [intelligence community] receiving a [FOIA] request from a person or organization which may be a representative of a foreign government or international government organization may require requesters to furnish information further identifying themselves or their organization to substantiate whether the request is made on behalf of a foreign government or international government organization," wrote DoD FOIA Director H.J. McIntyre in an April 8 memo.

"If, after receiving any justification submitted by the requester, the DoD element of the IC determines that the requester is acting as a representative of a foreign government or international governmental organization, the DoD element is precluded from releasing any responsive information."

DoD elements of the intelligence community include the National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, and National Imagery and Mapping Agency as well as various service intelligence organizations.

A copy of Mr. McIntyre's April 8 memo on "FOIA Amended by Intelligence Authorization Bill" is posted here:


DOD ON CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE INFO

Another Pentagon memo last month discussed the handling of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for so-called Critical Infrastructure Information (CII).

The memo noted that there is a new FOIA exemption in the Homeland Security Act for CII that has been voluntarily submitted by industry to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but that the exemption applies only to DHS, and may not be used by the DoD. The memo reported that "efforts to obtain an exemption 3 statute unique to DoD are ongoing," and provided guidance on how such information may be withheld by DoD in the interim.

See this March 25 memorandum from H.J. McIntyre on "FOIA Requests for Critical Infrastructure Information":

On April 15, the Department of Homeland Security published a proposed rule on "procedures for handling critical infrastructure information" that implements the FOIA exemption for CII. But the proposal appears to go beyond the intent of the law to encompass information received by other agencies.

As explained by Rebecca Daugherty of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, "The law itself covers only information submitted to the Department of Homeland Security. However, the proposed rules require other federal agencies that receive critical infrastructure information from businesses to pass it on to DHS, where it will become subject to the law even if it is returned to the agencies that received it in the first place." See:


DOE YIELDS TO GAO INQUIRY

After the congressional General Accounting Office (GAO) walked away bloodied and bowed from a conflict with Vice President Dick Cheney over access to records concerning the Vice President's Energy Task Force, there was widespread concern that the organization had been fatally weakened as an investigative agency.

But the worst-case fears about GAO toothlessness have evidently not come to pass.

In the latest showdown between GAO and an executive branch agency, it was the agency -- in this case, the Department of Energy -- that backed down. DOE ultimately agreed to provide previously withheld data on physical security at nuclear facilities.

See "Shays, GAO win information access battle" by Peter Brand, The Hill, April 29:


CRS ON UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) continue to improve in operational capability and to grow in importance as intelligence collection platforms.

The various UAV programs are comprehensively surveyed in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

See "Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Background and Issues for Congress" by Elizabeth Bone and Christopher Bolkcom, Congressional Research Service, April 25, 52 pp. (2 MB PDF file):

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

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