SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 61
July 21, 2003

WHITE HOUSE DEFENDS STANCE ON IRAQ WMD

"The President of the United States is not a fact-checker."

That is how a senior Administration official explained the fact that President Bush was oblivious to disputes within the executive branch over the status of Iraq's nuclear weapons program.

At a July 18 briefing, the official sought to defend the view that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was engaged in the reconstitution of its nuclear program, citing newly declassified portions of an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. The transcript of that background briefing is here:

Much of the controversy on this point has revolved around a set of forged documents purporting to show that Iraq sought to purchase uranium from Niger. Images of the forgeries, as published by the Italian paper La Repubblica, were posted by Cryptome.org here:

Administration officials stressed, however, that the allegation that Iraq sought uranium from Africa has never depended solely on the forged Niger documents.


CUBA SAID TO JAM US BROADCASTS TO IRAN

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an independent U.S. government agency, last week bluntly accused Cuba of jamming newly inaugurated U.S. television broadcasts to Iran.

"Cuba's jamming of satellite transmissions is illegal and interferes with the free and open flow of international communications," said Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the chairman of the BBG, on July 15. "This action is illegal, represents a major threat to satellite communication and must be stopped." See:

The State Department stopped short of endorsing the accusation against Cuba, but asked the Cuban government to investigate the matter.

"The interference with ... commercial satellite transmissions appears to be emanating from the vicinity of Cuba," said State Dept. spokesman Richard Boucher on July 18. "It does appear to be intentional. So yesterday, we called in Cuban Government representatives in Washington and we formally requested the Cuban Government to look into the matter."

In response to press reports, the Cuban government said that the allegation was false.

"The enemies of the Revolution are desperate to invent justifications for their aggression," said Ricardo Alarcón, president of the Cuban National Assembly, on July 17.

Iran has no information about this issue and has held no talks with Cuba in this regard, said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Assefi, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.


NEW FRUS VOLUME ON VIETNAM

U.S. policy towards Vietnam during the last several months of the Johnson Administration is documented in Foreign Relations, 1964 1968, volume VII, Vietnam, September 1968-January 1969, published on July 16. The full text of the new volume is available online here:


NIXON NSC FILES OPENED

The National Archives announced last week the opening of 180,000 pages of Nixon Administration National Security Council files. See:


JUSTICE DEPT IG REPORT ON PATRIOT ACT

In the latest semi-annual report on implementation of the USA Patriot Act, the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General reported receiving 34 "credible complaints" of abuse by law enforcement personnel, including allegations of excessive use of force, illegal search, and verbal abuse.

See the Third Report to Congress on Implementation of Section 1001 of the USA PATRIOT Act, July 17, 2003, here:

See also "Report on USA Patriot Act Alleges Civil Rights Violations" by Philip Shenon, New York Times, July 21:


HISTORICAL INTEL BUDGET DATA SOUGHT

The Central Intelligence Agency will not oppose a legal motion to expand the scope of an FAS Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking historical intelligence budget data, Justice Department attorneys told a court last week.

After CIA said that it was "unable to locate" aggregate intelligence budget data from 1947 and 1948, we proposed to amend our lawsuit to encompass aggregate as well as subsidiary agency total figures from 1947 through 1970.

Despite a strange misreading of the papers, government attorneys said they would not oppose the motion. See:

We have proposed a settlement agreement that could bring the case to an expedited conclusion.

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

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