SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 66
August 4, 2003

CURRENT INTELLIGENCE BUDGET IS NOT SUSTAINABLE

The Bush Administration's proposed intelligence budget for the coming year anticipates large future increases in intelligence spending that are unlikely to be achieved, according to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"There is clearly not enough money in future years to fully fund the intelligence programs in this year's budget request," said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) last week. "That is the sad reality of this budget."

In an attempt to evade and obscure this reality, intelligence agencies are low-balling the future costs of their programs, he said.

"The magnitude and consistency in the cost growth on recent acquisitions indicates a systemic intelligence community bias to underestimate the cost of major systems."

But the fact remains that "Too many projects and activities have been started that cannot be accommodated in the top line."

The Senate Intelligence Committee therefore cut a number of unspecified programs from next year's budget.

"It is our hope that some of the additional programs we were forced to cut can be funded through alternative means," Sen. Roberts said during the Senate's consideration of the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2004.

See the Senate debate on the 2004 intelligence bill here:


INTELLIGENCE REFORM BILL INTRODUCED

Three Democratic Senators introduced a bill to enact many of the recommendations of the recently published report of the congressional joint inquiry concerning the September 11 attacks.

Among other things, "The 9-11 Memorial Intelligence Reform Act" would establish a cabinet-level Director of National Intelligence who would have enhanced authority over the entire intelligence bureaucracy.

See this July 31 news release from Sen. Bob Graham:


A BILL TO REVOKE THE BUSH ORDER ON PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS

Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Bob Graham (D-FL) introduced a bill to revoke President Bush's November 2001 executive order that imposed new restrictions on public access to presidential records from past administrations.

The Bush order "greatly restricts access to Presidential papers by forcing all requests for documents, no matter how innocuous, to be approved by both the former President and current White House. In this way the order goes against the letter and the spirit of the Presidential Records Act," said Sen. Bingaman on July 31.

The new bill, which corresponds to similar legislation introduced by Rep. Doug Ose in the House, would rescind the Bush order and restore the procedures established by President Reagan in 1989. See:

A lawsuit brought by historians and others challenging the order is still pending.


PRESSURE TO DECLASSIFY THE "28 PAGES" BUILDS

Forty-six Senators have signed a letter to President Bush calling on him to declassify portions of the 28 pages from the congressional report on September 11 concerning possible foreign support for the 9/11 attack.

The letter, circulated by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sam Browback (R-KS), potentially sets the stage for unilateral congressional action to disclose portions of the classified pages, pursuant to Senate Rule 400. A majority vote would be required to disclose the material over Presidential objections.

See this August 1 release from Sen. Schumer:


IN THE NEWS: NRO, POLYGRAPH

The National Reconnaissance Office, the intelligence agency that builds and operates the nation's spy satellites, is "in crisis," according to a rather devastating account in U.S. News and World Report. "Despite its $7 billion annual budget, its satellites don't always work as promised. Its projects run billions in the red and years behind schedule. Some national security experts say the place just doesn't work."

See "Lack of Intelligence" by Douglas Pasternak, U.S. News and World Report, August 11:

The article echoes some of the complaints that were presented a year ago by aerospace industry CEO Dave Thompson here:

"The Truth About Polygraphs" -- that is, their unreliability and the government's continuing reliance upon them -- is the subject of a long article by Charles P. Pierce in the Boston Globe Sunday magazine, August 3. See:


INTELLIGENCE BUDGET DISCLOSURE -- IN THE NETHERLANDS

In last week's vote on the 2004 intelligence authorization bill, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) recalled that "Ten years ago this November, I joined a majority of Senate colleagues in voting to express the sense of Congress that the aggregate amount requested, authorized, and spent for intelligence and intelligence-related activities should be disclosed to the public in an appropriate manner. The House opposed the provision."

"I continue to believe we should find a means, consistent with national security, of sharing with the American taxpayer information about the total amount, although not the details, of our intelligence spending," Sen. Rockefeller added.

But he did not suggest what "means" he had in mind, nor did he offer a legislative proposal to translate his "belief" into action.

In a growing number of other countries, however, including Canada and the United Kingdom (Secrecy News, 6/12/03), there is less hand-wringing about intelligence budget disclosure and more accountability. They don't talk about it much, they just do it.

The Netherlands is another example. In the latest annual report of the country's General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD), newly published in English, annual intelligence expenditures are presented without any fuss (see pp. 71-72):

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

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