SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 69
August 13, 2003

DOE'S ROLE IN THE IRAQ NIE DISPUTED

U.S. intelligence regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs was more fiercely contested than previously reported, particularly at the Department of Energy, and corners may have been cut to achieve at least a superficial appearance of unanimity, dissenters say.

In an August 11 statement, the Director of Central Intelligence defended the contents of last year's National Intelligence Estimate on Iraqi WMD, and the integrity of the process that produced it.

"A great deal has been said and written about the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq's Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction. Much of this commentary has been misinformed, misleading, and just plain wrong. It is important to set the record straight," DCI George J. Tenet wrote.

See his statement, initially prepared for the Washington Post, here:

But as scrutiny of U.S. intelligence concerning Iraq continues, even in the August doldrums, awkward new details are emerging concerning the role of the Department of Energy (DOE) in the October 2002 NIE on Iraq.

DCI Tenet said twice this week that DOE "agreed" that reconstitution of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program was "underway."

But contrary to Tenet's statement, the predominant view in the DOE weapons labs was that Iraq was not reconstituting its nuclear program, according to a story in the politically conservative WorldNetDaily.

Confusion arose because the DOE representative to the interagency process that produced the NIE was a human resources manager who "was ill-prepared to argue the technical merits of the case against the White House's position made by Energy's nuclear-weapons research labs."

See "Energy rep at Iraq meeting lacked intelligence savvy" by Paul Sperry, WorldNetDaily, August 6:

The DOE official, identified as Thomas Rider, then-acting director of the DOE Office of Intelligence, reportedly told senior intelligence officers at DOE to "shut up and sit down" when they proposed to dissent from the view that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program.

According to WorldNetDaily, he was richly rewarded for his cooperation. See "$20,000 bonus to official who agreed on nuke claim" by Paul Sperry, WorldNetDaily, August 12:

"That's a hell of a lot of money for an intelligence director who had no experience or background in intelligence, and who'd only been running the office for nine months," one unnamed source told WorldNetDaily. "Something's fishy."


PROTECTING AIRLINERS FROM TERRORIST MISSILES

The potential vulnerability of commercial aircraft to shoulder fired surface-to-air missiles rose to public attention with the arrest yesterday of three individuals allegedly involved in smuggling such missiles into the United States.

The nature of the shoulder fired missile threat to aircraft, the options for mitigating the threat and the state of legislative activity on the subject are addressed in a recent report from the Congressional Research Service.

See "Homeland Security: Protecting Airliners from Terrorist Missiles" by Christopher Bolkcom and Bartholomew Elias, updated March 25, 2003:


INTELLIGENCE AND THE WAR IN BOSNIA

Western intelligence concerning Bosnia leading up to the 1995 Bosnia Serb assault on Srebenica is the subject of a new study by Dutch scholar Cees Wiebes.

His new book "Intelligence and the War in Bosnia: 1992-1995" relies on access to classified intelligence archives of Dutch intelligence services and of the United Nations. For more information see:


SOME DOD SPECIAL OPS MAY REQUIRE "FINDINGS"

As the role of Special Operations Forces in unacknowledged, clandestine military missions grows, the Senate Intelligence Committee is seeking to improve accountability of such actions by requiring that they be predicated on a presidential "finding," as is the case with CIA covert actions.

A provision to that effect was included in the classified portions of the 2004 intelligence authorization act, according to the Washington Times.

See "Congress to restrict use of Special Ops" by Bill Gertz, Washington Times, August 13:


PATRIOT ACT INVOKED AGAINST "LEAKS"

The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) is aggressively seeking to identify which of its employees may have talked to the press without authorization about reductions in the air marshal program. One air marshal told MSNBC.com that TSA officials threatened to use the powers of the USA Patriot to identify the leaker.

See "TSA in 'witch hunt,' air marshals say" by Brock N. Meeks, MSNBC.com, August 12:


CIA FOIA CHIEF KATHRYN DYER RETIRES

Kathryn I. Dyer, the Information and Privacy Coordinator at the Central Intelligence Agency, quietly retired last month.

As the public face of CIA's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) program, Ms. Dyer became the object of considerable frustration, anger and resentment from dissatisfied FOIA requesters.

If you wanted CIA to "neither confirm nor deny" some piece of information, she stood ready to assist. And if you had years to wait for an uncertain reply, or needed your request for fee waiver challenged, she could also provide services of that kind.

But if you were looking for a prompt, straightforward response to even a simple request for a specific, unclassified document, you were in the wrong place.

It would be unfair to blame Ms. Dyer too much. Her position was a thankless one, given the enormous disparity between the expectations of most FOIA requesters and what CIA is prepared to offer. For the most part, she was merely representing an agency policy that she did not create.

But more than that was called for. One of the recommendations that emerged from the congressional joint inquiry into September 11 was that intelligence classification procedures needed to be revised so as "to expand access to relevant information ... for the American public" (Recommendation 15). Unfortunately, Ms. Dyer demonstrated no ability or desire to instigate any such needed change at her Agency.

Secrecy News called the new CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator, Mr. Robert T. Herman, to ask how, if at all, CIA FOIA policy might now change. As one of his first official acts as chief CIA FOIA officer, Mr. Herman did not return the call.

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

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