SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 76
September 15, 2003

SSCI WON'T SEEK DECLASS OF "27 PAGES" ON 9/11

In a blow to public disclosure of the background to the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) said last week that it will not pursue the release of 27 classified pages from the report of the congressional Joint Inquiry into September 11, despite the urging of many Senate Democrats and some Republicans that it do so. The withheld pages reportedly refer to Saudi support of the September 11 hijackers.

The Committee heard testimony on September 4 concerning the Administration's justification for continued classification of the material.

"Based on this testimony and our own review of the information, it is our view that release of additional information... could adversely affect ongoing counterterrorism efforts," wrote SSCI chairman Sen. Pat Roberts and vice chairman Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV in a September 9 letter to Senator Bob Graham. See their letter here:

The Bush Administration's insistence on classifying the information "is a grave disservice to our nation," Sen. Graham said last July.

Graham, the former SSCI chairman, and Sen. Richard Shelby, the former vice chairman, had led calls for further disclosure of the censored material, which they said could be accomplished without compromise of sensitive national security information.

Under Senate (and House) rules, Congress has the authority to release information that the executive branch has classified, though this authority has never been exercised (SN, 05/16/03).

By refusing to engage the Administration's secrecy concerning foreign support for the 9/11 attacks, the Senate Intelligence Committee has dealt a setback to the 9/11 investigation, missed an opportunity to confront Administration secrecy policies, and reinforced its own reputation as the most ineffectual intelligence overseer in memory.

"The leadership vacuum is so acute on questions of intelligence that now even other Republicans are moving to fill it," according to The New Republic (9/22/03, p. 11). "At this rate, the passivity of Roberts and Rockefeller may get them what they deserve: irrelevance."


DOCUMENT DIPLOMACY

The Pentagon last week provided a copy of historical documents concerning the death of Stalin's eldest son in a World War II German concentration camp to Stalin's granddaughter, the Pentagon said in a press statement.

The move came as part of an effort to clarify the fates of Russian and American prisoners of war since World War II. See "POW/MIA Documents Released to Russians":


CAMP DAVID ACCORDS REVISITED

A selection of declassified documents on the Camp David summit that led to a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in September 1978 has been published by the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the summit.

See "The Camp David Accords After Twenty Five Years" linked from here:


GAO ON FOIA POLICY

The General Accounting Office found that the new, more restrictive Freedom of Information Act policy announced by Attorney General Ashcroft in October 2001 had only limited impact in practice on the processing of FOIA requests, according to a GAO report released today.

"Of the FOIA officers surveyed, 48 percent reported that they did not notice a change with regard to the likelihood of their agency making discretionary disclosures. About one third of the FOIA officers reported a decreased likelihood [of disclosure]," the report stated.

See "Freedom of Information Act: Agency Views on Changes Resulting from New Administration Policy," September 2003:

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

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