SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 5
January 16, 2004

WESLEY CLARK ON SECRECY AND OPENNESS

Democratic presidential contender Gen. Wesley Clark today announced his intention "to reverse Mr. Bush's secrecy policies" and "to create the most open and honest government in American history."

He cited the now-familiar litany of Bush Administration excesses and declared that "On day one of my Administration, I'll sign an Executive Order reversing George Bush's FOIA rollbacks, and restoring the public's right to know."

"We're the party of accessibility and accountability," he said. "They're the party of secrecy and special interests. This is just another way to draw the line between us."

See the text of his January 16 remarks here:


DISCLOSURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS AND NATIONAL SECURITY

Does the disclosure of data regarding environmental hazards at chemical facilities threaten national security by providing terrorists with information about potential targets?

While the first impulse of officials at many levels of government has been to clamp down on information regarding the locations and quantities of toxic material inventories and the consequences of their accidental release, there is reason to believe that this approach is counterproductive.

In fact, national security might be strengthened through greater disclosure.

In a recent Master's Thesis, one U.S. Air Force student author investigated the impact of government controls on such information and considered whether environmental secrecy could effectively discourage terrorism.

Air Force Maj. Joseph D. Jacobson conducted his own research "to explore the question of whether reasonably accurate targeting data is obtainable through means other than government-provided environmental information."

"The answer is a disturbing yes.... Even without a computer, telephone books, newspapers, and trade journals could be effectively used as [terrorist] planning tools. Unless our society is ready to completely suspend several amendments to the U.S. Constitution, we must assume that those planning attacks on chemical facilities have the research tools they need for adequate targeting."

Moreover, there is a "down side" to efforts to restrict environmental information. Official controls may impede the public's ability to contend with chemical hazards, thereby reducing safety and security, the author wrote.

"The road that restricts access to information leads us to a destination where the public is blissfully unaware of the dangers surrounding them while terrorists carefully research targets for maximum potential impact. The other road allows an informed public to prepare for potential attacks, plan responses, and put pressure on industry to change practices and processes in a meaningful way, thus reducing the likelihood of attacks."

See "Safeguarding National Security Through Public Release of Environmental Information: Moving the Debate to the Next Level" by Joseph D. Jacobson, a master's thesis submitted to the George Washington University School of Law, August 31, 2002, 97 pages (in a very large 3.9 MB PDF file):


AN ISLAMIST CRITIQUE OF AL QAIDA

The actions of al Qaida in its jihad against the United States have measurably retarded the objectives that the organization claims to pursue, as evidenced by the defeat of the Taliban regime and continued U.S. military action in the region.

This assertion would be unremarkable, except that it is now being advanced by leaders of the Egyptian Islamic Group, al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya, which itself is designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization.

The Islamist critique of al Qaida appears in a new book, reviewed and excerpted this week in the London Arabic newspaper Asharq al Awsat. See "Egyptian Islamist Leaders Fault Al Qaida's Strategy," Asharq al Awsat, January 11-12, 2004, translated by the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, here:


CIA PARAMILITARY OPS AND SPECIAL FORCES

The use of CIA paramilitary forces post-September 11 alongside U.S. military Special Operations Forces (SOF) poses some new operational, legal, policy and oversight challenges, according to a recent Army student research paper.

Much of the difficulty stems from the fact that SOF are regular military personnel subject to the laws of war while CIA paramilitary forces operate outside of an accepted legal framework.

"In a combat operation where CIA and SOF forces are tightly integrated, the result could be that, if captured, the SOF soldiers are afforded Geneva Convention protections while the CIA operatives are not; further, CIA operatives might even be considered by the enemy to be unlawful combatants," writes Army Col. Kathryn Stone.

"Close cooperation and intermingling between the CIA and SOF is fraught with danger given their respective cultures, operational modes, sources of information, and oversight structures."

See "'All Necessary Means' -- Employing CIA Operatives in a Warfighting Role Alongside Special Operations Forces" by Col. Kathryn Stone, U.S. Army War College, April 2003:


MORE HISTORICAL INTELLIGENCE BUDGET DATA DISCLOSED

Historical intelligence budget appropriation figures for the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency for Fiscal Year 1972 have turned up in publicly accessible archives even though they are considered "classified" by the U.S. government.

The FY 1972 appropriations and the FY 1973 requests for DIA and NSA were detailed in the papers of Rep. George Mahon, a former member of the House Appropriations Committee.

They were located by Villanova University scholar Prof. David Barrett, who is preparing a book on congressional oversight of intelligence in the early cold war.

The U.S. Constitution singles out budget expenditures as the one category of executive branch information that must be published from time to time (Article I, section 9). Yet in seeming defiance of this obligation, the Central Intelligence Agency refuses to disclose even fifty year old budget information, the subject of a pending FOIA lawsuit. The CIA claims that to do so would damage the national security of the United States and jeopardize intelligence methods.

Even some CIA officials privately concede that this claim is ridiculous, and it is hard to find a responsible person outside of CIA who will defend it.

Prof. Barrett generously provided a copy of the Mahon documents containing the historical DIA and NSA budget figures, which are posted here:

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

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