SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 54
June 14, 2004

JUSTICE DEPT MEMO SAYS TORTURE MAY BE JUSTIFIED

The Washington Post has published the Justice Department memorandum regarding the use of torture in prisoner interrogations that Attorney General John Ashcroft refused to disclose to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

The August 2002 memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel to White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales argued that torture of captured al Qaeda terrorists "may be justified." The memo was first reported by Dana Priest and R. Jeffrey Smith in the Washington Post on June 8.

Now the memo itself has been made available online by the Post, linked from this page:

The Bush Administration's secrecy in the matter, although futile in this case, has drawn scorn from critics.

"It is inexcusable to read about such memos in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times and then to have them denied to the Senate by the Executive Branch," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in a statement last week.

"Hiding these documents from view is the sign of a cover-up, not of cooperation," said Sen. Leahy, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "It is troubling to see Attorney General Ashcroft take the Bush Administration into cover-up mode as the Senate tries to get to the bottom of the prison abuse scandal."


SENSITIVE SECURITY INFORMATION (CRS)

Sensitive Security Information (SSI) is information concerning transportation security that is exempt by statute from public disclosure. Critics argue that the scope of SSI is too large and poorly defined, and that information is wrongly withheld from the public as a result.

Recent controversies over SSI and a menu of policy options for addressing them are provided in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

See "Sensitive Security Information and Transportation Security: Issues and Congressional Options" by Mitchel A. Sollenberger, CRS, June 9, 2004:


MILITARY COURTS-MARTIAL (CRS)

"The recent reports of abuse of prisoners held by the military in Iraq have raised questions about how the armed forces discipline and punish those who commit crimes or violate the rules and regulations of the military.... This report provides an overview of military courts-martial: who can be tried, potential punishments, and the appeals process."

See "Military Courts-Martial: An Overview" by Estela I. Velez Pollack, Congressional Research Service, May 26, 2004:


MILITARY FORCES: WHAT IS THE APPROPRIATE SIZE? (CRS)

Should U.S. military forces be increased, and by how much? Should any increase be permanent or temporary?

Current discussions of these and related questions are summarized in "Military Forces: What is the Appropriate Size for the United States?" by Edward F. Bruner, Congressional Research Service, updated May 28, 2004:


NETWORK CENTRIC WARFARE (CRS)

Network centric warfare (NCW) is the subject of another new Congressional Research Service report. NCW is a somewhat elusive concept that involves increased reliance on networked communications to support military operations.

See "Network Centric Warfare: Background and Oversight Issues for Congress" by Clay Wilson, CRS, June 2, 2004:


NAVY ATTACK SUBMARINE PROCUREMENT (CRS)

The Navy is currently procuring one Virginia-class attack submarine per year, towards an anticipated total of 55. Each submarine costs about $2.3 billion.

The submarine procurement profile is analyzed in "Navy Attack Submarine Force-Level Goal and Procurement Rate: Background and Issues for Congress" by Ronald O'Rourke, Congressional Research Service, June 2, 2004:


BORDER SECURITY (CRS)

Hundreds of millions of inspections are conducted annually at U.S. border crossings. Immigration, customs, plant and animal inspections are now all conducted under the unified authority of the Department of Homeland Security.

A new report from the Congressional Research Service offers a comprehensive examination of the legal, administrative and policy issues involved in border security.

See "Border Security: Inspections Practices, Policies, and Issues," CRS, May 26, 2004:

Direct public access to CRS reports such as these is not authorized by Congress or CRS officials. Online public access to CRS products is actively opposed by congressional leaders like Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), chair of the House Committee on House Administration.

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

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