SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 68
July 21, 2004

CLASSIFIED INTEL BUDGET DOCUMENTS PLACED ON COURT RECORD

Classified U.S. intelligence budget documents were placed on the open record in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in DC district court yesterday.

The documents, marked "Secret" and "Security Information," are purely historical in nature and present intelligence appropriations for the Central Intelligence Agency from Fiscal Years 1953, 1954 and 1955.

Although this information is half a century old, the CIA still considers it classified.

By introducing the classified budget documents into the record, the plaintiff in the FOIA lawsuit (that's me) seeks to demonstrate to the Court that CIA's classification policy on the matter is erroneous and that historical intelligence budget information must be released.

The documents were located in the archives of former Congressional officials by Prof. David Barrett of Villanova University. He obtained copies of the documents for his own scholarly purposes and also kindly made them available to the Federation of American Scientists, which has been pursuing declassification of historical intelligence budget data under the Freedom of Information Act.

The classified intelligence budget documents are appended to Prof. Barrett's declaration filed yesterday in the pending FOIA lawsuit Aftergood v. CIA:

The declaration was filed in support of a Motion for Summary Judgment against the Central Intelligence Agency seeking disclosure of historical intelligence budget data from 1947 through 1970. That Motion is available here:

A response from CIA is due on August 25.


CONSTITUTIONALITY OF PERMANENT BUDGET SECRECY DISPUTED

Budget information is one of only two categories of government information whose periodic disclosure is guaranteed and required by the U.S. Constitution (the other is the Journal of the U.S. Congress). And yet there is a history of confidential and secret spending that dates back to the earliest days of the Republic.

Constitutional scholar Louis Fisher provided a capsule history of budget secrecy and its "anomalous" rise in post-World War II intelligence spending in another declaration that was filed yesterday in DC District Court in support of our pending FOIA lawsuit.

He concluded that while secret spending may be permissible for some period of time, it must eventually be disclosed.

"Intelligence budget secrecy can be reconciled with past practice and with constitutional publication requirements," Dr. Fisher stated, "but only if it culminates in a regular, periodic disclosure 'from time to time' of the budget information that has been withheld."

See the Declaration of Louis Fisher, filed July 20, here:


CLASSIFICATION COSTS SKYROCKET

The financial costs of secrecy, including everything from security clearances to physical security for classified information, grew dramatically by a billion dollars last year, according to a report from the Information Security Oversight Office that was released yesterday.

"The Government cost estimate shows a 14 percent increase above the cost estimate reported for FY 2002. For the second year in a row, industry reported an increase in its cost estimate," the ISOO report stated.

"The total cost estimate for Government and industry for 2003 is $7.5 billion, $1 billion more than the total cost estimate for Government and industry in 2002."

See the new ISOO report on classification costs here:


BILL ON CLASSIFICATION REVIEW BOARD INTRODUCED IN HOUSE

"Today's classification system is broken. The Executive Branch exerts almost total control over what should or should not be classified. There is no self-correcting mechanism in the system."

So said Rep. Robert E. (Bud) Cramer Jr. (D-Ala.) in introducing new legislation in the House of Representatives to establish an Independent National Security Classification Board. The bill is a companion to legislation introduced in the Senate last week by Senators Lott and Wyden (SN, 07/16/04).

See Rep. Cramer's July 20 introductory statement here:


DECLASSIFIED HISTORY OF THE SOVIET LUNAR PROGRAM

"Declassification of formerly classified U.S. intelligence imagery, documents and former Soviet Union/Russian space industry histories are helping fill in large gaps in the historical record of the Soviet side of the manned Lunar race," writes Charles P. Vick, an expert on the Soviet space program.

Some of the first fruits of Vick's multi-year investigation into the history of the Soviet manned lunar program are now being made available on the web site of GlobalSecurity.org.

See two chapters by Vick linked from this page:


PENTAGON "CONSOLIDATES" ABU GHRAIB DOCUMENT REQUESTS

Freedom of Information Act requests that were sent to the Pentagon for additional documentation and imagery concerning the abuse of Iraqi prisoners held in U.S. custody in Iraq (SN, 05/12/04) were forwarded by the Pentagon to U.S. Central Command for processing.

But now U.S. Central Command is sending them back to the Pentagon.

"We have been instructed to refer all requests for information referring to detainee abuse to the Department of Defense [Pentagon FOIA office]," a CENTCOM FOIA officer wrote.

"In order to provide you with as much information as possible, all detainee requests are now being consolidated and will be answered by [the Pentagon]." See:

Meanwhile, Congressional efforts to gain access to documents on the Abu Ghraib case and related issues have been frustrated.

"Time and again attempts by this House to acquire documents related to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal have been defeated, largely on party line votes," said Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) on July 19, citing several initiatives that had been blocked by the Republican majority.


MORE CRS ODDS AND ENDS

Not very new, but newly acquired, are these Congressional Research Service reports:

"Homeland Security: Navy Operations -- Background and Issues for Congress," updated May 17, 2004:

"Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Import Terminals: Siting, Safety and Regulation," updated May 27, 2004:

"Jonathan Pollard: Background and Considerations for Presidential Clemency," updated January 31, 2001:

Even-handed to a fault, the CRS proposed a precisely equal number of arguments for and against clemency for Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel and who remains incarcerated.

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

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