SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 75
August 25, 2004

HALF OF ALL SECRETS ARE IMPROPERLY CLASSIFIED, OFFICIAL SAYS

Half of all government secrets may be unnecessarily or improperly classified, a Pentagon intelligence official told a congressional hearing this week.

Pressed by Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) to estimate what percentages of all classified information are and are not correctly classified, Carol A. Haave, the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Counterintelligence and Security, said: "How about if I say 50-50?"

"I do believe that we overclassify information," she said. "I do believe that it is extensive [but] not for the purpose of wanting to hide anything. But I will tell you that with respect to military operations, people have a tendency to err on the side of caution."

The August 24 hearing was held by the House Government Reform Committee Subcommittee on National Security to consider the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission with respect to overclassification and information sharing.

A transcript of the hearing may be found here:

The witnesses included Ms. Haave, Information Security Oversight Office Director J. William Leonard, former NSA deputy director William Crowell of the Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security, and myself.

Their prepared statements may be found here:


CIA MULLS DISCLOSURE OF HISTORICAL INTEL BUDGET DATA

The Central Intelligence Agency asked a federal court for more time to consider its response to an FAS lawsuit that seeks the disclosure of historical intelligence budget data from 1947 through 1970. An Agency response had been due August 25.

In its formal request for a three week extension until September 15, the Agency cited the impact of the 9/11 Commission report and said that the Commission's recommendations "continue to be the subject of an extraordinary level of activity by officials at the highest levels of government -- including Acting Director of Central Intelligence McLaughlin himself."

Informally, the CIA's counsel suggested that the 9/11 Commission recommendation to declassify (current) intelligence budget figures and the Administration's forthcoming response could moot the Agency's opposition to disclosure of historical budget data.

The CIA's insistence on historical budget secrecy was cited at a congressional hearing this week as an extreme example of overclassification.

See the CIA's unopposed motion to delay its response until September 15 here:


A REPORT CARD ON SECRECY

The expansion of official secrecy in recent years is measurable, not merely rhetorical, and is documented in a "report card" issued this week by OpenTheGovernment.org, a coalition of organizations working to defend public access to government information.

"Government data confirm what many have suspected: secrecy has increased dramatically in recent years under policies of the current administration. For every $1 the federal government spent last year releasing old secrets, it spent an extraordinary $120 maintaining the secrets already on the books," according to an OpenTheGovernment.org press release.

"Secrecy Report Card: Quantitative Indicators of Secrecy in the Federal Government" is to be available as of Thursday morning, August 26, here:


JOINT DOCTRINE FOR COMBATING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION

Military doctrine on confronting the threat of weapons of mass destruction is set forth in a new Department of Defense document.

It addresses the principles and practices to be employed in nonproliferation, counterproliferation, and consequence management.

See "Joint Doctrine for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction," Joint Publication 3-40, 8 July 2004 (81 pages, 400 KB PDF file) (thanks to RT):

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

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