SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 92
October 21, 2004

WHITE HOUSE DISPUTES CIA ON INTEL BUDGET DISCLOSURE

The White House has taken a stand against intelligence budget disclosure which is directly at odds with the CIA's recent endorsement of the move.

The 9/11 Commission recommendation to require annual disclosure of the total national intelligence budget, which was adopted by the Senate and opposed by the House, has become a prominent point of contention as House and Senate conferees attempt to reconcile their competing intelligence reform bills.

The White House elevated the issue by signaling its opposition to disclosure in a letter to the conferees this week.

"Disclosing to the nation's enemies, especially during wartime, the amounts requested by the President, and provided by the Congress, for the conduct of the nation's intelligence activities would harm the national security," wrote national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and OMB Director Joshua Bolten on October 18. See:

But the CIA contradicted this White House claim, telling Congress last month that the Senate's budget disclosure proposal "would make some sense" and "would [not] be a major security threat."

"If there is a separate appropriation for the National Foreign Intelligence Program, as distinct from the current arrangement where that appropriation is buried in the larger Defense Department bill, I think it would make some sense to declassify the overall number for the foreign intelligence program," then-Acting Director of Central Intelligence John E. McLaughlin said at a hearing of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee on September 8. See:

Likewise, 9/11 Commissioners Kean and Hamilton identified budget disclosure as one of "a few critical issues" in a letter to House and Senate conferees.

"We believe the overall budget number should be unclassified," they wrote. "The benefits of transparency for congressional oversight and public review are significant" and evidence of justification for classification is lacking. See their October 20 letter here:


CIA CONCEDES RELEASE OF 1963 AGENCY BUDGET

The Central Intelligence Agency, which claims that all of its historical budget figures must be withheld to protect intelligence sources and methods, conceded yesterday that it has in fact declassified and released the CIA budget total for fiscal year 1963.

The release appeared in a 1965 CIA document entitled "Cost Reduction Program," located at the National Archives by Prof. David Barrett of Villanova University, and introduced in a FAS lawsuit to challenge the CIA opposition to budget disclosure.

The 1963 budget figure was correctly cited as $550 million, affirmed CIA Deputy Chief Financial Officer Cynthia Stockman. But other budget figures for 1964 to 1966 in the same document are not correct, she said. See her October 20 declaration here:

The 1965 "Cost Reduction Program" report, which was declassified by CIA in 1990, would not be released today, said R. Bruce Burke, the CIA Associate Deputy General Counsel for Information. See his declaration here:

Notwithstanding the release of the 1963 budget figure, the CIA, with legal support from the Justice Department Office of Information and Privacy, argued vigorously that no other historical intelligence budget information should be disclosed. Their 25 page memorandum filed yesterday in opposition to the FAS lawsuit seeking budget disclosure is here:


WHITE HOUSE OPPOSES NEW CLASSIFICATION REVIEW BOARD

The proposal by Senators Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) to establish an Independent National Security Classification Board, which was adopted by the Senate in its intelligence reform bill, has drawn White House opposition as an unacceptable affront to executive branch prerogatives.

"The Administration supports the extension of the Public Interest Declassification Board but opposes section 226 of S. 2845, which would rename the Board as the Independent National Security Classification Board and create a Congressional right to appeal classification decisions made by an executive agency with respect to national security information," wrote Condoleezza Rice and Joshua Bolten in their October 18 letter to the House-Senate conferees.

"The authority to make such decisions is clearly vested in the President and his designated subordinates under the Constitution." See their letter here:

Background on the proposed new Board and related issues may be found in "Secrecy vs. Openness: New Proposed Arrangements for Balancing Competing Needs," Congressional Research Service, updated October 12, 2004:


NEW RELEASES ON NSA, NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Notable new releases under the Freedom of Information Act include historical items on the National Security Agency and on nuclear weapons.

"The Origins of the National Security Agency, 1940-1952" was obtained under the FOIA by TheMemoryHole.org and is available here:

Declassified documents on nuclear weapons policy, including background on a 1958 nuclear weapons accident near Savannah River Georgia, are available from The Nuclear Information Project here:


DEFINING CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE (CRS)

The protection of critical infrastructure is said to be a central concern of the Bush Administration's homeland security strategy. But this is an elusive goal in part because the term lacks a stable definition.

"The meaning of 'critical infrastructure' in the public policy context has been evolving for decades and is still open to debate," according to a particularly thoughtful new report from the Congressional Research Service.

"Since the 1980's, the number of sectors included under that definition has generally expanded from the most basic public works to a much broader set of economic, defense, government, social and institutional facilities."

This is problematic, since "ambiguity about what constitutes a critical infrastructure could lead to inefficient use of limited homeland security resources."

So, for example, "private sector representatives state that they need clear and stable definitions of asset criticality so they will know exactly what assets to protect, and how well to protect them. Otherwise, they risk protecting too many facilities, protecting the wrong facilities, or both."

See "Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets: Definition and Identification," Congressional Research Service, October 1, 2004:

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

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