SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 112
December 16, 2004

CIA REMOVES RECORDS FROM PUBLIC ACCESS AT NATIONAL ARCHIVES

The Central Intelligence Agency has been unilaterally removing records from public collections in the National Archives, according to the minutes of a September 2004 meeting of the State Department Historical Advisory Committee that were approved for release this week.

The Advisory Committee oversees the production of the official State Department publication Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS).

A State Department official noted that "the practice of submitting an entire FRUS manuscript to the CIA [for review] had resulted in the reclassification of documents located at the National Archives...."

"CIA reviewers... claimed the right to remove documents from the open files that, in their view, had never been 'properly declassified'."

The meeting minutes include a number of other notable historical nuggets, such as: "The CIA History staff will soon publish [sic] a classified study on DCI John McCone."

A copy of the minutes of the September 2004 meeting of the State Department Historical Advisory Committee is here:


COURT: HABEAS CORPUS EXTENDS TO U.S. DETAINEES ABROAD

A federal court today delivered a firm rebuff to the Bush Administration, rejecting its claim that a U.S. citizen detained abroad but under some measure of U.S. control cannot invoke habeas corpus to challenge the legality of his detention.

"The position advanced by the [Bush Administration] is sweeping," the court declared.

"The authority sought would permit the executive, at his discretion, to deliver a United States citizen to a foreign country to avoid constitutional scrutiny, or, as is alleged and to some degree substantiated here, work through the intermediary of a foreign country to detain a United States citizen abroad."

"The Court concludes that a citizen cannot be so easily separated from his constitutional rights," wrote Judge John D. Bates in the case Abu Ali v. John Ashcroft. Ahmed Abu Ali is an American citizen held in Saudi Arabia on suspicion of terrorist ties.

The December 16 ruling by Judge Bates is posted here:


JUSTICE DEPT INSPECTOR GENERAL ON POLYGRAPH USE

The Justice Department Office of Inspector General elaborated a bit on its review of polygraph testing in the Department, which has led to an ongoing "extensive evaluation" of the practice.

See "Department's Use of Polygraph Examinations" in the latest Semi-Annual Report to Congress on this page:

Elsewhere in the new Report, the IG referred to a Secret 100-page report on allegations by FBI contract linguist Sibel Edmonds and said: "We are currently working with the Department in an attempt to produce an unclassified version of the report that can be publicly released."

See "Allegations Raised by Contract Linguist" on this page:


PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM AWARDED

Pope John XXIII. Rosa Parks. Martin Luther King, Jr. Certainly. But George Tenet? Tommy Franks? Paul Bremer?

All of them are recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award the nation has to offer.

The last three were selected by President Bush, who honored them this week in what appears to be a preemptive political strike in defense of the war in Iraq.

All that remains to be said is that if the three new awardees deserve the highest possible praise for implementing the President's war in Iraq, then the President himself must be beyond all praise.


SENSITIVE SECURITY INFORMATION FROM THE COAST GUARD

It may be that there is a practical limit to the amount of information that the government can effectively control -- a sort of law of conservation of secrecy -- and that beyond that limit the would-be secret information simply dribbles out.

That possibility is suggested by a Coast Guard document on maritime security regulations which may be protected by law but that is also available to anyone on the world wide web.

Each page of the document is marked "Sensitive Security Information" (SSI) and states that it is "controlled under 49 CFR parts 15 and 1520."

In fact, the document is not sensitive, and several specific items of SSI have been removed from the online version.

But arguably the remainder may still constitute SSI -- who is to say it doesn't? -- and the warning on each page insists: "No part of this record may be disclosed to persons without a 'need to know'."

Furthermore, "Unauthorized release may result in civil penalty or other action."

Read it here (thanks to RT):

or here:

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

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