SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 26
March 23, 2005

FBIS PHOTOS OF IRAN'S BUSHEHR NUCLEAR POWER PLANT

The CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service has compiled a new gallery of photographs of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant.

The photographs were taken from the Iranian Fars News Agency and from the Persian blog rasanic.com. The monitoring of blogs is a relatively new and fruitful expansion of FBIS coverage of world media outlets.

The CIA has not made the new FBIS compilation on Bushehr available to the public. But a copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "News Agency, Blogger Post Photos of Bushehr NPP," Foreign Broadcast Information Service, February 2005 (2.4 MB PowerPoint file):


IN CONGRESS

Recent congressional activity on secrecy and intelligence matters includes the following.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) asked the Inspector General of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to investigate NRC restrictions on the dissemination of unclassified and formerly public information. A copy of his March 21 letter is here:

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) introduced the "Restore FOIA Act" to narrow the FOIA exemption previously enacted for "critical infrastructure information." See:

Senators Leahy and Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the "Faster FOIA Act" that would establish a Commission to investigate ways to expedite the processing of FOIA requests. See:

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) introduced a baffling bill to exempt livestock identification information collected by the Department of Agriculture from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. See:

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) introduced a bill that would make past employment in Air America, and other former CIA front companies, count for civil service retirement purposes. See:

A bill introduced by Sens. Chambliss and Nelson would establish a new Military Intelligence Command that would serve as an intermediary between the new Director of National Intelligence and the various defense intelligence agencies. See:

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee introduced a resolution calling for a new multi-level security clearance system that would facilitate the hiring of linguists and cultural experts in U.S. intelligence agencies. See:

Rep. Rush Holt paid tribute to Mark Lowenthal, the Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production, who is the latest high-level official to announce his departure from the troubled Agency. See:

The transcript of last year's none-too-edifying confirmation hearing of Porter J. Goss to be Director of Central Intelligence has been published. (The PDF version, linked on the page below, includes Mr. Goss' detailed answers to questions for the record on various aspects of intelligence organization and management.) A copy is here:


MILITARY TRIBUNALS AND PRESIDENTIAL POWER

The largely unchecked expansion of presidential authority to prosecute the "war on terrorism" forms the backdrop to a new book by Louis Fisher, the constitutional scholar and specialist on separation of powers.

The author focuses on presidential war powers and specifically on the history and development of military tribunals. He concludes with a constitutional critique of the current system for detaining and trying enemy combatants.

"Tribunals are created by Presidents, staffed by Presidents, and guided by rules and procedures developed by the executive branch, all with little or minimal involvement of the other two branches. It is a form of government that the framers would find repugnant," he writes.

"It is especially in time of war that the apparatus of the presidency poses the highest risk, executive errors inflict the greatest damage, and individual liberties are placed at maximum peril. Institutional checks are needed more, not less."

"Military Tribunals and Presidential Power" by Louis Fisher is published next month by the University Press of Kansas. See:


GOVT AGENCIES PROPOSE TO SUE INFO REQUESTERS

In North Carolina, "government agencies are pursuing the authority to sue citizens who ask to see public records."

That would be a delightful story if it appeared in The Onion or some other "fake news" outlet. Unfortunately, however, it is from the Associated Press.

See "N.C. Cities Want To Sue Over Public Records Requests," March 20:

The AP story is based on "Cities, agencies seek right to sue" by Matthew Eisley, Raleigh News and Observer, March 20, 2005 (free reg. req'd):


A BOUQUET OF CRS REPORTS

As previously observed, the Congressional Research Service does not permit direct public access to its publications. Some more recent CRS reports obtained by Secrecy News include the following:

"U.S. Space Programs: Civilian, Military, and Commercial," updated February 28, 2005:

"Critical Infrastructures: Background, Policy and Implementation," updated February 17, 2005:

"Mexico-United States Dialogue on Migration and Border Issues, 2001-2005," updated February 16, 2005:

"Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami: Humanitarian Assistance and Relief Operations," updated February 10, 2005:

"Proliferation Control Regimes: Background and Status," updated February 10, 2005:

"China-Southeast Asia Relations: Trends, Issues, and Implications for the United States," updated February 8, 2005:

"Democracy in Russia: Trends and Implications for U.S. Interests," updated January 28, 2005:

"Nuclear Arms Control: The U.S.-Russian Agenda," updated January 24, 2005:

"Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons and Missiles: Status and Trends," updated January 14, 2005 (2.6 MB PDF file):

"Nuclear Terrorism: A Brief Review of Threats and Responses," updated February 10, 2005:

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

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