SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 39
April 22, 2005

SSCI FRACTURES OVER CIA DETENTION POLICY

Tensions within the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) over how to address the continuing controversy regarding CIA prisoner detention and interrogation policies became manifest this week as the Committee leaders brought their dispute to the Senate floor.

Their contrasting views reflect fundamentally distinct conceptions of the role of intelligence oversight.

SSCI Vice Chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) filed a "sense of the Senate" amendment stating that the SSCI "should conduct an investigation into ... all matters relating to the ... detention, interrogation, or rendition of prisoners for intelligence purposes." The text of the amendment is here:

Sen. Rockefeller introduced his amendment after Committee Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) rebuffed Committee Democrats' call for such an investigation in a closed-door meeting last week, according to an article in The Hill newspaper on April 19.

In response to the Rockefeller amendment, Sen. Roberts then filed his own amendment.

"My amendment actually expresses support for our Armed Forces and intelligence officers, rather than calling into question their actions, while they are on the front lines in the war on terror," Sen. Roberts said. The Roberts amendment is here:

In the end, neither amendment was taken up by the Senate. But both Senators presented their perspectives during the floor debate over the nomination of John D. Negroponte to be Director of National Intelligence, who was confirmed by a vote of 98-2.

The Senate debate also encompassed a number other interesting and important issues, including Amb. Negronponte's past role in Honduras, problems of overclassification, and intelligence agency responsiveness to congressional requests for information. See:


WAXMAN ON STATE DEPT TERRORISM REPORT

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) this week challenged the decision by the U.S. State Department to cease providing data on the number of terrorist incidents in its annual report on terrorism.

Rep. Waxman noted that the number of terrorist incidents had reportedly risen over the past year and he asked the State Department Inspector General to investigate "whether political considerations played a role in the decision" to stop reporting their number in the congressionally-mandated annual report.

Rep. Waxman's April 21 letter to the Inspector General is here:


MORE ON THE CLOSURE OF THE SIBEL EDMONDS HEARING

The DC District Court of Appeals agreed to release a public transcript of the unclassified portion of the closed hearing it held yesterday on the case of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds.

(A portion of the hearing was classified, during which the defense team was excluded and the government presented its arguments.)

What remains unexplained is exactly why the hearing was closed in its entirety.

"I think the court closed the thing out of a certain conservatism caused by confusion about how to proceed," one informed observer speculated. "I get the feeling they're trying, but just don't know what to do."

"While within a court's power to close an oral argument, it certainly is odd -- especially odd without a motion from a litigant and without explanation."

See "Court Of Appeals Abruptly Closes Hearing To The Public" by Rebecca Carr, Cox News Service, April 21:


CRS ON MIDDLE EAST AID

Some recent reports of the Congressional Research Service include the following:

"United States Aid to the Palestinians," March 4, 2005:

"Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance," updated March 7, 2005:

"U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends, and the FY2006 Request," updated February 17, 2005:


FBIS REVIEWS 2005 CASTRO SPEECHES

The CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) faithfully monitors the marathon public speeches of Cuba's Fidel Castro -- so that you don't have to.

"President Castro, who is right-handed and known for gesticulating extensively with his right arm while speaking, has been progressively favoring his left arm since February," FBIS observed acutely in a new account.

See "Cuba: Review of Fidel Castro Speeches, 2005," Foreign Broadcast Information Service, April 21, 2005:

Relatedly, see "Cuba: Issues for the 109th Congress," Congressional Research Service, updated January 13, 2005:

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

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