SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 41
April 28, 2005

CRS: WHITE HOUSE ERRS ON DETENTION OF AMERICANS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service disputes the Bush Administration's claim that the President has unlimited authority to detain American citizens in wartime if he deems them to be enemy combatants.

The CRS report reviews the legislative history of the 1950 "Emergency Detention Act," which was repealed in 1971, and finds that it clearly limited the authority of the entire executive branch, and not only the Attorney General, to detain American citizens.

To argue otherwise, "one would have to believe that Congress, in 1971, intended to limit imprisonment or detention [only] by civilian authorities [but not by military authorities]. The legislative history does not support that nterpretation...."

Most CRS reports are even-handed to a fault and do not normally endorse either side of a disputed issue. So it is noteworthy that the new report deviates from that standard practice and concludes that the Bush Administration is simply wrong.

A copy of the report, issued today (though not publicly "released"), was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Detention of U.S. Citizens," by Louis Fisher, Congressional Research Service, April 28, 2005:


NCTC TERRORISM CHRONOLOGY 2004

Following criticism that the Bush Administration was improperly withholding data showing that terrorist activity increased last year, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) released its chronology of terrorist incidents for 2004, which does indeed show a marked increase.

However, the NCTC document states, "Because terrorism is a tactic, used on many fronts, by diverse perpetrators in different circumstances and with different aims, NCTC cautions against using incident data alone to gauge success in the War on Terrorism."

But for precisely the same reasons, one may say that the concept of a "War on Terrorism" itself is incoherent and misleading.

See "A Chronology of Significant International Terrorism for 2004," National Counterterrorism Center, April 29, 2005 (2.8 MB PDF file):

The State Department was sharply criticized earlier this week by Rep. Henry Waxman for withholding this information and marking it "for official use only." See Rep. Waxman's April 26, 2005 letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:


NSPD 40: U.S. SPACE TRANSPORTATION POLICY

A recent National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) calls for the "transformation" of U.S. space transportation capabilities and directs agencies to develop and supply new launch capabilities for national security and space exploration purposes.

"Before 2010, the United States shall demonstrate an initial capability for operationally responsive access to and use of space to support national security requirements," the Directive states.

("Operationally responsive access" means "providing capacity to respond to unexpected loss or degradation of selected capabilities, and/or to provide timely availability of tailored or new capabilities.")

The U.S. Government will also "Develop space transportation capabilities to enable human space exploration beyond low Earth orbit, consistent with the direction contained in U.S. Space Exploration Policy, dated January 14, 2004," the Directive states.

NSPD 40 on U.S. Space Transportation Policy was signed on December 21, 2004.

The text of the Directive has not been publicly released, but a descriptive Fact Sheet dated January 6, 2005 is here:


CRS ON US BASES IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN

The U.S. Department of Defense is spending billions of dollars on military construction of bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the specific nature and purpose of those expenditures is not entirely clear, a Congressional Research Service memo stated.

"Very little information is available publicly on DOD's plans for bases in or around Iraq or Afghanistan," the CRS noted.

The information that is publicly available on such military construction appropriations and related statutory authorities was helpfully compiled and described by CRS earlier this month.

See "Military Construction in Support of Afghanistan and Iraq," CRS memorandum, April 11, 2005 (thanks to CH):


MCLAUGHLIN STATEMENT ON CURVEBALL

Like former DCI George J. Tenet, former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence John E. McLaughlin denied having been informed that the Iraqi defector and U.S. intelligence source known as "Curveball" had been identified as unreliable as early as 2002, as reported by the Silberman-Robb WMD Commission.

"I did not know prior to Secretary Powell's UN speech that some of the information used in the biological weapons (BW) section was the product of a likely fabricator," McLaughlin said in an April 1 statement released to the press.

A copy of the statement, courtesy of Mr. McLaughlin, is available here:

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

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