SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 54
June 8, 2005

SENATORS SUBPOENA BASE CLOSURE DOCUMENTS

Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) yesterday issued a subpoena to compel the Department of Defense to disclose additional records relating to military base closures.

Congressional subpoenas are relatively rare in the present era of one-party control of Congress and the executive branch, when investigative passions are muted by party loyalty. But the question of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) affects constituent interests so directly as to overcome the congressional deference that the Bush Administration has enjoyed in so many other contexts.

"The Department of Defense has failed to comply with its statutory obligations to release all BRAC-related documentation," the two Senators said. "It is crucial to the integrity of the BRAC process that the Department make available these documents immediately."

See "Senators Collins and Lieberman Issue Subpoena for Base Closure Documents," news release, June 7:

In a May 27 memo, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England cited the need "to protect BRAC information that standing alone, or in aggregation, would cause serious damage to national security if known by U.S. adversaries."

Consequently, he said, he was "temporarily classifying all of the subject databases and information contained therein... At the Secret Formerly Restricted Data level" until they could be reviewed for declassification, a process that is still underway. See his May 27 memo here:

The England memo was first reported on June 1 by Inside the Pentagon, which provides comprehensive coverage of BRAC-related matters here:


NSA: COMMUNICATIONS INTELLIGENCE ON THE HOLOCAUST

A major historical study of communications intelligence (COMINT) regarding the destruction of European Jewry and other targeted populations during World War II has just been published by the National Security Agency's Center for Cryptologic History.

Considering the abundance of other forms of documentation on the Holocaust, the study notes, "the COMINT contribution is quite small."

On the other hand, "in some cases, the COMINT translations are the only extant and contemporary record of some aspects of the Holocaust. In particular,... decrypts of the German police, SS, and SD messages are the only existing records of the daily operations of these organizations, since the Germans destroyed most of the original orders, reports and other correspondence." (p. 131).

The author observes that "Allied communications intelligence discovered nothing of the prewar and early wartime high-level Nazi planning for the general campaign against Europe's Jews and other groups.... Orders to carry out these operations were not communicated in a means such as radio that could be intercepted by Allied monitoring stations." (p. 75).

The new study is entitled "Eavesdropping on Hell: Historical Guide to Western Communications Intelligence and the Holocaust, 1939-1945" by Robert J. Hanyok, Center for Cryptologic History, National Security Agency, 167 pages, 2005. It is unclassified.

A copy of Eavesdropping on Hell may be obtained by sending an email request including a mailing address to: [email protected].

Coincidentally, another work on Holocaust-related intelligence is to be published shortly under the title "Intelligence Co-operation Between Poland and Great Britain During World War II" (Report of the Anglo-Polish Historical Committee). British intelligence officials refused to believe the accounts of mass killings of Jews and others and withheld the allegations from Prime Minister Winston Churchill, according to an account of the new book in the Times of London on June 6.


FBI ADMINISTRATIVE SUBPOENAS ADVANCE IN SENATE

The Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday approved an expansion of FBI investigative powers enabling it to issue so-called administrative subpoenas without judicial authorization.

The move is unnecessary and inappropriate, argued Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). It "would give the FBI the authority to demand just about anything from just about anybody, with no independent check, simply by claiming that it is relevant to a national security investigation."

See his June 6 remarks here:

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) offered a rebuttal, stating that administrative subpoena authority is "common within the Government" and should be extended to the FBI. See:

The Congressional Research Service prepared a report on "Administrative Subpoenas and National Security Letters in Criminal and Foreign Intelligence Investigations: Background and Proposed Adjustments," April 15, 2005:


CORNYN, LEAHY INTRODUCE REVISED FOIA BILL

Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) yesterday re-introduced one section of their pending FOIA legislation as a stand-alone bill.

The provision, which is about as finely sliced of a change as it could possibly be, would require that any future exemptions that Congress may enact to the FOIA must be explicitly flagged as such.

"The justification for this provision is simple: Congress should not establish new secrecy provisions through secret means," said Sen. Cornyn. "If Congress is to establish a new exemption to FOIA, it should do so in the open and in the light of day."

Strictly speaking, no exemptions to FOIA have ever been passed by Congress through secret means, although such exemptions are often buried in larger pieces of legislation. The Cornyn-Leahy proposal would raise their profile ever so slightly.

Because it represents such a minuscule change, "This provision should not be at all controversial, and indeed, I am not aware of any opposition whatsoever to it," said Sen. Cornyn.

See the introductory statements on the bill here:

Senator Cornyn pointed to a June 3 Cox News story by Rebecca Carr entitled "Congress Cloaks More Information in Secrecy," which he entered into the Congressional Record.

Cox News is the first mainstream media outlet to establish a regular journalistic "beat" on government secrecy, with continuing coverage provided by Ms. Carr. Much of her recent reporting on the subject can be found here:


ALOTTA CRS REPORTS

For no good reason, direct public access to products of the Congressional Research Service is not authorized by Congress. So unauthorized sources must be sought.

Following are some recent CRS reports obtained by Secrecy News.

"Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues," updated May 25, 2005:

"U.S. Space Programs: Civilian, Military, and Commercial," updated May 24, 2005:

"U.S.-China Counter-Terrorism Cooperation: Issues for U.S. Policy," updated May 12, 2005:

"Border Security: The Role of the U.S. Border Patrol," updated May 10, 2005:

"Border Security: Key Agencies and Their Missions," updated May 9, 2005:

"Military Medical Care Services: Questions and Answers," updated May 5, 2005:

"Sudan: Humanitarian Crisis, Peace Talks, Terrorism, and U.S. Policy," updated April 28, 2005:

"Nigeria in Political Transition," updated April 28, 2005:

"Tactical Aircraft Modernization: Issues for Congress," updated April 21, 2005:

"United Nations System Funding: Congressional Issues," updated April 20, 2005:

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

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