SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 3
January 6, 2006

CRS ON WARRANTLESS SURVEILLANCE

The Congressional Research Service has prepared a detailed evaluation of Bush Administration legal claims regarding Presidential authority to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance within the United States.

The CRS authors sift through each of the statutory, constitutional and other arguments that have been presented in defense of the reported NSA surveillance activity, and ultimately find them wanting.

A final determination on the matter is impossible, they note, "without an understanding of the specific facts involved and the nature of the President's authorization, which are for the most part classified."

In the end, however, "the Administration's legal justification, as presented in the [December 22, 2005] summary analysis from the Office of Legislative Affairs, does not seem to be as well-grounded as the tenor of that letter suggests," they cautiously conclude.

See "Presidential Authority to Conduct Warrantless Electronic Surveillance to Gather Foreign Intelligence Information," Congressional Research Service, January 5, 2006:


INFORMATION SHARING POLICY FAULTED

Government initiatives to promote information sharing among and between federal and state agencies have failed to achieve their objectives, a new congressional staff report finds.

"Despite numerous directives, exhortations, and invitations to do so, federal policymakers have failed to develop uniform standards for converting classified intelligence into an unclassified or 'less classified' format that can be disseminated rapidly to appropriate state, local, and tribal authorities to thwart terrorist attacks," the report says.

The reports recounts in unblinking detail each new announcement of a bold innovation in information sharing policy, and its subsequent failure.

"This distressing lack of leadership has persisted for more than four years."

The authors propose a law enforcement-driven approach to information sharing based on a model adopted in the United Kingdom.

The report was prepared by Democratic staff for Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

See "Beyond Connecting the Dots: A VITAL Framework for Sharing Law Enforcement Intelligence Information," House Committee on Homeland Security Democratic Staff Report, December 28, 2005:


KEEPING CURRENT ON GOVERNMENT SECRECY

A sizable inventory of organizations, web sites, and publications concerned in some way with government secrecy was presented in a recent survey.

"In the interest of sharing information, here is a list of Web sites, blogs, listservs, and newsletters that could help clients needing access to government documents but who might experience difficulty locating that information. The list is arranged by government watchdog sites, sites that provide access to government documents, sites that document government secrecy, and advocacy groups that report on FOIA news."

See "Shhh!!: Keeping Current on Government Secrecy" by Laura Gordon-Murnane, Searcher: The Magazine for Database Professionals, January 2006:

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

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