SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 16
February 7, 2006

Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

HISTORY OF HIGHLY ENRICHED URANIUM RELEASED

After nearly a decade of pressure from openness advocates inside and outside of government, the Department of Energy has finally released its landmark history of the production of highly enriched uranium (HEU).

The study "was commissioned [in 1996] to facilitate discussions of HEU storage, safety, and security with stakeholders, to encourage other nations to declassify and release similar data, and to support the national policy on transparency of nuclear materials."

The newly released report "contains details of the U.S. HEU inventory as of September 30, 1996, and provides a historical material balance that summarizes over 50 years of U.S. activities that produced, acquired, and utilized HEU."

"This report combines previously released data along with newly declassified information that has allowed DOE to issue, for the first time, a comprehensive report on HEU."

"From 1945 through 1996, a total of 1,045.4 metric tons of uranium containing 859.2 metric tons of uranium-235 was produced in the United States at three facilities utilizing two different production technologies."

"As of September 30, 1996, the total U.S. inventory of HEU was 740.7 MTU containing 620.3 MTU-235."

Rich in detail, the 173 page report has been only minimally redacted (sanitized).

The report was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Federation of American Scientists.

See "Highly Enriched Uranium: Striking A Balance," U.S. Department of Energy, January 2001:


CRS, NSA AND THE QUESTION OF CONGRESSIONAL NOTIFICATION

Last week, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) lashed out at the Congressional Research Service for asserting that the Bush Administration may have had a legal responsibility to notify more than just eight members of Congress regarding the NSA surveillance activity.

Rep. Hoekstra, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, did not merely suggest that the CRS might be wrong; he claimed that the agency was actually biased against Bush Administration policy (Secrecy News, 02/05/06).

In fact, however, it is increasingly clear that Rep. Hoekstra is the one who misunderstood and misrepresented the requirements of the law.

Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) put the matter plainly at a February 6 Senate hearing on the NSA surveillance program, explaining that the statute which permits limited notification to eight members of Congress is relevant only to covert actions, and not to the NSA program.

"When you look at that section [50 USC 413(b)], the only thing this references as far as what this Group of Eight does is receive reports in regard to covert action. So that's really all it is. It does not cover a situation like we're talking about here at all," Sen. DeWine said.

"We all have a great deal of respect for these eight people... They're leaders of the Congress. But there's no statutory authority for this group, other than the section that has to do with covert operation, and this [the NSA activity] is not a covert operation as defined in this specific section."

"I don't mean to be impolite... I guess I'm just kind of a strict constructionist, kind of a conservative guy, and that's how I read the statute," Sen. DeWine said.

See, relatedly, "Hoekstra blasts CRS for 'bias'" by Jackie Kucinich, The Hill, February 7:


DOD ON IMPROVING FOIA IMPLEMENTATION

The Department of Defense is moving ahead smartly in response to President Bush's executive order (EO) 13392 directing agencies to improve the processing of Freedom of Information Act requests.

Many outside observers were puzzled by the issuance of the December 14, 2005 order, since the current Administration has been no friend of FOIA or of public access to government information generally.

But even a perfunctory gesture from the President of the United States can have policy consequences, and agencies are now sorting through those consequences.

"Recent heightened interest in the FOIA from the public, the media, watchdog organizations, and the Congress has resulted in the need for the Federal Agencies to re-examine their FOIA programs," wrote Michael B. Donley, DoD Director of Administration and Management.

"Historically, DoD Component FOIA programs have been under-emphasized, resulting in inadequate staffing and funding," he wrote.

"To comply with the provisions of the EO, DoD Components must ensure that proper procedures are established and adequate resources are applied to their FOIA programs."

The Project on Government Oversight obtained the DoD memorandum and provided a copy to Secrecy News.

See "Executive Order 13392 on the Freedom of Information Act -- DoD Implementation," memorandum for senior Department officials, February 1, 2006.

Meanwhile, however, the Pentagon public affairs office has been playing secrecy games with reporters, withholding budget documents from the press until the last possible moment.

See "DOD denies reporters budget prep time" by Pamela Hess, United Press International, February 6:


AIR FORCE SPECIAL OPERATIONS

U.S. Air Force doctrine on special operations is presented in a new Air Force publication.

"This publication provides the overarching doctrinal guidance for the conduct of Air Force special operations across the full range of military operations. It describes the characteristics, capabilities, United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) core tasks, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) core missions, typical organization, and command and control of AF Special Operations Forces."

"The doctrine in this document is authoritative, but not directive.... Airmen should read it, discuss it, and practice it."

See "Special Operations," Air Force Doctrine Document 2-7, 16 December 2005:

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

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