SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 96
September 12, 2006

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

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IRAQ INTELLIGENCE REPORTS ARE OVERCLASSIFIED, SENATORS SAY

Two partially declassified reports issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that were critical of pre-war intelligence on Iraq remain significantly overclassified, according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who said he would seek further disclosure.

Furthermore, portions of the two Intelligence Committee reports that were withheld conceal "certain highly offensive activities" and "deeply disturbing information," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).

"I am very troubled that some information in these reports has been classified even though its release would have no impact on national security," Sen. Wyden said.

"I am particularly concerned it appears that information may have been classified to shield individuals from accountability," he said September 8.

"Portions of the report which the intelligence community leaders have determined to keep from public view provide some of the most damaging evidence of this administration's falsehoods and distortions," said Senator Levin in a September 8 statement on the Senate floor.

"What remains classified, and therefore covered up, includes deeply disturbing information," he said.

"Much of the information redacted from the public report does not jeopardize any intelligence source or method but serves effectively to cover up certain highly offensive activities."

"Even the partially released picture is plenty bleak, about the administration's use of falsehoods and distortions to build public support for the war. But the public is entitled to the full picture. Unless this report is further declassified, they won't get it," Sen. Levin said.

Senator Wyden announced that he would ask the Public Interest Declassification Board, an advisory board originally created by statute in 2000, to review the two reports and to render a judgment as to whether they were properly declassified.

This would be the first time that a Member of Congress has tasked the Board to perform such a declassification oversight function.

The two Senate Intelligence Committee reports, released last week in redacted form, are:

"The Use by the Intelligence Community of Information Provided by the Iraqi National Congress" (211 pages, 9 MB PDF file):

"Postwar Findings About Iraq's WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments" (151 pages, 7 MB PDF file):


DOE REPORTS ON INADVERTENT DISCLOSURES OF CLASSIFIED INFO

The Department of Energy has issued its twenty-second report to Congress on inadvertent disclosures of classified nuclear weapons-related information in declassified files at the National Archives.

The new report said that reviewers had found an additional 736 pages containing such classified information within the more than 465,000 pages of records that they recently reviewed. The classified materials were removed from public access.

A copy of the new report, dated August 2006 but released in declassified form in September, is available here:

The DOE effort to review previously declassified records for inadvertent disclosures began in 1999 and has nearly been completed. DOE reviewers at the Archives will soon turn their attention to the proper processing of records that are currently undergoing or scheduled for declassification.

The National Security Archive at George Washington University recently obtained cost data on the Department of Energy program to review declassified records at the National Archives.

"So far, according to DOE, the review of the 204 million pages [the total reviewed since 1999] has cost nearly $22 million," reported William Burr of the National Security Archive.

"While the average cost of the review was about 9 cents per page, the average cost of locating the suspect information was high. The cost of finding one of the 2,766 documents [containing classified data] was almost $8,000, while the cost of finding one of the withdrawn [classified] pages [that had been inadvertently disclosed] was around $3,300," he wrote.

"The effort to retrieve [classified] 'RD' nuclear weapons design information is understandable (although whether adversaries would actually have seized opportunities to find the needle in the archival haystack is a problem worth considering)."

"It would have been far better, however, if DOE had undertaken its review with better guidelines enabling it to focus on protecting truly sensitive information instead of impounding documents that may have little or no sensitivity," Burr wrote.

See "How Many and Where Were the Nukes?" edited by Dr. William Burr, National Security Archive, August 18, 2006:

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

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