SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 125
December 8, 2006

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

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THE TRAVAILS OF SEA-BASED MISSILE DEFENSE

The flight test of a sea-based missile defense system in the Pacific was aborted yesterday after an interceptor missile failed to launch from an Aegis cruiser, the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency said.

It was the latest setback in an ambitious sea-based missile defense program that will cost more than one billion dollars in 2007.

"In developing a global ballistic missile defense (BMD) system, the Department of Defense (DOD) currently is modifying 18 Navy cruisers and destroyers for BMD operations, and has placed a large BMD radar -- the Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX) -- on a modified floating oil platform," according to a new report of the Congressional Research Service.

But sea-based systems are still far from providing a satisfactory resolution to the quest for a reliable missile defense.

The new CRS report (which does not fail to mention that Aegis "is named after the mythological shield carried by Zeus") is a superb presentation of the current state of sea-based missile defense. Full of hard-to-find details, the 37 page document asks and begins to answer a range of questions about the future of this program.

CRS does not release its reports to the public. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Sea-Based Missile Defense -- Background and Issues for Congress," December 4, 2006:


IMPLEMENTING THE 9/11 COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS, OR NOT

In a major new report that could serve as an appendix to the Final Report of the 9/11 Commission, the Congressional Research Service performed a detailed assessment of the implementation of the Commission's recommendations.

"The discussions herein are organized on the basis of policy themes that are at the core of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, rather than through a review of each numbered item set out in the Commission's final report," the 73 page CRS report says.

"Each section of the report summarizes the pertinent elements of the 9/11 Commission's recommendation relevant to the section's policy theme. Then a review is made of responses made by the Congress to implement, in whole or in part, the given recommendation. Where appropriate, notice is taken of Executive branch actions regarding the policy matter."

A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "9/11 Commission Recommendations: Implementation Status," December 4, 2006:


EVEN MORE FROM CRS

Some other noteworthy new products of the Congressional Research Service that are not widely available to the public include the following:

"Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing: U.S. Policy Development," November 29, 2006:

"Homeland Security: Evolving Roles and Missions for United States Northern Command," updated November 16, 2006:

"U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues," updated October 17, 2006:

"National Emergency Powers," updated November 13, 2006:

"Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Oversight Issues and Options for Congress," November 30, 2006:

"The United States and Europe: Current Issues," updated November 21, 2006:


CORRECTIONS

There were at least two errors in the December 4 issue of Secrecy News.

We mistakenly wrote that the CIA and NSA agreed to reporter Joshua Gerstein's request for expedited processing of his FOIA request on records concerning unauthorized disclosures. They did not. But a court granted his motion to compel a prompt response.

The DNI Open Source Center was established in November 2005, not in 2004.


PUBLIC INTEREST DECLASS BOARD FALTERS

The Public Interest Declassification Board was established by Congress in 2000 "to promote the fullest possible public access to a thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of significant United States national security decisions." (FY 2001 Intelligence Authorization Act, Section 703).

Six years later, it has still done no such thing.

In its first practical test, members of Congress asked the Board to review the classification of two recent reports on pre-war Iraq intelligence to determine if more of the text could be disclosed.

But the Board concluded that it could not proceed without White House approval, which was not forthcoming.

This week, reported Rebecca Carr of Cox News, the Board asked Congress to modify its charter to make clear that White House approval is not required for this purpose.

See "Anti-secrecy board unable to gain traction" by Rebecca Carr, Cox News Service, December 8:

The Board will hold its next meeting on December 15 at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

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

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