SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 3
January 9, 2007

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AUTOMATIC DECLASSIFICATION: DID ANYTHING HAPPEN?

The December 31, 2006 deadline for automatic declassification of historically valuable 25 year old classified records has come and gone. Was anything automatically declassified?

Yes, said Bill Leonard, director of the Information Security Oversight Office.

"Hundreds of millions of pages of records were automatically declassified at the FBI alone," he said yesterday. Numerous other records were also declassified at some other executive branch agencies.

But he stressed that automatic declassification did not mean disclosure or immediate availability.

Declassified documents may still need to be reviewed for exempt material other than classified information (such as privacy data), and will need to be processed for public access.

Even so, public access to the records should be expedited by the elimination of a classification review requirement, Mr. Leonard said. And the deadline will continue to take new effect as more documents become 25 years old with each passing year.


NRO RELEASES UNCLASSIFIED BUDGET DOC

In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the National Reconnaissance Office last week released to the Federation of American Scientists the unclassified portions of the NRO Congressional Budget Justification Book for Fiscal Year 2006.

"You have joined a very exclusive club of people who not only win FOIA cases but actually get some documents as a result," wrote Harry Hammitt, editor of the newsletter Access Reports (www.accessreports.com).

The two-volume, 582-page document was almost entirely blacked out on national security classification grounds. But a few substantive narrative portions were released (and will be posted once our scanner is fixed).

Perhaps more important, the lawsuit successfully countered the claim that such records can be excluded from FOIA processing by designating them as "operational files."

See "Watchdog wins release of National Reconnaissance Office documents" by Daniel Friedman, Federal Times, January 9:


NEW BILLS IN CONGRESS

Several noteworthy pieces of legislation on intelligence and national security have already been introduced (or in some cases re-introduced) in the new Congress, including these.

A Resolution to Enhance Intelligence Oversight (H.Res. 35) by Rep. Obey, January 5:

Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007 (H.R. 1), January 5:

NSA Oversight Act (H.R. 11), introduced by Reps. Schiff and Flake, January 4:

Introduction of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Oversight and Resource Enhancement Act (S. 187) by Sen. Specter, January 4:

Introduction of the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 (S. 185), by Sens. Specter and Leahy, January 4:

Introduction of the Intelligence Community Audit Act of 2007 (S.82), by Sen. Akaka, January 4:


DOE MANUAL ON IDENTIFYING CLASSIFIED INFORMATION

The Department of Energy has published a new draft manual to help authorized personnel identify information that is classified by executive order or under the Atomic Energy Act.

See "Manual for Identifying Classified Information," DOE M 475.1-1B, published January 8, 2007 (1.3 MB PDF):


SELECTED CRS REPORTS

Some recent reports of the Congressional Research Service that are not readily available in the public domain include the following.

"Department of Homeland Security Grants to State and Local Governments: FY2003 to FY2006," December 22, 2006:

"International Crises and Disasters: U.S. Humanitarian Assistance, Budget Trends, and Issues for Congress," December 21, 2006:

"Cuba: Issues for the 109th Congress," updated December 19, 2006:

"Russian Natural Gas: Regional Dependence," January 5, 2007:

"Islam: Sunnis and Shiites," updated December 11, 2006:

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

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