SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 23
February 28, 2007

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SENATE PROPOSAL TO CRIMINALIZE LEAKS SPARKS OPPOSITION

A legislative proposal by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) that would criminalize the unauthorized disclosure or publication of classified information "concerning efforts by the United States to identify, investigate, or prevent terrorist activity" is drawing strong opposition even before it has been formally introduced.

The Kyl proposal, which would amend the espionage statute at 18 U.S.C. 798, is to be offered as an amendment to an unrelated bill on data mining that will be marked up by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 1. The text of the Kyl amendment is here:

Classified information on U.S. counterterror efforts appears in the press with some frequency and often serves as a stimulus to intense public deliberation. Today, for example, the Washington Post reported new information on controversial and possibly illegal CIA "black sites" where an unknown number of prisoners are held incommunicado for interrogation.

Under the sweeping Kyl proposal, disclosure or publication of such information could be punishable by up to twenty years in prison.

"The proposal seeks to stifle, with the threat of criminal prosecution, informed public debate about the most serious matters of the effectiveness of government counterterrorism efforts," wrote dozens of public interest, first amendment and civil liberties advocacy groups (including FAS) in a February 27 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"We strongly urge you to reject the proposed amendment," they wrote in a letter coordinated by the coalition OpenTheGovernment.org, directed by Patrice McDermott.

When a bill to criminalize the unauthorized disclosure of any classified information was introduced in 2000, it passed both houses of Congress before it encountered effective opposition (and it was subsequently vetoed by President Clinton).

In remarkable contrast, the present proposal by Senator Kyl has elicited organized opposition before it has even been formally introduced.

In addition to the OpenTheGovernment.org letter, a coalition of media organizations known as the Sunshine in Government Initiative (www.sunshineingovernment.org), directed by Rick Blum, issued its own critique of the bill.

The Kyl proposal was previously reported by Rebecca Carr of Cox News and also by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.


NEW MILITARY DOCTRINE

A new U.S. Air Force directive "provides policies for managing nuclear weapons and weapon systems, and for protecting personnel, property, and the environment from hazardous exposure to radioactive materials."

See Air Force Policy Directive 91-1, "Nuclear Weapons and Systems Surety," 13 February 2007:

Another new Air Force document on combating the threat or use of weapons of mass destruction "provides guidance for understanding, planning, and executing counter-chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear operations to enable US forces to survive and operate effectively in this deadly environment."

See Air Force Doctrine Document 2-1.8, "Counter-Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Operations," 26 January 2007:

Army doctrine on the use of attack helicopters to locate and destroy enemy forces and to gather or confirm intelligence is presented in a new field manual.

See "Attack Reconnaissance Helicopter Operations," Field Manual FM 3-04.126, February 16, 2007 (320 pages, 9.5 MB PDF file):

The new manual notes that it has been reviewed for operations security considerations and approved for public release.


SELECTED CRS REPORTS

Analysts at the Congressional Research Service continue to churn out reports for Congress faster than they can reasonably be digested. Not all of them are of broad interest, nor do they consistently offer original content or significant analytical insight.

But as long as Congress refuses to make them available online to the general public, there seems to be value in our helping to do so.

Recent CRS products that are not already available in other online public collections such as OpenCRS (www.opencrs.com) and the State Department's Foreign Press Center (fpc.state.gov/fpc/c4763.htm) include the following.

"Is China a Threat to the U.S. Economy?," updated January 23, 2007:

"China's Trade with the United States and the World," updated January 4, 2007:

"Yemen: Current Conditions and U.S. Relations," updated January 4, 2007:

"State and Urban Area Homeland Security Plans and Exercises: Issues for the 110th Congress," updated January 3, 2007:

"The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development," updated January 19, 2007:

"Environmental Activities of the U.S. Coast Guard," updated January 16, 2007:

"The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA): A Summary," updated January 3, 2007:

"Countries of the World and International Organizations: Sources of Information," updated January 8, 2007:

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

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