SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 26
March 7, 2007

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

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CONGRESSIONAL INTELLIGENCE OVERSIGHT IN JEOPARDY

In a "shocking and inexcusable" action that may threaten the institution of congressional intelligence oversight, an anonymous Senator yesterday blocked Senate consideration of the pending Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2007. No intelligence authorization bill has been passed by Congress for the past two years.

If Congress remains unable to legislate an intelligence authorization act, which is the principal product of the intelligence oversight committees each year, then the committees themselves could be rendered irrelevant, officials say.

"The Senate's failure to pass this critical national security legislation for the past 2 years is remarkably shocking and inexcusable," said an angry Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"The result of this continued obstruction will be diminished authority for intelligence agencies to do their job in protecting America. I hope the [anonymous] Senator involved takes satisfaction in that," Senator Rockefeller said. See his March 6 floor statement:

The Senator who is holding up the bill is Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), according to Tim Starks of Congressional Quarterly.

Sen. DeMint "is said to be concerned about provisions of the bill that require the Bush administration to report to Congress on its detention policies, such as those pertaining to its secret CIA prisons, as well as a provision to declassify the total intelligence budget," CQ reported on March 6.


CIA UNLAWFULLY IMPOSED PRIOR RESTRAINT, LAWSUIT ALLEGES

The Central Intelligence Agency improperly blocked a former CIA employee from disseminating unclassified information about what he considered illicit CIA contacts with a foreign national suspected of criminal acts, according to a lawsuit filed this week in DC District Court.

Franz Boening, who was employed by CIA from 1980 to 2005, contended that "the CIA maintained a special relationship with a foreign individual who committed unlawful human rights violations and criminal acts with the knowledge of the CIA." He further alleged that he has suffered retaliation for expressing his concerns.

According to Mr. Boening, "CIA may have violated US laws during its 10+ year relationship with [name redacted]."

As required by his non-disclosure agreement, Mr. Boening submitted his proposed disclosures to the CIA Publication Review Board, which refused to authorize their release.

"Although the entire analysis and factual recitation of the CIA's involvement with this individual was based purely on publicly available nongovernmental (including newspaper articles) and unclassified government websites, the CIA 'classified' more than a dozen pages of publicly available newspaper, radio, and television information, a practice that was commonly assumed to have been discontinued by the CIA years ago," according to the complaint, filed by attorney Mark S. Zaid on March 5.

Two former CIA officials contacted by Secrecy News declined to comment on the case. Another official said that the handling of the Boening matter over the last couple of years coincided with a loss of autonomy at the CIA Publication Review Board in favor of increased control by agency Information Review Officers (IROs). That trend may now be reversing, the official said, under the current DCIA Michael Hayden.

Mr. Boening appears to have been the first and perhaps the only government official ever to take advantage of a provision of the executive order on classification that encourages authorized holders of classified information to challenge its classification if they believe it is improper (executive order 13292, section 1.8).

In order to deflect his challenge, the new complaint says, the CIA argued that he was not technically an "authorized holder" of the information in question and therefore did not have standing to challenge its classification status.


A MEMORABLE LEAK CASE

In the course of an urgent search for the sources who were providing classified information to journalist Jack Anderson in 1971, the Nixon Administration discovered a surprising culprit.

A Navy yeoman in the National Security Council named Charles Radford was not only the "almost certain source" of the Jack Anderson leaks, but he was also in the habit of routinely copying classified documents in the briefcases of Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, and other senior Administration officials, and forwarding the documents to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In effect, the Joint Chiefs were spying on the Nixon White House.

"The P[resident] was quite shocked, naturally, by the whole situation," according to the diary of Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman.

The whole episode, which has been previously described in various memoirs and historical studies, was recalled in a recent edition of Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), which also published some newly transcribed Presidential discussions of the case.

Admiral Welander, yeoman Radford's boss, said that the yeoman should be put in jail for his actions, Haldeman wrote.

Admiral Moorer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said that Admiral Welander should be put in jail.

Kissinger said, "I think Moorer should be in jail."

In the end, nobody went to jail.

"Our best interests are served by not, you know, raising holy hell," concluded President Nixon.

See the relevant excerpts on the Radford-Joint Chiefs spying case (documents 164-166) here:

The full text of the source volume of FRUS is here:

A controversial proposal by Sen. Jon Kyl to criminalize leaks of classified information contained in certain reports to Congress may be considered by the Senate today or tomorrow.


CONSERVATIVE LEADER URGES PUBLIC ACCESS TO CRS REPORTS

Paul M. Weyrich, the influential culture warrior who leads the arch-conservative Free Congress Foundation, has called upon Congress to grant public access to products of the Congressional Research Service.

"It seems to me that it is time to end the foolishness and just make the CRS website available to the general public," Mr. Weyrich wrote in a new commentary.

Does Mr. Weyrich's endorsement of public access to CRS reports imply that continued restrictions on such access might actually be desirable? Of course not.

Here are some recent CRS acquisitions.

"The Executive Office of the President: An Historical Overview," updated November 28, 2006:

"Radioactive Tank Waste from the Past Production of Nuclear Weapons: Background and Issues for Congress," updated January 3, 2007:

"United Nations Reform: U.S. Policy and International Perspectives," January 22, 2007:


SUNSHINE WEEK

Sunshine Week, which falls this year on March 11-17, is an annual effort by news organizations, libraries and public interest groups to focus public attention on the importance of open government.

Next week, dozens of programs across the country will explore the costs of secrecy, the virtues of openness, and the path forward.

See the calendar of events and other information here:

Next week may also see House action on three open government bills that have been advanced by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform under the leadership of Rep. Henry Waxman.

The pending bills include one on Freedom of Information Act amendments, one on amendments to the Presidential Records Act, and one on disclosure of donations to Presidential libraries. Markup of the bills will take place on March 8, and House floor action is expected next week.

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

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