SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 52
May 17, 2007

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

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A REVIEW OF THE U.S. HIGHLY ENRICHED URANIUM DECLARATION

More than five years after it was completed, the Department of Energy last year finally released a landmark historical account of U.S. production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from 1945 to 1996.

Conceived a decade ago as a bold initiative to set a new standard for international transparency and government accountability, the HEU study was released under pressure as an unwilling concession to the rule of law, i.e. the Freedom of Information Act.

The story of the five year campaign to win public disclosure of the HEU study and an initial assessment of its significance for nuclear nonproliferation policy were presented in a paper by myself and Princeton physicist Frank von Hippel in the latest issue of The Nonproliferation Review.

See "The U.S. Highly Enriched Uranium Declaration: Transparency Deferred but not Denied" by Steven Aftergood and Frank von Hippel, Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, March 2007:

The paper was discussed at a forum of the Monterey Institute Center for Nonproliferation Studies on May 17, with a response from Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive:

The HEU Study itself, "Highly Enriched Uranium: Striking A Balance," is posted here:


CRS ON NEW U.S. AFRICA COMMAND

U.S. Government plans to establish a new military command to be known as AFRICOM with responsibility for U.S. military forces in Africa are described in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

"As defined by the Department of Defense, AFRICOM's mission will be to promote U.S. strategic objectives by working with African states and regional organizations to help strengthen stability and security in the region through improved security capability, military professionalization, and accountable governance. The command's military operations would aim to deter aggression and respond to crises."

"This report provides a broad overview of U.S. strategic interests in Africa and the role of U.S. military efforts on the continent as they pertain to the creation of a new Africa Command. Although the command is still in the planning phase, a discussion of AFRICOM's potential mission, its coordination with other government agencies, and its basing and manpower requirements is included. This report will be updated as events warrant."

A copy of the new report was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Africa Command: U.S. Strategic Interests and the Role of the U.S. Military in Africa," May 16, 2007:


GAO ON CONTRACTOR SECURITY CLEARANCES

Delay and dysfunction in the personnel security clearance system are an old story, and the Government Accountability Office has been describing and updating that story for at least two decades, including new congressional testimony today focusing on Department of Defense (DOD) contractors.

"DOD is responsible for about 2.5 million security clearances issued to servicemembers, DOD civilians, and industry personnel who work on contracts for DOD and 23 other federal agencies."

"GAO's analysis of timeliness data showed that industry personnel contracted to work for the federal government waited more than 1 year on average to receive top secret clearances, longer than OMB- and OPM-produced statistics would suggest."

See "DoD Personnel Clearances: Delays and Inadequate Documentation Found for Industry Personnel," [GAO-07-842T], May 17, 2007:


VARIOUS DOD RESOURCES

New guidance on declassification marking of documents and materials originating in Department of Defense special access programs was issued by the new Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence) James R. Clapper, Jr. on April 26.

A Joint Chiefs of Staff publication presents doctrine on "barrier, obstacle, and mine warfare." The document, newly updated, "greatly expands coverage of improvised explosive devices, mines, and other unexploded explosive ordnance." See "Barriers, Obstacles, and Mine Warfare for Joint Operations," Joint Publication 3-15, 26 April 2007:

A U.S. Army "smart card" provides soldiers a summary overview of the threat from Improvised Explosive Devices. The unclassified smart card on "The IED and VBIED [vehicle borne IED] Threat" dated January 2004 -- not the latest edition -- is available here:

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

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