SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 55
May 25, 2007

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

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ANONYMOUS SENATOR BLOCKS FOIA REFORM BILL

An unidentified Republican Senator placed a secret hold on the Open Government Act, a bipartisan bill to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act, thereby preventing the Senate from acting on the bill this week.

"Regrettably, an anonymous Republican hold is stalling this important Freedom of Information Act legislation, needlessly delaying long-overdue reforms to strengthen FOIA and to protect the public's right to know," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a co-sponsor of the bill along with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

"It is both unfortunate and ironic that this bipartisan bill, which promotes sunshine and openness in our government, is being hindered by a secret and anonymous hold. This is a good government bill that Democrats and Republicans alike, can and should work together to enact," Sen. Leahy said in a May 24 floor statement.

"I hope that the Senator placing the secret hold on this bill will come forward, so that we can resolve any legitimate concerns, and the full Senate can promptly act on this legislation," he said.


DOD ISSUES POLICY ON CONDUCT AT RAVEN ROCK MOUNTAIN

The Department of Defense has issued a new statement of security policy for the Raven Rock Mountain Complex, also known as Site R, which is one of the U.S. government's emergency command centers and relocation sites.

Although it is located in Pennsylvania, not Virginia, Raven Rock was legally designated in 2003 as part of the Pentagon Reservation, and the new policy reflects that change.

Among other things, the policy dictates that "it shall be unlawful to make any photograph, sketch, picture, drawing, map or graphical representation of the ... Raven Rock Mountain Complex without first obtaining the necessary permission."

The policy was published in the Federal Register on May 25.


CRS ON TERRORIST PRECURSOR CRIMES

The role of domestic criminal activity in generating financial and operational support for terrorism is considered in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

So-called "terrorist precursor crimes" may include various types of fraud, counterfeiting, narcotics trade, and illegal weapons procurement.

"This report provides an overview of the types of terrorist precursor crimes known, and/or alleged, to have been employed by individuals and/or groups in the United States. The report highlights issues related to the breadth of this activity in the United States, as well as the opportunities for intelligence collection and law enforcement-related countermeasures."

But it is not immediately clear that "terrorist precursor crime" is a useful analytical construct since only "a very small percentage of individuals engaged in such activity" are likely to have any "nexus to terrorism."

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

See "Terrorist Precursor Crimes: Issues and Options for Congress," May 24, 2007:

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

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