SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 87
August 27, 2007

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THE FBI AS AN INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has increasingly supplemented its traditional law enforcement role with new intelligence and counterterrorism functions, now says its paramount objective is to "prevent, disrupt, and defeat terrorist operations before they occur."

New domestic intelligence collection activities that have been adopted in pursuit of this goal are described in unusual detail in the Bureau's 2008 budget request.

Special attention is given to cultivating human intelligence sources.

"The FBI recruits new CHSs [confidential human sources] every day," the budget request notes. But without increased budget support, the FBI says it will not be possible to validate these sources and to determine the credibility of the information they provide.

"With current resources, the FBI is unable to reach a point where all CHSs are successfully subjected to the CHSV [confidential human source validation] process."

The budget request refers in passing to "more than 15,000" confidential human sources requiring validation (page 4-24).

The FBI also seeks new funds for intelligence collection training and operations.

"Without this training, the FBI would lack the full capacity to provide SAs [special agents] the comprehensive tradecraft, procedural, legal and policy direction needed to execute the significant and constitutionally sensitive domestic intelligence collection mission with confidence," the budget document states (page 4-27).

The FBI's budgetary focus on expanding its human intelligence capability was first reported by Justin Rood of ABC News. See "FBI Proposes Building Network of U.S. Informants," July 25:

The same FBI budget document provides significant new detail on other FBI intelligence and counterterrorism activities, the FBI open source program, the National Virtual Translation Center, and other initiatives.

The Washington Post reported that there were nearly 20,000 positive matches of individuals seeking to enter the United States who were flagged by the Terrorist Screening Center, according to the FBI budget request. Despite the surprisingly large figure, only a small number of arrests resulted.

See "Terror Suspect List Yields Few Arrests" by Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, August 25:


DOMESTIC USE OF SPY SATELLITES QUESTIONED

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee scolded Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff last week for failing to notify him of plans to expand the use of intelligence satellites for homeland security applications.

"Unfortunately, I have had to rely on media reports to gain information about this endeavor because neither I nor my staff was briefed on the decision to create this new office prior to the public disclosure of this effort," wrote Rep. Bennie Thompson in an August 22 letter to Secretary Chertoff (who has been mentioned as a possible nominee to replace Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General).

"I need you to provide me with an immediate assurance that upon its October 1st roll out, this program will be operating within the confines of the Constitution and all applicable laws and regulations," Chairman Thompson wrote.

"Additionally, because I have not been informed of the existence of this program for over a two year period, I am requesting that for the next six weeks, you provide me with bi-weekly briefings on the progress of the [National Applications Office] working groups."

The Thompson letter as well as the new homeland security initiative were first reported in the Wall Street Journal.

A Washington Post editorial said that any use of spy satellites for domestic monitoring "must be accompanied... by robust protections for privacy and civil liberties." The failure to properly advise Congress was "not a comforting start for a landmark change."


ARMY JAG ISSUES OPERATIONAL LAW HANDBOOK

A comprehensive introduction to military operational law is presented in a new edition of the Operational Law Handbook published by the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General.

The Handbook, intended for the use of judge advocates, describes tactics and techniques for the practice of operational law.

Along the way, it provides a useful survey of the laws of war, human rights law, prisoner detainment policy, the use of contractors alongside military forces, and intelligence law, among other topics.

"Because intelligence is so important to the commander, operational lawyers must understand the basics of intelligence law, including how law and policy pertain to the collection of human intelligence, such as interrogation operations," the Handbook states.

See "Operational Law Handbook," The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, July 2007 (667 pages, 6 MB PDF file):

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

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