SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 117
December 4, 2007

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

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DEFENSE CONTRACTING IN IRAQ, AND MORE FROM CRS

The complexities of U.S. defense contracting in Iraq and some of the resulting irregularities are reviewed in a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service.

"Given the size and scope of the contracts in Iraq, and the challenge of managing billions of DOD-appropriated dollars, many have suggested it appropriate to inquire whether these types of contracts can be managed better," the CRS report delicately stated.

See "Defense Contracting in Iraq: Issues and Options for Congress," updated November 15, 2007:

Other noteworthy new CRS reports obtained by Secrecy News include the following:

"North Korea's Nuclear Weapons: Latest Developments," November 21, 2007:

"Russian Energy Policy toward Neighboring Countries," November 27, 2007:

"Foreign Aid Reform: Issues for Congress and Policy Options," November 7, 2007:

"Defense: FY2008 Authorization and Appropriations," updated November 28, 2007:

"Botnets, Cybercrime, and Cyberterrorism: Vulnerabilities and Policy Issues for Congress," updated November 15, 2007:


NIE ON IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM: NO SLAM DUNK

In an unusual policy pirouette, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence yesterday published the key judgments of a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear weapons program little more than a month after the DNI issued guidance declaring that "It is the policy of the Director of National Intelligence that KJs [key judgments] should not be declassified." (Secrecy News, 11/01/07).

"We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program," the new Estimate states dramatically.

Although it goes on to assert "moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons," the new Estimate effectively distances the U.S. intelligence community from those who insist that Iran is irrevocably bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.

By challenging the prejudices of the Administration rather than reinforcing them, the NIE on Iran does what earlier estimates on Iraq notoriously failed to do.

It also departs from the judgments of the 2005 NIE on Iran, which is why it has now been publicly disclosed, according to Deputy DNI Donald Kerr.

"Since our understanding of Iran's capabilities has changed, we felt it was important to release this information to ensure that an accurate presentation is available," he said.

In fact, however, Congress directed the DNI in the FY 2007 defense authorization act to prepare an unclassified summary of the Estimate.

"Consistent with the protection of intelligence sources and methods, an unclassified summary of the key judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate should be submitted." (House Report 109-702, section 1213, Intelligence on Iran).

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

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