SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2008, Issue No. 12
January 31, 2008

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

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PRESIDENT ASKS FOR AGENCY VIEWS ON DECLASSIFICATION

President Bush this week ordered executive branch agency heads to respond to dozens of recommendations that were issued earlier this month by the Public Interest Declassification Board, an official advisory group, regarding the declassification of historical records.

The Board's report, "Improving Declassification," presented 49 recommendations to increase the utility and productivity of declassification, such as establishment of a National Declassification Center, creation of a public database of declassified documents, expedited declassification of presidential records including the President's Daily Brief, and new procedures for declassification of closed congressional hearing records and other documents.

"Please submit in writing no later than April 15, 2008... your views on each of the recommendations, including with respect to each recommendation your view of whether and to what extent it should be implemented," President Bush told the agency heads on January 29.

The Board's report hardly made a ripple when it was released earlier this month (Secrecy News, 01/09/08). And since it is purely advisory, it could easily have been ignored.

But the President's response increases the likelihood that the Board's recommendations will now receive serious consideration, inside and outside of the executive branch.


HISTORIANS SEEK RELEASE OF ROSENBERG GRAND JURY RECORDS

A coalition of historians is petitioning a federal court in New York to release sealed grand jury records from the 1951 indictment of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and executed in 1953.

The Rosenberg case, a crucible of atomic secrets, American communism, Soviet spying, U.S. counterespionage, and more, remains a landmark in the history of the Cold War. But after decades of debate and disclosure, some of the basic records of the case still remain inaccessible. The historians' initiative aims to change that.

The National Security Archive, one of the petitioners, has published the petition along with a diverse collection of declarations here:


THE OKNO AND KRONA SPACE SURVEILLANCE SYSTEMS

Russia's Okno and Krona space surveillance systems are profiled in a newly updated open-source documentary collection by former CIA analyst Allen Thomson.

The precise location of the Okno facility, which is in Tajikistan, has not been publicly identified.

But last year, observed Mr. Thomson, a new "Krona-N radar site near Nakhodka was found in Google Earth (not by me) and the head of the Russian Space Forces says it's going to be put into operation starting this year."

"Like Krona Classic in the Caucasus, this is going to be an imaging radar," he said. "Together with the 3-meter adaptive optics telescope being built in Siberia, the Krona radars will give Russia an excellent, all-weather capability to get high-resolution images of foreign satellites of interest. The new National Reconnaissance Office spysats scheduled for launch in the next few years seem likely to be among those."

The new documentary collection is mostly in Russian, with selected translations and some nice images.

See "Sourcebook on the Okno and Krona Space Surveillance Sites" by Allen Thomson:


THE WARRIOR ETHOS

A new U.S. Army Field Manual presents an introduction for soldiers to "the warrior ethos."

"Modern combat is chaotic, intense, and shockingly destructive," the document states. "In your first battle, you will experience the confusing and often terrifying sights, sounds, smells, and dangers of the battlefield--but you must learn to survive and win despite them."

"The Warrior Culture, a shared set of important beliefs, values, and assumptions, is crucial and perishable. Therefore, the Army must continually affirm, develop, and sustain it, as it maintains the nation's existence."

The warrior ethos (or any other) is not instilled simply by reading about it. But the new Army publication provides a common vocabulary and framework of reference for the aspiring warrior, along with basic survival and combat techniques.

See "The Warrior Ethos and Soldier Combat Skills," U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-21.75, January 2008 (316 pages in a very large 28 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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