SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2008, Issue No. 26
March 18, 2008

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

FORMER ISOO DIRECTORS TO TESTIFY FOR DEFENSE IN AIPAC TRIAL

In a blow to Justice Department prosecutors, two former directors of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) are expected to testify for the defense in the controversial trial of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who are charged with unlawful receipt and transmission of classified information.

Steven Garfinkel (ISOO director from 1980-2002) and J. William Leonard (2002-2007) have been the voice of classification authority across three decades and five presidential administrations. They inspected, oversaw and reported to the President on the government's classification and declassification programs. And last week they were listed among eight proposed expert witnesses for the defense in the AIPAC case, formally known as USA v. Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman.

As deeply knowledgeable classification officials, Mr. Garfinkel and Mr. Leonard might have been expected to testify for the government in a case involving classification policy. The fact that they are testifying for the defense is a startling indication that the prosecution's case has strayed far beyond any consensus view regarding the proper protection of classified information.

The surprising participation of these former classification officials was first reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the New York Sun. See "Key New Witnesses Sign on for the Defense in AIPAC Case" by Josh Gerstein, New York Sun, March 17:

In another sign that the government's case may be unraveling, the lead prosecutor quit last month to take a job in the private sector. See "Top prosecutor in AIPAC case quits," Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 28:

Selected case files from the AIPAC prosecution may be found here:


SECURITY GUIDANCE FOR LAWYERS WITH CIA CLIENTS

Attorneys representing employees of the Central Intelligence Agency who are suing the Agency are obliged to sign a non-disclosure agreement and to comply with CIA secrecy requirements.

The CIA has prepared an introduction to its security policies for non-governmental attorneys. It includes answers to questions such as: How do I know when information is classified? What restrictions are there on how I handle my client's information at my office? And so forth.

See "Security Guidance for Representatives," Central Intelligence Agency, 2007:

The document was filed last week in the case of Franz Boening v. CIA, which alleges unlawful prior restraint by the Agency. The CIA is refusing to provide access to key case documents to the plaintiff's attorney in the case, Mark S. Zaid, despite the fact that he holds a security clearance.


A SECRET SESSION OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

"Since 1830, the House has met behind closed doors only three times," according to the Congressional Research Service: "in 1979 to discuss the Panama Canal, in 1980 to discuss Central American assistance, and in 1983 to discuss U.S. support for paramilitary operations in Nicaragua."

On March 13, the House went into secret session once more to consider classified matters concerning the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. After some extended discussion of the unusual practice, followed by a security check, public access to the proceedings was barred. See:

For related background see "Secret Sessions of the House and Senate," Congressional Research Service, updated May 25, 2007:

and "Secret Sessions of Congress: A Brief Historical Overview," updated May 30, 2007:

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

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