SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2012, Issue No. 17
February 27, 2012

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

DOD ISSUES NEW INFORMATION SECURITY REGULATION

The Department of Defense has published its long-awaited new information security regulation that finally brings the Department into conformity with the Obama Administration's 2009 executive order on national security classification policy.

The new regulation, published in four volumes as DoD Manual 5200.01 and dated 24 February 2012, replaces Information Security Regulation 5200.1-R, which dates from 1997.

DoD is by far the largest and most prolific generator of classified information in the government. So every shift in DoD information policy (as well as every failure to shift) has significant ramifications for the secrecy system as a whole.

The new regulation generally follows the classification guidelines set by the Obama executive order but it also elaborates on them in interesting ways. It presents comprehensive guidance on practically every aspect of classification and declassification policy, including an extended discussion of how to respond to unauthorized disclosures of classified information (in volume 3, Enclosure 6).

Other notable provisions in the first volume of the new regulation include the following.

"If holders of information have substantial reason to believe that the information is improperly or unnecessarily classified, they shall communicate that belief to their security manager or the OCA [original classification authority] to bring about any necessary correction.... The Heads of the DoD Components shall ensure that no retribution is taken against any individual for questioning a classification or making a formal challenge to a classification." (Vol. 1, p. 49)

Each DoD component is required to establish a self-inspection program, which "shall include regular review and assessment of representative samples of the DoD Component's classified products. Appropriate officials shall be authorized to correct misclassification of information." (p. 13)

The Assistant Secretary of Defense (NII) shall "Direct the use of technical means to prevent unauthorized copying of classified data and for anomaly detection to recognize unusual patterns of accessing, handling, downloading, and removal of digital classified information." (p. 12)

"DoD military and civilian personnel may be subject to criminal or administrative sanctions if they knowingly, willfully, or negligently:
(a) Disclose to unauthorized persons information properly classified in accordance with this Volume.
(b) Classify or continue the classification of information in violation of this Volume.
(c) Create or continue a SAP [special access program] contrary to the requirements of... this Volume...." (p.32)

The Fundamental Classification Guidance Review, which was mandated by the executive order to eliminate obsolete classification instructions, shall encompass "a broad range of perspectives," the new regulation states. The involvement of outside experts is essential, the regulation seems to recognize, in order to compensate for self-interest, prejudice, and habitual patterns of thought. "Contributions of subject matter experts with sufficient expertise in narrow specializations must be balanced by the participation of managers and planners who have broader organizational vision and relationships. Additionally, to the extent practicable, input should also be obtained from external subject matter experts and external users of the classification guidance." (p. 73)

The new regulation is effective immediately.

A February 16 report from DoD on the Fundamental Classification Guidance Review indicated that of the 1069 security classification guides that had been reviewed by the end of December 2011, no fewer than 318 guides had been scheduled for retirement or cancellation. See "DoD Reports 'Impressive Strides' in Updating Classification," Secrecy News, February 22.


DOD RESPONDS TO QUESTIONS ON NUCLEAR TARGETING

Are U.S. nuclear forces on "hair trigger" alert? Not exactly, a Department of Defense official told Congress recently.

"Although it is true that portions of the U.S. nuclear triad are capable of rapid execution upon authorization from the President, a robust system of safeguards and procedures is in place to prevent the accidental or unauthorized launch of a U.S. nuclear weapon," said James N. Miller, Jr., Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, in newly published responses to questions for the record from a May 2011 hearing.

Moreover, he added, "The United States continues the practice of open-ocean targeting of all ICBMs and SLBMs. This is so that in the highly unlikely event of an unauthorized or accidental launch, the missile would land in the open ocean."

The newly published hearing volume presented an unusually candid public discussion of nuclear weapons force structure and the process for revising it.

"Generally, three high-level documents provide overall policy guidance regarding U.S. nuclear weapons," explained Dr. Miller in response to another question for the record.

"Presidential guidance provides high-level direction on our nuclear deterrence strategy, employment/targeting policy, and force posture. I anticipate that President Obama will issue new presidential guidance later this year [2011] that incorporates many of the policy decisions reached during the NPR [Nuclear Posture Review]," he said. (In fact, however, such new presidential guidance has still not been issued, noted Hans Kristensen of FAS.)

"The Secretary of Defense provides additional guidance in a document known as the Policy Guidance for the Employment of Nuclear Weapons (NUWEP) that implements and amplifies presidential guidance. The NUWEP is an annex to DOD's Guidance for Employment of the Force. The current NUWEP was issued in 2008. It will be revised by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in close coordination with the Joint Staff, U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), the military departments, and other combatant commands following the issuance of the new Presidential guidance, and provided for approval by the Secretary of Defense."

"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also issues a document known as the Nuclear Supplement to the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP-N), which provides additional direction to military planners regarding the preparation of contingency plans for potential employment of U.S. nuclear weapons. The current JSCP-N was issued in 2004 and will be revised after the issuance of new presidential guidance and the NUWEP," Dr. Miller wrote.

See "Implementation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and Plans for Future Reductions in Nuclear Warheads and Delivery Systems Post-New START Treaty," Senate Armed Services Committee, May 4, 2011 (published January 2012):

And see, relatedly, "U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues," Congressional Research Service, February 22, 2012:

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

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