Secrecy News

CRS Reports Are Still Out of Bounds

When a military judge ruled last month that Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, could be tried for war crimes, the first footnote in his July 14 opinion (pdf) was to a Congressional Research Service report. (Hamdan was convicted yesterday for material support of terrorism.)

But Military Judge Keith J. Allred, lacking an official source for the CRS analysis by Jennifer K. Elsea (with which he ultimately differed), provided a link instead (see footnote 1 on page 3) to a copy of the document on the Federation of American Scientists web site.

By doing so, the Judge simultaneously highlighted the centrality of such CRS analyses to public discourse and the strange fact that these official documents are still not approved for direct release to the public.

Perhaps he also implicitly affirmed that FAS and other public interest publishers of CRS collections are helping to compensate for that continuing policy defect by providing the online access to CRS reports that Congress has denied.

0 thoughts on “CRS Reports Are Still Out of Bounds

  1. I’ve been studying the possible sociopolitical costs and benefits of RRW vs LEP. The CRS reports on your website have been incredibly helpful, not to mention your articles and blog. I, too, am linking my citations to your website.

    Thanks FAS,


  2. Way to go Steven! Once again, the work that you do is highlighted and most appreciated. Govt Documents Librarians (myself included) have been trying for years to get our hands on CRS reports because of their research value. Many libraries have them in their collections and you can find them by searching WorldCat. I’ve also begun harvesting sites that post digital CRS reports (including FAS) and making them accessible at the Internet Archive. Please check out the site and let me know if there are other sites that I’ve missed (jrjacobs AT stanford DOT edu). Thanks again for all your diligence!

  3. Once again Steven, you blow me away! Thanks once more for kicking it up a notch and taking on the cause of providing much needed resources for researchers like myself. This was the first place I went when I looked for my first CRS report and thanks to you, I am able to investigate and support my work. As James said earlier, “thanks again for all your due diligence”; it is greatly appreciated.

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