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FAS Statement on the Foreign Broadcast Information Service

February 6, 1997

We note with satisfaction the new Central Intelligence Agency statement that the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) will continue to provide "virtually 100 percent of the coverage we provide today" and that the FBIS strategy is to make "more, not less, information available on line for direct public access."

Following through on our campaign to protect FBIS from severe budget cuts, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) will monitor the status of FBIS to ensure that the declared policy is implemented and that the budget allocation for FBIS is consistent with the plan to make "more, not less information available."

We continue to believe that FBIS should be restored to its former self with hard copy and not just electronic material-- paid for by increased subscription costs where necessary. And we want to see the scope of FBIS coverage restored to what it once was.

More generally, FAS believes that CIA has an important role to play in supporting national security by informing civic society. This role is becoming ever more important as the foreign policy of our society is increasingly influenced and even shaped and implemented by non-governmental organizations, the media, corporations, and others engaged in international transactions.

The ability of intelligence to make a positive contribution to society at large is demonstrated, for example, by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which provides original intelligence analyses for public consumption on its world wide web site. If the CIA were to structure more of its analytical work to provide unclassified summaries with classified appendices, the former could be placed on the world wide web at little or no incremental cost. Such a practice would not only improve civic society's ability to interact with foreign societies, but might invigorate CIA by providing it with a new set of customers and a new constituency. In particular, it would enhance CIA's ability to hire talented analysts who might otherwise find intelligence work too confining.

With this in mind, we plan an on-going project on "intelligence for society" that will advance these and other approaches to improving the work of the intelligence community and its relevance to post-cold war American life.

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