Nuclear Weapons

DoE Intelligence Embraces Discredited Budget Secrecy Policy

04.17.06 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The Department of Energy Office of Intelligence has reverted to a policy of budget secrecy that it rejected more than a decade ago.

For as long as anyone can remember, the small DOE intelligence unit always had an unclassified budget (around $40 million in recent years).

“The size of the DOE intelligence budget is not classified because it does not reveal the size or the components of the Department’s National Foreign Intelligence Program,” wrote John G. Keliher, then-Director of the DOE Office of Nonproliferation and National Security on June 24, 1994.

“The DOE intelligence budget does not disclose any classified information. National security is neither threatened nor damaged as a result of the UNCLASSIFIED intelligence budget released to the public,” Mr. Keliher wrote.

Interestingly, the other member of the U.S. intelligence community with an unclassified budget is the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR).

It may be more than a coincidence that INR and DOE intelligence analysts also distinguished themselves by dissenting from prevailing government views on Iraq’s supposed “reconstitution” of its nuclear weapons program.

In 2004, the 9/11 Commission recommended that all U.S. intelligence agencies should do what INR and DOE Intelligence had long done, and disclose their annual budget totals.

“To combat the secrecy and complexity we have described, the overall amounts of money being appropriated for national intelligence and to its component agencies should no longer be kept secret,” the Commission wrote in its final report (p. 416).

Other agencies simply ignored the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation. But amazingly, DOE responded by doing the exact opposite of what the 9/11 Commission said was necessary.

Boldly striving for mediocrity, DOE began to classify its intelligence budget figure in Fiscal Year 2005.

A longstanding request from Secrecy News for an explanation of DOE’s retreat into the budget secrecy that it previously disavowed has gone unanswered.

Instead, DOE officials have sought to purge prior disclosures of intelligence budget information from the agency website. This material has been recovered here.

It hardly comes as a surprise that DOE intelligence is now facing a period of internal turmoil.

One possible outcome, “which the DOE Secretary reportedly has approved but not yet initiated, would be to integrate the DOE’s Office of Intelligence… and DOE’s CI [Counterintelligence] office under a newly created DOE intelligence agency,” according to a new Congressional Research Service report.

A copy of the CRS report was obtained by Secrecy News.

See “Intelligence Reform at the Department of Energy: Policy Issues and Organizational Alternatives” (pdf), April 10, 2006.

The DOE Office of Classification publishes a newsletter called “CommuniQue,” which presents instructional tips for classifiers and declassifiers and provides notification of new and forthcoming classification guides. The latest issue, dated February 2006, is available here (pdf).

The possible integration of DOE intelligence and counterintelligence was first reported by Bill Gertz in The Washington Times on February 21.

The Director of the DOE Office of Intelligence is Rolf Mowatt-Larssen.

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