House Moves to Limit “Sensitive Security Information”

05.31.06 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The scope of the “sensitive security information” (SSI) control category that prevents disclosure of certain kinds of transportation security-related information would be significantly curtailed by the House version of the 2007 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act.

The House bill would mandate automatic disclosure of SSI when it becomes three years old if it is not part of an active security plan and unless a written determination is made by the Secretary that it must be withheld.

It would also require DHS to revise its written policy on SSI to provide common representative examples of what constitutes SSI, and it would make it easier for parties in litigation to gain access to SSI. See the SSI provision in the 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which awaits final action on the House floor, here.

The White House denounced the House measure.

“The Administration strongly opposes Section 525 [the SSI provision], which would jeopardize an important program that protects Sensitive Security Information (SSI) from public release by deeming it automatically releasable in three years…,” according to a May 25 Statement of Administration Policy (pdf).

“This provision would require the Secretary to undertake an ongoing, burdensome review process to protect this secure sensitive information that would otherwise remain appropriately protected by regulation,” the White House said (at page 4).

And see, relatedly, “Homeland Security Department: FY2007 Appropriations” (pdf), Congressional Research Service, May 10, 2006.