CIA Sees “Little Likelihood” of Finding Docs on Secrecy Reform

11.14.11 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

There is “little likelihood” that the Central Intelligence Agency will be able to produce any records documenting the CIA’s implementation of the Fundamental Classification Guidance Review that each classifying agency is required to conduct, the Agency said last week.

The Fundamental Classification Guidance Review (FCGR) was ordered by President Obama in his December 2009 executive order 13526 (section 1.9) as a systematic effort to eliminate obsolete or unnecessary classification requirements.  It is the Obama Administration’s primary response to the problem of over-classification, and it has already achieved some limited results at the Department of Defense and elsewhere.

But it can’t possibly work if agencies don’t implement it.  And so far there is no sign of any such implementation at CIA, despite the fact that compliance is not optional.

In response to FOIA requests over the past year for records on the CIA’s progress in conducting its fundamental review, the CIA said it still had no records on the FCGR that are subject to the FOIA requests.

In an earlier response, “we informed you that a search was conducted and no records responsive to your request were located,” wrote Susan Viscuso, CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator, on October 26.  “Although there is little likelihood that an updated search would produce different results, we will be glad to do so.”

Ms. Viscuso’s letter appeared to hint that responsive files might be contained in CIA “operational files” that are exempt from search and review under the CIA Information Act.  But such a claim would be substantively and legally spurious, especially since responsive records on the FCGR would have been “disseminated” outside of their source files (e.g. to the Information Security Oversight Office), which would nullify their exemption from search and review.

Meanwhile, another intelligence agency, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), proved more responsive.  The NRO said in a report on the FCGR (pdf) that was released last week under the FOIA that it had scheduled all of its classification guides for a fundamental review, as required.  The NRO, which is responsible for U.S. intelligence satellites, also said it was preparing an integrated classification guide that would be “more agile, timely, consistent, uniform, and flexible in providing classification guidance and principles at the lowest appropriate classification level.”

See all publications
Science Policy
Expected Utility Forecasting for Science Funding

Common frameworks for evaluating proposals leave this utility function implicit, often evaluating aspects of risk, uncertainty, and potential value independently and qualitatively.

11.20.23 | 11 min read
read more
Nuclear Weapons
Nuclear Notebook: Nuclear Weapons Sharing, 2023

The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]

11.17.23 | 1 min read
read more
Social Innovation
Community School Approach Reaches High of 60%, Reports Latest Pulse Panel

According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ August 2023 pulse panel, 60% of public schools were utilizing a “community school” or “wraparound services model” at the start of this school year—up from 45% last year.

11.17.23 | 4 min read
read more
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Recognizes Exemplary Work in Science Policy and Culture with the 2023 FAS Public Service Awards

Filmmaker Christopher Nolan, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Todd (R-IN), and Dr. Alondra Nelson presented with FAS Public Service Awards;
Alexa White received the inaugural FAS Policy Entrepreneurship award.

11.16.23 | 4 min read
read more