Secrecy News Odds and Ends

08.08.12 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

A coalition of public interest groups asked the Senate and House Intelligence Committees to preserve an existing requirement for the Intelligence Community to produce an annual report on the number of security clearances.  “We believe the annual report on security clearances provides exceptional value to the public and should continue to be published,” the groups wrote.  The Senate Intelligence Committee markup of the 2013 intelligence authorization bill would repeal the reporting requirement.

Last week the Senate confirmed four of the five nominees to the long-dormant Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.  The nominations of James Dempsey, Elisabeth Collins Cook, Rachel Brand and Patricia Wald were unanimously confirmed.  For unexplained reasons, the Senate did not act upon the nomination of David Medine to serve as Board chairman.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service contacted the Wired Danger Room blog to inquire where its reporter obtained a certain unclassified document five years ago and to ask that the document, which was marked “for official use only,” be taken offline.  “Danger Room, through its attorney, declined to provide the information, or to answer any questions related to the reporting of the story.  The document has not been removed.”  A government information security official not involved in the matter said it was possible there was more to the story than appeared on the surface.  “If the [NCIS] investigation is about the FOUO document, then it’s ridiculous. If it’s about something else, we might not ever know.”

The House Intelligence Committee filed its report on the extension of the FISA Amendments Act.  Like its counterparts on the Judiciary Committee, the Intelligence Committee rejected amendments that would shorten the extension of the law and increase public oversight of its implementation.

With little fanfare or self-congratulation, the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Security Agency have been steadily declassifying and releasing historical intelligence records.  “This tremendous amount of information released in the past year is credit to an impressive declassification program within the intelligence services,” wrote historian Dwayne Day in an assessment of the latest NRO releases. “The US military and intelligence space programs during the first couple of decades of the space age can now be described in incredible detail and understood far better than before.”