Monday, May 19, 1997
The Federation of American Scientists filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit today against the Central Intelligence Agency to compel the disclosure of the total intelligence budget.
The lawsuit cited 1996 Congressional testimony by then-Director of Central Intelligence John Deutch that "the President is persuaded that disclosure of the annual amount appropriated for intelligence purposes will inform the public and not, in itself, harm intelligence activities."
In apparent defiance of the President's views, and in violation of the Freedom of Information Act, the CIA has refused to disclose the budget total. Meanwhile, a Congressional amendment to require publication of the budget total was rejected by the House last year by a vote of 176- 248.
"Budget secrecy today illustrates both the corruption of CIA information policy and the inadequacy of Congressional oversight," said Steven Aftergood, director of the FAS Project on Government Secrecy and the plaintiff in the FOIA lawsuit.
"Neither CIA nor Congress has been able to shake this budget number loose-- so we are going to," Aftergood said.
FAS is represented in the FOIA lawsuit by Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies (tel. 202-994-7060).
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has recently introduced a bill (HR 753) that would mandate publication of the total intelligence budget request each year, as well as the amount appropriated. (Contact: Carl LeVan, 202-225-5126).
A copy of the FAS FOIA complaint follows.
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
Washington, DC 20505
CASE NUMBER 1:97CV01096
JUDGE: Thomas F. Hogan
DECK TYPE: FOIA
DATE STAMP: 05/19/97
2. Information is exempt from disclosure under (b)(1) of the Freedom of Information Act only if it is properly classified pursuant to executive order. President Clinton's Executive Order 12958 states that information may be classified only if its disclosure "reasonably could be expected to result in damage to the national security," sec. 1.2(a)(4). The Executive Order also provides that "if there is significant doubt about the need to classify information, it shall not be classified," sec. 1.2(b).
3. On April 23, 1996, President Clinton's press secretary wrote that the President was announcing "several significant reforms for the Intelligence Community .... [that] build on the recommendations made in the Brown Commission Report on the Roles and Capabilities of the Intelligence Community." The Press Secretary stated that "reflecting the President's determination to promote openness in the Intelligence Community, he has authorized Congress to make public the total appropriation-- the bottom line figure -- for intelligence at the time the appropriations conference report is approved by Congress."
4. The next day, April 24, 1996, then Director of Central Intelligence, John Deutch explained to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that: "the President is persuaded that disclosure of the annual amount appropriated for intelligence purposes will inform the public and will not, in itself, harm intelligence activities."
5. The CIA's refusal to release this amount violates the Freedom of Information Act.
7. Venue lies in this district under 5 U.S.C. sec. 552(a)(4)(B).
9. Defendant Central Intelligence Agency is an agency of the United States government which has possession of the documents requested by plaintiff under the Freedom of Information Act.
11. By letter dated December 4, 1996, the CIA refused to release the requested information to the plaintiff asserting that it was exempt from disclosure under section (b)(1) of the FOIA exempting properly classified information from release and under section (b)(3) exempting intelligence sources and methods from release.
12. By letter dated December 12, 1996, plaintiff appealed the withholding of the information, pointing out that the requested information is not properly classified under Executive Order 12958 and that exemption (b)(3) also does not apply.
13. By letter dated January 17, 1997, the CIA acknowledged receipt of the plaintiff's appeal. It corrected its earlier statement that the information was exempt from disclosure under (b)(3). The ClA's letter stated: "The information was denied on the basis of Freedom of Information Act exemption (b)(1) only. Freedom of Information Act exemption (b)(3) was inadvertently asserted as a basis for denial in our response of 4 December 1996." Plaintiff has received no further response to his appeal.
15. Defendant CIA's failure to release the requested information violates the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. sec. 552.
WHEREFORE, plaintiff requests that the Court:
a. expedite the proceedings in this action;
b. declare that the defendant's refusal to produce the information requested by Mr. Aftergood is unlawful;
c. order defendant to release to plaintiff documents that indicate the total budget appropriation for intelligence for fiscal year 1997;
d. award plaintiff his costs and attorneys fees in this action; and
e. grant such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.
D.C. Bar No. 949115
Center for National Security Studies
2130 H St reet , NW, Suite 701
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 994 7060
Counsel for plaintiff
May 19, 1997