from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
January 5, 2001


The White House today is announcing the establishment of a new interagency body, created by Presidential Decision Directive, to coordinate counterintelligence (CI) activities across the government.

"To deal with the new CI threat environment, the CI community must be restructured and transposed from a largely reactive state to a modern, innovative program that is much more proactive," said John McGaffin, senior adviser to the National Counterintelligence Center. Mr. McGaffin discussed the new initiative several months ago at a meeting of the Security Policy Advisory Board.

One of the first things the new entity will do is to ask what information really needs to be protected. "The principle activities of [the new organization] will include the identification of the critical assets that must be protected by CI," said Mr. McGaffin.

This is a potentially awkward question for many agencies, because as soon as one asks what information is genuinely sensitive, it immediately becomes clear that an enormous amount of non-sensitive information is being protected for no valid national security reason.

On the other hand, government bureaucracies are well-equipped to deflect such inquiries. Neither the National Counterintelligence Center nor the Security Policy Board, which was likewise created by Presidential Decision Directive in 1994, have had any fundamental impact on security policies.

The new initiative was reported today by the New York Times and the Washington Post. The remarks of John McGaffin on CI-21 and the new counterintelligence structure may be found here:


The Central Intelligence Agency and the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) are seeking to prevent declassification of entire categories of 30 year old documents, according to the new Annual Report of the State Department's Historical Advisory Committee.

"The Committee is gravely concerned that these blanket denials will set a dangerous precedent and compromise the historical record," wrote Committee chair Michael J. Hogan, an eminent historian at Ohio State University.

The Historical Advisory Committee was established by Congress to ensure the integrity of the historical record as presented in the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series, the official documentary record of U.S. foreign policy.

"PFIAB seeks a permanent exemption of its records from the declassification statute on the dubious grounds that it provides personal and private information to the President. It claims that it 'owns' the documents of its predecessor agencies. The Advisory Committee is firmly and unanimously opposed to PFIAB's stance," the new Report states.

Meanwhile, "the CIA claims that the President's Daily Briefs (PDBs) are not subject to declassification because they fall under the category of privileged advice to the President and are, therefore, exempt information.... The Committee is unequivocally opposed to the CIA's position and believes that this kind of blanket denial sets a dangerous precedent."

According to a 1991 statute, the FRUS series is required by law to be "thorough, accurate and reliable." Efforts by CIA and PFIAB to withhold significant historical information from the FRUS editors would therefore seem to be in violation of the law.

The new Annual Report of the State Department Historical Advisory Committee for calendar year 2000 is posted here:


A major new report to the President on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John M. Shalikashvili should help to resuscitate debate over the Treaty and to enhance the prospects for its ultimate ratification, which was blocked by Senate Republicans in 1999.

"At the end of my review of the Treaty's potential impact on U.S. national security, I support the Treaty, just as I did when I served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Shalikashvili writes. "My discussions over the last ten months have only strengthened my view that the Treaty is a very important part of global non-proliferation efforts and is compatible with keeping a safe, reliable U.S. nuclear deterrent."

"I fear that the longer [the Treaty's] entry into force is delayed, the more likely it is that other countries will move irrevocably to acquire nuclear weapons or significantly improve their current nuclear arsenal, and the less likely it is that we could mobilize a strong international coalition against such activities."

"I remain convinced that the advantages of the Test Ban Treaty outweigh any disadvantages, and thus that ratification would increase national security."

The new Shalikashvili report, released today, is posted here:


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