from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 80
September 25, 2003


The United States remains the world's largest vendor of arms to developing nations, a new report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) confirmed this week.

The CRS report, "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1995-2002," by Richard F. Grimmett, is the latest update of an annual publication that provides an unclassified account of foreign arms sales. The author has privileged access to U.S. Government data that is not otherwise made available to the public.

The CRS report itself is also not being made available to the public, at least not by CRS.

"We work for the Congress," CRS officials like to say, as if to explain why they will not respond to public requests for information.

A copy of the "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1995-2002," dated September 23, is posted here:


The status of records declassification for the official State Department historical publication "Foreign Relations of the United States" (FRUS) was discussed by the Department's Historical Advisory Committee in June 2003 meeting minutes released this week.

The minutes are more suggestive than they are informative. For example, they note that most of the FRUS volumes from the Johnson Administration have been published, except that Johnson volumes on the Congo and Japan have not yet received clearance for publication. Why not? They don't say.

Meanwhile, the CIA is becoming more assertive in imposing new restrictions on the FRUS publication process. "If another agency declassified a document with CIA equity that the CIA never had a chance to review, the Agency would like a chance to review that document and consider re-classification," CIA representatives told the Committee.

The officials from the CIA historical collections division are quaintly identified by first name and last initial, as if they were secret agents.

See the June 2003 meeting minutes here:


One of the first steps in subjecting intelligence and security services to the discipline of democracy is being able to speak and write about them freely and critically. A small but growing Spanish language literature on intelligence is doing just that.

One recent example is a comparative study of intelligence services in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru written by Chilean author Carlos Maldonado Prieto of the Instituto de Cooperación para la Seguridad Hemisférica.

See his "Servicios de Inteligencia en Sudamérica. Estado de situación en una perspectiva comparada," June 2002 (in Spanish):


The background briefing is an odd convention in which a government official speaks to reporters on a not-for-attribution basis. The questionable premise seems to be that the official will speak more freely and frankly if his or her identity is concealed.

But at a background briefing with an unidentified "Senior Administration Official" this week, a reporter addressed the official as "Dr. Rice," and the White House faithfully included the reference in the transcript of the briefing posted on the White House web site.

See "Senior Administration Official Briefing," September 24:

Update 11 AM: The reference to Dr. Rice was removed from the transcript on the White House web site mid-morning on September 25. But the raw transcript, provided by the Federal Document Clearing House, is still available on Lexis-Nexis. A replica of the original, unaltered page (printer friendly version) including the reference to Dr. Rice has been posted here:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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