from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 9
January 28, 2004


There was a time within living memory when the United States set the standard for democratic decision-making and government accountability. In areas such as intelligence spending, that is no longer the case.

The government of France has recently published its intelligence budget total for 2004, in the amount of 291.1 million Euros. See:

France joins nations such as the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Serbia and Brazil that routinely disclose baseline intelligence spending information (SN 06/12/03, 10/08/03, 10/24/03).

This contrasts with the stubborn refusal of the U.S. government to provide even a general accounting of intelligence expenditures.

According to the classification policies of the Central Intelligence Agency, even disclosure of 50 year old budget information would damage national security and jeopardize intelligence sources and methods. See:

Ironically, budget secrecy may have actually damaged U.S. intelligence by impeding public debate over the declining level of spending during the mid-1990s, and facilitating the diversion of intelligence dollars to defense accounts.


Congressional Democratic leaders this week asked the General Accounting Office to investigate White House procedures for protecting classified intelligence information in connection with the unauthorized disclosure of the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame. See:

Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg urged more officials to leak documents that would "expose government lies" and "drastically alter the public discourse on whether we should continue sending our children to die in Iraq":

Ellsberg hailed the actions of Katherine Gun, a UK government employee who is charged under Britain's Official Secrets Act for leaking classified information. See:

Not only leakers of classified information, but journalists who publish leaked information should be held accountable for their actions, argued CIA official James Bruce in a stern 2002 presentation to the American Bar Association, featured by the Counterintelligence Centre:


Democratic members of the House Committee on Government Reform are invoking a little-known statutory provision known as the "seven member rule" to try to extract information from reluctant government agencies.

According to the rule, which originated in 1928, the executive branch is obliged to ("shall") provide "any information requested of it relating to any matter within the jurisdiction" of the Committee when so requested by at least seven members.

In January 15 letters, the Committee members, led by Rep. Henry Waxman, thus requested certain information from the Department of Energy:

and from the Department of Health and Human Services:

See also "Waxman testing 7-member rule for access to lobbying files" by Klaus Marre, The Hill, January 27:


"The declassification of several Cold War-era Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) estimates of nuclear proliferation trends offers interesting insights into what previous U.S. governments believed--and ultimately did--about the international spread of nuclear weapons."

See "Predicting Nuclear Proliferation: A Declassified Documentary Record" by Peter R. Lavoy, published in Strategic Insights, Center for Contemporary Conflict, Naval Postgraduate School, Vol. III, Issue 1, January 2004:


One of the enduring challenges of ballistic missile defense is the problem of "midcourse discrimination" -- i.e., distinguishing between actual missiles in flight and decoys.

The issue was explored in a 1989 report of the Army Science Board, which noted that "discrimination is not a problem that can be 'solved'. Rather it will be a continuing race between the offense and defense to institute, respectively, more effective pen-aids and more capable means to counter those pen-aids to a degree that is adequate to maintain the defense's desired level of effectiveness. It will be a chess game that requires looking ahead several moves, and its effectiveness will probably always be a matter of judgment rather than a demonstrable fact."

"The technical issues identified and discussed in this Panel Report are as relevant today as they were in 1989," said MIT professor Ted Postol, a critic of missile defense programs.

See "Midcourse Discrimination for the Phase One Strategic Defense System," Army Science Board, February 1989:


In 1984, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) conducted an analysis of Soviet military space programs. Based on published statements and other sources, the DIA was able to infer "a Soviet military space doctrine that elucidates the ultimate Soviet objectives in outer space."

The resulting pamphlet, entitled "Soviet Military Space Doctrine," dated 1 August 1984 and marked "for official use within the US Government," is now available here (24 pages, 3.3 MB PDF file):

or in a smaller (2 MB), slightly fuzzier version:


"A spokesbeing for the Mars Air Force denounced as false the rumors that an alien spacecraft crashed in the desert outside of Ares Vallis," according to a mock news release circulating at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, home of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

See "Martian Air Force Denies Stories of UFO Crash":


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

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