from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 33
April 5, 2004


The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has released an uncommonly large fraction of its congressional budget justification book for Fiscal Year 1998-1999.

Last year, the NRO denied a five year old Freedom of Information Act request for the budget material by asserting that the entire document was an "operational" intelligence record that was exempt from search and review. On appeal, however, the NRO last week released something like ten percent of the 300 page budget book.

The newly disclosed information provides a snapshot of NRO activities several years ago, including the beginning of the troubled Future Imagery Architecture, the long-promised next generation intelligence satellite system.

See the redacted version of the Congressional Budget Justification for the National Reconnaissance Program for FY 1998-1999 here:

On March 25, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on national security space programs. Prepared testimony from that hearing, including a particularly substantial statement from Adm. James O. Ellis, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, is available here:


Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Jane Harman, have introduced legislation to advance their vision of needed reforms to U.S. intelligence.

The Intelligence Transformation Act (H.R. 4104) would establish a new Director of National Intelligence and promote "jointness" in intelligence collection and analysis.

In an April 1 letter to the President Bush, the House Democrats identified ten steps the President could take immediately to improve U.S. intelligence.

In one of their recommendations, they urged that the White House "recuse itself from all declassification decisions involving 9/11 or the Iraq WMD inquiry and ask the CIA to appoint a professional, non-partisan review panel to make declassification recommendations."

See their letter to the White House here:

"We had hoped to produce a bipartisan bill," said Rep. Harman. "We shared our legislative ideas with the majority on our Committee, but we did not want the legislative year to pass while awaiting their response."


The latest publication of the low-profile JASON scientific advisory group examines the use of computer systems to generate two and three dimensional images of biological systems, from the molecular to the whole-body level.

Though mainly for specialists, it provides a reasonably lucid account that other interested readers may appreciate.

See "The Computational Challenges of Medical Imaging," dated February 2004, here:


An official Israeli report on intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq was severely critical of the quality and reliability of Israeli intelligence.

Israeli government consumers of intelligence "are flooded with 'an ocean of material and paperwork of doubtful value, to put it mildly,' with trivial analysis and ambiguous assessments of known facts, and pretentious, and worthless, psychological portraits of Arab leaders and their intentions," wrote Aluf Benn in the Israeli daily Haaretz (April 1), paraphrasing some of the findings of the report.

But in focusing on issues rather that personalities, the new report is "a useful counterpoint to the mud bath that is America's national debate on intelligence and counterintelligence policy," according to an editorial in the U.S. Jewish newspaper Forward.

An English translation of the report was not immediately available, but a copy of the 82 page Hebrew original is posted here:


A new trip report by staff members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee describes their January 2004 visit to North Korea and their findings on proliferation, humanitarian and economic issues. See:


Recent reports of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on national security topics include:

"Nuclear Warhead 'Pit' Production: Background and Issues for Congress," updated March 29:

"Weapons of Mass Destruction: Trade Between North Korea and Pakistan," updated March 11:

"Terrorism in South Asia," March 8:

Congressional leaders oppose direct public access to CRS reports like these.

Now the Google search engine has been harnessed by Steven Stoft of to make it possible to find CRS reports that have been posted online, wherever they may be. See:


Judicial rulings in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits from the first three months of this year were noted by the Justice Department Office of Information and Privacy here:


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

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