from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 61
July 2, 2004


The Intelligence and Security Committee of the British Parliament published its annual report to the Prime Minister this week and disclosed, as it routinely does, the total amount of money allocated for intelligence, including past year expenditures, current year estimates and future year projections.

The 2003-2004 aggregate "net resource" allocation for the three major UK intelligence agencies -- the GCHQ, the Security Service (MI5) and the SIS (MI6) -- was reported to be 1,130.9 million pounds, a twenty percent increase over the previous year.

See the UK Intelligence and Security Committee Annual Report for 2003-2004, June 2004 (at page 11):

Even this minimal level of public accountability remains beyond reach in the United States.

In fact, the Central Intelligence Agency, which in some respects is a remarkably primitive and backward organization, is litigating this summer to prevent public disclosure of historical intelligence budget figures from 1947 through 1970. (Aftergood v. CIA, DC District Court, Case No. 01-2524).


The apparatus of government secrecy takes on its most concentrated form in classified programs known as "special access programs" (SAPs). Security policy for SAPs has recently been updated by the Pentagon.

There are three types of SAPs within the military: acquisition programs, intelligence programs, and operations and support programs.

Furthermore, according to DoD policy, these SAPs fall into two categories, Acknowledged and Unacknowledged. "An Acknowledged SAP is a program which may be openly recognized or known; however, specifics are classified within that SAP. The existence of an Unacknowledged SAP or an unacknowledged portion of an Acknowledged program, will not be made known to any person not authorized for this information."

As suggested in the previous sentence, there can be SAPs within SAPs, creating concentric circles of ever-increasing secrecy.

By their nature, SAPs are a challenge to external oversight. From time to time the authority to create and conduct a SAP is abused, as in the 1987-1991 unacknowledged SAP named Timber Wind that was later exposed and found by officials to be over-classified.

The new DoD policy on SAPs was circulated in a March 30 letter from Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Counterintelligence and Security) Carol A. Haave.

"Current circumstances indicate an urgent need to circulate this guidance throughout DoD as soon as possible," she wrote. See her letter of transmittal here:

The new guidance itself is contained in the "Department of Defense Overprint to the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM) Supplement," Revision 1, April 2004. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News and is posted here (3.2 MB PDF file, 219 pages):


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

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