from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 69
July 22, 2004


The Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9-11 Commission), published today, identified overclassification as a problem requiring attention.

It will take time to read and digest the Report's full contents, but the recommendation on secrecy immediately stood out:

"Secrecy stifles oversight, accountability, and information sharing. Unfortunately, all the current organizational incentives encourage overclassification. This balance should change; and as a start, open information should be provided about the overall size of agency intelligence budgets." (Executive summary, p. 24).

"Recommendation: combat the secrecy and complexity we have described, the overall amounts of money being appropriated for national intelligence and to its component agencies should no longer be kept secret." (Section 13, p. 416).

A copy of the Final Report of the 9-11 Commission is mirrored here:


More members of Congress stepped up to endorse the proposal for an Independent National Security Classification Board to review classification disputes and instigate reforms (SN, 07/16/04).

"The current level of abuse of our classification system is so egregious as to be laughable," said Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL).

An independent panel "is needed in order to restore integrity and accountability to the classification and declassification process," said Rep. Leonard L. Boswell (D-IA), a co-sponsor of the proposal in the House.

"Controversy lingers over whether government agencies are over-classifying material in an effort to keep embarrassing facts from the public," write Rebecca Carr and George Edmonson in a Cox News Service story.

See "Lawmakers Frustrated By Delays In Declassifying Documents," July 21:


The relative speed and ease of the first phase of the war in Iraq are due in part to U.S. military prowess, but also to Iraqi weakness, according to a critical internal account prepared for the U.S. Army.

"The shortcomings of Saddam's military played an important role in limiting the cost of major combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Coalition strengths were important contributors, but so were Iraqi weaknesses."

As a result, there are "important limitations on the Iraq War's lessons for other defense planning challenges.... The Iraqis' shortcomings created a permissive environment for Coalition technology that a more skilled opponent elsewhere might not," according to the study Foreword.

The study, which does represent an official U.S. Army perspective, has not been formally released.

Each page is marked "Distribution Limited: Not to be Released Outside of the U.S. Army." A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Toppling Saddam: Iraq and American Military Transformation" by Dr. Stephen Biddle, et al, Strategic Studies Institute, April 2004 (46 pages, 4.7 MB PDF file):


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

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