from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 88
October 7, 2004


Intensive congressional deliberations on pending intelligence reform legislation have left behind a fairly massive paper trail of committee reports and floor statements.

It is a bit hard to imagine anyone actually reading through these many hundreds of pages of material, and it is not certain that one would profit from having done so, but here they are.

No fewer than five House Committee reports (with dissenting views) on H.R. 10, the House Republican bill on intelligence reform, and a report of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee on S.2845, the Senate intelligence reform bill that was adopted on October 6, can all be found here:

The transcripts of the Senate floor debates on intelligence reform, taken from the Congressional Record of September 27 through October 6, are posted here:

As previously noted, the Senate bill that was approved October 6 would require annual disclosure of the national intelligence budget total beginning in FY 2006, to the disappointment of some.

"I am still sad about the vote that was against the position I supported with regard to disclosing the aggregated top line of intelligence," said Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) on October 6.

A Congressional Research Service report on "The National Intelligence Director and Intelligence Analysis," September 30, 2004, is available here:


Two recent reports of the Congressional Research Service provide an updated, in-depth review of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the statute that authorizes domestic search and surveillance for counterintelligence and counterterrorism purposes.

"The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: An Overview of the Statutory Framework and Recent Judicial Decisions," updated September 22, 2004 (90 pages, 400 KB PDF):

"Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: Selected Legislation from the 108th Congress," updated September 30, 2004:

As a matter of policy, CRS prohibits direct public access to publications like these. As a matter of policy, Secrecy News disregards the CRS prohibition.


One Secrecy News reader complained that a recent Congressional Research Service report on U.S. special operations forces (SN, 10/01/04) "is factually incorrect on numerous points, such as the number of SEAL Teams."

"The fact that you have included this CRS Report for Congress on your site causes me to question the veracity of all other information contained in Secrecy News. Consequently, please cancel my subscription to your news letter."

This is ridiculous, of course. Secrecy News is responsible for its own errors, but not for those of the CRS (if indeed the CRS was in error in this case).

But with remarkable frequency, people complain to us about the contents of official government documents posted on the FAS web site.

** One careful reader noted a questionable passage in the newly posted, but already immensely popular Counterintelligence Reader (SN, 10/05/04):

The CI Reader stated in volume 2 on counterintelligence during World War II: "Although Washington had ample information indicating that Japan would make an attack on Pearl Harbor, the utilization of this information may best be described as casual."

"The words 'on Pearl Harbor' are at variance with the best historical judgments, and will be grist for the conspiracy mill. As if it needed any. God knows what else is in there," our correspondent wrote.

** Another correspondent advised that an official 1995 report on White House security that is posted on the FAS web site misrepresents a 1974 incident in which one Robert K. Preston stole an Army helicopter and flew it towards the White House.

We do not "correct" the text of official reports, but since the writer, a former Maryland State Police officer, was personally involved in bringing down the rogue helicopter and his story checked out, we added a parenthetical annotation providing his first-person account of the incident. See the 1995 report here:

** Secrecy News (10/05/04) should not have said that the Justice Department shares CIA's bizarre opposition to the disclosure of 50 year old intelligence budget figures, one Justice Department official objected, even though DoJ attorneys are vigorously defending that Agency position in ongoing litigation.

"To not see any difference between attorney and client here is to either not completely understand the process or to not look," the official wrote.

** Finally, we learn that someone at Hill Air Force Base in Utah disapproves of the FAS web site and has taken steps to block access by Hill AFB personnel. (Military users make up a significant fraction of the 70,000 daily visitors to the FAS web site.)

"I returned to work today to find that Network Security has used SmartFilter to block the FAS website on the grounds that it contains 'Political/Religious' material," a Hill Air Force Base employee wrote this week.

"I'm not at a loss for words, I'm just not using a few that have come to mind concerning this matter," he added.


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

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