from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 104
November 24, 2004


Psychoanalysis, wrote Viennese polemicist Karl Kraus, is itself the mental illness that it proposes to cure.

Similarly, "intelligence reform" has now come to embody many of the defects that it was presumably intended to rectify, including irreconcilable priorities, lack of accountability, and contempt for democratic decisionmaking. Neither the unanimous recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission nor the subsequent months of public deliberation were sufficient to dislodge the intelligence bureaucracy and its congressional allies from their entrenched positions.

Yet the failure by Congress to approve an intelligence reform bill also comes as a relief, because the final version of the bill contained numerous unexamined and objectionable provisions that were inconsistent with the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Among others, the bill endorsed the false claim that disclosure of the intelligence budget total is inconsistent with national security, a claim that is refuted annually by the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands and other countries, all of which routinely publish their intelligence expenditures.

With the collapse of congressional deliberation, the White House has stepped in energetically to fill the void, proposing a massive expansion of CIA personnel.

"I direct you to implement within the CIA measures to... increase, as soon as feasible, the number of fully qualified, all-source analysts by 50 percent... [and to] increase, as soon as feasible, the number of fully qualified officers in the Directorate of Operations by 50 percent," President Bush wrote in a November 23 memorandum to the Director of Central Intelligence:

A second memorandum instructs the Attorney General to strengthen the investigative capabilities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

A third White House memorandum calls for an interagency review of whether lead responsibility for conducting covert paramilitary operations should shift from the Central Intelligence Agency to the Defense Department:


Several new reports from the Congressional Research Service address aspects of U.S. Navy force structure.

"Navy-Marine Corps Amphibious and Maritime Prepositioning Ship Programs: Background and Oversight Issues for Congress," November 15, 2004:

"Navy Ship Deployments: New Approaches -- Background and Issues for Congress," updated November 15, 2004:

"Potential Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress," November 8, 2004:


U.S. Navy policy on the disclosure of classified information to foreign governments is set forth in a new Secretary of the Navy Instruction.

See SECNAVINST 5510.34A, "Disclosure of Classified Military Information and Controlled Unclassified Information to Foreign Governments, International Organizations, and Foreign Representatives," October 8, 2004:


In an unusually vigorous and confrontational display of congressional oversight, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) last week described how U.S. Air Force officials and the Boeing Corporation colluded on a contract to supply aerial-refueling tanker aircraft that would have cost taxpayers unnecessary billions of dollars.

Sen. McCain placed in the Congressional Record a series of internal Air Force email messages and other records of a sort that is hardly ever seen in public, including embarrassingly explicit efforts to manipulate press coverage of the proposed tanker lease deal.

These records "raise serious questions about the undue influence that industry exerts on procurement decisions in the Pentagon," Sen. McCain said.


Robert Bacher, a leading Manhattan Project physicist and later a member of the Atomic Energy Commission, died last week.

As a member of the Tolman Committee, Bacher co-authored what was in effect the first declassification guide pertaining to nuclear weapons science, technology and production.

"Using a topical list of production and research activities in the Manhattan project, the Committee assigned each subject to one of three categories: information recommended for immediate declassification; information whose declassification would be conducive to the national welfare and to long-term national security; and that not recommended for declassification," according to the official history of the Atomic Energy Commission ("The New World, 1939/1946," by Richard G. Hewlett and Oscar E. Anderson, Jr., p. 647).

"Before the end of 1946, the committee of reviewers held three meetings and declassified about 500 documents. Scientists outside the project were probably correct in dismissing this accomplishment as an insignificant gesture, but they could not have appreciated the amount of work the reviewers had devoted to studying the great variety of complex technical categories and preparing detailed guides."

Those initial declassification actions are reflected in the Department of Energy's comprehensive compilation of "Restricted Data Declassification Decisions, 1946 to the Present," January 1, 2001:


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

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