from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 108
December 6, 2004


A December 2006 deadline set by President Bush for the automatic declassification of most 25 year old classified documents may be missed by "a significant number of [executive branch] agencies," the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) said last week in a special report to the President.

"Based on this year's initial data, ... we estimate that there are 260 million pages of classified national security information that must be declassified, exempted, or referred to other agencies by December 31, 2006," the new ISOO report stated.

"We believe, for the most part, that the Executive branch is progressing toward fulfilling its responsibilities for these records by the initial deadline, although a significant number of agencies remain at risk of not meeting it."

"There is some concern that 2 agencies [Army and Navy], which together account for 33 percent of the total, will not be prepared. Both agencies have strong declassification programs, but require additional resources to guarantee that they will meet the deadline," ISOO said.

"There is significant risk that 4 agencies [Commerce, Energy, NASA and Treasury], which collectively account for 16 percent of the total, will not be prepared."

"Settings deadlines for declassification increases the potential release of formerly classified information to the general public and researchers, enhancing our knowledge of our democratic institutions and our history, while at the same time ensuring that information which can cause damage to national security continues to be protected. An agency's failure to fully implement the automatic declassification provisions of your Order undermines its ability to achieve these dual objectives," ISOO wrote in its report to the President.

The November 30 report was released on the ISOO web site ( and a copy is posted here:

"With the onset of automatic declassification just about 2 years away, I thought it important to conduct an assessment with respect to where individual agencies are at in meeting their responsibilities in this area," said ISOO director William Leonard. "This special report attempts to do just that and provides a baseline from which we can measure future progress."


The Justice Department Office of Community Policing Services has prepared a new Law Enforcement Intelligence Guide "to help law enforcement agencies develop or enhance their intelligence capacity."

The new Guide "should prove instrumental in fighting terrorism and other crimes while preserving hard-won community policing relationships," the Justice Department said.

The Guide covers the gamut of legal, operational, historical and other policy considerations governing the conduct of intelligence in support of law enforcement.

Authored by David L. Carter of Michigan State University, it displays somewhat greater awareness of the limitations of intelligence and the potential for abuse than is evident in some other government products.

The Guide also appears to go beyond current policy to advocate the broadest possible distribution of "intelligence" information consistent with protection of intelligence sources and methods:

"Intelligence reports, bulletins, and advisories must be broadly disseminated to all persons who can use the information effectively....Without effective dissemination, much of the value of intelligence is lost. All too often, patrol officers, private security, and citizens are excluded from dissemination." (p. 90)

Secrecy News is cited as one of a dozen or so "online newsletters of reliable organizations" that intelligence managers can use to monitor "emerging issues, technologies and trends." (pp. 103-4). The author prudently adds that "As is the case with any information, a newsletter will reflect the agenda of its sponsor."

A copy of the Law Enforcement Intelligence Guide, November 2004, is posted here (thanks to


At a time when the governments of the U.S. and Iran are otherwise estranged, the Library of Congress has reached an unusual cooperative agreement with the National Library of Iran to engage in a mutual exchange of resource materials.

The agreement was signed during a recent visit to Tehran by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, a trip that was instigated by the private group Catalytic Diplomacy (Secrecy News, 11/03/04).

The text of the agreement was published in a November 30 news release from the Library of Congress, copied here:


A drumbeat of concern continues to build over a Department of Homeland Security policy requiring employees to sign non-disclosure agreements for access to certain unclassified information.

The DHS policy "creates an environment exactly opposite, I think, [from] what we're trying to do in the name of information sharing," Information Security Oversight Office director William Leonard told Federal Times.

"It creates an environment of uncertainty. And in an environment of uncertainty, most people resort to a default position of 'Do not share, because otherwise I might inadvertently violate a rule or regulation or a regime that I'm not even familiar with'," he said.

See "Searches and gag orders: Homeland Security's unprecedented campaign cloaks unclassified info," by Eileen Sullivan, the lead story in this week's Federal Times, dated December 6:


The requirements for protection of "sensitive security information," which refers to transportation security-related information that may not be publicly disclosed, are set forth in a 2003 policy memorandum newly released by the Transportation Security Administration under the Freedom of Information Act.

See "Interim Sensitive Security Information (SSI) Policies and Procedures for Safeguarding and Control," TSA, October 8, 2003:


"Data mining is emerging as one of the key features of many homeland security initiatives," a recent report from the Congressional Research Service observes.

"Often used as a means for detecting fraud, assessing risk, and product retailing, data mining involves the use of data analysis tools to discover previously unknown, valid patterns and relationships in large data sets. In the context of homeland security, data mining is often viewed as a potential means to identify terrorist activities, such as money transfers and communications, and to identify and track individual terrorists themselves, such as through travel and immigration records."

"While data mining represents a significant advance in the type of analytical tools currently available, there are limitations to its capability. One limitation is that although data mining can help reveal patterns and relationships, it does not tell the user the value or significance of these patterns. These types of determinations must be made by the user."

See "Data Mining: An Overview," updated May 3, 2004:


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

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send an email message to [email protected] with "subscribe" (without quotes) in the body of the message.

To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a blank email message to [email protected].

OR email your request to [email protected]

Secrecy News is archived at:

Secrecy News has an RSS feed at: