from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 114
December 27, 2004


For all of its prowess in combat, the U.S. military today is poorly prepared to conduct post-combat stabilization operations, the Defense Science Board observes in a new report to the Pentagon.

A series of recommended changes in military forces and operational planning flow from this observation, including the development of improved stabilization and reconstruction capabilities, enhanced strategic communications (the subject of another recent DSB report), and intelligence reform that stresses language capability, area expertise and the skillful exploitation of open source information.

Open source intelligence, a field that was largely scanted in recent intelligence reform legislation, is given particular attention by the DSB authors (pp. 147-152).

"Urgent action is called for, as the nation is likely to engage in additional stabilization and reconstruction operations before the recommendations in this study can be implemented and, as a result, will do so unprepared," the study emphasizes.

A copy of the Defense Science Board 2004 Summer Study on Transition to and From Hostilities, December 2004, is posted here (229 pages, 2.4 MB PDF file):


Official controls on unclassified information are proliferating in such abundance that there are now two categories of information that are both called "sensitive security information" (SSI), though each has a different scope and significance.

The better known type of "sensitive security information," which is broadly defined in statute, has to do with aspects of transportation security that are protected from disclosure. It includes such things as airline and airport security plans, threat assessments, training materials and so forth.

This type of SSI has become a subject of some public controversy because of the expansive interpretation given to the term by the Transportation Security Administration. TSA has refused, for example, to disclose its legal authority for conducting passenger pat-downs or for requiring passengers to present a photo ID. Because such information is SSI, the agency says, it cannot be made public. (See "The Arrival of Secret Law," Secrecy News, 11/14/04).

But then there is the completely unrelated "Sensitive Security Information" (SSI) which applies to "unclassified but sensitive" information in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"It is the policy of USDA to safeguard unclassified but sensitive security information within its control. USDA will withhold from release sensitive information that is not appropriate for public disclosure consistent with laws, regulations and court decisions," according to a USDA regulation.

This type of SSI corresponds generally to what is termed "For Official Use Only" in other agencies.

See "Control and Protection of 'Sensitive Security Information'," USDA Departmental Regulation 3440-02, 30 January 2003:

A USDA cover sheet for protection of such SSI is here (thanks to RT):


Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) last week challenged the Bush Administration's refusal "to disclose pertinent documents and memoranda relating to its policies and practices governing the treatment and interrogation of prisoners in U.S. custody."

"I have for months been asking for these materials but this Administration will not even provide an index to the elected representatives of the American people," Sen. Leahy said. "This type of secrecy contributes to the manipulation of the law and the misuse of government authority."

One of the documents sought by Leahy, a September 2001 opinion prepared by the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel, was quietly posted on the Justice Department web site two weeks ago after it was denied to Leahy, he noted.

A copy of the opinion on "The President's Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them," dated September 25, 2001, is posted here (first reported by Newsweek last week):

In a December 7 statement on the Senate floor, Senator Leahy warned that Bush Administration policy on torture would inevitably be raised at the upcoming confirmation hearing of White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales to be Attorney General. See:

Meanwhile, in a continuing lawsuit brought by the ACLU to compel disclosure of Bush Administration documents on prisoner interrogation and abuse, the Central Intelligence Agency is resorting to what is known as "glomarization," which means that it refuses to confirm or deny that it has documents responsive to the lawsuit.

(The term "glomarization" derives from previous litigation in the 1970s seeking records on the Glomar Explorer, a ship built by Howard Hughes to retrieve a sunken Soviet submarine.)

See "CIA resists request for abuse data" by Charlie Savage, Boston Globe, December 27:


A recent master's thesis presents "a historical analysis of the evolution of US Army Special Forces operations from 1995 to 2004, focusing specifically on operations conducted in the Balkans (Bosnia and Kosovo), Afghanistan and Iraq" and addresses the question: "How have the operations conducted by US Army Special Forces evolved from the Balkans in 1995 through Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)?"

See "From Bosnia to Baghdad: The Evolution of U.S. Army Special Forces from 1995-2004" by Armando J. Ramirez, Navy Postgraduate School, September 2004:


The American Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are among the organizations seeking donations to aid relief efforts following the December 26 tsunami in South Asia. See:


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: