from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 2
January 6, 2005


The confirmation hearing of Alberto R. Gonzales, nominated to be the next Attorney General, began today before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), a leading critic of the nomination, noted his concerns about Gonzales in an opening statement:

"As White House Counsel, Judge Gonzales was at the center of discussions on the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the legality of detention and interrogation methods that have been seen as tantamount to torture. He oversaw the formulation of this Administration's extreme views of unfettered executive power and unprecedented government secrecy."

"I hope things will be different if you are confirmed, Judge Gonzales," Leahy added wistfully.

For now, things are the same. The White House told Senator Leahy that it would not provide various documents he had requested related to Gonzales' activities as White House Counsel, nor would it claim executive privilege to justify their withholding.

"As you know," wrote Deputy White House Counsel David G. Leitch, "it is generally not the practice of this or prior Administrations to provide all documents requested by a Member of Congress where those documents contain highly deliberative or Presidential communications. By longstanding practice, no claim of executive privilege is necessary to decline to produce such documents in response to such a request."

Many of the documents related to Mr. Gonzales' role in developing policy on prisoner interrogation, obtained by the Washington Post and other publications, have been compiled by the National Security Archive and posted here:

The liberal Center for American Progress proposed ten questions that should be asked of Mr. Gonzales as part of his confirmation, including "Are there any circumstances under which you believe the President of the United States could legally authorize torture?":


The International Atomic Energy Agency is investigating previously undisclosed nuclear experiments performed in past decades by Egyptian scientists, it was reported this week.

Egypt is not expected to become a nuclear weapons state in the foreseeable future, according to a 1995 report of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).

"At the same time, however, serious work on developing nuclear potential designated for use in power engineering, agriculture, medicine, biotechnology, and genetics is being done...," the SVR stated.

Interestingly, the current IAEA investigation was reportedly triggered by a series of publications by Egyptian scientists.

A listing of many such publications is available in "Egyptian Nuclear Bibliography: Open Literature Citations Through 2001," prepared by independent analyst Mark Gorwitz:


A tabulation of U.S., Russian and other military satellites now in orbit, including several that are not officially acknowledged, has been published by

The Tables of Operational Military Satellites, prepared by Ted Molczan and John Pike based on published data and personal observation, are posted here:

The recent flap over a classified stealth satellite program is probed by Leonard David in "Spy satellite debate comes out in the open," MSNBC (, January 3, 2005:


A massive listing of classified or otherwise restricted historical documents held by the Air Force Historical Research Agency is in the process of being made publicly available online, courtesy of

The listing, which includes more than half a million individual records dating from the 1920s to the 1980s, was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by researcher Michael Ravnitzky. The document titles and metadata, compiled in large Excel files, are typically not very revealing. But the list as a whole is a potentially important new resource for students of military history.

See the introduction to "Listing of Classified and Restricted Documents at the Air Force Historical Research Agency" here:


New or newly updated reports of the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News include the following:

"Special Operations Forces (SOF) and CIA Paramilitary Operations: Issues for Congress," January 4, 2005:

"Data Mining: An Overview," updated December 16, 2004:

"Saudi Arabia: Terrorist Financing Issues," updated December 8, 2004:

"Interstate Travel: Constitutional Challenges to the Identification Requirement and Other Transportation Security Regulations," updated December 21, 2004:

"Afghanistan: Post-War Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy," updated December 28, 2004:

"Radiological Dispersal Devices: Select Issues in Consequence Management," updated December 7, 2004:


The Department of Energy has issued a new Order governing the conduct of its counterintelligence activities.

See DOE Order 475.1, "Counterintelligence Program," approved December 10, 2004:


The U.S. Army is moving to get its orthographic house in order, with a newly updated regulation that provides instruction on the proper way to abbreviate, capitalize and spell Army terms.

See Army Regulation 25-52, "Authorized Abbreviations, Brevity Codes, and Acronyms," updated January 4, 2005:


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

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