from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 3
January 10, 2005


The Bush Administration has issued dozens of National Security Presidential Directives (NSPDs) but the content and even the subject matter of most of these instruments of presidential authority are unknown.

In itself, this is not a new phenomenon. In 1992, the General Accounting Office (GAO) attempted to conduct a review of presidential directives in the previous Bush Administration but was denied the access that congressional investigators sought.

"Without access to detailed information about NSDs [national security directives, as they were then known], it is impossible to satisfactorily determine how many NSDs issued make and implement U.S. policy and what those policies are," the GAO reported to Congress.

See "The Use of Presidential Directives to Make and Implement U.S. Policy," GAO Report NSIAD-92-72, January 1992:

But given the current Administration's predilection for the unfettered exercise of executive power, one can only imagine what national security policies are being "made and implemented" without notice or oversight.

Last week, at least the title of one more Bush Administration NSPD came to public awareness, thanks to Jeffrey Lewis of, who noticed that the government speaker at a National Academy of Sciences conference last year had cited the directive in his conference bio. So we now know that NSPD 28 concerns "Nuclear Weapons Command, Control, Safety, and Security." See:

A compilation of all publicly acknowledged or referenced NSPDs is here:


There are 20,000 to 30,000 armed insurgents in Iraq, according to the director of Iraq's National Intelligence Service, and they are passively supported by an estimated 200,000 Iraqi sympathizers.

See this interview with NIS director Major General Muhammad Abdallah al-Shahwani, published in Al Sharq al Awsat on January 5, and translated by the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service:

Meanwhile, the estimated strength of Iraqi security forces is constantly shifting and disputed.

"As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee," said Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) on January 6, "I have been increasingly frustrated by our inability, either in the committee, whether in public or secret briefings, whether as a body or through other discussions, to get what turns out to be accurate and reliable information from the civilian command, from the administration [about Iraqi security forces]."

"Yesterday afternoon we had an Armed Services Committee hearing, a secret hearing, for 3 hours. I received information regarding the force capabilities of the Iraqi police and military that was at significant variance from what I was told a week before in Baghdad, which itself was at considerable variance from what we were told 2 months before, which then was half of the force level we were told existed a year before that."

"I hesitate to use this word on the Senate floor, but it applies here--I don't like being lied to," Sen. Dayton said. See:


On January 11, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case known as Tenet v. Doe, which revolves around the question of whether individuals who spied for the U.S. in the expectation of certain benefits can sue the Central Intelligence Agency for breach of contract.

An 1875 ruling in a case known as Totten v. U.S. suggests they cannot. But a federal appeals court ruled in 2003 that a lawsuit brought by two defectors from a former East Bloc country could proceed.

"We should not precipitously close the courthouse doors to colorable claims of the denial of constitutional rights," according to that 2003 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The CIA petitioned the Supreme Court to review that decision, and the Court agreed to do so.

See "Spy vs. CIA: It's a shot in the dark" by Bill Adair, St. Petersburg Times, January 10:

The CIA's petition to the Supreme Court in Tenet v. Doe and the respondent's opposition may be found here:


Recent judicial rulings in Freedom of Information Act cases are listed and annotated in a new collection from the Justice Department Office of Information and Privacy. Courts ruled for the government and against the requester in many but not all cases.

See "New FOIA Decisions, October - December 2004":


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

"Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004: National Standards for Drivers' Licenses, Social Security Cards, and Birth Certificates," January 6, 2005:

"V-22 Osprey Tilt-Rotor Aircraft," updated January 7, 2005:

"F/A-22 Raptor," updated January 6, 2005:

"Germany's Role in Fighting Terrorism: Implications for U.S. Policy," December 27, 2004:

"Balancing Scientific Publication and National Security Concerns: Issues for Congress," updated December 16, 2004:

"Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator Budget Request and Plan, FY2005-FY2009," updated December 2, 2004:

"Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity," January 5, 2005:


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

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