from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 5
January 14, 2005


The Department of Justice Office of Inspector General today released an unclassified summary of its review of allegations made by FBI contract linguist and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds. With some qualification, the review found merit to her charges.

While some of her complaints about misconduct in the FBI Translation Unit could not be substantiated, the IG report said, "we believe that many of her allegations were supported, that the FBI did not take them seriously enough, and that her allegations were, in fact, the most significant factor in the FBI's decision to terminate her services."

See "A Review of the FBI's Actions in Connection With Allegations Raised By Contract Linguist Sibel Edmonds," Unclassified Summary, January 2005:

The Justice Department blocked a lawsuit brought by Ms. Edmonds by invoking the "state secrets" privilege (SN, 05/18/04). In a pending appeal supported by the ACLU and other groups, Ms. Edmonds is challenging that use of the privilege.

See her web site here:


The Superintendent of Documents has issued a revised policy governing the withdrawal of information from Government Printing Office information dissemination programs.

The policy defines a series of formal procedures that an agency must follow, making the removal of information from the public domain a rather burdensome process, as one would hope.

See "Withdrawal of Federal Information Products from Information Dissemination Collection and Distribution Programs," Superintendent of Documents Policy Statement No. 72, 1/10/05 (thanks to MJR):


The pursuit of "remote viewing" or clairvoyance as a tool for intelligence collection, often regarded as a minor embarrassment in the modern history of U.S. intelligence, is the subject of a new memoir by one of the participants in the effort.

The author, Paul H. Smith, is a retired Army intelligence officer and practitioner of remote viewing. He does not propose a theory, physical or metaphysical, to explain how the technique might work. But he insists that it does. Most if not all studies by non-believers appear to have found little substance to it.

Smith provides a fairly readable account of the development of the initiative, known as Star Gate and other code names, and its sponsorship as an unacknowledged "black" program by the Army Intelligence and Security Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency through its termination by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1995.

"Reading the Enemy's Mind: Inside Star Gate: America's Psychic Espionage Program" by Paul H. Smith, January 2005, is available here:

A summary account of Star Gate may be found here:


Director of Central Intelligence Porter J. Goss has the distinction of having been both an outspoken critic of excessive secrecy in government -- and a leading perpetrator of such secrecy.

It was an error to refer to him in the previous issue of Secrecy News as simply an "advocate" of declassifying the intelligence budget total. Though he did endorse regular declassification of the annual intelligence appropriation and the annual budget request as a member of the 1996 Aspin-Brown Commission, he also voted against such declassification in 1997. And at his confirmation hearing last year, he said his "preference" was not to declassify the number.

But in 2003, Mr. Goss told the 9-11 Commission that intelligence classification policy was "dysfunctional."

"There's a lot of gratuitous classification going on," he said at a May 22, 2003 hearing of the Commission. "We overclassify very badly." See:

There has been little visible change in classification policy since that time, particularly at the CIA. In the meantime, however, Mr. Goss has ceased to be an external overseer of intelligence classification policy and has become the senior figure responsible for that policy, and its excesses.

Today, one would have to say: "He overclassifies very badly."

Or perhaps the CIA would put it this way: "We overclassify very well."


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

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