from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 1
January 3, 2006


The chances that the average American would be victimized by the National Security Agency's domestic counterterrorism surveillance operation appear to be minuscule.

And yet the controversy over such domestic surveillance demands the attention of every alert citizen since it raises fateful questions about the American form of government.

What are the boundaries of Presidential authority? Can the President ignore the law or unilaterally reinterpret it into irrelevance? Can constitutional protections endure pervasive official secrecy? Would Americans rather have a "strong leader" or a strong system of laws?

These questions retain their urgency even though the facts of the controversy, and the underlying law, are matters of dispute.

In a December 22 letter, Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella elaborated on the Administration's claim that the NSA surveillance operation is consistent with the President's constitutional authority as commander in chief, and with the 2001 congressional authorization for use of force to combat terrorism. See:

That is simply wrong, argued Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies.

"When Congress enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978, it expressly rejected the President's claim of inherent authority to conduct warrantless wiretaps," she wrote. "It then went further and made it a crime to conduct such wiretaps." See (an MS Word file):

In a particularly illuminating exchange, two members of the conservative Federalist Society who hold opposing views of the legitimacy of the President's warrantless surveillance operation questioned each other on the scope of Presidential authority, and related matters (flagged by


Three months into Fiscal Year 2006, the FY 2006 intelligence authorization act has still not been passed by Congress.

According to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), the delay is due to Republican opposition to a proposed amendment that would require the Bush Administration to provide the Intelligence Committees with copies of the President's Daily Brief pertaining to Iraq from 2001-2003.

"An unidentified Republican has a hold on the bill to prevent Senate action unless the amendment is withdrawn along with two other amendments on secret detention facilities," Sen. Kennedy said.

"If we do not act on this legislation, it will be an unprecedented failure," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who observed that an intelligence authorization bill has been enacted each year for nearly three decades.

Senate Democrats discussed the impasse on the Senate floor on December 20. See:


The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will conduct an inquiry into the activities of former Committee member Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA), who resigned from Congress after admitting that he had accepted millions of dollars in bribes.

Committee chair Rep. Pete Hoekstra and ranking member Rep. Jane Harman said the inquiry was necessary "to ensur[e] the integrity and security of the House Intelligence Committee is maintained."

"This inquiry will be thorough to be certain his taint did not spread to this committee," they said in a December 21 news release. See:


What is the punishment for espionage in Islamic law? That is not a simple question. But a reasonably concise answer is provided in an essay in the latest issue of World Law Bulletin. It is one of several interesting items in the monthly journal produced by the Law Library of Congress.

Unfortunately, the current Congressional leadership does not permit the Law Library to provide direct public access to the World Law Bulletin.

But a copy of the latest issue, dated November 2005, was obtained by Secrecy News and is posted here:

Other recent issues dating back to May 2005 are available here:

The Washington Office of the American Library Association is coordinating an effort to persuade Congress to change its policy so as to permit public access to the Bulletin. Until such a change occurs, we aim to provide that service.


A new report from the Congressional Research Service considers the problem of critical infrastructure assets that are located in a concentrated area.

"Critical infrastructure is often geographically concentrated, so it may be distinctly vulnerable to events like natural disasters, epidemics, and certain kinds of terrorist attacks. Disruption of concentrated infrastructure could have greatly disproportionate effects, with costs potentially running into billions of dollars and spreading far beyond the immediate area of disturbance."

See "Vulnerability of Concentrated Critical Infrastructure: Background and Policy Options," December 21, 2005:


The U.S. Government will have to modify its strategy in to preserve the collection of Landsat data, according to a recent memorandum from the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"After careful consideration in interagency discussions, all parties agreed that adjustments to the current near-term strategy and development of a new long-term strategy are required in order to ensure the continuity of Landsat-type data," wrote Dr. John H. Marburger III.

See his December 23 memo on Landsat Data Continuity Strategy Adjustment here:


"All I can say is that Roazen is a menace whatever he writes," wrote an exasperated Anna Freud, referring to Paul Roazen, the historian of the psychoanalytic movement who died November 3.

In fact, Roazen was an exemplary scholar who opened up new avenues of inquiry regarding the founding and development of psychoanalysis. He posed questions that had never been asked before and, by dint of scholarly fact-checking, he corrected errors in the historical record, and in his own early works.

Based in Cambridge, Roazen could periodically be found at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, examining newly opened records in the Library's Freud collection, portions of which remain sealed for years to come. And his traces are all over the occasionally fierce historical debates over psychoanalysis in the last three decades.

"Real work entails, in my view, a willingness to engage in controversy," he once wrote. "Although acrimony in itself should seem undesirable, it is often necessary to combat what one genuinely regards as mischievous." (On the Freud Watch, 2003, p. 123).

Links to several obituaries for Paul Roazen may be found here:


Shortly after the 1957 launch of the Soviet Sputnik satellite, the President's Science Advisory Committee prepared a brief "Introduction to Outer Space" to set forth the possibilities and the objectives of a U.S. space program.

"I have found this statement so informative and so interesting that I wish to share it with all the people of America and indeed with all the people of the earth," wrote President Eisenhower in an introduction.

The pamphlet was originally for sale to the public for fifteen cents. But the Federation of American Scientists is making it available for free.

See "Introduction to Outer Space," The White House, March 26, 1958 (thanks to Allen Thomson for a scanned copy of the pamphlet):

The Star Trek injunction to "boldly go where no man has gone before" must have derived from similar language in this very document, Dwayne A. Day neatly conjectured.

See his "Boldly going: Star Trek and spaceflight," The Space Review, November 28, 2005:


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

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