from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 98
September 15, 2006

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Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) has endorsed a proposal to task the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) to review the recent Intelligence Committee reports on pre-war intelligence to determine if they were properly declassified.

He acted in response to harsh criticism from Senate Democrats alleging that the Bush Administration had abused its classification authority to conceal embarrassing or offensive information in the reports that was unrelated to national security.

Instead of pursuing legislative action to compel declassification, as urged by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Roberts said that the PIDB should be asked to render a judgment, as originally proposed last week by Sen. Ron Wyden.

"Let's let the Public Interest Declassification Board take a look at these reports," said Sen. Roberts in the course of a heated debate on the Senate floor September 14.

"That was the suggestion by Senator Wyden, picked up by Senator Bond, endorsed by myself and I think by the Senator from West Virginia [Sen. Rockefeller]. That is the proper way to go about it," Sen. Roberts said.

The endorsement by Intelligence Committee Chairman Roberts is crucial to the activation of the Declassification Board, since the PIDB, under the terms of its enabling legislation, accepts congressional requests for declassification review only when they are "made by the committee of jurisdiction," not by individual members.

The review of the contested Intelligence Committee reports will be the first such action to be undertaken by the Board, and it is likely to set a precedent, whether favorable or unfavorable, for similar reviews in the future.

The Public Interest Declassification Board, established by statute in 2000 and modified by the intelligence reform legislation of 2004, is composed of nine non-governmental persons appointed by the President and congressional leaders. Eight of the nine members have been named so far. A ninth member, who is to be designated by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, has still not been appointed.


The use of secret U.S. prison facilities abroad, first reported by Dana Priest in the Washington Post in November 2005, has since been confirmed by President Bush and has become the focus of controversy in the U.S. and elsewhere.

A new report from the Congressional Research Service synthesizes what is now publicly known about the secret prisons and discusses some of the relevant legal concerns they raise. ("It is based on available open-source documentation, as cited, and not on any independent CRS investigation.")

A copy of the new report was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Undisclosed U.S. Detention Sites Overseas: Background and Legal Issues," September 12, 2006:

Some miscellaneous other new products from CRS include the following.

"Israeli-Arab Negotiations: Background, Conflicts, and U.S. Policy," updated September 1, 2006:

"Israel: Background and Relations with the United States," updated August 31, 2006:

"Saudi Arabia: Current Issues and U.S. Relations," August 2, 2006:

"Sri Lanka: Background and U.S. Relations," updated August 1, 2006:

"Navy Ship Procurement: Alternative Funding Approaches -- Background and Options for Congress," updated July 26, 2006:

"Navy Attack Submarine Force-Level Goal and Procurement Rate: Background and Issues for Congress," updated July 26, 2006:

"Navy Ship Propulsion Technologies: Options for Reducing Oil Use -- Background for Congress," updated July 26, 2006:

"Navy DDG-1000 (DD(X)), CG(X), and LCS Ship Acquisition Programs: Oversight Issues and Options for Congress," updated July 26, 2006:

"Navy-Marine Corps Amphibious and Maritime Prepositioning Ship Programs: Background and Oversight Issues for Congress," updated July 26, 2006:

"Unmanned Vehicles for U.S. Naval Forces: Background and Issues for Congress," updated July 26, 2006:


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

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