from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2008, Issue No. 32
April 2, 2008

Secrecy News Blog:


A new "Information Sharing Strategy" from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence warns that traditional security practices that restrict disclosure of information have become counterproductive.

"The Intelligence Community's 'need to know' culture, a necessity during the Cold War, is now a handicap that threatens our ability to uncover, respond, and protect against terrorism and other asymmetric threats," the document declares.

The new Strategy defines information sharing goals and as well as near-term and long-term implementation objectives. Goals include uniform government-wide information policies, improved connectivity, and increased inter-agency collaboration.

Notably absent from the document is any role for the public in information sharing. The DNI Strategy has no place for the notion of an engaged citizenry that has intelligence information needs of its own.

A copy of the new Strategy, which has not yet been released, was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "U.S. Intelligence Community Information Sharing Strategy," February 22, 2008:

In December 2007, DNI McConnell issued Intelligence Community Policy Memorandum (ICPM) 2007-500-3 on "Intelligence Information Sharing." A copy of the document, which has not been publicly released, is here:

Two related IC Policy Memoranda, which have been officially released, are these:

"Preparing Intelligence to Meet the Intelligence Community's 'Responsibility to Provide'," ICPM 2007-200-2, December 11, 2007:

"Unevaluated Domestic Threat Tearline Reports," ICPM 007-500-1, November 19, 2007:


A 2003 memo from the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel that appears to authorize abusive interrogation of suspected unlawful combatants outside the United States was declassified this week.

The memo concludes that criminal statutes that would preclude torture and other forms of physical abuse "do not apply to properly-authorized interrogations of enemy combatants." The memo, authored by John Yoo, was subsequently rescinded, amidst widespread criticism.

From a secrecy policy point of view, the document itself exemplifies the political abuse of classification authority. Though it was classified at the Secret level, nothing in the document could possibly pose a threat to national security, particularly since it is presented as an interpretation of law rather than an operational plan. Instead, it seems self-evident that the legal memorandum was classified not to protect national security but to evade unwanted public controversy.

What is arguably worse is that for years there was no oversight mechanism, in Congress or elsewhere, that was capable of identifying and correcting this abuse of secrecy authority. (Had the ACLU not challenged the withholding of the document in court, it would undoubtedly remain inaccessible.) Consequently, one must assume similar abuses of classification are prevalent.

A copy of the 81-page memorandum on "Military Interrogation of Alien Unlawful Combatants Held Outside the United States," March 14, 2003, is posted here:


The Open Society Institute, a philanthropic foundation founded by George Soros that works to promote democratic governance, is seeking to hire a program director for its work on transparency in the U.S. (Secrecy News has received funding from OSI.)

The OSI transparency program "will use a combination of grantmaking strategies and programmatic initiatives to ensure transparency and effective oversight of government and to protect the integrity of government institutions."

A description of the Program Director position and the desired skills and qualifications may be found here:


Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service which have not been made readily available to the public include the following.

"The REAL ID Act of 2005: Legal, Regulatory, and Implementation Issues," April 1, 2008:

"The Social Security Number: Legal Developments Affecting Its Collection, Disclosure, and Confidentiality," updated February 21, 2008:

"Congressional Authority To Limit U.S. Military Operations in Iraq," updated February 27, 2008:

"Taiwan's 2008 Presidential Election," April 2, 2008:

"The North Korean Economy: Leverage and Policy Analysis," updated March 4, 2008:


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

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