from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2008, Issue No. 59
June 17, 2008

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To reduce unnecessary restrictions on unclassified information, Congress should require agencies to publish more of their unclassified records, we suggested in a letter to the House Intelligence Committee this week.

A White House policy announced last month to establish a government-wide standard for "controlled unclassified information" (CUI) may exacerbate existing barriers to public access, even sweeping up embargoed press releases into a formal control category (Secrecy News, May 28).

Instead of facilitating broad information sharing, as intended, CUI could end up as the equivalent of a fourth level of classification that tends to prohibit public access to information that has not been specifically approved for release.

One way to avoid that outcome is to increase the routine disclosure of unclassified records of public interest.

"In parallel with the CUI process, Congress should mandate affirmative new disclosure requirements that will directly counteract the tendency to control information unnecessarily," I wrote in a letter to Rep. Anna Eshoo of the House Intelligence Committee.

"Specifically, for example, I would urge legislation requiring the DNI Open Source Center to publish all or most of its unclassified analytical products."

Rep. Eshoo had invited comments on the new CUI policy. Our June 16 reply is here:

A hearing was held last week on a bill introduced by Rep. Jane Harman to require the Department of Homeland Security by statute to adopt the new CUI policy. Witnesses included Meredith Fuchs of the National Security Archive, Patrice McDermott of and Caroline Fredrickson of the ACLU. Their prepared statements are available here:


Newly published hearing records and Pentagon directives concerning intelligence policy include the following.

A House Intelligence Subcommittee examined intelligence community personnel security policy in "Security Clearance Reform," February 27, 2008:

"National Security Letters: The Need for Greater Accountability and Oversight" was the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on April 23, 2008:

The Senate Intelligence Committee considered "Modernization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act" in a May 1, 2007 hearing:

"DoD Implementation of the Joint Intelligence Community Duty Assignment (JDA) Program" is the response to a DNI policy to promote employee rotations throughout the intelligence bureaucracy. See DoD Instruction 1400.36, June 2, 2008:

Another new DoD Instruction (3305.16) addresses "DoD Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT) Training," June 12, 2008:


Recent reports from the Congressional Research Service include these:

"Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Background and Current Developments," updated May 28, 2008:

"Coast Guard Deepwater Program: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress," updated June 5, 2008:

"The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: History, Perspectives, and Issues," updated June 6, 2008:

THANKS TO STEWART MOTT Stewart R. Mott, the political activist and philanthropist who died last week, was a consistent supporter of the FAS Project on Government Secrecy.

A man of many appetites, he seemed to derive pleasure from giving away money to support causes he believed in. Luckily for us, open and accountable government was one of those causes. For fifteen years, he sent us checks that helped anchor and sustain this Project and Secrecy News.

"The disadvantages of being wealthy are, in my experience, few," he told Tim Weiner of the New York Times in a video interview from 2006.

A New York Times obituary, "Stewart R. Mott, 70, Offbeat Philanthropist, Dies," by Douglas Martin, captures some of his eccentricities and his willful non-conformism.

But his capacity for kindness, not his flamboyance, was his most attractive quality. We are in his debt.


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

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