from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2010, Issue No. 18
March 9, 2010

Secrecy News Blog:


The transition of U.S. military forces in Iraq to post-major combat operations in 2003 was marred by failures in leadership and planning, according to an internal report prepared for the Pentagon that was partially declassified and released this month under the Freedom of Information Act.

"The transition that occurred was not the one that was planned," the 2006 report delicately stated.

"Insufficient and untimely availability of resources impeded effectiveness of post-combat operations and contributed to a difficult transition." Intelligence support, joint command and control, and communications infrastructure all "fell short of expectations or needs."

See "Transitions in Iraq: Changing Environment, Changing Organizations, Changing Leadership," Joint Center for Operational Analysis, 21 July 2006.

The newly disclosed report was cited in a 2008 book by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. According to Gen. Sanchez's account, the report had been suppressed at the direction of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who did not welcome its critical findings.

In 2008, U.S. Joint Forces Command told TPM Muckraker that the report had been completed but was classified and not publicly available. ("Pentagon Report on Iraq Debacle 'Remains Classified'" by Paul Kiel, May 6, 2008).

Now portions of it have been released.

Another newly declassified report found no corroboration of allegations that the DoD Joint Forces Intelligence Command (JFIC) had withheld information from the 9/11 Commission. The DoD Inspector General said there was no basis for such a claim. But the 2008 IG report, formerly classified Secret, provides some new details on the operation of the JFIC. See "Review of Joint Forces Intelligence Command Response to 9/11," September 23, 2008:


The U.S. Navy has released some new guidance pertaining to intelligence programs, including the following items.

"Oversight of the Department of the Navy Military Intelligence Program," SECNAV Instruction 5000.38A, February 5, 2010:

"Required Operational Capabilities and Projected Operational Environment for Navy Expeditionary Intelligence Command Forces," OPNAV Instruction 3501.382, March 1, 2010:

The Department of Defense has invited comment on a proposal to modify and enhance controls on unclassified DoD information held in industry in order to protect such information from unauthorized access and disclosure. The proposed changes may be altered at a later date, the DoD notice states, in response to ongoing development of a government-wide policy on "controlled unclassified information." See the March 3 DoD Federal Register notice here:

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration issued its own proposed rule on the handling of "restricted information" in a March 4 Federal Register notice:


One of the few unclassified discussions of official U.S. policy on the use of "cover stories" to conceal classified activities and operations advised that "Cover stories must be believable." (1992 draft SAP Supplement, at p. 3-1-5):

But such pedestrian guidance would not have been needed by British military and intelligence officials during the past century because they had an almost instinctive gift for concealment and misdirection, writes Nicholas Rankin in "A Genius for Deception: How Cunning Helped the British Win Two World Wars" (Oxford University Press, 2009).

From the emergence of camouflage (a word that entered the English language in 1917) to the development of modern propaganda to the strategic deceptions of World War II, the author treats familiar figures such as T.E. Lawrence and John Buchan (author of The 39 Steps) and many unfamiliar ones.

"A Genius for Deception" is surprisingly colorful, with an endless stream of strange, offbeat and sometimes appalling anecdotes that the author has culled from his extensive reading and research.

He quotes an enterprising British intelligence officer in World War I who discovered that the German officers' latrines in an East Africa camp "were a good source of soiled documents and letters, yielding 'filthy, though accurate information'."

In a personal epilogue, Rankin observes that the calculated deception of an enemy is ethically distinct from and not to be confused with propaganda directed at one's own people.


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

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