from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2012, Issue No. 1
January 3, 2012

Secrecy News Blog:


In a portent of spending cuts that are still to come, the number of employees at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) dropped significantly over the past year.

Interestingly, one of the first visible signs of the reduction in the workforce was a decline in the level of ODNI classification activity, which dropped by 17.3% from the year before.

"The decrease in total [classification] decisions was largely driven by a 12.9% decrease in population size from last year," wrote ODNI Information Management chief John F. Hackett in a November 7, 2011 report to the Information Security Oversight Office. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News under the Freedom of Information Act.

A spokesman for ODNI public affairs said he could not immediately comment on the report, which may reflect a drop in staff as well as contractor personnel, both of which are authorized to generate classified information at ODNI.

A former ODNI official told Secrecy News that "hundreds" of ODNI jobs had been eliminated. He said that the size of the ODNI workforce was on the order of 2000 people, and that the loss of hundreds of positions was consistent with the reported 12.9% "decrease in population size."


If nuclear fusion were ever to become a practical method of generating electrical energy, there would be a continuing requirement to produce significant quantities of tritium for fusion reactor fuel. The JASON scientific advisory panel was asked by the Department of Energy to assess the feasibility of large scale tritium production. Its findings were presented in a new report obtained by Secrecy News. See "Tritium," November 2011:


A newly revised Army regulation prescribes the use of "red teams" that are assigned to try and penetrate the security of military communications as if they were hackers or opposition forces.

"Red Team operations expose vulnerabilities by challenging an organization's readiness and ability to protect information. Red Team activities focus on identifying an organization's critical and classified information to show the operational impact of physical, information and operations security shortcomings," the regulation explains. "To replicate a true adversary, certified Red Teams have the authority to access .mil networks from public domains through the use of remote operations."

See "Communications Security Monitoring," Army Regulation 380-53, December 23, 2011.

Among other changes to the previous edition of the regulation, the new revision "removes the requirement to obtain permission from the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration to conduct communications security monitoring in the National Capital Region."


The inequality of income among American taxpayers has grown markedly in recent years, the Congressional Research Service confirmed in a new study of U.S. tax records.

Even as total income grew between 1996 and 2006 (the last year for which individual tax data are available), many Americans were losing ground.

"Inflation-adjusted income actually fell for those in the bottom income quintile (the poorest 20% of tax filers) and almost doubled for the richest 0.1% of tax filers," the CRS found. "Consequently, income inequality increased between 1996 and 2006."

The CRS report identified multiple contributors to the growing inequality, including disparate changes in salaries, growth in capital income among high-income taxpayers and modifications of tax policy which exacerbated existing inequalities.

"Earnings inequality has been increasing over the past three decades, and the share of income from capital has increased for high-income tax filers. Furthermore, the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, while reducing taxes for almost all tax filers, reduced taxes for high-income tax filers to a greater extent than for lower-income tax filers."

Of these, "Changes in capital gains and dividends were the largest contributor to the increase in the overall income inequality," the CRS report said. See "Changes in the Distribution of Income Among Tax Filers Between 1996 and 2006: The Role of Labor Income, Capital Income, and Tax Policy," December 29, 2011:


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

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