from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2015, Issue No. 38
June 1, 2015
Secrecy News Blog: http://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/
SOME NEW INTELLIGENCE BUDGET DATA DISCLOSED
U.S. intelligence spending remains at the frontier of national security classification and declassification policy, as some new scraps of intelligence budget information are divulged, most other information is withheld, and a simmering demand for greater disclosure persists in Congress and elsewhere.
Last month the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) released heavily redacted versions of its annual budget justification books for Fiscal Year 2012 and Fiscal Year 2013.
The declassified portions of the NGA budget documents reflect an emphasis on improved sharing of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) products and an ongoing reliance on commercial satellite imagery.
"The FY 2013 budget request reflects a continuation of NGA's Vision to provide on-line, on-demand access to GEOINT knowledge and to create new value by broadening and deepening analytic expertise."
The documents allude briefly to development of "next-generation sensor/system collection capabilities" as well as a "next-generation exploitation capability [that] will enable analysts to [deleted]."
The documents were processed for declassification in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
(The control markings on the original budget documents included "RSEN," which is an abbreviation for "Risk Sensitive." This term "is used to protect especially sensitive imaging capabilities and exploitation techniques," according to ODNI classification guidance.)
Also last month, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed the aggregate amount of national intelligence spending for Fiscal Year 2005: it was $39.8 billion. With this retrospective release, a full decade's worth of official figures on U.S. intelligence spending on national intelligence from 2005 through 2014 have now been published.
That is not good enough, say some members of Congress, who have reintroduced legislation in the House and the Senate to require disclosure of each individual intelligence agency budget total.
"The biggest threat to the successful implementation of a vital national program is the combination of unlimited money with non-existent oversight," said Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) last month. "Requiring the public disclosure of top-line intelligence spending [at each intelligence agency] is an essential first step in assuring that our taxpayers and our national security interests are well served."
"Disclosing the top-line budgets of each of our intelligence agencies promotes basic accountability among the agencies charged with protecting Americans without compromising our national security interests," said Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo), who co-sponsored the legislation.
"Revealing the overall intelligence budget number has not jeopardized national security, as opponents of the proposal argued at the time, and has led to a more open and informed debate on national security spending," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). "My House colleagues and I are pushing to declassify the topline budget numbers for each intelligence agency to provide Americans with more information about how their tax dollars are spent, in a responsible manner that protects national security."
Similar legislation was introduced in the previous Congress but was not acted upon.
THE FEDERAL GRAND JURY, AND MORE FROM CRS
A Congressional Research Service report on The Federal Grand Jury, May 7, 2015, presents "a brief general description of the federal grand jury, with particular emphasis on its more controversial aspects--relationship of the prosecutor and the grand jury, the rights of grand jury witnesses, grand jury secrecy, and rights of targets of a grand jury investigation."
In Brief: Options to Help Meet a Congressional Requirement for Nuclear Weapon "Pit" Production, May 22, 2015, describes sixteen options for increasing the production of plutonium pits for thermonuclear weapons.
A CRS report on Wartime Detention Provisions in Recent Defense Authorization Legislation was updated on May 28, 2015 to include discussion of the pending FY2016 defense authorization bills.
Overview of Constitutional Challenges to NSA Collection Activities, May 21, 2015, presents an updated survey of recent litigation on the constitutionality of U.S. intelligence surveillance programs.
U.S. Trade with Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Partners, May 21, 2015, examines the economic impacts of free trade agreements.
An Overview of the Employment-Population Ratio, May 27, 2015, considers the significance of the proportion of the population that is employed at any given time.
Former Presidents: Pensions, Office Allowances, and Other Federal Benefits, May 27, 2015, has been updated to reflect legislation that was recently introduced to place limits on such pensions.
Some other recent CRS products obtained by Secrecy News include the following.
Rules and Practices Governing Consideration of Revenue Legislation in the House and Senate, updated May 26, 2015
The Violence Against Women Act: Overview, Legislation, and Federal Funding, updated May 26, 2015
The "Islamic State" Crisis and U.S. Policy, updated May 27, 2015
Trade Promotion Authority: Frequently Asked Questions, updated May 27, 2015
Foreign Holdings of Federal Debt, updated May 28, 2015
Earmark Disclosure Rules in the House: Member and Committee Requirements, updated May 21, 2015
Earmark Disclosure Rules in the Senate: Member and Committee Requirements, updated May 21, 2015
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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