from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2016, Issue No. 37
April 22, 2016
Secrecy News Blog: http://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/
- DOD DIRECTS "EQUAL ATTENTION" TO SECRECY, DECLASSIFICATION
- BORDER SECURITY DOESN'T YIELD CONSISTENT RESULTS (CRS)
DOD WANTS "EQUAL ATTENTION" FOR SECRECY, DECLASSIFICATION
Declassification of national security information should be pursued on a par with classification, according to a Department of Defense directive that was reissued yesterday.
"Declassification of information will receive equal attention as the classification of information so that information remains classified only as long as required by national security considerations," said DoD Instruction 5200.01, dated April 21 and signed by Marcel Lettre, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.
This seems commendable as an aspirational goal, but it is hard to consider it an accurate description of existing DoD policy. (The "equal attention" language has been in force since 2008, when it appeared in a prior iteration of the Instruction.)
Nor is it clear what DoD means by "equal attention" in this context. Equal resources devoted to classification- and declassification-related activities? Surely not. Equal numbers of personnel engaged in classification and declassification? No. Equivalent quantities of records being classified and declassified? Also no.
Still, in a rules-based bureaucracy like the Pentagon, a directive from the Under Secretary of Defense has some intrinsic weight and cannot be entirely dismissed.
It is also noteworthy that the Instruction goes beyond requiring some sort of equilibrium between classification and declassification and calls for an actual reduction in the amount of classified material: "The volume of classified national security information and CUI [controlled unclassified information], in whatever format or media, will be reduced to the minimum necessary to meet operational requirements."
In a new provision, the Instruction emphasizes the need to address unauthorized disclosures of classified information:
"Commanders and supervisors at all levels must consider and, at their discretion, take appropriate administrative, judicial, contractual, or other corrective/disciplinary action to address negligent discharges of classified information commensurate with the seriousness of the security violation."
A "negligent discharge" sounds like something that is frowned upon in the Book of Leviticus. But it is actually an officially-sanctioned DoD term for certain types of unauthorized disclosures. An August 14, 2014 memorandum from the Deputy Secretary of Defense explains its origin:
"A negligent spillage or unauthorized disclosure of classified information is categorized as a Negligent Discharge of Classified Information (NDCI), which is based on the familiar firearms term 'Negligent Discharge,' to connote its seriousness."
BORDER SECURITY DOESN'T YIELD CONSISTENT RESULTS (CRS)
Border security to prevent unauthorized migration along the U.S-Mexico border is a dynamic and challenging problem that has not consistently been mitigated by allocating increased resources, such as fencing and surveillance, says a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service.
"Robust investments at the border were not associated with reduced unauthorized inflows during the 1980s and 1990s, but a range of evidence suggests a substantial drop in unauthorized inflows from 2007 to 2011, followed by a rise from 2012 to 2014 and a decrease in 2015," CRS said.
See Border Security: Immigration Enforcement Between Ports of Entry, updated April 19, 2016:
Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has withheld from online public distribution include the following.
DHS Appropriations FY2016: Protection, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery, updated April 18, 2016:
Escalating Violence in El Salvador, CRS Insight, updated April 20, 2016:
Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, updated April 15, 2016:
Ukraine: Current Issues and U.S. Policy, updated April 18, 2016:
What's on Television? The Intersection of Communications and Copyright Policies, April 20, 2016:
Funding for Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CSS) at DOE: In Brief, April 19, 2016:
The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP): Issues in Brief, updated April 19, 2016:
Arms Sales: Congressional Review Process, updated April 19, 2016:
The Islamic State's Acolytes and the Challenges They Pose to U.S. Law Enforcement, April 19, 2016:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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