Secrecy News -- 07/12/04 (IF)
saftergood at fas.org
Mon Jul 12 12:28:13 EDT 2004
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 64
July 12, 2004
** SECRECY AND THE FAILURE OF INTELLIGENCE
** SEEKING THE PROPER BOUNDARIES OF NUCLEAR SECRECY
** RELEASE OF IG REPORTS ON FBI TRANSLATION PROGRAM SOUGHT
** SOME NEW CRS PRODUCTS
** VOICE TO SKULL: MORE ARMY WEB SHENANIGANS
SECRECY AND THE FAILURE OF INTELLIGENCE
The errors, inadequacies and deceptions of U.S. intelligence
regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were aggravated by
excessive secrecy, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
found in its new report.
The abuse of secrecy is a leitmotif in the latest critique on
intelligence, as in its many of its predecessors.
So, for example, the Senate Committee observes in its Conclusion
"Another significant problem found by the Committee is the fact
that the CIA continues to excessively compartment sensitive
HUMINT [human intelligence] reporting and fails to share
important information about HUMINT reporting and sources with
Intelligence Community analysts who have a need to know."
"In the years before Operation Iraqi Freedom, the CIA protected
its Iraq weapons of mass destruction sources so well that some
of the information they provided was kept from the majority of
analysts with a legitimate need to know."
Excessive secrecy not only impeded information sharing but also
made it more difficult to detect analytical errors or
policymaker exaggerations once they had occurred. Furthermore,
secrecy obstructed external oversight, with costs that are well
Because it is a systemic failure, information policy within the
intelligence bureaucracy would be a promising point of departure
for intelligence reform.
More than any other structural or organizational change, pursuit
of a revised information policy could optimize the existing
strengths of intelligence and combat its debilitating
"As vital as secrecy is to intelligence," said Acting Director of
Central Intelligence John E. McLaughlin in a June 23 speech, "it
must never become a wall that prevents an open, honest dialogue
with the American public."
But then he added defensively and inaccurately: "And it has not."
The National Security Archive (www.nsarchive.org) reported last
week that the CIA has continued to withhold almost all of the
2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction programs, as if "an open, honest dialogue with the
American public" could now be conducted without reference to
this key document.
A copy of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence "Report on
the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence
Assessments on Iraq" is available here:
SEEKING THE PROPER BOUNDARIES OF NUCLEAR SECRECY
A new research paper asks what sorts of nuclear weapons
information should be secret, what should be public, and exactly
where the line between the two should be drawn.
"Future progress in nuclear arms control and disarmament will be
strongly dependent on an increase of transparency of
nuclear-weapons-related information," writes author Annette
Schaper of the Peace Research Institute in Frankfurt, Germany.
"This report aims to identify technical information that is
relevant for nuclear verification, to discover whether it is
publicly available or secret, and then to identify where the
ideal demarcation line between secrecy and transparency might
See "Looking for a Demarcation between Nuclear Transparency and
Nuclear Secrecy" by Dr. Annette Schaper, PRIF Reports No. 68,
Frankfurt am Main, 2004:
RELEASE OF IG REPORTS ON FBI TRANSLATION PROGRAM SOUGHT
Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) asked
the Department of Justice to prepare declassified versions of
two newly completed Inspector General reports on the FBI
translation program, including a review of allegations by former
FBI Sibel Edmonds.
"Two years after the allegations made by Ms. Edmonds triggered
two investigations, we are no closer to determining the scope of
the problem, the pervasiveness and seriousness of FBI problems
in this area, or what the FBI intends to do to rectify personnel
shortages, security issues, translation inaccuracies and other
problems that have plagued the translator program for years,"
the Senators wrote.
"While the needs of national security must be weighed seriously,
we fear that the designation of information as classified in
some cases serves to protect the executive branch against
embarrassing revelations and full accountability. We hope that
is not the case here. Releasing declassified versions of these
reports, or at least portions or summaries, would serve the
public's interest, increase transparency, promote effectiveness
and efficiency at the FBI, and facilitate Congressional
See their July 9 letter here:
SOME NEW CRS PRODUCTS
Under the current regime, Americans are not permitted to have
direct online access to Congressional Research Service reports
through the CRS website. Members of the public may request a
copy of any CRS report they like, but no list of CRS titles is
made available by Congress from which they could select reports
of interest to request.
An election is coming.
In the meantime, here are several new or updated CRS reports on
national security policy topics.
"Terrorism and National Security: Issues and Trends," CRS Issue
Brief, updated July 6, 2004:
"The USA Patriot Act: A Sketch," updated June 10, 2004:
"USA Patriot Act Sunset: Provisions That Expire on December 31,
2005," updated June 10, 2004:
"Homeland Security: Coast Guard Operations -- Background and
Issues for Congress," updated July 1, 2004:
"Homeland Security: Department Organization and Management
-- Implementation Phase," updated May 27, 2004:
"Privacy Protection: Mandating New Arrangements to Implement and
"Air Force FB-22 Bomber Concept," May 26, 2004:
VOICE TO SKULL: MORE ARMY WEB SHENANIGANS
The Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) at Fort Leavenworth
has encoded more of its public website in such a way as to
discourage printing, saving or copying of its contents.
Besides the "On Point" report on the Iraq war that was previously
described in Secrecy News (07/07/04), CALL has also taken the
trouble to restrict reproduction of its Thesaurus of military
Normal print, save and copy functions are defeated by Java
scripting that is embedded in the pages of the Thesaurus.
Nevertheless, the text still can be captured with some effort.
Thesaurus page which addresses the peculiar subject of "voice to
skull devices" that employ microwave devices to "transmit sound
into the skull of person or animals":
of the above page (thanks to DG for technical assistance).
viewed (though not in Mozilla) here:
What is the Army up to here? A request for an explanation was
not immediately answered. But the CALL Thesaurus title page
includes this notice:
"The CALL Thesaurus is government-owned intellectual property.
Use of this information for the purpose of enhancing any
commercial product is not authorized without written agreement
from this organization."
On the other hand, the CALL web site's security notice states
that "Information presented on this site is considered public
information and may be distributed or copied."
It *may* be distributed or copied. But the Army is doing its
best to make that difficult.
"The porn industry does the exact same thing to keep non-tech
users from saving images to their hard drives," explained one
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.
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