[Intelforum] Secrecy News -- 12/12/05 (IF)
saftergood at fas.org
Mon Dec 12 12:44:00 EST 2005
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 113
December 12, 2005
** THE DEMISE OF SENSITIVE HOMELAND SECURITY INFO (SHSI)
** LOS ALAMOS TECHNICAL REPORTS ON THE FAS WEB SITE
** WSJ ON DISASTER RESPONSE
** JUDICIAL WATCH ON OPEN GOVERNMENT
THE DEMISE OF SENSITIVE HOMELAND SECURITY INFO (SHSI)
Three years after Congress directed the President to develop
government-wide procedures for protecting sensitive homeland security
information (SHSI), no such procedures are in place and the effort to
produce them has been all but formally abandoned, Secrecy News has
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 required the President to prescribe
and implement procedures by which agencies would "identify and
safeguard homeland security information that is sensitive but
unclassified" (Section 892).
In his July 2003 executive order 13311, President Bush assigned the
Secretary of Homeland Security responsibility for complying with this
But "as is true with so many other subjects, they have done nothing
with it," said one U.S. Government official with subject matter
expertise. He spoke on condition of anonymity.
A government-wide policy on protecting SHSI "has been periodically
discussed, pushed close to some action, and then sent back for
further study. There are a dozen hard and fast deadlines that have
been missed on this whole subject."
"I think it's fair to say it's dead. The concept is not dead but it's
highly unlikely anything will come of it."
Because Congress failed to define the statutory meaning of
"sensitive," critics including the Federation of American Scientists
were concerned that the establishment of the "Sensitive Homeland
Security Information" (SHSI) category was an invitation to formalize
the indiscriminate withholding of information.
"I think this is a case where no news is good news from your point of
view," said the official, referring to the lack of progress on SHSI.
Meanwhile, however, he said that a separate interagency initiative was
underway to define and regulate the even broader category of
"sensitive but unclassified" information.
But "that is far too big a task to come to fruition," the official
Given that agencies were unable to reach consensus on the definition
of terrorism-related SHSI, it will be "exponentially more difficult"
to come to agreement on the vastly larger and more amorphous domain
of "sensitive but unclassified" information, he said.
LOS ALAMOS TECHNICAL REPORTS ON THE FAS WEB SITE
Thousands of unclassified technical reports that were published on the
Los Alamos National Laboratory web site and then removed from public
access have now been reposted on the Federation of American
Scientists web site.
The Los Alamos reports were archived by researchers Carey Sublette and
Gregory Walker, who made them available to FAS (SN, 02/19/04).
Over the past year we have incrementally added more and more of the
collection, which comprises an enormous 8.5 gigabytes of data, to our
website. That process is now complete.
Many of the documents have enduring if narrow scientific value,
judging from the requests we regularly receive for various titles.
Others are principally of historical value. Still others hold both
scientific and historical interest.
For example, the 1947 study entitled "Blast Wave" (LA-2000) includes
original scientific papers by Hans Bethe, John von Neuman and Rudolph
Peierls -- but also by Klaus Fuchs, who would be convicted in 1950 of
spying for the Soviet Union.
The 300 page volume was originally for sale to the public for $6.50,
according to the inside cover. Now it is available for free on the
FAS web site, with thousands of other such documents.
See Los Alamos Technical Reports and Publications:
WSJ ON DISASTER RESPONSE
On December 9, Secrecy News published an extraordinary email message
from a National Guard official, Maj. Gen. Timothy Lowenberg, who
warned against military control of disaster response activities.
That email message was discussed and placed in context in a deeply
reported front page story in the Wall Street Journal on December 8.
See "Local and Federal Authorities Battle to Control Disaster Relief"
by Robert Block and Amy Schatz, Wall Street Journal, December 8 (sub.
JUDICIAL WATCH ON OPEN GOVERNMENT
It is obvious why an opponent of the present Administration would be
critical of its secretive ways. And yet such opponents are not the
only ones who favor increased transparency and disclosure. Nor do
perspectives on openness and secrecy correspond predictably to
The avowedly conservative Judicial Watch is hosting a panel discussion
at the National Press Club December 13 on "The Case for Open
Government," with the rather ecumenical participation of the Heritage
Foundation, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the
Federation of American Scientists, and the Society of Professional
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.
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