[Intelforum] Secrecy News -- 10/21/05 (IF)
saftergood at fas.org
Fri Oct 21 13:32:46 EDT 2005
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 99
October 21, 2005
** FAILURE TO DECLASSIFY INTEL BUDGET TERMED "UNSATISFACTORY"
** LEE HAMILTON ON SECRECY
** F-16 FIGHTER AIRCRAFT FOR PAKISTAN
** DOD ON CONTRACTORS AND ARMED FORCES
** ZAWAHIRI TO ZARQAWI: THE ASPENS ARE TURNING
FAILURE TO DECLASSIFY INTEL BUDGET TERMED "UNSATISFACTORY"
In a progress report on the status of the recommendations made by
the 9/11 Commission, the former Commissioners rated Congress
"unsatisfactory" for failing to declassify the intelligence budget
The final report of the bipartisan Commission last year had singled
out budget declassification as best place to begin combating the
excessive secrecy that has degraded the performance of U.S.
intelligence agencies (at page 416).
But not even the national catastrophe of September 11 proved
sufficient to dislodge the official prejudice in favor of
Ironically, the intelligence community has probably suffered more
than anyone from budget secrecy, as significant cuts to classified
intelligence spending were imposed in the 1990s without public
awareness or even the possibility of debate.
("In the 1990s, we suffered deep cuts in intelligence funding,"
DCIA Goss recalled on June 29, 2005.)
The proponents of budget secrecy thus bear a heavy burden of
responsibility for the steadily eroding quality of U.S.
Last year, the full Senate voted in favor of intelligence budget
disclosure, but the measure was opposed by the Bush White House
and rejected by most House Republicans. It was abandoned in a
Now, the 9/11 Commission members urge in their new report,
"Congress should pass a separate appropriations act for
intelligence, making public the overall amounts being appropriated
from national intelligence and being assigned to the various
components of the intelligence community."
See "Report on the Status of 9/11 Commission Recommendations" from
the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, October 20:
A new critique of the Silberman-Robb Commission on WMD Intelligence
written by David Isenberg and published by the British American
Security Information Council is available here:
LEE HAMILTON ON SECRECY
"At a time when the U.S. intelligence community is under intense
scrutiny in the aftermath of 9/11 and the failure to find weapons
of mass destruction in Iraq, we only increase public skepticism
about our government by denying the public information," said Lee
H. Hamilton, the distinguished former Congressman and vice chair
of the 9/11 Commission.
Mr. Hamilton was the keynote speaker this week at a remarkable
symposium sponsored by the Information Security Oversight Office
(ISOO) to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Executive Order
12958 on national security classification.
Under other circumstances, many of Mr. Hamilton's remarks would be
considered truisms, e.g. "Information must be made available -- to
the maximum extent possible -- to the American people." But
today, such sentiments practically amount to a radical critique of
See the text of his presentation here:
The superb ISOO symposium offered genuinely diverse and strongly
argued perspectives, unresolved disagreements, and even a few
For a partial account of one of the symposium panels, see
"Official: Secrecy decisions 'subjective'," by Shaun Waterman,
UPI, October 18:
F-16 FIGHTER AIRCRAFT FOR PAKISTAN
The United States may offer to sell Pakistan "up to 55 new and 25
used F-16" fighter aircraft, a newly updated Congressional
Research Service study says, citing unspecified "reports."
See "Pakistan-U.S. Relations, Congressional Research Service,
updated October 13, 2005:
DOD ON CONTRACTORS AND ARMED FORCES
A new Department of Defense Instruction defines "DoD policy and
procedures concerning DoD contractor personnel authorized to
accompany the U.S. Armed Forces."
Contractors deployed alongside U.S. military forces in Iraq and
elsewhere have assumed increasing responsibilities for military
tasks up to and including prisoner interrogation, but in doing so
they have also created legal, administrative and procedural
The new DoD Instruction attempts to bring some order to what has
occasionally been a chaotic situation and addresses, for example,
the conditions under which contractors may be armed.
The issuance of the Instruction earlier this month was first
reported by InsideDefense.com.
See DoD Instruction 3020.41, "Contractor Personnel Authorized to
Accompany the U.S. Armed Forces," October 3, 2005:
ZAWAHIRI TO ZARQAWI: THE ASPENS ARE TURNING
The letter purportedly written from Al Qaeda's Ayman al Zawahiri to
Abu Musab al Zarqawi and released October 11 by the Director of
National Intelligence has met with continuing skepticism and has
now entered the domain of spoofery.
The anomalous fact that the supposed letter to Zarqawi advises the
recipient, if in Fallujah, to "send greetings to Abu Musab Al
Zarqawi," noted last week in Secrecy News, was elaborated in a
Reuters story by David Morgan.
See "US Cannot Explain Suspicious Zawahri Letter Passage," October
The story was picked up appreciatively by Harry Shearer in his
satirical broadcast "Le Show" on October 16. An audio clip can be
found here (thanks to A):
Taking it to the next level, T.A. Frank wrote his own letter from
Zawahiri to Zarqawi in the The New Republic:
"Please remember that here in Waziristan, out East, where you
train, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters--
partly because their roots connect them, partly because a recent
volley of daisy-cutters has reduced them to charred stumps."
U.S. intelligence analysts are not completely oblivious to the
peculiarities of the proffered Zawahiri letter.
A national security reporter who was briefed by senior intelligence
officials told Secrecy News:
"One hypothesis from the analysts is that the last line--about
giving regards to Zarqawi if in Fallujah--was a note to one of the
couriers who would have carried or transmitted the letter-- and
not, therefore, part of the letter addressed to Zarqawi. The
senior official said that he has 'rarely been more confident' that
the letter was indeed authored by Zawahiri, based on intelligence
from 'multiple' sources."
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.
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