[Intelforum] Secrecy News -- 08/06/07
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from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 80
August 6, 2007
** HOUSE MOVES TO BLOCK INTEL BUDGET DISCLOSURE
** PUBLIC INFO IN PLAME CASE CLASSIFIED, JUDGE RULES
** FOIA REFORM ADVANCES IN SENATE
** DOD REPORTS ON CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL DEFENSE
** CRS REPORTS ON 2008 BUDGET APPROPRIATIONS
HOUSE MOVES TO BLOCK INTEL BUDGET DISCLOSURE
One day after President Bush signed into law a bill that requires
public disclosure of the national intelligence budget, the House of
Representatives adopted an amendment to prevent that requirement from
The budget disclosure provision appeared in legislation enacting the
recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which was passed by Congress
last month and signed by President Bush on August 3.
If implemented, it would mark the first time that Congress successfully
asserted its authority to compel disclosure of currently classified
information over the objections of the executive branch. Since 1998,
the intelligence bureaucracy has consistently refused to divulge the
intelligence budget total. The White House stated on February 28 that
budget disclosure "could cause damage to the national security
interests of the United States."
The opposing view, adopted by the 9/11 Commission and endorsed by
Congress last month, is that budget disclosure is an indispensable
precondition to broader accountability and that it is essential to
restoring the credibility of a defective classification system.
But despite the fact that the requirement to disclose the intelligence
budget has finally passed into law, it may not happen after all.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) offered an amendment to the Defense
Appropriations Act on August 4 that would prohibit budget disclosure.
Without any debate, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) announced that the
amendment was accepted.
The Issa amendment will have to be addressed in a House-Senate
conference before it effectively repeals the new disclosure
PUBLIC INFO IN PLAME CASE CLASSIFIED, JUDGE RULES
A federal court last week accepted a Central Intelligence Agency
argument that the date on which former covert officer Valerie Plame
Wilson's employment at the CIA began should remain classified even
though it is irrevocably in the public domain.
The date in question appeared in a seemingly unclassified letter sent
by CIA to Ms. Wilson and published in the Congressional Record. But
when she sought to include the information in the manuscript of her
forthcoming memoir, the CIA objected that it is still classified. Now
the Court has agreed.
"To be sure, the public may draw whatever conclusions it might from the
fact that the information at issue was sent on CIA letterhead by the
Chief of Retirement and Insurance Services," wrote Judge Barbara S.
Jones in an August 1 ruling. "However, nothing in the law or its
policy requires the CIA to officially acknowledge what those in the
public may think they know."
The text of the CIA letter containing the classified information citing
the start of Ms. Wilson's employment on November 9, 1985 was published
in the Congressional Record on January 16, 2007 and is available here:
In their June 28 motion to overturn CIA censorship, Ms. Wilson's
attorneys cited a lawsuit of mine in which the CIA was compelled to
disclose its 1963 budget after I showed that the figure had previously
been declassified. "As in 'Aftergood'," they argued by analogy, "the
Court should reject the CIA's belated and unsupported effort" to deny
access to information in the public domain.
But that case was different, the government replied on July 13. The
1963 budget figure was declassified, albeit inadvertently. The
information on Ms. Wilson's employment was never formally declassified,
inadvertently or otherwise, but was merely disclosed by accident.
An unclassified declaration by Stephen R. Kappes, deputy director of
CIA, provided a lucid explanation of CIA's perspective on
classification of information about covert employees, intelligence
liaison relationships, and related topics.
Other selected case files may be found here:
FOIA REFORM ADVANCES IN SENATE
The Open Government Act, a bipartisan bill to strengthen the Freedom of
Information Act, passed the Senate on August 3 after objections from a
lone Senator were finally overcome.
Senators Pat Leahy (D-VT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) successfully
shepherded the legislation, which is intended to expedite agency
responsiveness to FOIA requests and improve the freedom of information
regime in various other ways.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), who had earlier placed a hold on the bill blocking
its advance, explained his concerns in an August 3 floor statement and
how they had been resolved. The measure passed on a voice vote.
DOD REPORTS ON CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL DEFENSE
Earlier this year, the Department of Defense released two annual
reports on the status of its chemical and biological defense efforts:
"Department of Defense Chemical and Biological Defense Program," Annual
Report to Congress, April 2007 (5.9 MB PDF):
"Report on Activities and Programs for Countering Proliferation and NBC
Terrorism," Counterproliferation Program Review Committee, Volume I,
Executive Summary, May 2007:
CRS REPORTS ON 2008 BUDGET APPROPRIATIONS
Recent reports of the Congressional Research Service on the 2008 budget
appropriation cycle obtained by Secrecy News include the following.
"Homeland Security Department: FY2008 Appropriations," updated July 17,
"Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2008," updated July 26,
"Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2008
Appropriations," July 20, 2007:
"Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2008
Appropriations," updated July 20, 2007:
"Energy and Water Development: FY2008 Appropriations," updated July 13,
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.
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