[Intelforum] Secrecy News -- 08/27/07
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from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 87
August 27, 2007
Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/
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** THE FBI AS AN INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION
** DOMESTIC USE OF SPY SATELLITES QUESTIONED
** ARMY JAG ISSUES OPERATIONAL LAW HANDBOOK
THE FBI AS AN INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has increasingly
supplemented its traditional law enforcement role with new intelligence
and counterterrorism functions, now says its paramount objective is to
"prevent, disrupt, and defeat terrorist operations before they occur."
New domestic intelligence collection activities that have been adopted
in pursuit of this goal are described in unusual detail in the Bureau's
2008 budget request.
Special attention is given to cultivating human intelligence sources.
"The FBI recruits new CHSs [confidential human sources] every day," the
budget request notes. But without increased budget support, the FBI
says it will not be possible to validate these sources and to determine
the credibility of the information they provide.
"With current resources, the FBI is unable to reach a point where all
CHSs are successfully subjected to the CHSV [confidential human source
The budget request refers in passing to "more than 15,000" confidential
human sources requiring validation (page 4-24).
The FBI also seeks new funds for intelligence collection training and
"Without this training, the FBI would lack the full capacity to provide
SAs [special agents] the comprehensive tradecraft, procedural, legal and
policy direction needed to execute the significant and constitutionally
sensitive domestic intelligence collection mission with confidence,"
the budget document states (page 4-27).
The FBI's budgetary focus on expanding its human intelligence
capability was first reported by Justin Rood of ABC News. See "FBI
Proposes Building Network of U.S. Informants," July 25:
The same FBI budget document provides significant new detail on other
FBI intelligence and counterterrorism activities, the FBI open source
program, the National Virtual Translation Center, and other
The Washington Post reported that there were nearly 20,000 positive
matches of individuals seeking to enter the United States who were
flagged by the Terrorist Screening Center, according to the FBI budget
request. Despite the surprisingly large figure, only a small number of
See "Terror Suspect List Yields Few Arrests" by Ellen Nakashima,
Washington Post, August 25:
DOMESTIC USE OF SPY SATELLITES QUESTIONED
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee scolded Homeland
Security Secretary Michael Chertoff last week for failing to notify him
of plans to expand the use of intelligence satellites for homeland
"Unfortunately, I have had to rely on media reports to gain information
about this endeavor because neither I nor my staff was briefed on the
decision to create this new office prior to the public disclosure of
this effort," wrote Rep. Bennie Thompson in an August 22 letter to
Secretary Chertoff (who has been mentioned as a possible nominee to
replace Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General).
"I need you to provide me with an immediate assurance that upon its
October 1st roll out, this program will be operating within the
confines of the Constitution and all applicable laws and regulations,"
Chairman Thompson wrote.
"Additionally, because I have not been informed of the existence of
this program for over a two year period, I am requesting that for the
next six weeks, you provide me with bi-weekly briefings on the progress
of the [National Applications Office] working groups."
The Thompson letter as well as the new homeland security initiative
were first reported in the Wall Street Journal.
A Washington Post editorial said that any use of spy satellites for
domestic monitoring "must be accompanied... by robust protections for
privacy and civil liberties." The failure to properly advise Congress
was "not a comforting start for a landmark change."
ARMY JAG ISSUES OPERATIONAL LAW HANDBOOK
A comprehensive introduction to military operational law is presented
in a new edition of the Operational Law Handbook published by the U.S.
Army Judge Advocate General.
The Handbook, intended for the use of judge advocates, describes
tactics and techniques for the practice of operational law.
Along the way, it provides a useful survey of the laws of war, human
rights law, prisoner detainment policy, the use of contractors
alongside military forces, and intelligence law, among other topics.
"Because intelligence is so important to the commander, operational
lawyers must understand the basics of intelligence law, including how
law and policy pertain to the collection of human intelligence, such as
interrogation operations," the Handbook states.
See "Operational Law Handbook," The Judge Advocate General's Legal
Center and School, July 2007 (667 pages, 6 MB PDF file):
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.
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