[Intelforum] Secrecy News -- 02/04/09
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from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2009, Issue No. 12
February 4, 2009
Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/
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** DOD SHOULD NOT "CATEGORICALLY" DENY GAO ACCESS TO INTEL
** HOUSE PASSES "REDUCING OVERCLASSIFICATION ACT"
** CIA GUIDE TO ANALYSIS OF INSURGENCY, AND OTHER RESOURCES
** CRS SCHOLAR HAROLD RELYEA RETIRES
DOD SHOULD NOT "CATEGORICALLY" DENY GAO ACCESS TO INTELLIGENCE
Department of Defense intelligence agencies were told last week to
consider granting requests from the congressional Government
Accountability Office (GAO) for access to classified foreign intelligence
GAO access to intelligence information has long been a subject of dispute
and controversy. By law (31 U.S.C. 716d), the Comptroller General who
directs the GAO cannot compel executive branch agencies to disclose
intelligence information. The Central Intelligence Agency has generally
refused to cooperate with GAO auditors, while defense intelligence
agencies have historically been somewhat more forthcoming.
A new DoD directive states explicitly for the first time that GAO requests
for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information may be
"Although the Comptroller General may be prevented from compelling access
to this information, such information should not be denied categorically.
Such information may be furnished to GAO representatives having a
legitimate need to know. Therefore, denials of access to such information
must be carefully considered and supported legitimately."
See "Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Comptroller General
Requests for Access to Records," Department of Defense Instruction
7650.01, January 27, 2009 (at page 6).
As of last year, 1000 GAO analysts held top secrecy security clearances
and 73 were cleared for intelligence information (Secrecy News, "GAO and
Intelligence Oversight," August 4, 2008).
Using GAO analysts to audit intelligence agency operations potentially
offers a way to augment and improve congressional oversight of
intelligence, the Federation of American Scientists and others have
A bill to affirm the role of GAO in intelligence oversight was introduced
by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) in the last Congress.
"It is my strong belief that the Intelligence Community could benefit from
the Government Accountability Office's expertise in reviewing
organizational transformations and management reforms," Sen. Akaka said at
a Senate hearing on the subject last year.
HOUSE PASSES "REDUCING OVERCLASSIFICATION ACT"
The House of Representatives yesterday passed the Reducing
Overclassification Act, a bill that would require the Department of
Homeland Security to prepare unclassified versions of intelligence reports
that are likely to be of use to first responders and other non-federal
officials. The legislation, introduced by Rep. Jane Harman, would also
mandate improved oversight and training in order to combat
overclassification at DHS.
"Though hard to believe, sheriffs and police chiefs cannot readily access
the information they need to prevent or disrupt a potential terrorist
[incident] because those at the Federal level resist sharing information,"
Rep. Harman said. "Over-classification and pseudo-classification, which is
stamping with any number of sensitive-but-unclassified markings, remain
CIA GUIDE TO ANALYSIS OF INSURGENCY, AND OTHER RESOURCES
A Central Intelligence Agency publication on the analysis of insurgencies
that has often been cited but not widely circulated was recently released
by CIA under the Freedom of Information Act.
"This pamphlet contains key definitions and analytic guides applicable to
any insurgency.... Among other things, this guide is designed to assist in
conducting a net assessment of the overall status or progress of a specific
conflict," the document states.
The CIA "Guide to the Analysis of Insurgency" is undated, but may have
been written in the 1980s.
U.S. military intelligence agencies should follow the lead of Federal
Express and other corporations and use "operations research" tools to
guide their investment decisions and resource allocations, according to a
new study by the Defense Science Board. See "Operations Research
Applications for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance," January
The Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency (AF ISR
Agency) is a little-known successor of the former Air Intelligence Agency,
and its mission is described in this January 27, 2009 Air Force
CRS SCHOLAR HAROLD RELYEA RETIRES
Harold C. Relyea, a scholar of American government at the Congressional
Research Service, retired on January 30 after 37 years of government
When I first started exploring government secrecy policy quite a few years
ago, the writings of Harold Relyea were some of the first and some of the
most informative things that I found to read. He showed how secrecy had
deep roots in American history, and he explained that national security
classification functioned as a bureaucratic "system" with well-defined
rules and procedures as well as characteristic problems. It followed that
the system could be confronted and challenged when necessary.
By its nature, most of Dr. Relyea's work for Congress was invisible to the
public. Its impact, though sometimes profound, was not broadly advertised.
But he leaves a lasting imprint on the published record.
At the request of the Church Committee that investigated the U.S.
intelligence community in the mid-1970s, he authored "The Evolution and
Organization of the Federal Intelligence Function: A Brief Overview
(1776-1975)," which appeared in Book VI of the Committee's Final Report
(and which was also published independently).
Among numerous other works of enduring value, he prepared a book-length
1974 report on "National Emergency Powers." A recent, abbreviated version
of the same title is here:
One of his last major reports for CRS explored "Security Classified and
Controlled Information," expertly describing the management challenges
posed by the parallel classified and "sensitive but unclassified"
information security regimes.
Another report he wrote on "Presidential Advisers' Testimony Before
Congressional Committees" was utilized by the 9/11 Commission to cajole
testimony from reluctant Bush Administration officials.
Dr. Relyea authored several books, notably including "Silencing Science"
(1994), which examined national security controls on scientific
communication. He also found time -- during his off-hours, no doubt -- to
answer questions from interested members of the public concerning secrecy
policy and related topics.
We thank him and wish him well.
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.
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