[Intelforum] Secrecy News -- 04/21/10
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from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2010, Issue No. 32
April 21, 2010
Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/
** STATE DEPT SEEKS PUBLIC INPUT ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN U.S.
** PRIVACY IMPACT OF INTERNET SECURITY IS CLASSIFIED, NSA SAYS
** ACTIVITIES OF THE SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, 1976-2009
STATE DEPT SEEKS PUBLIC INPUT ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN U.S.
The U.S. State Department is inviting members of the public to present
their concerns about human rights in the United States as part of the
Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, in which the human rights records
of all UN Member States are to be reviewed.
"In the pursuit of a transparent and effective UPR process, the Department
of State is encouraging the American public, including non-governmental
organizations and civil society more broadly, to provide input regarding
human rights in the United States directly to the Department of State."
"Your feedback is vital for us to better gauge the U.S. human rights
situation now, and how protection of human rights can be improved in our
country and around the world," the State Department website said. "We look
forward to receiving your comments."
The Federation of American Scientists asked the State Department to turn
its attention to those cases where a resolution of alleged human rights
violations has been barred by the government's use of the state secrets
"There are innocent individuals who have been swept up in U.S. Government
counterterrorism operations, wrongly detained, 'rendered' surreptitiously
to foreign countries, subjected to extreme physical and mental stress, or
otherwise wronged," we wrote. "In some cases, like those of persons such
as Maher Arar and Khaled el-Masri, efforts to seek legal remedies have
been blocked by the Government's invocation of the state secrets
privilege. As a result, the alleged abuses committed in such cases remain
unresolved, and there is no way for the affected individuals to be made
"If the judicial process in such cases is foreclosed by the state secrets
privilege, then an alternate procedure should be created to rectify the
wrongs that may have been committed," we suggested.
PRIVACY IMPACT OF INTERNET SECURITY IS CLASSIFIED, NSA SAYS
New technologies could be used to improve internet security but the impact
of those technologies on personal privacy is classified information, the
director of the National Security Agency told Congress last week.
"How could the Internet be designed differently to provide much greater
inherent security?" the Senate Armed Services Committee asked Lt. General
Keith Alexander, who has been nominated to lead the new U.S. Cyber
"The design of the Internet is - and will continue to evolve - based on
technological advancements. These new technologies will enhance mobility
and, if properly implemented, security," replied Gen. Alexander in his
written answers in advance of an April 15 Committee hearing.
"What would the impact be on privacy, both pro and con?" the Committee
The answer to that question was "provided in the classified supplement" to
the General's response, and was not made public (see question 27).
"It is astounding that Lt. Gen. Alexander's remarks on the impact on
privacy of future modifications to the Internet under his command should
be withheld from the public," wrote Jared Kaprove and John Verdi of the
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), especially given the
President's declared commitment to upholding privacy protection in the
nation's cybersecurity policy.
Consequently, EPIC filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking
disclosure of the classified supplement to General Alexander's answers.
"There is a clear public interest in making known the Director's views on
this critical topic," EPIC wrote in its request.
ACTIVITIES OF THE SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, 1976-2009
The Senate Intelligence Committee has posted a collection of its biennial
public reports on the Committee's activities, from the first report in
1976 to the latest in 2009, providing a retrospective survey of
intelligence controversies past and present.
"The committee has unintentionally produced a profoundly biased political
document," complained the late Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan in a statement
appended to the very first report in 1976. "The committee reports on a
world in which very simply, the values which the United States hopefully
stands for do not seem to be threatened by any activity save the
activities of the U.S. Government.... Nowhere is the Committee for State
Security of the Soviet Union (the KGB) even alluded to. There is a pattern
of avoidance of the reality of totalitarian threat throughout this
"I believe that my colleague misses the point," replied Sen. Joseph Biden
in the same 1976 report. "At the heart of what is wrong with the
intelligence community and what indeed has caused many of the abuses we
have seen is the fact that most officials of the intelligence community do
not know what they should and should not be doing.... We will not solve
that problem by restating the obvious, that the Soviets operate a very
effective intelligence service, unfettered by the restrictions of a
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.
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