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Secrecy News -- 06/27/02

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood@fas.org>
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 2002 12:38:49 -0400
Fwd Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 10:05:47 -0400
Subject: Secrecy News -- 06/27/02


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 58
June 27, 2002


**	HOUSE ADOPTS HOMELAND SECURITY INFO SHARING ACT
**	HOMELAND SECURITY OVERSIGHT QUESTIONED
**	BATTLE OVER CENSUS DATA RENEWED
**	SENATE SEEKS SHAD DECLASSIFICATION
**	OTHER SECRECY NEWS


HOUSE ADOPTS HOMELAND SECURITY INFO SHARING ACT

The House of Representatives yesterday approved legislation to
facilitate the sharing of U.S. intelligence and other federal
homeland security information with state and local agencies.

"This bill will help to eliminate the stovepipes that exist in
the intelligence and law enforcement worlds with respect to
sharing of vital information and will assist officials across
government to communicate with each other," said Rep. Saxby
Chambliss (R-GA).

The Homeland Security Information Sharing Act would generally
direct the President to establish procedures for declassifying
or redacting classified information so that it could be widely
disseminated among officials at all levels.  The Act would not
substantively alter classification criteria or procedures.  Nor
would it be likely to result in any increased public disclosure
of homeland security information.

The Act calls for development of procedures by which "to
identify and safeguard homeland security information that is
sensitive but unclassified," a notoriously problematic task that
would define a sort of hybrid middle ground between classified
and unclassified information.

See the June 25 House Judiciary Committee report on the Homeland
Security Information Sharing Act here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2002_rpt/hrpt107-534.html

See the June 26 House floor debate and vote on the Act here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2002_cr/h062602.html

The Bush Administration weighed in favorably but with some
caveats in a June 26 Statement of Administration Policy on the
bill here:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/bush/hr4598sap.html


HOMELAND SECURITY OVERSIGHT QUESTIONED

"The Administration is asking us to put this new Department [of
Homeland Security] above the law and outside the checks and
balances these laws are put there to ensure," said Senator
Patrick Leahy at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on June
26.

Senator Leahy itemized his concerns in a prepared statement
available here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2002_hr/062602leahy.html

Senator Chuck Grassley raised many of the same issues, from
whistleblower protection to freedom of information, in a letter
he sent to Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge on June 19:

http://grassley.senate.gov/releases/2002/p02r6-19.htm

In response, Mr. Ridge stressed yesterday that the proposed
Department is a "work in progress."

See also "Security bill bars blowing whistle" by Audrey Hudson
in the June 22 Washington Times:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20020622-42082444.htm


BATTLE OVER CENSUS DATA RENEWED

One of the early pre-September 11 indicators of the Bush
Administration's predilection for official secrecy was a
needless dispute with Members of Congress over access to certain
census data.

In May 2001, several members of the House Government Reform
Committee filed suit in federal court to gain access to the
contested data.  In January 2002, they won.

Now, however, the Bush Administration is appealing that ruling
in a renewed effort to block disclosure of the requested
information.

House Democratic leaders filed briefs this week in support of
their colleagues.  (House Republicans side with the
Administration.)  See:

   http://democraticleader.house.gov/media/press/readPress.asp?ID
=344

Background and documentation on the whole dispute is available
here:

   http://www.house.gov/reform/min/inves_other/other_census.htm


SENATE SEEKS SHAD DECLASSIFICATION

The Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD) Project was a Defense
Department experimental program in the 1960s which entailed the
use of biological and chemical agents on U.S. servicemen.  The
existence of SHAD was first acknowledged by the Pentagon in May
of this year.

Yesterday the Senate approved an amendment to the Defense
Authorization Act that would mandate declassification of SHAD-
related medical records, and their transfer to the Department of
Veterans Affairs.  See:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/congress/2002/s062602.html

Out of 113 SHAD tests, only twelve have been declassified to
date.  See the Pentagon's web page on SHAD here:

    http://deploymentlink.osd.mil/current_issues/shad/shad_intro.
shtml


OTHER SECRECY NEWS

As the congressional intelligence committee investigating
September 11 "sifts through Top Secret documents, it faces the
dicey task of balancing the country's right to know with the
danger of who might find out," writes Bill Adair in today's St.
Petersburg Times:

http://www.sptimes.com/2002/06/27/Worldandnation/The_conundrum__
share_.shtml

The latest declassified document releases from the UK Public
Records Office concerning Winston Churchill and Lawrence of
Arabia are announced here:

http://www.pro.gov.uk/releases/r2002.htm

Recently declassified U.S. government documents concerning
Peru's disgraced intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos were
published today by the National Security Archive in a briefing
book edited by Tamara Feinstein.  See:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB72/


******************************
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.

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_______________________
Steven Aftergood
Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists
web:    www.fas.org/sgp/index.html
email:  saftergood@fas.org
voice:  (202) 454-4691




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