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Secrecy News -- 12/21/04

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood.nul>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 14:16:42 -0500 (GMT-05:00)
Fwd Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 20:06:07 -0500
Subject: Secrecy News -- 12/21/04


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 113
December 21, 2004


**	CIA COMMENCES REVIEW OF OPERATIONAL FILES EXEMPTION
**	NARA PROBES CIA LOSS OF HISTORICAL BUDGET RECORDS
**	CORRECTION: CIA RECORDS NOT REMOVED FROM NATIONAL ARCHIVES
**	MORE BACKGROUND ON THE MYSTERY SPY SATELLITE PROGRAM
**	ISOO ELABORATES ON AUTOMATIC DECLASSIFICATION PLANS
**	NGA EXTENDS COMMENT PERIOD ON WITHDRAWAL OF RECORDS
**	NARA ANNOUNCES FURTHER DECLASSIFICATION OF JFK RECORDS
**	SOME NEW CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE PRODUCTS


CIA COMMENCES REVIEW OF OPERATIONAL FILES EXEMPTION

The Central Intelligence Agency announced today that it is
conducting its second decennial (once every ten years) review of
the scope of a Freedom of Information Act exemption that was
granted in 1984 for so-called operational files.

"The CIA Information Act of 1984, codified in section 431 of
title 50 of the United States Code, authorizes the DCI to exempt
operational files of the CIA from the publication, disclosure,
search, and review provisions of the Freedom of Information
Act," explains a CIA notice in the Federal Register.

The Act "requires that, not less than once every ten years, the
DCI shall review the exemptions in force to determine whether
such exemptions may be removed from any category of exempted
files or any portion thereof."

Public comments on the scope of the exemption are solicited as
part of the decennial review. See this December 21 Federal
Register notice:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2004/12/fr122104.html

The National Security Archive has posted supplementary
documentation on the history of the Act and its implementation
here:

http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB138/index.htm

The CIA's operational files exemption is a matter of concern not
only to historians and Agency watchers. It is also implicated in
some of the most urgent and controversial matters of national
policy.

Thus, the CIA recently invoked the exemption in federal court to
argue that it should not be compelled to disclose records
relating to an investigation of allegations of torture committed
by U.S. personnel in Iraq.

See this December 8 memorandum filed by the CIA in a Freedom of
Information Act proceeding brought by the ACLU and other
organizations:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/jud/cia120804.pdf

But yesterday, Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the Southern District
of New York rejected the CIA argument and ordered the Agency to
begin turning over records to the ACLU and its co-plaintiffs.


NARA PROBES CIA LOSS OF HISTORICAL BUDGET RECORDS

The National Archives and Records Administration is asking the
Central Intelligence Agency to explain its recent statement to a
federal judge that it cannot locate copies of the classified
annexes to the intelligence authorization acts for fiscal years
1947 through 1970, as noted earlier this month (SN, 12/10/04).

A newly obtained letter from NARA to the CIA states: "It is our
understanding that a record set of those annexes should be
preserved among the permanent appropriations and budget files of
the CIA," wrote Howard P. Lowell, director of modern records
programs at the National Archives.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2004/11/nara112304.pdf

"How can you lose those things?" asked historian Anna Nelson of
American University on National Public Radio Weekend Edition on
December 18. "You can't lose those things. So, you know, where
are they?"

A CIA response is due by the end of the month.


CORRECTION: CIA RECORDS NOT REMOVED FROM NATIONAL ARCHIVES

A story in the previous issue of Secrecy News was mistakenly
titled "CIA Removes Records From National Archives" (SN,
12/16/04).

In fact, however, no CIA records have been physically removed
from the National Archives.

While various records in open collections at the Archives have
been removed from public access by CIA reviewers, as reported,
those records remain in the custody of the National Archives.


MORE BACKGROUND ON THE MYSTERY SPY SATELLITE PROGRAM

The highly classified intelligence program that erupted into
public controversy earlier this month, which reportedly involves
a low observable stealth imaging satellite codenamed MISTY, has
been described in some detail in unclassified published sources.

Earlier this year, the Russian space magazine Novosti Kosmonavki
discussed the program in an article by Alexei Kucheiko. It was
cited by the Washington Post in a December 11 story by Dana
Priest.

"I've read it, and it's a good summary and extension of all the
MISTY-related lore that's come out over the past decade," said
former CIA analyst Allen Thomson.

A copy of the article, in Russian, is reposted here with
permission of Novosti Kosmonavki (www.novosti-kosmonavtiki.ru/):

http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/imint/nkmisty.html

The National Security Archives last week posted an excerpt from
Jeffrey Richelson's book The Wizards of Langley, which first
described the MISTY program, and has now added some remarkable
declassified documents obtained by Richelson which trace the
historical roots of the stealth satellite concept as far back as
1963. See:

http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB143/index.htm


ISOO ELABORATES ON AUTOMATIC DECLASSIFICATION PLANS

Some further details on agency plans for responding to the
automatic declassification requirements of President Bush's
March 2003 executive order on classification policy were
provided by the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) in
private correspondence.

The Bush order called for automatic declassification of most 25
year old documents by December 2006. (Under a previous order
from President Clinton, automatic declassification was to take
effect in April 2003.)

Ten agencies have previously been granted exemptions from
automatic declassification for particular file series, wrote
ISOO director William Leonard, and an additional request is
currently pending.

"Several agencies have indicated their intent to delay for an
additional 5 years [until 2011] the automatic declassification
of information contained in special media such as microforms,
motion pictures, and audiotapes," he wrote.

In addition, extensions up to three years [until 2009] have been
granted in several cases for records involving multiple agency
"equities" or interests.

Mr. Leonard provided the information in response to a query from
researcher James David. See:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2004/12/isoo1204.pdf


NGA EXTENDS COMMENT PERIOD ON WITHDRAWAL OF RECORDS

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has extended
the public comment period on its proposal to withdraw various
aeronautical records from public access.

"The period of comment will be open from the date of this
Register until 30 June 2005. NGA will consider all comments when
making the final decision to go forward with this proposed
action, in part, in whole, or not at all," according to a
December 17 Federal Register notice:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2004/12/fr121704.html

For background on the controversy over the NGA proposal, see
"NGA Plans Limited Access to Aeronautical Data Beginning in FY
06" by Cynthia Di Pasquale, Inside the Air Force, December 3
(reposted with permission):

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2004/12/ita120304.html


NARA ANNOUNCES FURTHER DECLASSIFICATION OF JFK RECORDS

Over 4000 historical documents concerning the assassination of
President Kennedy that previously remained partially classified
are now released in full, according to a December 20
announcement from the National Archives.

An equal number of documents have been partially released but
with fewer redactions than in previous versions.

"Newly released information ranges from one word to a paragraph
or more per document," the Archives release said:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2004/12/nara122004.html


SOME NEW CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE PRODUCTS

"Nuclear Weapons: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty," updated
December 17, 2004:

http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/crs/IB92099.pdf

"Nuclear Testing and Comprehensive Test Ban: Chronology Starting
September 1992," updated November 9, 2004:

http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/crs/97-1007.pdf

"Scientific Research and the Experimental Use Privilege in
Patent Law," October 28, 2004:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/RL32651.pdf

"Intelligence Issues for Congress," updated December 9, 2004:

http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/IB10012.pdf

"Terrorism: Background on Chemical, Biological, and Toxin
Weapons and Options for Lessening Their Impact," updated
December 1, 2004:

http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RL31669.pdf



_______________________________________________
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.nul
voice: (202) 454-4691




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