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Secrecy News -- 02/10/04

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood.nul>
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 13:34:44 -0500
Fwd Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 05:22:27 -0500
Subject: Secrecy News -- 02/10/04


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 16
February 10, 2004


**	2002 INTEL BUDGET TOTAL EXEMPT FROM FOIA, COURT RULES
**	CRS ON SENSITIVE SECURITY INFORMATION
**	CRS ON PATRIOT ACT SUNSET


2002 INTEL BUDGET TOTAL EXEMPT FROM FOIA, COURT RULES

The 2002 intelligence budget total is exempt from disclosure
under the Freedom of Information Act, a federal court judge has
ruled, because that number, which was around $35 billion,
"relates to intelligence sources or methods that the DCI must
protect."

The ruling by D.C. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina, dated
February 6 and disclosed today, came in a Freedom of Information
Act lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency brought by
the Federation of American Scientists.

Last April, Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet
swore under penalty of perjury that disclosure of the total
intelligence budget for 2002 -- a single number encompassing the
intelligence-related expenditures of more than a dozen agencies
-- would damage national security and compromise sources and
methods.

Given the DCI's personal intervention, the court's ruling was no
great surprise.  To have ordered budget disclosure would have
been to publicly call George Tenet a liar.

And yet the decision is a disappointment, since it means that
there is no one in authority who will stand up and say that CIA
budget secrecy is wrong on the merits.

By any rational measure, it is simply not true that disclosing
the intelligence budget total would damage national security or
intelligence methods.  That is why a growing number of foreign
democracies publish the size of their intelligence accounts.
That is also why the CIA itself disclosed the 1997 and 1998
budget totals ($26.6 and $26.7 billion, respectively), in
response to previous litigation.

Judge Urbina, who often issues rulings that are models of
discernment and empathy, in this case declined to confront the
core dispute or to exercise independent review of CIA's
substantive claims.  His decision is here:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/foia/2002/rmu020604.pdf


CRS ON SENSITIVE SECURITY INFORMATION

"Sensitive Security Information" (SSI) is a relatively new
category of aviation security-related information whose
disclosure is restricted, generating disputes over whether and
when secrecy concerning transportation security is warranted.

Based in statute, SSI includes "information about security
programs, vulnerability assessments, technical specifications of
certain screening equipment and objects used to test screening
equipment ... and other information."

"The [SSI] regulations are intended to reduce the risk of vital
security information reaching the wrong hands and resulting in
another terrorist attack," according to a new report from the
Congressional Research Service (CRS).

But they "have raised a number of concerns about the management
of such information and the accountability of governmental
agencies."

The use of the SSI restriction by the Transportation Security
Agency and the resulting tensions over public access are
explored by CRS analyst Mitchel A. Sollenberger in "Sensitive
Security Information (SSI) and Transportation Security:
Background and Controversies," February 5:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/RS21727.pdf

The House Committee on House Administration, led by Rep. Bob Ney
(R-OH), opposes direct public access to CRS reports like this
one.


CRS ON PATRIOT ACT SUNSET

Over a dozen provisions of the USA Patriot Act regarding certain
aspects of foreign intelligence and law enforcement surveillance
authority are set to expire automatically on December 31, 2005.

The affected provisions are itemized and explored in this new
report from the Congressional Research Service:  "USA Patriot
Act Sunset: Provisions That Expire on December 31, 2005" by
Charles Doyle, January 2:

http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RL32186.pdf

An abbreviated version of the same report is available as "USA
Patriot Act Sunset: A Sketch," January 7:

http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RS21704.pdf

Direct public access to these reports is provided without
congressional authorization.


_______________________________________________
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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