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Secrecy News -- 02/23/04

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood.nul>
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2004 11:17:08 -0500
Fwd Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2004 16:32:26 -0500
Subject: Secrecy News -- 02/23/04


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 21
February 23, 2004


**	SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES ON THE ASCENDANT
**	BARRIERS TO UNCLASSIFIED INFO PROLIFERATE
**	CRS ON FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS


SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES ON THE ASCENDANT

In a quiet realignment of U.S. military force structure,
clandestine special operations forces are being assigned ever
greater mission responsibility.

"In the last three years the role of the Special Operations
Forces has just increased and increased and increased," said
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a February 17 interview
with WTVT-TV in Tampa, Florida, where U.S. Special Operations
Command is headquartered.

But the nature and significance of that increase are difficult
for the public to fathom, since government officials won't
discuss the subject.

"I have no comment on any particular questions about Special
Forces because we don't talk about these Special Forces," said
Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita at a February 19 news
briefing.

In the absence of official comment, one can still glean a good
deal of information about the role of special operations forces
through unclassified military research and strategy papers.

Over the past year alone, studies have been prepared on topics
such as: "The Army Special Operations Forces Role in Force
Projection";   "How Can the U.S. Army Overcome Intelligence
Sharing Challenges Between Conventional and Special Operations
Forces?"; "Transformation of Special Operations: Reducing Joint
Friction"; "Should the Marine Corps Expand Its Role in Special
Operations?"; and "Guerrilla Warfare Tactics in Urban
Environments".

These and other papers on special operations can be found here:

http://www.fas.org/man/eprint/index.html#sof

The budget for Special Operations Command increased by 35% in
2004, reported William M. Arkin in an incisive critical
commentary on special forces in the Los Angeles Times, "Not a
Magic Bullet," February 22.


BARRIERS TO UNCLASSIFIED INFO PROLIFERATE

The system of government controls on unclassified information is
becoming more complex, as new types of official restrictions on
public access to information multiply.  These include the
following:


Critical Infrastructure Information (CII)

On February 20, the Department of Homeland Security published
its interim rule on "critical infrastructure information" (CII),
which would prohibit release of information "voluntarily
submitted" by industry regarding systemic infrastructure
vulnerabilities.

"By offering an opportunity for protection from disclosure under
the Freedom of Information Act for information that
qualifies..., the Department will assure private sector entities
that their information will be safeguarded from abuse by
competitors or the open market," DHS stated.  See:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2004/02/fr022004.html

"Shrouding infrastructure information in absolute secrecy will
remove a powerful incentive for remedial action and might
actually exacerbate security problems," argued David Sobel of
the Electronic Privacy Information Center in July 2002
testimony:

   http://www.epic.org/security/infowar/07_02_testimony.html


Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (CEII)

Another new and related control category called "Critical Energy
Infrastructure Information" (CEII) was devised by the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  This extraordinary control
marking blocks public requests for certain unclassified energy
information unless the requester can demonstrate a "need to
know," and consents to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Over the past six months, FERC reports, it received 126 requests
for information designated as CEII.  Most requests were granted,
or otherwise resolved.

But four requests were denied "because the requester did not
agree to the terms of an appropriate non-disclosure agreement."
 See:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2004/02/ferc021304.html


Sensitive Homeland Security Information (SHSI)

A separate category called "Sensitive Homeland Security
Information" was established in the Homeland Security Act of
2002.  The regulations governing this category have not been
completed.

"The Department of Homeland Security is currently working to
develop procedures for the sharing of sensitive homeland
security information," a DHS official wrote on February 18. "At
this time, however, these procedures have not been finalized."

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2004/02/dhs021804.pdf


Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU)

Then there is "sensitive but unclassified."   This term is most
frequently used as a generic description of information that is
not intended for release, rather than as a specific information
control category.

But here is a November 2002 Treasury Department document that is
actually marked "Sensitive But Unclassified."  It comes from the
document collection published by Ron Susskind in connection with
his book "The Price of Loyalty":

http://digbig.com/3shh


The Tenth Exemption

Perhaps the most widespread of all official controls on
unclassified information is what might be called the tenth
exemption to the Freedom of Information Act:  "I don't wanna
tell you."

Last week Secrecy News called the CIA Public Affairs office to
request a copy of the unclassified speech that was delivered at
CIA on February 11 by Jami A. Mascik, deputy director of
intelligence.  The text of the speech had previously been
provided to the Washington Post and the New York Times.

A few hours later, a CIA official ("Michelle") called back to
advise that Bill Harlow, the head of CIA public affairs, was
"exercising his discretion not to give it to you."


CRS ON FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service provides a
111 page compilation of previously published information on
"Foreign Terrorist Organizations."

A copy of the February 6 report, courtesy of the U.S. State
Department but not the U.S. Congress, is posted here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RL32223.pdf


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

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send email to
secrecy_news-request.nul
with "subscribe" in the body of the message.

OR email your request to saftergood.nul

Secrecy News is archived at:
http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/index.html

_______________________
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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