from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 43
May 15, 2002


Following an extended search and a vacancy of several months, a new Director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) has finally been named: J. William Leonard will assume the position, effective June 3.

ISOO is a tiny but disproportionately influential office that oversees the implementation of national security classification and declassification policy government-wide. Created by executive order, ISOO is housed at the National Archives and takes policy direction from the National Security Council. For over two decades, its Director was Steven Garfinkel, who retired from that position last January.

ISOO plays a prominent role in the formulation of new secrecy policies, including pending revisions to the current executive order on classification policy. The ISOO Director also serves as executive secretary to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, chairs the National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Committee, and quite a bit more.

Mr. Leonard, the new ISOO Director, is a longtime Department of Defense security official and is widely respected as an advocate of sensible and cost-effective security policies. At the same time, having served through the significant secrecy reforms of the past decade, he is attuned to the concerns of those who advocate increased public access to government information.

A May 13 National Archives press release announcing Mr. Leonard's appointment is posted here:

Mr. Leonard's views on secrecy policy can be discerned up to a point from testimony he presented to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee at a March 1998 hearing that is available here:


The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence this week issued its annual report on the intelligence authorization bill, the first substantial Committee product since September 11. While interesting, the report does not rise to the occasion.

The Committee members practically fall over themselves awarding new money to the intelligence agencies. "The Committee compliments the Administration for requesting higher levels of resources for the Intelligence Community for fiscal year 2003 and beyond," the report says. Compliment accepted.

The report also reveals a touching sense of frustration that the Intelligence Community has failed to provide the Committee the information that it needs to perform its oversight function, even on a classified basis. The intelligence agencies appear to have almost as little regard for Congress as for the American public.

Thus, the Director of Central Intelligence's compliance with Committee reporting requirements has been "dismal," the report says. "In sum, of the 84 reports required, seven were submitted by the deadline, for an overall record of eight percent compliance."

The text of the new SSCI report, Senate Report 107-149, is posted here:

See also "Congress Moves to Lift Intelligence Spending" by Walter Pincus and Dana Priest in the May 15 Washington Post here:


Secrecy News welcomes review copies of books on national security, information policy and intelligence. Recent receipts include:

"Access Denied: Freedom of Information in the Information Age," edited by Charles N. Davis and Sigman L. Splichal, Iowa State University Press, 2000:

"Secrecy Wars: National Security, Privacy, and the Public's Right to Know," by Philip H. Melanson, Brassey's Inc., 2001:

"Ivory Bridges: Connecting Science and Society," by Gerhard Sonnert and Gerald Holton, MIT Press, 2002:


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

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