from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 69
July 30, 2002


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday blamed American defectors to Russia for the difficulty of locating and eliminating Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, arguing that the spies' disclosures had been provided to Iraq and used to support its denial and deception activities. But he neglected to mention that for years Iraq enjoyed more a direct source of U.S. intelligence information.

According to Secretary Rumsfeld, "The Iraqis have benefited from American spies defecting to the Soviet Union or Russia and providing information as to how we do things, and then they proliferate that information on how another country can best achieve denial and deception and avoid having the location, precise location, actionable locations of things [i.e., weapons of mass destruction] known." See:

But former CIA analyst Allen Thomson observed that the record indicates a much less roundabout source for Iraqi access to such U.S. intelligence information, namely the U.S. government itself.

On May 28, 1984, President Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 141 on "Responding to Escalation in Iran-Iraq War" which authorized intelligence sharing with the Government of Iraq in order to forestall an Iranian victory. (That Directive remains classified.) In 1986, the scope of intelligence sharing with Iraq was expanded twice, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report.

The consequences of that arrangement were suggested by Sen. Tom Harkin in a November 7, 1991 floor statement.

"The secret intelligence sharing operation with Iraq was not only a highly questionable and possibly illegal operation, but also may have jeopardized American lives and our national interests," Sen. Harkin said.

"The photo reconnaissance, highly sensitive electronic eavesdropping and narrative texts provided to Saddam, may not only have helped him in Iraq's war against Iran but also in the recent gulf war. Saddam Hussein may have discovered the value of underground land lines as opposed to radio communications after he was given our intelligence information."

"Further, after the Persian Gulf war, our intelligence community was surprised at the extent of Iraq's nuclear program. One reason Saddam may have hidden his nuclear program so effectively from detection was because of his knowledge of our satellite photos. What also concerns me about that operation is that we spend millions of dollars keeping secrets from the Soviets and then we give it to Saddam who sells them to the Soviets," said Sen. Harkin. See Harkin's statement here:

The latter point, of course, contrasts directly with Secretary Rumsfeld's allegation that the Soviets or Russians had forwarded such information to Saddam.

"The Iraqis are deceiving U.S. spy satellites and fooling Pentagon intelligence analysts thanks to techniques they learned from U.S. military intelligence officers during the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq," reported Tim Weiner, then of the Philadelphia Inquirer, back in 1991.

See his article "Iraq Uses Techniques in Spying Against Its Former Tutor, the U.S.," with commentary by Jonathan Pollard, of all people, here:


The Department of Defense continues to publish web pages that are considered "inappropriate" for security reasons, according to a new DoD Inspector General report.

"As of May 2002, 30 of the 200 disclosures on publicly accessible DoD Web sites that [had been] previously identified between April and September 2001 as inappropriate were still available for public viewing," the report found.

"It is evident by the number of occurrences that the review process for determining the appropriateness of data on Web pages has not been fully successful, and that the existing process and procedures for local commanders to address the content of information placed on their Web site are inadequate."

See a summary of the July 19 report on "DoD Web Site Administration, Policies, and Practices" here:


The notion that there may be such a thing as excessive secrecy in intelligence is hardly new, but it has yet to achieve much traction in national policy and the point still needs to be made.

David J. Rothkopf, CEO of the private intelligence firm Intellibridge, put it this way in the latest issue of Blueprint magazine, a publication of the Democratic Leadership Council:

See Rothkopf's "Bridging the Intelligence Gap" here:


It's a sign of the times. Rep. Jim Saxton introduced legislation last week to fund "the hiring and training of intelligence officers and analysts by state and local police departments, in an effort to further promote our nation's anti-terrorism efforts."

The new state and local personnel would receive training that "will include enhancing the officers' observation, information gathering, foreign language, and analytic skills necessary to spot terrorist threats in their communities."

The officers would all receive top secret security clearances to facilitate their interaction with federal intelligence officials.

See Rep. Saxton's July 26 statement on his bill here:


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

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