from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 29
April 4, 2003


The pace of institutional and technological change at the Federal Bureau of Investigation is accelerating, with results and consequences yet to be determined.

"As part of an ongoing technology upgrade, the FBI is building a massive database to store case information, leads, intelligence and even newspaper and magazine articles related to terrorism," reports Shane Harris in "FBI designing vast terrorism database," Government Executive, April 3:

"With a new computer network, automated investigative tools, and more channels for sharing information, the FBI hopes to finally know what it knows," writes Jean Kumagai in "Mission Impossible?", IEEE Spectrum, April 2003:

"As part of its on-going reorganization efforts, the FBI has put in place for the first time a formal structure to prioritize intelligence exploitation and to establish strategic plans for intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination," according to an April 3 FBI press release.

The Bureau also hired NSA SIGINT Director Maureen A. Baginski to serve as its new Executive Assistant Director for Intelligence.

See "FBI Creates Structure to Support Intelligence Mission":


The House Judiciary Committee wrote to Attorney General Ashcroft this week to request detailed information on implementation of the USA Patriot Act, submitting 38 multi-part questions on domestic surveillance, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, detention of suspected terrorists, and related topics.

A copy of the 18 page April 1 letter from Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. and Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. is posted here:


The simple notion of official secrecy branches out in practice into a dense jungle of classification markings and access controls, ranging from "For Official Use Only" to "Cosmic Top Secret" to "SIOP Extremely Sensitive Information" and "Eyes Only."

These and many other such terms are defined and placed in context in two Defense Department classification marking manuals.

"DMS GENSER Message Security Classifications, Categories, and Marking Phrase Requirments," Defense Information Systems Agency, March 1999:

"NIMA Guide to Marking Classified Documents," National Imagery and Mapping Agency, October 4, 2001:


Nearly half of all states in the country "are closing meetings, sealing records and restricting the flow of information to the public, all in the name of homeland security." See "States put a leash on information" by Mimi Hall, USA Today, April 3:


At his confirmation hearing last October, CIA General Counsel Scott W. Muller was asked how he would propose to handle the "vexatious problem" of leaks of classified intelligence information.

One solution, he suggested briefly and tantalizingly, would be to "set a trap" for the leaker.

"I would first analyze what are the legal authorities and, most importantly, I would try to find a way -- pro-actively rather than reactively -- to, whether it's set a trap, or set up a system where I could actually come up with a way to do it. It's a very difficult problem."

The transcript of Mr. Muller's October 2002 confirmation hearing was published last week and is posted here:


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

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