from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2003, Issue No. 45
May 27, 2003


The full text of National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 23 concerning "National Policy on Ballistic Missile Defense" was obtained by Bill Gertz of the Washington Times and reported in the Times on May 27.

The Bush Administration's national security directives are almost never seen by Congress or the public. NSPD 23 is only the second such directive to reach the public domain in full, thanks to Mr. Gertz's magic fingers.

NSPD 23, signed December 16, 2002, differs in a few small but interesting ways from the White House fact sheet on missile defense policy that was published last week.

The Directive specifically cites North Korea's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles as a justification for U.S. missile defense programs. And it notes that "the United States will seek permission respectively from the U.K. and Denmark to upgrade early-warning radars in Fylingdales and Thule, Greenland."

See the full text of NSPD 23 here:

See also "Bush Case on Defense Plan Cites N. Korea" by Bill Gertz, The Washington Times, May 27:


The Central Intelligence Agency says it has not finally determined whether the total amount of money spent on intelligence in 1947 and 1948 can be declassified without causing damage to national security and compromising intelligence sources and methods. But it told a federal court that it will make such a determination by June 27.

The CIA had previously refused to declassify this information in response to a 1995 Freedom of Information Act request from the Federation of American Scientists. Upon appeal, it reiterated that refusal in December 2000, claiming that the requested information was still properly classified, despite the fact that budget information from 1997 and 1998 had been declassified.

But now, in the face of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the Agency will either have to declassify the information or to persuade a federal judge that it is still properly classified, an outlandish claim that seems unlikely to be sustained even by a deferential judicial branch.

"Will [Director of Central Intelligence George J.] Tenet really put his name on a declaration swearing that budget numbers from the Truman administration must remain classified?" a Washington Post editorial asked incredulously last year.

The answer appears to be no. In response to a court order to set forth its schedule for defending its continued classification of the 1947-48 budget numbers, the CIA indicated only that it will formally respond to the request for disclosure by June 27.

See this Joint Status Report dated May 22:

See also "Central Intelligence Test," Washington Post, October 2, 2002:


In testimony before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States last week, Senator Bob Graham said that one way to improve congressional oversight of intelligence would be to consolidate all intelligence spending under a single line item for review by a single congressional subcommittee.

To do so would necessarily imply disclosing the total intelligence budget each year, Graham noted. "So be it," he said.

"I believe that, just as has occurred with the Department of Homeland Security, that the intelligence agencies ought to be lifted from the Defense budget and given their own budget," Sen. Graham said. "Then at least the public will know what the bottom line for intelligence was and they can assess: 'That seems excessive or inadequate.' Right now you can't even have that debate because it's buried inside the big Defense Department budget."

Remarkably, Sen. Graham indicated that DCI George J. Tenet had endorsed this proposal. "George Tenet has told me personally that he would support this approach," he said.

That is noteworthy because DCI Tenet has just finished insisting up and down under oath in federal court that declassification of the 2002 intelligence budget total would cause unacceptable damage to national security and intelligence sources and methods. If Sen. Graham accurately reported Mr. Tenet's view of routine annual budget disclosures, this would be difficult to reconcile with his sworn statement opposing a single budget disclosure from two years ago.

See Senator Graham's May 22 prepared testimony presented to the National Commission on September 11 here:


Almost all of the congressional witnesses from both parties who testified at last week's September 11 Commission hearing identified excessive secrecy as a problem and an obstacle to effective congressional oversight.

Describing the national security classification system as "dysfunctional," Rep. Porter Goss, chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), said his committee intended to tackle the problem.

"The classification process has become such a chore, and appears to me to be so dysfunctional, that we are taking that on as a main piece of business for our oversight committee to deal with," said Rep. Goss.

"Senator Moynihan led the way with some changes in the declassification program. I was pleased to be associated with him on that. That was one of his last pieces of legislation. But it didn't go anywhere far enough, and it pointed out a problem that we have -- not only not enough capability to declassify when we should; we overclassify very badly. There's a lot of gratuitous classification going on, and there are a variety reasons for them. They are not all sinister by any means."

HPSCI ranking member Rep. Jane Harman, speaking of the congressional joint inquiry into 9/11, made a related point earlier this month.

"Even though our inquiry was completed in December of last year, the declassification process is still ongoing. That is wrong," she said, speaking May 9 at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

"If intelligence can be declassified in 48 hours for Colin Powell's use at the UN, it shouldn't take more than 48 days to declassify significant portions of the Joint Inquiry report. But here we are, six months later, and still with no report."

"A public report should be available now. The inquiry was not just an academic exercise to edify the Intelligence Community. It was paid for by the American people. It was done for their benefit. And as much of the report as possible should be released to the public -- today," Rep. Harman said.


The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence asked the CIA last week "to reevaluate US intelligence regarding the amount or existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq and that country's linkages to terrorist groups... in light of new information resulting from recent events in Iraq."

"The Committee is interested in learning, in detail, how the intelligence picture regarding Iraqi WMD was developed," wrote HPSCI chair Rep. Porter Goss and ranking member Rep. Jane Harman on May 22.

See the text of their letter, which was first reported in the Washington Post on May 23, here:


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

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