from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 26
March 9, 2004


In the absence of clear guidelines and effective oversight, the U.S. military is becoming increasingly involved in domestic operations, including surveillance activities that blur the traditional distinction between foreign intelligence and domestic security.

"Since September 11, 2001, the role of the military in domestic operations has changed drastically," according to the 2004 Operational Law Handbook of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.

"Prior to September 11, military involvement in domestic operations was almost exclusively in the area of civil support operations. Post-September 11, the military's role has expanded to cover 'homeland defense' and/or 'homeland security' missions, somewhat undefined terms," the JAG Handbook stated (p. 355).

Several instances of "an expanding military role in domestic affairs" were reported today in the Wall Street Journal.

In one case, an Army intelligence officer demanded that a University of Texas law school turn over the videotape of an academic conference in order to identify "Middle Eastern" individuals who had made "suspicious" remarks.

See "Is Military Creeping Into Domestic Spying and Enforcement?" by Robert Block and Gary Fields, Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2004, page B1.

One military intelligence organization with a domestic presence is the low-profile Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA).

Quietly created post-September 11, CIFA has a broad charter to provide counterintelligence and security support to the Defense Department around the world and within the United States.

"Worldwide, more than 400 civilian and military employees work for CIFA with the ultimate goal of detecting and neutralizing the many different forms of espionage regularly conducted against the United States by terrorists, foreign intelligence services and other covert and clandestine groups," according to the Defense Security Service.

"The threats posed by these adversaries include actions to kill or harm U.S. citizens; to steal critical information or assets (military or civilian); or destroy critical infrastructures."

CIFA was established in 2002 by Department of Defense Directive 5105.67. See a copy of that Directive here:

The 2004 Operational Law Handbook published by the U.S. Army JAG Corps provides a comprehensive map of the terrain of military law, from the legal basis for the use of force to domestic operations to the laws governing intelligence and special operations. A copy is posted here (563 pages, 4.6 MB PDF file):


The Department of Health and Human Services last week announced the creation of a National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity to help oversee potentially sensitive or hazardous research in the life sciences.

The move generally follows a recommendation of the National Academy of Sciences in a report published last year on "Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism: Confronting the Dual Use Dilemma."

The new Board appears to have such limited authority that it is unlikely to interfere with the conduct of research, as some scientists had feared. It remains to be seen whether it has sufficient authority to make a meaningful contribution to security policy, as others had hoped.

See the March 4 HHS press release here:

A detailed FAQ and other information about the new Board may be found here:


The Department of Defense last month issued a new directive on security for particularly hazardous biological agents and toxins.

It would establish a database of all DoD and contractor facilities possessing such materials, and would impose restricted access on them. It would also "establish a Biological Personnel Reliability Program for individuals with access to biological select agents and toxins."

See DoD Directive 5210.88 on "Safeguarding Biological Select Agents and Toxins," issued by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz on February 11, 2004:


"Our intelligence community needs an extreme makeover," said Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) at a speech on intelligence reform presented March 5 at the American Enterprise Institute. She is the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Rep. Harman identified five steps that the President could take this year to correct past errors and improve future performance, beginning with a "scrub" of all intelligence on weapons of mass destruction.

"If estimates of Iraq's WMD programs were so far off the mark, we must be concerned that systemic deficiencies in intelligence analysis on other WMD programs and activities exist, such as those in Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Pakistan," she said.

"But there are no discernible signs from the Vice President or President acknowledging the obvious flaws in our intelligence systems," she said. See:


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

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send an email message to with "subscribe" (without quotes) in the body of the message.

To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a blank email message to

OR email your request to

Secrecy News is archived at: