from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 59
June 24, 2004


U.S. military doctrine on aiding foreign governments to achieve and sustain internal security is the timely subject of a recently revised Defense Department publication.

The document "discusses how joint operations, involving the application of all instruments of national power, support host nation efforts to combat subversion, lawlessness, and insurgency."

Generic in nature, it does not explicitly reference Iraq, though current U.S. operations in the unstable security environment there obviously lend the whole discussion some urgency.

See Joint Publication 3-07.1, "Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Foreign Internal Defense (FID)," revised 30 April 2004 (167 pages, 750 KB PDF file):


The government's move to retroactively classify information that was provided to Congress regarding the case of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds was challenged yesterday in two separate lawsuits.

Ms. Edmonds has alleged corruption and malfeasance in the translation unit of the FBI where she worked before she was terminated. The FBI has effectively blocked Ms. Edmonds' pursuit of her complaint by invoking the "state secrets" privilege (Secrecy News, 05/18/04).

Most recently, letters from Senators Charles Grassley and Patrick Leahy regarding the case were removed from the Senate website after the FBI asserted that they reflected information discussed in a briefing to Congress that is now deemed classified.

Yet those letters, having been posted on the web, are irreversibly in the public domain. Therefore, classifying them appears to violate national policy, which dictates that information may not be classified unless it is "under the control of the United States Government."

Ms. Edmond"s attorney, Mark S. Zaid, asked a federal court to find that the information about the case that was provided to Congress in an unclassified setting is still unclassified and not subject to the state secrets privilege.

In his motion, Mr. Zaid identified several non-governmental web sites where the now-"classified" congressional letters can still be found.

The government's attempts to classify the materials are "not only improper and illegal, but reflective of a clear abuse of the [classification] system," Mr. Zaid wrote.

See his June 23 "Motion for Declaratory Relief" here:

Also yesterday, the Project on Government Oversight filed its own lawsuit arguing that suppression of this material was both a violation of classification policy and an illegal prior restraint that stifled public discussion of defects in the FBI translation unit.

"By reclassifying the information for an improper purpose," the POGO lawsuit states, "defendants have abused the classification process." See:


In a letter to House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Porter Goss, outgoing Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet angrily rebutted the unusually harsh attacks on the CIA that were included in the Committee's report on the 2005 intelligence authorization act (Secrecy News, 06/22/04).

Calling the criticism "absurd" and "ill-informed," Tenet added that "I am deeply disappointed at the way the report has chosen to question the leadership and capabilities of the Clandestine Service."

A copy of the June 23 letter from DCI Tenet is available here:


The U.S. Supreme Court today said the Bush Administration was not required to release documents regarding the Vice President's controversial Energy Task Force, and remanded the case to a lower court for further consideration. See a copy of the new ruling here:


The Department of Defense yesterday released a selection of documents concerning its prisoner interrogation policies that incidentally reveal significant lapses in classification policy.

A copy of the DoD news release, with links to all of the newly released documents, may be found here:

Aside from the substance of the prisoner interrogation matter, the documents provide a striking illustration of how the classification system may be harnessed for non-national security purposes.

The use or abuse of classification to regulate disclosure of information to Congress and the public has been a recurring motif in the prisoner interrogation controversy. The newly released documents include passages that represent notable examples of this pervasive problem.

The following sentences from an April 2003 working group report (document 8 in the DoD release, at page 57), for instance, were classified at the "secret" level (meaning that their disclosure could cause "serious damage to national security"):

This kind of political calculation may be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act under some circumstances, but it is not national security information that justifies classification.


Writing in Slate, Jack Shafer reflects on a recent speech by William Leonard of the Information Security Oversight Office in which he warned of excessive and erroneous classification (Secrecy News, June 17).

Classification abuse is a profound structural challenge to the ideals of American government, yet it has largely escaped serious attention from policymakers and from the mainstream media.

But those, like Leonard, who are most familiar with classification policy are also most troubled by its abuse.

Why didn't the Leonard speech garner more attention?

"Maybe he should have leaked it to the press instead of posting it on the web," Shafer proposed.

See "Too Many Secrets, Says the Secrecy Czar" by Jack Shafer, Slate, June 23:


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

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