from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 82
September 17, 2004


Acting Director of Central Intelligence John E. McLaughlin told a federal court this week that releasing the amounts of historical CIA budgets from 1947 through 1970 would compromise intelligence methods.

Mr. McLaughlin's statement was presented in opposition to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Federation of American Scientists.

"I have carefully considered the ramifications of releasing the total CIA budgets for fiscal years 1947-70 and a few budget numbers from other agencies for fiscal year 1947," he said in a sworn declaration.

"I have concluded that publicly disclosing the intelligence budget information that plaintiff seeks would tend to reveal intelligence methods that, in the interest of maintaining an effective intelligence service, ought not be publicly revealed," he wrote.

Acting DCI McLaughlin's insistence on preserving the secrecy of even half-century old budget figures contrasts with the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission that current and future intelligence agency budgets "should no longer be kept secret."

DCI McLaughlin's September 14 declaration is posted here (1.25 MB PDF file):

In accordance with Attorney General Ashcroft's FOIA policy, the CIA's position on budget secrecy is being vigorously defended by the Department of Justice Office of Information and Privacy. See the defendant's motion for summary judgment here:

A reply from FAS is due on September 29.

"We must do something about the problem of overclassification," said Secretary of State Colin Powell at a hearing of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee on September 13. "Today, the intelligence community routinely classifies information at higher levels and makes access more difficult than was the case even at the height of the Cold War."


The Bush Administration "has repeatedly rewritten laws and changed practices to reduce public and congressional scrutiny of its activities," said Rep. Henry Waxman, announcing the release of a major new congressional report on Bush Administration secrecy policy.

"The cumulative effect is an unprecedented assault on the laws that make our government open and accountable," he said.

The new report, issued by the House Government Reform Committee minority, provides an exhaustive critique of executive branch secrecy, from various well-known issues such as the secrecy surrounding the Vice President's Energy Task Force to numerous less-known measures to block congressional access to agency records.

The full text of the September 14 investigative report on "Secrecy in the Bush Administration" is posted here:


Some of the same barriers blocking public access to government information are described from another point of view in a newly revised study from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

"We live in a nation built on the concept of balance," writes RCFP director Lucy A. Dalglish. "When the government, perhaps with the best of intentions, goes too far in its efforts to shield information from the public, it is up to the public and the media to push back. Through a vibrant, information-based election process and through an independent judiciary, we as a society will come to a balance that hopefully will protect our liberties for generations to come."

See "Homefront Confidential: How the War on Terrorism Affects Access to Information and the Public's Right to Know," fifth edition, September 2004:


A Pentagon briefing for Defense Secretary Rumsfeld last month laid out the conceptual underpinning for a far-reaching transformation of the U.S. military intended to make it responsive to a broader range of challenges, the Washington Post reported two weeks ago.

The briefing document that was presented to Secretary Rumsfeld has been circulating on the internet (the Washington Post commendably posted a copy). But the document was "locked" by the author in such a way as to prevent copying and printing.

Now an "unlocked" version is available, thanks to a Secrecy News correspondent.

"I had to hack the password for the PDF," wrote M. "Now you can print [it]."

See the printable version of "A Conceptual Framework for Strategic Thinking," For Official Use Only, 19 August 2004, here:

See also "Shift From Traditional War Seen at Pentagon" by Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post, September 3, 2004:


The Defense Science Board has been asked to undertake a study of how U.S. adversaries gather information about U.S. military capabilities, how they exploit such information, and what can be done about it.

"Each U.S. Military engagement provides ample opportunity for an adversary to observe U.S. capabilities and respond to them," according to the Terms of Reference for the new study. "The opportunity is enhanced, today, by the documentation provided by embedded and otherwise intrusive news media."

A DSB task force will "identify the channels through which adversaries learn about U.S. capabilities," and will address the question: "Are there any methods that can be used to disrupt, manipulate or control these channels?"

The new project was first reported by Dan Dupont in Inside the Pentagon, September 16, 2004.

A copy of the DSB Terms of Reference on "Red Lessons Learned," August 30, 2004, is available here:


A recently completed Defense Science Board study calls for a new defense initiative to confront the threat of clandestine nuclear attack.

"The [DSB] Task Force addresses the threat of nuclear or radiological attack, by anyone for any purpose in any scenario, against the United States or U.S. military operations, delivered by any means other than missiles or aircraft. In effect, this means hidden/smuggled nuclear weapons, devices, or materials," according to the cover memo from DSB Chairman William Schneider Jr.

"The Task Force finds that this threat is serious enough, and that there are sufficient indications that effective means of preventing successful attack might be developed over the long term, to warrant starting a DoD effort to develop comprehensive capabilities in DoD's areas of responsibility."

Defense against such attacks "should warrant national and DoD attention that is as serious as that devoted to missile defense," the DSB said.

A copy of the Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Preventing and Defending Against Clandestine Nuclear Attack, dated June 2004, is now available here:


The issues raised by the continued deployment of thousands of nonstrategic nuclear weapons by the United States and Russia are the subject of a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

It is CRS policy to deny direct public access to such reports. But a copy of "Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons," September 9, 2004, may be found here:


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

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