from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2004, Issue No. 85
September 28, 2004


A few years ago, the Central Intelligence Agency officially declassified and released CIA budget figures for fiscal years 1963 through 1966 in a document found at the National Archives.

This is a fact of legal significance, since Acting Director (now Deputy Director) of Central Intelligence John E. McLaughlin declared under oath earlier this month that CIA budget figures had "never been publicly identified," and that such secrecy should be perpetuated indefinitely.

The tug of war over disclosure of historical intelligence budget figures is being played out in a Freedom of Information lawsuit sponsored by the Federation of American Scientists seeking release of aggregate and individual intelligence agency budget totals for the years 1947 through 1970. CIA opposes such disclosure "because its release would tend to reveal intelligence methods."

The discovery of the prior budget figure declassifications, by Villanova University political scientist and archival sleuth Prof. David Barrett, legally constitutes "waiver" of the CIA's claimed exemption from disclosure. Or so we argue.

The newly discovered declassified CIA document, entitled "Cost Reduction Program," is attached to our September 27 Response to CIA's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment. See:


Intelligence budget disclosure is nothing less than the key to breaking down the excessive secrecy that degrades U.S. intelligence, the 9/11 Commission concluded unanimously (at p. 416 of its final report).

The bipartisan sponsors of pending intelligence reform legislation in the Senate agreed, and included a provision to routinely require such disclosure.

The White House does not agree. A Statement of Administration Policy today singled out budget disclosure as one of the elements it considers objectionable in the Senate bill.

"The Administration is also concerned that the Committee bill mandates disclosure of sensitive information about the intelligence budget," the White House statement said.

"The legislation should not compel disclosure, including to the Nation's enemies in war, of the amounts requested by the President, and provided by the Congress, for the conduct of the Nation's intelligence activities." See:

"We have not heard a compelling argument for maintaining overall [budget] classification," said 9/11 Commissioner John F. Lehman at a congressional hearing earlier this month.


An amendment to establish an Independent National Security Classification Board to mediate disputes over secrecy was introduced during Senate deliberation over the pending intelligence reform bill on September 27, but was then set aside at the request of the bill's sponsors.

The introduction of the amendment, however, provided the occasion for an extended colloquy on the defects of secrecy.

"The 1946 Atomic Energy Act established the principle that some information is born classified," recalled Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a sponsor of the amendment.

"There are certainly important sources and pieces of information that must never be compromised. But over the years, millions and millions of documents that weren't born classified have inherited or adopted or married into a classification."

Sen. Susan Collins responded that "The administration has expressed grave reservations about the amendment as it is now drafted." That is not necessarily an objection, but she asked that it be set aside, and so it was.

Along the way, the proposed amendment garnered one additional Republican co-sponsor, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

See the September 27 Senate debate on the matter here:


An August 30 report of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Libya's nuclear weapons-related activities, originally restricted in distribution, has been "de-restricted" and is now available here (thanks to J):


The Congressional Research Service, perhaps unable to endure independent scrutiny, still refuses to make its products directly accessible to the public. But two new CRS reports are now available here.

"Nuclear Terrorism: A Brief Review of Threats and Responses," September 22, 2004:

"'Bunker Busters': Sources of Confusion in the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator Debate," September 22, 2004:


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

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