from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 9
January 26, 2005


The Bush Administration has invoked the state secrets privilege in at least one other pending lawsuit in addition to the Maher Arar and Sibel Edmonds cases noted in Secrecy News yesterday.

In 2003, the Central Intelligence Agency claimed the state secrets privilege in moving for dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer who alleged that he was the victim of racial discrimination by the Agency. That case, Sterling v. Tenet, remains on appeal today.

In a December 2004 brief by Sterling's attorney, Mark S. Zaid, the appropriate use of the state secrets privilege was one of the questions placed before the court. A copy of the brief (56 pages, 2.1 MB PDF file) is here:

Last week, several public interest groups and 9/11 family organizations filed an amicus brief in support of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds. That brief, prepared by Michael Kirkpatrick of Public Citizen and David Vladeck of Georgetown University, is here:


The Pentagon held a background briefing this week to describe the military intelligence units known as Strategic Support Teams that have been providing intelligence collection support and other intelligence services to the military.

The briefing was prompted by, and substantially confirmed, a January 23 Washington Post story by Barton Gellman that first reported the existence of the Strategic Support Branch, a component of the Defense Intelligence Agency. See the January 24 Pentagon briefing transcript here:

Meanwhile, more official documents on defense and intelligence continue to migrate from author William M. Arkin's capacious filing cabinet on to the web in support of his new book Code Names.

The latest revelation is a PowerPoint slide that elliptically describes a 2005 U.S. military exercise known as VITAL ARCHER, involving special operations and homeland defense. See "Vital Archer 05" linked from this page:


A database of small arms and light weapons transferred by the United States to countries around the world between 1990 and 2000 is now available online.

The U.S. Small Arms Shipments Database, based on documentation obtained from the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act and compiled by Matthew Schroeder of the Federation of American Scientists, may be found here:


The Department of Energy will impose stiff new civil penalties on contractors who violate regulations on the safeguarding of classified information, DOE announced today.

The new policy "provides that any person who has entered into a contract or agreement with the Department of Energy... and who violates (or whose employee violates) any applicable rule... relating to the security or safeguarding of Restricted Data or other classified information, shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $100,000 for each violation."

Up to now, criminal penalties could be imposed on those who knowingly disclosed certain types of classified nuclear weapons information, and civil penalties could be imposed on those who disclosed unclassified controlled nuclear information (UCNI). But civil penalties for failing to safeguard other classified information (whether RD or NSI) have not been available. Now they are.

See "Procedural Rules for the Assessment of Civil Penalties for Classified Information Security Violations" from today's Federal Register:


The United States Army Nuclear and Chemical Agency is responsible for providing "nuclear and chemical technical expertise" to the Army, other US Government agencies and to NATO.

The USANCA, with which we had not previously been acquainted, was described in a newly updated Army regulation this week.

See AR 10-16, United States Army Nuclear and Chemical Agency, 25 January 2005:


Perhaps it bears repeating that the Congressional Research Service does not permit direct public access to its publications online. CRS staffers are specifically prohibited from responding to requests from the public for softcopy versions of their reports.

By light of the untamed fire of freedom, this policy appears fairly ridiculous.

Fortunately, if we understood the President's inaugural address correctly, "America will walk at the side" of those who defy such arbitrary restrictions on freedom of access to information.

Anyway, here are some new CRS reports, hot off the virtual press.

"Security Threat Assessments for Hazmat Drivers," January 25, 2005:

"Terrorist Nuclear Attacks on Seaports: Threat and Response," updated January 24, 2005:

"U.S.-EU Cooperation Against Terrorism," January 19, 2005:


Secrecy News is grateful to acknowledge an extraordinary $15,000 donation from the Omidyar Network.

Led by Pierre Omidyar, founder of the online market eBay, the Omidyar Network seeks out and supports innovative efforts "to make good things happen."

"We appreciate your work in removing barriers to information access," wrote Omidyar VP Douglas S. Solomon in a cover letter to Secrecy News.

See a list of Omidyar Network "partners" including Secrecy News here:


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

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