from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 44
May 9, 2005


Compelled by an extraordinary court order, the Central Intelligence Agency disclosed the amount of its 1963 budget under the Freedom of Information Act in a letter published today.

"As you know, 'the CIA budget figure for 1963' was $550 million," wrote Janice Galli McLeod, an attorney representing CIA in the FOIA lawsuit Aftergood v. CIA (DC District Case No. 01-2524).

CIA contends that historical intelligence budget figures constitute an "intelligence method," no matter how many decades may pass, and that they are therefore exempt from disclosure under the FOIA.

But after FAS showed that the CIA budget figure for 1963 had been quietly released at the National Archives 15 years ago, a federal court ruled that CIA's continued refusal to disclose that number under the FOIA was unlawful. (Other historical budget figures still may be legally withheld.)

On April 4, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ordered the CIA to disclose its 1963 budget, the first time that release of an intelligence budget figure has been ordered by a court of law. (A 1997 lawsuit to compel disclosure of the 1997 intelligence budget total led to CIA's release of that figure -- $26.6 billion -- without a court order.)

"In accordance with the Court's Order, I can reiterate this $550 million figure to you, and I can of course also attach a copy of the Cost Reduction Program report, which you yourself submitted to my client and which contains this figure," Ms. McLeod wrote. See her May 4, 2005 letter here:


Like the intelligence budget, the President's Daily Brief has a peculiar totemic status in the U.S. intelligence bureaucracy, such that intelligence officials claim that in principle the Briefs must never be released to the public no matter how dated they become. (Never mind that quite a few have in fact been released.)

A remarkable legal drama is now unfolding as scholars seek access under the Freedom of Information Act to particular issues of the President's Daily Brief (PDB) dealing with Vietnam policy. The dispute exposes with unusual clarity the conflicting perspectives of historians and intelligence bureaucrats on historical document disclosure.

Bill Moyers, a former aide to President Johnson, noted that he had read many of the requested PDBs and "I see no reason why information that was sensitive at the time should not [be] reviewed and considered for public release today." Mr. Moyers submitted a sworn declaration on behalf of UC Davis historian Larry Berman, who has requested release of several PDBs.

Not so, wrote CIA information review officer Terry N. Buroker: "In addition to containing information *about* intelligence methods,... the PDB itself *is* an intelligence method, to be protected under the National Security Act."

Another interesting feature of the FOIA lawsuit is that it is being litigated in California rather than in Washington, DC where judicial deference to the CIA position has become all but automatic.

A wealth of background information on all sides of the debate is available from the National Security Archive here:


The DC District Court of Appeals has rejected an appeal by FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, whose case had been dismissed after the government invoked the state secrets privilege.

The Appeals Court ruling, issued on Friday without explanation or commentary, seems to mark an expansion of the state secrets privilege or at least a refusal by the Court to inquire deeply into the grounds for its application. See:

The Justice Department elaborated on its view that "this case cannot be litigated except by reference to privileged information" in an April 22 letter to the Court:


Iranian research on nuclear engineering, nuclear safety and related aspects of nuclear science and technology has left a considerable footprint in the published literature.

For a compilation of recent publications by Iranian researchers, see "Iranian Nuclear Science Bibliography: Open Literature References" by Mark Gorwitz, May 2005:


The use of administrative subpoenas and national security letters to compel testimony or production of documents in foreign intelligence investigations is examined in a recent report from the Congressional Research Service.

See "Administrative Subpoenas and National Security Letters in Criminal and Foreign Intelligence Investigations: Background and Proposed Adjustments," April 15, 2005:

For an abbreviated version of the same report, without footnotes or citations, see "Administrative Subpoenas and National Security Letters in Criminal and Intelligence Investigations: A Sketch," April 15, 2005:


The latest volume of Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), the official record of U.S. foreign policy, documents Nixon Administration policy immediately prior to and during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971.

The full text of the volume, published last week, is here:


The National Intelligence Council has published a collection of declassified U.S. intelligence estimates concerning Vietnam "from the post-World War II breakup of colonial empires to the Communist takeover of Saigon in 1975."

For more information about the collection, much of which is available online, see:


The new Pentagon position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration -- ASD(NII) -- is defined in a Department of Defense Directive issued last week.

The Assistant Secretary, who is also the DoD Chief Information Officer, is responsible for Pentagon information policies, communications, command and control, non-intelligence space matters, and much more.

The ASD (NII) replaces the former ASD (C3I) position, which has been disestablished.

See DoD Directive 5144.1, "Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration/ DoD Chief Information Officer (ASD(NII)/DoD CIO)," May 2, 2005:


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

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