from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 51
May 31, 2005


Executive branch agencies spent an unprecedented $7.2 billion to secure classified information last year, according to a new report from the Information Security Oversight Office. This was an 11 percent increase over the preceding year.

An additional $823 million was spent to protect classified information held in industry for a total of more than $8 billion.

Among the major drivers for the sharp escalation in costs, the ISOO report said, were ongoing construction of new Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs), secure communications systems, and new Continuity of Operations sites.

The $7.2 billion figure represented the costs incurred by 41 executive branch agencies, including intelligence agencies other than the CIA, which considers its costs classified.

A copy of the 2004 Report on Cost Estimates for Security Classification Activities is available here (PDF):

or from the ISOO web site here:


As practiced in the Bush Administration, official secrecy not only diminishes American democracy but also interferes with the national security it is supposed to protect.

"Incorrect use of the 'NOFORN' [i.e., not releasable to foreign nationals] caveat has impeded the sharing of classified national defense information with allies and coalition partners," wrote Stephen A. Cambone, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, in a recent memorandum to senior Pentagon officials.

Lacking a theory for why officials incorrectly employ the NOFORN caveat, Mr. Cambone could only say, in effect, "don't do it."

He reiterated existing policy as follows: "NOFORN shall not be applied to non-intelligence information except for Naval Nuclear Propulsion Information and the National Disclosure Policy document (NDP-1) [on classified military information]. There is no other DoD-authorized use of the NOFORN marking on non-intelligence information."

A copy of Mr. Cambone's May 17 memo on "Use of the 'Not Releasable to Foreign Nationals' (NOFORN) Caveat on Department of Defense (DoD) Information" was obtained by Secrecy News and is available here:


After journalist Bill Conroy wrote a story in the online publication Narco News concerning a memo that had been leaked to him from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department sent two agents to his home and to his workplace, where they pressed him to identify his source. In an apparent attempt at intimidation, they also approached his employer after he declined to cooperate.

The encounter was described in "Customs Cops Visit Bill Conroy with an Attack on Press Freedom" by Al Giordano, May 24:

The original story, "Homeland Security memo reveals terrorism records are being sanitized" by Bill Conroy, April 7, is here:

The story includes a link to the leaked DHS memo, which is unclassified but not authorized for public release.


Recent reports from the Congressional Research Service include:

"Cuba and the State Sponsors of Terrorism List," updated May 12, 2005:

"U.S.-EU Cooperation Against Terrorism," updated April 13, 2005:


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

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