from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 81
August 24, 2005


In a characteristically unilateral action, the Bush Administration last April used a National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) to establish the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) within the Department of Homeland Security, the purpose of which is to coordinate the detection of nuclear materials for illicit use.

But Congress, expressing dissatisfaction with the President's unilateral move, sharply reduced proposed funding for the new Office.

"On April 15, 2005, the President signed a joint presidential directive establishing the office, NSPD-43 / HSPD-14, 'Domestic Nuclear Detection'," said DNDO Acting Director Vayl Oxford in testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee on June 21.

This was the first public acknowledgment that the DNDO had been established by means of a national security presidential directive. (Noted by Jeffrey Lewis of

The full text of NSPD 43 has not been publicly disclosed, but a copy of the associated fact sheet may be found here:

Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees criticized the way in which the DNDO had been established and both cut $100 million from the Office's proposed $227 million budget for 2006.

Creation of the DNDO is an example "of action being taken before thoughtful planning despite the seriousness of the problems being addressed," the Senate Appropriations Committee averred (Sen. Report 109-83). "Hasty solutions are fostering an apparent false sense of security."

"The Committee strongly agrees with the importance of improving nuclear detection capabilities and coordination, but is troubled by the manner in which this initiative has been handled."

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) complained about the "lack of consultation on the proposed reorganization," and itemized his specific concerns in a 9 page letter to the Department of Homeland Security on June 10. See:

The White House largely dismissed the congressional criticism and complained in a July 11 statement that "making a large portion of DNDO funds contingent upon further congressional review may delay improvements in the Nation's capability to defend against catastrophic threats."

"This initiative is a top priority of the Administration," the White House said.


The General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) of the Netherlands has just released an English translation of its 2004 annual report, providing a Dutch perspective on national and international security matters.

"In 2004 the Netherlands was hit by a terrorist attack: the murder of film-director Theo van Gogh," the report begins. "The possibility of an attack had been anticipated for some time, in view of the threat emanating from radical Islamist terrorism. The fact that an attack indeed took place has underlined the vulnerability of our society."

The report provides a parallax view on issues of international concern and presents an interesting complement to the assessments of U.S. intelligence agencies.

The AIVD, which appears relatively free of the indiscriminate secrecy that has tended to erode the performance of U.S. intelligence, reports matter-of-factly on its annual budget expenditures (p. 69).

The vestigial Central Intelligence Agency, by contrast, still argues that even 50 year old budget figures are too sensitive to be disclosed.

A copy of the 2004 annual report of the AIVD, published in English translation on August 21, may be found here:


New or newly acquired reports of the Congressional Research Service, obtained by Secrecy News, include the following:

"Nuclear Arms Control: The U.S.-Russian Agenda," updated August 8, 2005:

"Postal Reform Bills: A Side-by-Side Comparison of H.R. 22 and S. 662," updated August 4, 2005:

"The Vietnam-U.S. Normalization Process," updated June 17, 2005:

"Public Safety Communications: Policy, Proposals, Legislation and Progress," updated June 8, 2005:

"POWs and MIAs: Status and Accounting Issues," updated June 8, 2005:

"Tactical Aircraft Modernization: Issues for Congress," updated June 3, 2005:

"North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program," updated June 3, 2005:

"Exemptions from Environmental Law for the Department of Defense: An Overview of Congressional Action," June 2, 2005:

"Cuba: Issues for the 109th Congress," updated May 25, 2005:

"Foreign Aid: Understanding Data Used to Compare Donors," updated May 23, 2005:

"Flag Protection: A Brief History and Summary of Recent Supreme Court Decisions and Proposed Constitutional Amendment," updated May 19, 2005:


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

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