from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 84
September 1, 2005


The wreckage produced by Hurricane Katrina constitutes an "incident of national significance."

This bit of bureaucratic understatement is actually a technical term used by the Secretary of Homeland Security to activate emergency procedures known as the National Response Plan (NRP).

It was invoked this week for the first time by DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff.

The NRP, formulated in December 2004, is intended "to align Federal coordination structures, capabilities, and resources into a unified, all-discipline, and all-hazards approach to domestic incident management."

A copy of the National Response Plan is available here (426 pages, 4.0 MB PDF file):

Donations in support of disaster relief may be made to the American Red Cross at 1-800-435-7669 or here:


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the defense agency that is responsible for flood control, disaster relief, environmental restoration, and municipal water infrastructure, among other timely matters.

For relevant background, see:

"The Civil Works Program of the Army Corps of Engineers: A Primer," Congressional Research Service, updated February 3, 2005:

"Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Program: Issues for the 109th Congress," Congressional Research Service, updated June 9, 2005:

US Army Corps of Engineers home page:


A new Department of Defense Directive defines policy and assigns responsibility for the protection of "defense critical infrastructure," which refers to "assets essential to project, support, and sustain military forces and operations worldwide."

See "Defense Critical Infrastructure Program," DoD Directive 3020.40, August 19, 2005:


Some recent or recently acquired reports of the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News include the following.

"Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1997-2004," August 29, 2005:

"Airborne Laser (ABL): Issues for Congress," August 18, 2005:

"Intelligence Reform Implementation at the Federal Bureau of Investigation: Issues and Options for Congress," August 16, 2005:

"Military Service Records and Unit Histories: A Guide to Locating Sources," updated August 12, 2005:

"Homeland Security: Scope of the Secretary's Reorganization Authority," updated August 9, 2005 (via Pennyhill Press):

"U.S. Assistance to the Former Soviet Union," updated July 14, 2005:

"Military Helicopter Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress," June 24, 2004:

"Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security: A Need for New Weapons Programs?," September 15, 2003:


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration adopted a new policy this week to regulate contacts with the general public. The policy seems intended in part to insulate the agency from unscripted and unapproved interactions with the public.

Instead of responding directly to public inquiries, NASA employees are instructed to forward such inquiries to an authorized public affairs representative.

"Effective immediately, if you receive an e-mail from a member of the public, promptly forward it to the designated e-mail address for your Center," the NASA message stated.

And then forget about it.

"You will not receive a reply that the e-mail has been successfully accepted, nor will you receive a copy of the response."

The new policy, which also addresses messages that are sent to NASA by mistake, is needed "to ensure a responsive public communications program and enhance public perception of NASA," the message states.

See "Message from NASA Headquarters - Communicating With the Public," August 29, 2005:


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

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