from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 7
January 19, 2006


Last month President Bush approved a revision of U.S. Government standards for granting security clearances and permitting access to classified information.

The revised standards address all of the previous considerations for approving access to classified information -- allegiance to the United States, foreign influence, drug and alcohol abuse, criminal behavior, psychological instability, and so forth.

But in each case the criteria have been elaborated, both in terms of the actions that could raise security concerns and the factors that could mitigate such concerns.

The many acts that could disqualify a person from access to classified information include "training to commit, or advocacy of... terrorism," as well as "disclosure of classified or other protected information... to the media."

At some points, the guidelines seem to offer officials wide latitude for withholding or revoking a security clearance by citing, for example, "inappropriate behavior in the workplace." At other points, they show a surprising understanding of human weakness and they admit the possibility of personal change.

The December 29 transmittal memo from National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley to Information Security Oversight Office director William Leonard states the new guidelines are "for immediate implementation."

But "an internal dispute has arisen among the various national security agencies as to whether implementation requires a notice and comment period, which could lead to a delay as long as 18 months," said Mark S. Zaid, a Washington, D.C. attorney who regularly handles security clearance cases.

Mr. Zaid added that there is an unresolved question regarding whether the revised guidelines would apply to pending security clearance cases.

See "Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information," December 29, 2005:

For purposes of comparison, the prior set of Adjudicative Guidelines adopted by the Clinton Administration in March 1997 may be found here:

The White House Office of Management and Budget last month issued a related memorandum to executive branch agencies on "Reciprocal Recognition of Existing Personnel Security Clearances," which addresses the often violated requirement that agencies recognize each other's security clearances. A copy of the memo, first published on the ISOO web site, is posted here:


A new memorandum report from the Congressional Research Service examines the legal requirements that the congressional intelligence committees be "fully and currently informed" of U.S. intelligence activities.

The CRS memo notes the exceptional status of covert actions, which must be disclosed only to the Gang of Eight, i.e, the leaders of the two intelligence committees as well as the leaders of the House and Senate.

The limited congressional notification of the recently disclosed NSA domestic surveillance operation more closely resembled that of a covert action than the normal disclosure of an authorized intelligence activity, the CRS explained.

As such, it "would appear to be inconsistent with the law, which requires that the 'congressional intelligence committees be kept fully and currently informed of all intelligence activities,' other than those involving covert actions."

The CRS memorandum was requested by Rep. Jane Harman, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, and authored by CRS intelligence specialist Alfred Cumming. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Statutory Procedures Under Which Congress Is To Be Informed of U.S. Intelligence Activities, Including Covert Actions," January 18, 2006:


Scientific publications by Libyan scientists on nuclear physics, nuclear engineering and related topics were compiled in an open literature bibliography by independent researcher Mark Gurwitz.

The Libya bibliography is part of an ongoing, informal investigation by Mr. Gurwitz into the worldwide propagation of nuclear science and technology.

See "Libyan Nuclear Bibliography: Open Literature Citations" by Mark Gorwitz, January 2006:


Almost every day that Congress is in session, multiple committees hold hearings. But not every hearing, not even every important hearing, finds it way into print.

The U.S. Congressional Bibliographies project at North Carolina State University has tallied the numbers of hearings held by each Senate committee from 1993-2001, and reported the percentage of hearings that have been published by the Government Printing Office.

Thus, only 38% of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings in 2001, many of which involved confirmation hearings of Bush appointees, have been published.

Unpublished hearings also addressed topics such as anthrax exposure (Appropriations), aviation competition (Commerce), "club" drugs (Narcotics), E-911 compliance (Commerce), internet privacy (Commerce), unsolicited commercial e-mail (Commerce), and veterans programs (VA), observed NCSU Social Science Reference Librarian John A. McGeachy.

See Statistical Reports of Printed Hearings on this page:


The U.S. Army this week issued a newly updated regulation on military executions. The move may portend a resumption of capital punishment in the military after a hiatus of more than 40 years.

"Only the President of the United States can approve and order the execution of a death sentence," the regulation states. Death is by lethal injection.

A copy of the new regulation was obtained by Secrecy News.

See U.S. Army Regulation 190-55, "U.S. Army Corrections System: Procedures for Military Executions," January 17, 2006:

The last time that the Army performed a military execution was in April 1961. It involved an Army Private who was convicted of rape and attempted murder.

135 people have been executed by the Army since 1916, according to the Death Penalty Information Center (

Half a dozen military inmates are on death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and by last May two of them had nearly exhausted their final appeals, according to the Houston Chronicle ("U.S. Military Executions Draw Closer" by Andrew Tilghman, May 1, 2005).


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

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