from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 17
February 8, 2006

Secrecy News Blog:


At a time when the legality of U.S. intelligence activities such as the NSA surveillance program is a live issue, President Bush announced that he would name three individuals to the Intelligence Oversight Board, which is supposed to notify the President of any unlawful activities performed by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The three appointees are Adm. David E. Jeremiah, attorney Arthur B. Culvahouse and former Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans. All three are members of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

As prescribed in Executive Order 12863, the Intelligence Oversight Board "shall prepare for the President reports of intelligence activities that the IOB believes may be unlawful or contrary to Executive order or Presidential directive."

The IOB, like the PFIAB, is a White House advisory body that works exclusively for the President, and only rarely releases any information to the public.


The terms "probable cause" and "reasonable suspicion" have almost become household words by now due to continuing public controversy over the legality of the NSA surveillance program.

The legal definitions of these terms were examined in a new memorandum prepared by the Congressional Research Service for the Senate Intelligence Committee. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Probable Cause, Reasonable Suspicion, and Reasonableness Standards in the Context of the Fourth Amendment and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act," January 30, 2006:

Two leading Democratic members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees wrote to the Director of the Congressional Research Service yesterday to reject charges of CRS "bias" that were leveled by Rep. Pete Hoekstra, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, last week.

"We write to correct the record," wrote Senator Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Jane Harman.

"We have found these CRS documents very helpful in conducting our oversight responsibilities, and disagree that they are 'speculating with respect to highly sensitive national security matters' as Chairman Hoekstra asserts."

"Indeed, the legal analyses provided by CRS have been especially informative given the Executive Branch's unwillingness to provide information to the Congress or to the American public as is appropriate," they wrote.

See their February 7 letter here:


The National Reconnaissance Office has published a new Journal in unclassified format.

"National Reconnaissance: Journal of the Discipline and Practice" is intended "for the education and information of the NRO community" and to promote "the study, dialogue, and understanding of the discipline, practice, and history of national reconnaissance."

The centerpiece of the first issue is a critical article originally published in 2002 by Robert J. Kohler, a former CIA and NRO official on "The Decline of the National Reconnaissance Office." It is followed by a rejoinder from NRO deputy director Dennis Fitzgerald, a newly updated reply from Mr. Kohler, and a further response from Mr. Fitzgerald.

In what may be a reflection of NRO ambivalence about publishing an unclassified journal, the new publication is not available on the agency web site. Nor would the NRO Center for the Study of National Reconnaissance agree to provide the journal in softcopy.

But a scanned copy of the full text of the journal is now available on the Federation of American Scientists web site (thanks to J).

See "National Reconnaissance: Journal of the Discipline and Practice," first unclassified issue, 2005:


For several decades the Naval Security Group (NAVSECGRU) Command has been the Navy's cryptologic organization, with responsibility for signals intelligence and communications security and with NAVSECGRU Activities scattered around much of the world.

But now the NAVSECGRU Command has been disestablished and all NAVSECGRU Activities and Detachments have been renamed as Navy Information Operations Commands (NIOCs) and Detachments (NIODs).

See OPNAV Note 5450, Disestablishing the Naval Security Group Command, December 29, 2005:

The Naval Security Group Command, headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland, was designated by that name in 1968, according to Jeffrey Richelson's The U.S. Intelligence Community (4th edition, p. 84).


Air Force personnel are warned in a recent instruction not to track low observable (LO) or "sight sensitive" aircraft during test flights at Edwards Air Force Base.

"Low observable" is another term for stealth, and "sight sensitive" refers to objects that yield sensitive information simply by visual inspection.

"It is strictly forbidden to train tracking sensors (e.g. radar, infrared, electro-optical, personal cameras, sound recording devices, etc.) on any LO or sight-sensitive assets," the Air Force instruction states.

"The single exception to this rule is to promote safety of flight." Even then, "Recording of data will immediately terminate upon the termination of the flight safety incident."

See "Security Procedures for Inadvertent Tracking and Sensor Acquisition of Low Observable and Sight Sensitive Programs," Edwards Air Force Base Instruction 31-17, 14 November 2005 (thanks to RT):


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

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