from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 75
July 5, 2006

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With its decision last week to strike down the Bush Administration's unilateral creation of military tribunals for trying detainees, the Supreme Court highlighted and reinforced the rule of law in the conduct of military operations.

Several recent publications provide rich background on military law.

The 2006 edition of the "Operational Law Handbook" published by the Army Judge Advocate General is "a 'how to' guide for Judge Advocates practicing operational law. It provides references and describes tactics and techniques for the practice of operational law."

The Handbook covers the gamut of issues that arise in the field, from the Law of War to intelligence-related law to detainee operations.

See "Operational Law Handbook (2006)," Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School (598 pages, 3.7 MB):

U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and the "war on terrorism" have raised a variety of novel legal issues, according to a 2004 study performed for the Army on "legal lessons learned."

"Whether determining the applicability of the law of armed conflict to non-state terrorist actors, applying traditional and new fiscal authorities to a military occupation, or assisting in the development of rules of engagement (ROE) for an enemy that blended into civilian populations, JAs [judge advocates] and paralegals wrestled with cutting-edge legal issues during OEF [Operation Enduring Freedom] and OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom]."

See "Legal Lessons Learned From Afghanistan and Iraq: Volume 1, Major Combat Operations," Center for Law and Military Operations, 1 August 2004 (454 pages, 7.1 MB PDF):

Volume 2 of that study has recently been made public.

See "Legal Lessons Learned From Afghanistan and Iraq: Volume 2, Full Spectrum Operations," Center for Law and Military Operations, September 2005 (368 pages, 3.3 MB PDF):

Secrecy News is honored to be a recipient of the 2006 Public Access to Government Information award from the American Association of Law Libraries.


The Marine Corps has recently published a series of documents on counterinsurgency:

"Small-Unit Leaders' Guide to Counterinsurgency," June 2006 (4.7 MB PDF file):

"Countering Irregular Threats: A Comprehensive Approach," 14 June 2006 (3.2 MB PDF file):

"Tentative Manual for Countering Irregular Threats: An Updated Approach to Counterinsurgency Operations," 7 June 2006:


Military doctrine on the control of stress in combat is presented in a new Army field manual.

"In our own Soldiers and in the enemy combatants, control of stress is often the decisive difference between victory and defeat across the operational continuum. Battles and wars are won more by controlling the will to fight than by killing all of the enemy combatants. Uncontrolled combat stress causes erratic or harmful behaviors, impairs mission performance, and may result in disaster...."

See "Combat and Operational Stress Control," U.S. Army Field Manual 4-02.51, July 2006:

A recent Congressional Research Service report "presents difficult-to-find statistics regarding U.S. military casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF, Afghanistan), including those concerning medical evacuations, amputations, and the demographics of casualties."

"Some of these statistics are publically available at the Department of Defense's (DOD's) website, while others have been obtained through contact with experts at DOD."

See "United States Military Casualty Statistics: Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom," June 8, 2006:

"Medical Program Support for Detainee Operations" is the subject of Department of Defense Instruction 2310.08E, issued June 6, 2006:


The fortieth anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act, signed into law by President Johnson on July 4, 1966, was marked with the release of several interesting and informative publications.

The colorful and contentious history behind the adoption of the Act was described by Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive based on documents obtained from the Johnson Library. See "Freedom of Information at 40":

The legislative history of the Freedom of Information Act is newly available from the National Security Archive here:

The FOIA improvement plans that were recently developed by executive branch agencies were critically assessed by in a new report. See "FOIA's 40th Anniversary: Agencies Respond to the President's Call for Improved Disclosure of Information":

"The federal government continues to fall further behind in getting information to people seeking public records under the Freedom of Information Act," according to a study by the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government:

"By far the heaviest use of the Freedom of Information Act comes from the nation's businesses, seeking government records on contracts or for a host of other commercial uses," another Coalition report found:

Sixty-eight countries now have freedom of information statutes, according to an updated survey by David Banisar published by See "Freedom of Information Around the World 2006":

I chatted with reporter Julie Corwin of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty about "40 Years Of The Freedom Of Information Act" here:


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

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