from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 77
July 7, 2006

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"Arrogance, secrecy, and bad judgment have mired us in a mess in Guantanamo from which we are having great difficulty in extricating ourselves," wrote U.S. Army Gen. (Ret.) Barry R. McCaffrey in a report on his recent trip to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.

"The JTF Guantanamo Detention Center is the most professional, firm, humane and carefully supervised confinement operation that I have ever personally observed," he wrote.

At the same time, "Much of the international community views the Guantanamo Detention Center as a place of shame and routine violation of human rights. This view is not correct. However, there will be no possibility of correcting that view."

"There is now no possible political support for Guantanamo going forward," Gen. McCaffrey wrote.

"We need a political-military decisive move to break the deadlock" and to permit the closure of the Guantanamo detention facility.

Gen. McCaffrey proposed a combination of steps including transfer of as many detainees as possible to their host countries, criminal trials for some, and efforts to engage foreign and international legal organs to assume jurisdiction.

"We need to rapidly weed out as many detainees as possible and return them to their host nation with an evidence package as complete as we can produce. We can probably dump 2/3 of the detainees in the next 24 months."

"Many we will encounter again armed with an AK47 on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. They will join the 120,000 + fighters we now contend with in those places of combat."

But even if that is so, he wrote, "It may be cheaper and cleaner to kill them in combat then sit on them for the next 15 years."

"We need to be completely transparent with the international legal and media communities about the operations of our detention procedures wherever they are located," Gen. McCaffrey advised.

A copy of Gen. McCaffrey's June 28, 2006 trip report on his June 18-19 trip to Guantanamo is available here:


Department of Energy classification reviewers at the National Archives examined over 2.5 million pages of previously declassified records earlier this year and found nine (9) pages that they said contained classified information which should not have been publicly disclosed, according to a new report to Congress.

This is a vanishingly small error rate of less than a thousandth of a percent, the smallest ever reported by DOE since it began searching for inadvertently released classified nuclear weapons information in declassified files in 1999.

This might be considered well within the boundaries of what is reasonably achievable under a risk management approach to security policy.

Yet the DOE declassified document review program seems predicated on absolute risk avoidance, in which no release of classified information, no matter how outdated or innocuous it may be, is acceptable. And so the reviewers toil on, and public access to historical records at the National Archives remains disrupted.

See the Twenty-First Report to Congress on Inadvertent Disclosures of Restricted Data, U.S. Department of Energy, May 2006 (released in redacted form July 2006):


The Department of Energy has released a redacted version of its October 2005 Historical Records Declassification Guide, a document used by classification reviewers to determine which information may be publicly released under the declassification provisions of executive order 12958.

There are 15 categories of DOE national security information that are exempt from automatic declassification, the Guide explains, including information on naval nuclear propulsion, chemical and biological defense, space nuclear reactors, and much more.

The redacted Guide identifies topics within each one of those categories and indicates whether they are classified or unclassified.

Some of the material is of broader interest and significance. Appendix B, for example, provides a summary account of the history of nuclear weapons accidents, and explains that any further information beyond what is presented there must undergo classification review.

See "Historical Records Declassification Guide" (CG-HR-3), Department of Energy, October 2005 (redacted version):


"The Administration has taken significant steps to improve the process by which the Federal Government grants individuals access to classified information," the Office of Management and Budget said in a recent report on security clearances.

"The average time it takes today to complete the security clearance process has been reduced by 18 days, or 6 percent."

That is, instead of an FY 2005 average of 297 days to get a security clearance, the average wait in the first quarter of FY 2006 dropped to 279 days.

The proposed goal for December 2006 is 134 days.

See "Report on The Status of Executive Branch Efforts to Improve the Security Clearance Process," Office of Management and Budget, February 2006:

The OMB report was first reported by Rati Bishnoi in Inside the Pentagon on July 6, 2006.


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

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