from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 80
July 17, 2006

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Former State Department China expert Donald Keyser last week firmly disputed allegations that he had engaged in espionage on behalf of Taiwanese intelligence.

"Mr. Keyser denies that he was ever an agent of Taiwan's intelligence agency," his attorneys said in a statement. They further denied that he had failed to comply with the terms of his plea agreement, as the government asserted earlier this month.

"Mr. Keyser disclosed no classified information to [Taiwanese intelligence official] Ms. Cheng or her superior, Mr. Huang, and his communications were all in furtherance of U.S. Government interests, even if he was answering questions that Ms. Cheng asked him," according to a July 14 motion filed by the defense.

The defense argued in its latest pleading that the government was improperly using the Classified Information Procedures Act to withhold vital information from the defense.

The new defense motion features a supporting declaration by Kent Harrington, a former CIA officer (and public affairs official), who warned the court against relying on isolated, unanalyzed scraps of foreign intelligence information such as Chinese government communications to draw legal conclusions about the Keyser case.

"When we acquire the communications of any foreign government agency..., there is a tendency to assume that the contents are unvarnished facts, but experience tells us otherwise," Mr. Harrington wrote.

"Such communications are just as prone as other forms of intelligence to manipulation and can also contain false or exaggerated statements designed to advance the career or the bureaucratic position of the author," he wrote.

See the July 14, 2006 defense pleading in the Keyser case, with the attached Harrington declaration, here:

Time Magazine reported on Saturday that Mr. Keyser's wife, a CIA officer detailed to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, was aware that Mr. Keyser had improperly stored classified records at home and had also done so herself.

See "A Steamy Spy Scandal at the State Department," Time, July 15:

The government allegations cited in the Time story are grossly misleading, Mr. Keyser emailed friends over the weekend. The Time story, he said, "lacks only a nocturnal descent of alien spacecraft, a documented Elvis sighting, and a cameo performance by Michael Jackson to qualify for enshrinement in The National Enquirer hall of fame."

See "Official at Center of Taiwanese Spying Probe Cries Foul" by Josh Gerstein, New York Sun, July 17:

The Keyser case is before Judge T.S. Ellis, III, who also presides over the controversial case of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who are accused of improperly receiving and transmitting classified information. The trial in that case, which had been set for August 7, has been postponed until a new date which is to be set by the court on July 18.


A 2002 report prepared by the CIA Counterterrorist Center discusses how terrorists recruit members in prisons such as Guantanamo Bay.

"Terrorists groups, including al-Qa'ida, use incarcerated members to recruit and train new members, and in some cases run terrorist organizations and manage or facilitate terrorist attacks."

The classified CIA report was previously published on the web site The Smoking Gun. See "Terrorists: Recruiting and Operating Behind Bars," CIA Counterterrorism Center, August 20, 2002:

The last page of the document provides an extensive list of sources which are numbered -- "but the numbers aren't keyed to the text," noticed former CIA analyst Allen Thomson.

He recalled being puzzled by this practice of decoupling the sources from the text more than two decades ago, and investigating the matter at the time.

"The list of sources wasn't kept for reasons of documenting the reasoning that went into publications," Mr. Thomson explained. "It was solely a security requirement so that, should somebody think that information had been published at too low a level of classification, the matter could be checked. Curiously, there was no master copy with the sources keyed to the text to aid in such security checking, so I suspect that checking was seldom done, if ever."


"Operations security" (OPSEC) refers to the practice of identifying and controlling information that could be exploited by a hostile observer to discern intelligence about U.S. operations.

"OPSEC is a methodology that denies critical information to an adversary," according to a new Defense Department publication on the subject.

"Unlike security programs that seek to protect classified information, OPSEC measures identify, control, and protect generally unclassified evidence that is associated with sensitive operations and activities."

See "Operations Security," Joint Publication 3-13.3, June 29, 2006:


Many U.S. intelligence agencies as well as the congressional intelligence oversight committees hire their senior staff from a predictable, somewhat in-grown pool of personnel, which frequently includes those who have previously worked in the intelligence field since they can be immediately cleared.

But the Office of the Director of National Intelligence seems to be casting an unusually wide net as it seeks the best qualified staff it can find in academia and the public interest sector.

Historian Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, a China specialist at Georgetown University, became an Assistant Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analytic Integrity in January 2006, and was appointed last month as the first ODNI "analytic ombudsman." (She also previously served in the State Department.)

In her new capacity, Dr. Tucker will be "a fact finder, mediator, and facilitator for intelligence analysts who desire to raise concerns regarding timeliness, politicization and objectivity in intelligence analysis without fear of reprisal," according to a June 16 ODNI news release.

Even more remarkably, Timothy H. Edgar, who for years has been a prominent critic of Bush Administration national security policies with the American Civil Liberties Union, has just joined the ODNI staff.

"I have recently taken a job as deputy to Alex Joel, the Civil Liberties Protection Officer in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence," he wrote in an email message to former colleagues last week.

"This was a position that Congress mandated in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and it reports directly to the DNI."

"The new job is challenging and I am looking forward to continuing to defend civil liberties within the government," Mr. Edgar wrote.


The tiny Western European nation of Andorra has become the latest country to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

On July 12, it became the 134th country to do so, according to a news release today from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna:

On the same day, Armenia became the 133rd country to ratify the Treaty. The United States has not ratified it.


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

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