from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2006, Issue No. 91
August 25, 2006

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The annual financial costs attributable to the national security classification system reached a record high of $9.2 billion in 2005 according to a new report from the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO).

Classification-related costs include not merely the direct costs of classifying information, which are modest, but also the derivative costs of the personnel security clearance system, physical security for classified material, classified computer security, and more. Most of these costs are incurred within government, but some are due to the handling of classified information within industry.

"The Government cost estimate for FY 2005 is $7.7 billion, which is a $420 million, or 5.8 percent increase above the cost estimates reported for FY 2004," the Information Security Oversight Office reported. "The industry estimate is up by $696 million."

"This makes the total 2005 cost estimate for Government and industry $9.2 billion, which is $1.2 billion more than the total FY 2004 cost estimate for Government and industry."

These figures do not include classification cost estimates for the Central Intelligence Agency, because the CIA has classified its cost data.

See "2005 Report on Cost Estimates for Security Classification Activities," Information Security Oversight Office, August 2006:

If the classification system were functioning properly to enhance national security, these billions of dollars might all be money well spent. But there is abundant reason to doubt that such is the case.

"There's over 50 percent of the information that, while it may meet the criteria for classification, really should not be classified in terms of what we lose," said ISOO director William Leonard at an August 24, 2004 hearing of the House Government Reform Committee.

"The price we pay for classification outweighs any perception, any advantage we perceive we gain," he told the Committee.

The Information Security Oversight Office, which was established by Executive Order, reports to the President on national security classification policy.

Mr. Leonard criticized the Washington Post in a remarkable letter to the editor today for reporting "irrelevant" negative information about the personal history of a critic of the classification system.

"Publishing it served no useful public purpose and could, in fact, discourage citizens who take seriously their civic responsibility to lodge complaints regarding the activities of their government," he wrote.


U.S. Army policy for dealing with military personnel who assert a conscientious objection to military combat is set forth in a newly updated Army regulation.

Criteria for likely approval or rejection of a conscientious objection claim are described. Claims that are insincere or "based on objection to a certain war" will "not be favorably considered."

The Regulation accepts the reality of conscientious objection with due respect.

"Care must be exercised not to deny the existence of beliefs simply because those beliefs are incompatible with one's own," it states.

In any case, "The burden of establishing a claim of conscientious objection as grounds for separation or assignment to noncombatant training and service is on the applicant."

See "Conscientious Objection," Army Regulation 600-43, 21 August 2006:


The first in a new series of Congressional Research Service reports on homeland security intelligence presents a broad introduction to the subject.

"The proliferation of intelligence and information fusion centers across the country indicate that state and local leaders believe there is value to centralizing intelligence gathering and analysis in a manner that assists them in preventing and responding to local manifestations of terrorist threats to their people, infrastructure, and other assets," the CRS report suggests.

See "Homeland Security Intelligence: Perceptions, Statutory Definitions, and Approaches," August 18, 2006:


A new Congressional Research Service report proposes an analytical framework for assessing the comparative strengths of U.S. conventional and nuclear forces in the context of a hypothetical future conflict with China.

The authors consider "the possible role that U.S. nuclear and conventional forces might play in four stages of potential conflicts: deterrence, prior to the start of the conflict; crisis stability in the early stages of the conflict; warfighting during the height of the conflict; and war termination, through either a negotiated settlement or a battlefield victory."

The new report "highlights a number of policy issues that may bear consideration in the ongoing debate regarding military investments," but refrains from drawing specific conclusions.

CRS does not make its reports directly available to the public. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See "U.S. Conventional Forces and Nuclear Deterrence: A China Case Study," August 11, 2006:


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

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