from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 11
January 30, 2007

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The Office of the Vice President under Dick Cheney seems to cultivate secrecy as an end in itself, and not simply to protect national security or personal privacy. The OVP will not even confirm how many staff people work there, who they are, or much of anything else.

"Cheney's office refuses to give any details to reporters," observed Justin Rood in TPMmuckraker yesterday, noting further that the OVP "is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, so any such request would be futile."

Similarly, a Cheney spokesman recently told reporter Laura Rozen, "If we have a personnel announcement we'd like you to know about, we'll tell you."

Some Americans still find this willful obscurity offensive to democratic principles, and TPMmuckraker summoned the blogosphere to help pierce the veil.

Secrecy News was able to contribute a 2004 telephone directory for the OVP, which is marked "for official use only," naturally. Though it is no longer current -- it still lists the departed Scooter Libby as assistant to the Vice President, for example -- it provides a good sense of the size and structure of the OVP.

The 2004 OVP telephone directory is posted here (with phone and fax numbers redacted by Secrecy News):

Readers discussed the matter on TPMmuckraker here:


Attorneys for former government scientist Steven J. Hatfill, who is suing the New York Times for linking him to the 2001 anthrax attacks, filed a vigorous rebuttal earlier this month against a Times argument that the "state secrets" doctrine should dictate dismissal of the lawsuit.

The Hatfill rebuttal was filed in federal court in Virginia in sealed form on January 12. On the same day, however, the Court dismissed the case for unrelated reasons that have not yet been published.

In a December 12 motion, the New York Times had argued that classification restrictions imposed on government witnesses were equivalent to an assertion of the state secrets privilege and that the case should be dismissed on that basis, since the restrictions limited the Times' ability to obtain the information needed for its defense (Secrecy News, January 22).

That's nonsense, said Dr. Hatfill's attorneys.

"For one thing, a court may not even consider dismissal of a case on "state secret" grounds until after a department head of a government agency invokes that doctrine, something that has never occurred here," they wrote.

"And the notion that the inability of The Times to obtain any of this imagined evidence should relieve The Times of the burden of defending itself based on what it actually knew when it ruined Dr. Hatfill's life is nothing short of offensive."

Since the case has now been dismissed, it is unlikely that the Court will resolve the dispute over the applicability of the "state secrets" doctrine. But the sealed opposition from Dr. Hatfill's attorneys has just been released in redacted form and is posted here:


Some noteworthy new reports of the Congressional Research Service that are not readily available to the public include the following, obtained by Secrecy News.

"Congressional Restrictions on U.S. Military Operations in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Somalia, and Kosovo: Funding and Non-Funding Approaches," January 16, 2007:

"Defense Contracting in Iraq: Issues and Options for Congress," January 26, 2007:

"The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review: An Overview," January 24, 2007:

"Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act, as Passed by the House of Representatives," updated January 18, 2007:

"North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Development and Diplomacy," updated January 3, 2007:

"International Terrorism: Threat, Policy, and Response," updated January 3, 2007:

"Protection of National Security Information," updated December 26, 2006:


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

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