from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 27
March 9, 2007

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation made numerous "improper and illegal" uses of the investigative tool known as "national security letters," by which it gathers information in national security cases, a report by the Justice Department Inspector General found.

The abuses identified by the Inspector General "did not involve criminal misconduct," the report said. "However, the improper or illegal uses we found included serious misuses of national security letter authority."

These included the collection of information not permitted by law, the collection of information on persons not properly the subject of an FBI investigation, the failure to identify and report such errors, and quite a bit more.

See "A Review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Use of National Security Letters," DoJ Office of Inspector General, March 2007 (199 pages in a very large 35 MB PDF file):

In a statement today, the FBI did not dispute the new report's conclusions.

"The Inspector General conducted a fair and objective review of the FBI's use of a proven and useful investigative tool," said Director Robert S. Mueller, III, "and his finding of deficiencies in our processes is unacceptable."

The development of the FBI's counterintelligence role in the crucible of pre-World War II security concerns is detailed in an interesting new book from the excellent University of Kansas Press.

See "The Origins of FBI Counterintelligence" by Raymond J. Batvinis, Univ of Kansas Press, March 2007:


Army policy on human resources -- the mundane but vital identification, development, coordination and deployment of military personnel needed to accomplish Army objectives -- is presented in a new Field Manual.

See "Human Resources Support," FM 1-0, February 2007 (223 pages, 6.0 MB PDF):


A new report from a Dutch counterintelligence agency warns of the growing role of the Internet in Islamic extremist circles.

"The Internet is an important platform for radicalisation and can even serve as a virtual [terrorist] training camp. Jihadis not only use the Internet as a resource, but can also attack the Internet itself with terrorist activities (the Internet as a target) or use the Internet against other targets (the Internet as a weapon)," and so forth.

See "Jihadis and the Internet," National Coordinator for Counterterrorism (Netherlands), February 2007:

Fortunately or unfortunately, much of the report is overly credulous and cannot be taken at face value, according to George Smith of and the Dick Destiny blog.

Among other examples, he noted the report's citation to an online manual on the use of botulinum toxin as a weapon. But the manual itself is either a hoax or a primitive misunderstanding, and has previously been debunked by Dr. Smith, a chemist (Secrecy News, 08/08/05).

It "is an example of someone professing to know what he is doing on poisons who profoundly and obviously does not know what he is doing," Dr. Smith said in 2005.

The new Dutch report excludes "the now large critical body of work" on the magnitude and character of the terrorist threat, Dr. Smith said. "It's the standard script."


Some recent publications of the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include the following.

"Conventional Warheads For Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues for Congress," updated February 9, 2007:

"The National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center: Issues for Congress," updated February 15, 2007:

"National Security Surveillance Act of 2006: S. 3886, Title II (S. 2453 as Reported Out of the Senate Judiciary Committee," updated January 18, 2007:

"Active Military Sonar and Marine Mammals: Events and References," updated February 12, 2007:

"U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement," updated January 31, 2007:


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

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