from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 53
May 21, 2007

Secrecy News Blog:

Support Secrecy News


The Department of Defense did a poor job of investigating and addressing reports of detainee abuse committed in Iraq by U.S. military personnel, according to a newly declassified report of the DoD Inspector General.

"Allegations of detainee abuse were not consistently reported, investigated, or managed in an effective, systematic, and timely manner," the IG found.

"Reports of detainee abuse by special mission unit task force personnel dated back to June 2003, but we believe it took the publicized abuse at Abu Ghraib [in spring 2004]... to elevate the issue to the Flag Officer level."

"There are many well-documented reasons why detention and interrogation operations were overwhelmed [including] ... inconsistent training; a critical shortage of skilled interrogators, translators, and guard force personnel; and the external influence of special operations forces and OGAs [other government agencies, a euphemism for the CIA]."

The August 2006 Inspector General report, originally classified Secret, was released in redacted form last week.

See "Review of DoD-Directed Investigations of Detainee Abuse," DoD Inspector General, August 25, 2006:


According to the Director of National Intelligence, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, the law that regulates domestic intelligence surveillance, desperately needs to be updated to accommodate the latest technologies.

"Technology and threats have changed, but the law remains essentially the same," wrote DNI Mike McConnell in a Washington Post op-ed on May 21. "The failure to update this law comes at an increasingly steep price."

But contrary to Director McConnell's surprising claim, FISA has been repeatedly and substantively modified and updated over the years.

"Abiding by FISA does not mean clinging to [an obsolete] 1978 structure," said Rep. Jane Harman, then-ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, last summer. "FISA has been modernized."

"Each time the Administration has come to Congress and asked to modernize FISA, Congress has said 'yes'," she recalled.

The Congressional Research Service tabulated dozens of legislative changes that were made to the FISA between 1994 and 2006. See:

Glenn Greenwald elaborated on some of the changes made to FISA in a vigorous rebuttal to the DNI's op-ed. See "The administration's FISA falsehoods continue unabated," Salon, May 21:


Some recently updated reports of the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include the following.

"Congressional Oversight Manual," updated May 1, 2007:

"China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues," updated May 9, 2007:

"Sea-Based Ballistic Missile Defense -- Background and Issues for Congress," updated April 27, 2007:

"Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment," updated April 26, 2007:

"The Military Commissions Act of 2006: Analysis of Procedural Rules and Comparison with Previous DOD Rules and the Uniform Code of Military Justice," updated January 26, 2007:


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

The Secrecy News blog is at:

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, go to:


OR email your request to

Secrecy News is archived at:

SUPPORT Secrecy News with a donation here: