from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 77
July 25, 2007

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A major new report from the Congressional Research Service provides a detailed account of Congress's contempt power, including the use of contempt proceedings to coerce compliance with congressional demands for information or testimony and to punish non-compliance.

"This report examines the source of the contempt power, reviews the historical development of the early case law, outlines the statutory and common law basis for Congress's contempt power, and analyzes the procedures associated with each of the three different types of contempt proceedings. In addition, the report discusses limitations both nonconstitutional and constitutionally based on the power."

The 68-page report also examines the Justice Department position that "Congress cannot, as a matter of statutory or constitutional law, invoke either its inherent contempt authority or the criminal contempt of Congress procedures against an executive branch official acting on instructions by the President to assert executive privilege in response to a congressional subpoena."

See "Congress's Contempt Power: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure," July 24, 2007:


Recently updated reports of the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include these.

"Supreme Court Appointment Process: Roles of the President, Judiciary Committee, and Senate," updated June 25, 2007:

"U.S.-Japan Economic Relations: Significance, Prospects, and Policy Options," updated July 9, 2007:

"Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Oversight Issues and Options for Congress," updated June 11, 2007:

"U.S. Army and Marine Corps Equipment Requirements: Background and Issues for Congress," updated June 15, 2007:

"Pakistan: Significant Recent Events, March 26 - June 21, 2007," July 6, 2007:

"Ballistic Missile Defense: Historical Overview," updated July 9, 2007:


The U.S. Senate is placing increased emphasis on exposing corruption and profiteering in military contracting in Iraq.

Last week, Sen. James Webb (D-VA) introduced a bill with twenty co-sponsors that would establish a Commission on Wartime Contracting to investigate fraud and abuse in government contracts, including intelligence contracts, in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

"We are outsourcing this war in ways we've never seen," said Sen. Webb. "Defrauding the government of millions of taxpayer dollars should not be considered 'the cost of doing business'."

There are now more contractors (180,000) than military personnel (156,247) in Iraq, according to a July 18 news release from Sen. Webb. A list of companies contracted in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom does not exist, it said. Nor has information on how much the government is paying contractors been made available.

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing on "war profiteering," the record of which has just been published. See "Combating War Profiteering: Are We Doing Enough to Investigate and Prosecute Contracting Fraud and Abuse in Iraq?," March 20, 2007:


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

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