from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2008, Issue No. 49
May 22, 2008

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The National Cyber Security Initiative, which is "the single largest... and most important initiative" in next year's budget, is being conducted under "excessive classification," the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) said in its new report on the 2009 intelligence authorization act.

For the cyber security program to function as intended, "it will require a partnership with industry unlike any model that currently exists. The excessive classification of the [Initiative], however, militates against the collaboration necessary to achieve that partnership."

That view coincides with the recent assessment of the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding overclassification of the cybersecurity program (Secrecy News, 05/15/08).

The 121-page House Intelligence Committee report is full of grist for the intelligence policy mill.

The Committee flexed its oversight muscles by imposing a limit on spending for covert action to no more than 25 percent of the allocated funds until each member of the Committee has been briefed on all covert actions.

"The obligation to report to the committees is not negotiable," the report declared. "It is not an obligation that the President can ignore at his discretion. It is not an obligation that can be evaded by claiming that briefing the congressional intelligence committees will require other committees to be briefed. It is not an obligation that can be evaded by broad assertions of executive power."

The Committee would establish a new Inspector General for the entire intelligence community, and would impose new limits and new reporting requirements on intelligence contractors.

The Republican minority said that more should have been done to combat unauthorized disclosures of classified information:

"We are disappointed that the Committee has held no hearings and conducted little to no substantial oversight on this issue during this Congress. In addition, we are concerned that the issue is becoming increasingly politicized, sometimes under the false premise that there are 'good leaks' and 'bad leaks'. The Committee should take a firm and clear position that no unauthorized disclosures of classified information should be tolerated."

The minority also insisted that "the United States does not torture," a view that is increasingly hard to reconcile with the public record, including a new report from the Justice Department Inspector General that catalogued many abusive forms of interrogation by U.S. military and intelligence personnel.

See the House Intelligence Committee Report on the 2009 Intelligence Authorization Act, H.Rep. 110-665, May 21:


A new searchable index of hundreds of thousands of documents held by the Air Force Historical Research Agency has been created by private researchers and posted online.

The index does not provide access to the underlying documents, which must be requested from AFHRA. Nevertheless, it has several interesting features.

For one thing, it represents a step forward in improving accessibility to declassified government records. The new Air Force index provides a simple illustration of what can be done to alert the interested public to the existence of particular records and suggests how much more still needs to be done, including providing online access to the records themselves.

Second, the new index represents an unusual, implicit public-private partnership. Researchers gained access to the Air Force bibliographical data and installed a search engine on top, then posted it online in the public interest. The researchers said they preferred to remain anonymous.


The National Archives and Records Administration today announced the establishment of a new Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) Office that is intended to lead the implementation and oversight of a new White House policy on CUI, which is unclassified information that is deemed to require protection from disclosure (Secrecy News, 05/12/08).

The CUI Office, to be headed by Information Security Oversight Office director William J. Bosanko, is tasked with developing implementation guidance, training, and oversight of the new government-wide policy.


Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service, obtained by Secrecy News, include the following.

"U.S. Nuclear Cooperation With India: Issues for Congress," updated May 20, 2008:

"Nuclear Weapons: The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program," updated May 19, 2008:

"Suits Against Terrorist States By Victims of Terrorism," updated May 1, 2008:

"Syria: Background and U.S. Relations," updated May 1, 2008:

"China's Economic Conditions," updated May 13, 2008:


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

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