from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2008, Issue No. 103
October 27, 2008

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The Director of National Intelligence issued a directive this month that will make it easier for a person whose spouse or immediate family is not a U.S. citizen to gain a security clearance for access to intelligence information.

The new policy lowers a barrier that has long impeded intelligence agency hiring of qualified area experts, linguists and others simply because of their family ties.

Under the prior policy (Director of Central Intelligence Directive 6/4), one of the criteria for obtaining access to classified intelligence was that "The individual's immediate family must also be US citizens." Although an exception to that standard could be granted by a senior official, it was only permitted in case of a "compelling need."

Now, a clearance for those with foreign ties can be granted without a "compelling need," though it may still involve additional processing.

"Subjects who have immediate family members or other persons who are non-United States citizens to whom the subject is bound by affection or obligation may be eligible for access to SCI and other controlled access program information as the result of a condition, deviation, or waiver from personnel security standards."

The new policy was presented in Intelligence Community Directive 704, signed by DNI J. Michael McConnell on October 1, 2008.

The new policy is part of a ongoing transition towards "risk management" (as opposed to "risk avoidance"). This is an approach to security policy which accepts a modicum of increased risk in order to advance mission performance.


Could terrorists use Twitter, the instant messaging and micro-blogging service? Presumably so, just as they could use credit cards and can openers.

The potential use of Twitter and other communications technologies by terrorists is considered in a new draft Army intelligence paper, based on a review of jihadist web sites and other public sources.

The Army paper on "al Qaida-Like Mobile Discussions & Potential Creative Uses" was dissected by Noah Shachtman in "Spy Fears: Twitter Terrorists, Cell Phone Jihadists," Danger Room, October 24.

A copy of the paper itself, which is more like a student exercise than a finished intelligence assessment, is available here (large pdf, for official use only):


On October 23, President Bush named former CIA information officer Herbert Briick to the Public Interest Declassification Board, and also reappointed former CIA general counsel Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker. The Board will hold its next public meeting at the National Archives on Friday, October 31, where it will discuss how to identify and prioritize "historically valuable" information for declassification. For details on attendance see this October 14 Federal Register notice.

What is intelligence? Kristan J. Wheaton, a professor of intelligence studies at Mercyhurst College, invites readers to indicate their understanding of the term and its implications in a brief online survey.

The question of whether the United States needs a new domestic intelligence service that is independent of law enforcement was examined by Greg Treverton of the RAND Corporation in a new report for Congress entitled "Reorganizing U.S. Domestic Intelligence."

Josh Gerstein, late of the New York Sun, has done some of the best reporting around on the AIPAC case involving unauthorized dissemination of classified information. In a new blog posting, he updates readers on the latest developments in the case in advance of a pre-trial appeal hearing on October 29.

On July 16, 2008, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing entitled "How the Administration's Failed Detainee Policies Have Hurt the Fight Against Terrorism: Putting the Fight Against Terrorism on Sound Legal Foundations." The record of that hearing was recently published and is available here:


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

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