from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2009, Issue No. 27
March 19, 2009

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The United States Air Force has published a detailed organizational chart of its headquarters including the names and telephone numbers of key personnel.

What makes this of more than passing interest is that it represents a departure from the post-9/11 Pentagon practice of withholding the names and phone numbers of Pentagon officials from publication in the Department of Defense telephone directory.

Prior to 9/11, Pentagon phone directories were made available for sale to anyone who wanted them. I used to purchase a copy once or twice a year at the Government Printing Office (GPO) Bookstore on North Capitol Street for the use of the Federation of American Scientists.

Then, in a move that heralded a massive withdrawal of government information from the public domain, the document suddenly ceased to be available. "The DOD Telephone Directory since September 11, 2001 is marked 'For Official Use Only' and is no longer sold by GPO," according to a notice formerly posted on the GPO web site.

A bowdlerized version of the Pentagon phone book was later published for public use, with the names of Pentagon officials deleted. Thus, "The listing for secretary of defense includes only 'Hon. ...' for the Honorable Robert M. Gates," reported Bill Gertz of the Washington Times on September 7, 2007.

The Air Force has abandoned such a policy, and its new org chart provides the names and the phone numbers of its headquarters staff without restriction.

Access to the complete, uncensored Pentagon telephone directory, however, remains limited to those with a .mil address and a "Common Access Card" that is issued to DoD employees and contractors.

Why does DoD withhold its telephone directory when other agencies with national security responsibilities such as the Department of State and the Department of Energy openly publish their telephone directories on their websites?

One answer is "OPSEC," or "operations security," meaning the concealment of unclassified indicators to frustrate foreign intelligence collectors. But that rationale could apply equally to Energy and State, which do not embrace it. Besides, the Pentagon itself survived the Cold War without such an extreme secrecy policy.

Another answer is that unlike other agencies, "We were attacked," as one Pentagon employee told Secrecy News, citing the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. That is a conversation stopper but not much of an explanation, since there is no known reason to believe that the Pentagon telephone directory was used by the 9/11 terrorists.


Last year the Senate Armed Services Committee held two hearings on the detention and interrogation of suspected enemy combatants held by U.S. forces, probing into the origins of military interrogation policy and documenting some of the key decisions that were made.

"Today's hearing," said Committee Chair Sen. Carl Levin, "will explore how it came about that the techniques called survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) training, which are used to teach American soldiers to resist abusive interrogations by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions, were turned on their head and sanctioned by Department of Defense (DOD) officials for use offensively against detainees. Those techniques included use of stress positions, keeping detainees naked, use of dogs, and hooding during interrogation."

The record of those hearings has recently been published, supplemented by detailed questions and answers for the record and documents obtained by the Committee (in the PDF version).

See "The Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody," hearings before the Senated Armed Services Committee, June 17 and September 25, 2008.


The organization and management of nuclear weapons research in nine countries -- the United States, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, and the United Kingdom -- are examined in a new report from the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News. See "Nuclear Weapons R&D Organizations in Nine Nations," March 16, 2009.

Other noteworthy new CRS reports that have not been made readily available to the public include the following:

"Cuba: Issues for the 111th Congress," updated March 18, 2009.

"The Constitutionality of Federal Contracting Programs for Minority-Owned and Other Small Businesses," March 16, 2009.

"Ongoing Government Assistance for American International Group (AIG)," March 16, 2009.


Senior military leaders of the Russian Federation were profiled last December by the Russian publication "Rossiyskoye Voyennoye Obozreniye" and the resulting compilation was recently translated by the DNI Open Source Center (OSC).

The personal and professional backgrounds of some two dozen military leaders are summarized and accompanied by photographs, some of which are quite striking.

The OSC translation has not been approved for public release, but a copy was obtained by Secrecy News. See "Russia: Biographies, Photos of RF Armed Forces Leadership," Rossiyskoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, December 29, 2008, via the Open Source Center.


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

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