from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2010, Issue No. 44
May 27, 2010

Secrecy News Blog:


Defying a previous veto threat from the White House, the House of Representatives will consider an amendment to bolster intelligence oversight by requiring intelligence agencies to cooperate with the Government Accountability Office when it performs audits that are requested by a congressional committee with jurisdiction over intelligence.

In general, the amendment states, "the Director of National Intelligence shall ensure that personnel of the Government Accountability Office designated by the Comptroller General are provided with access to all information in the possession of an element of the intelligence community that the Comptroller General determines is necessary for such personnel to conduct an analysis, evaluation, or investigation of a program or activity of an element of the intelligence community that is requested by one of the congressional intelligence committees."

The amendment to the FY2011 Defense Authorization Act (HR 5136) was sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and several colleagues.

When a similar amendment was included in the FY2010 Intelligence Authorization Act, which is still pending, it prompted a veto threat from the Obama White House.

But the White House opposition was based on an erroneous interpretation of the law, the Acting Comptroller of the GAO told Congress.

Somewhat surprisingly, given the likelihood of a renewed veto threat, the House Democratic leadership ruled that the Eshoo amendment was "in order," and it will therefore be considered on the House floor, perhaps today or tomorrow.

Back when he was a Congressman in 1987, CIA Director Leon Panetta introduced a bill called the "CIA Accountability Act" that would have reinforced GAO oversight over the Central Intelligence Agency.


The system of national borders that is intended to exclude unauthorized persons can be conceptualized as a "fortress" with rigid barriers forming a secure perimeter, or as a "complex organism" with flexible layered defenses and interactions with the external environment. The application of these models to the United States, along with an evaluation of their possible effectiveness, is presented in a new report from the Congressional Research Service. See "People Crossing Borders: An Analysis of U.S. Border Protection Policies," May 13, 2010:

Other new CRS products that have not been made readily available to the public include the following.

"Potential Stafford Act Declarations for the Gulf Coast Oil Spill: Issues for Congress," May 13, 2010:

"FY2010 Supplemental for Wars, Disaster Assistance, Haiti Relief, and Court Cases," May 12, 2010:


Contrary to what I wrote on May 25, Shamai Leibowitz was not the first person to plead guilty to unauthorized disclosure of classified information. Larry Franklin admitted guilt as part of the settlement of his case in 2005. But Mr. Leibowitz pled guilty to unauthorized disclosure without having been indicted, which is unprecedented.

I credited Gabriel Schoenfeld for describing how Thomas Paine freely acknowledged divulging sensitive information in 1778, since I first discovered that anecdote in his new book Necessary Secrets. But Mr. Schoenfeld scrupulously advised that he had relied upon (and cited) Daniel N. Hoffman's pioneering 1981 book "Governmental Secrecy and the Founding Fathers."


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

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