from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2011, Issue No. 4
January 10, 2011

Secrecy News Blog:


"A review of the Pakistani media during October 2010 indicates that there is less talk of imminent political change." That is the rather pedestrian conclusion of a brief report that was prepared last November by "Open Source Works," a previously unknown initiative of the CIA Directorate of Intelligence.

Open Source Works "was charged by the Director for Intelligence with drawing on language-trained analysts to mine open-source information for new or alternative insights on intelligence issues. Open Source Works' products, based only on open source information, do not represent the coordinated views of the Central Intelligence Agency."

The recent report on Pakistan seems to be the first Open Source Works document to have reached public hands, though it is more of a digest of recent news and opinion than what would properly be termed an intelligence product. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News. See "Pakistan Leadership Watch: October 2010," CIA Directorate of Intelligence, November 8, 2010.


The Obama Administration is preparing to give increased military and economic aid to Pakistan, the Washington Post reported last weekend. ("U.S. to Offer More Support to Pakistan" by Karen DeYoung, January 8.)

Nearly $20 billion in civilian and military support has been provided to Pakistan between Fiscal Years 2002 and 2010, according to a newly updated tabulation from the Congressional Research Service. This sum does not include covert aid. Some $3.2 billion in aid has been requested for FY 2011. See "Direct Overt U.S. Aid and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2011," January 4, 2011:

Since June 2010, 17 new F-16 combat aircraft have been delivered by the U.S. to Pakistan (at Pakistani expense) along with numerous older armored personnel carriers, according to another Congressional Research Service fact sheet. See "Major U.S. Arms Sales and Grants to Pakistan Since 2001," updated January 4, 2011:


The diminishing U.S. lead in various scientific disciplines related to national security has posed a particular challenge for U.S. intelligence agencies, according to a newly released 2006 report of the Intelligence Science Board.

"While the overall effect of a declining S&T [science and technology] position on the United States remains the subject of debate, there can be no debate concerning its enormous impact on the Intelligence Community," the report said. "Today's collection and analysis needs... require an entirely new approach to increasing the contribution of S&T to the intelligence enterprise. Neither the Intelligence Community nor the S&T establishment has put forth viable strategies for accomplishing this change."

The authors endorse the creation of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), which was in fact established.

Otherwise, the report is largely derivative of previous studies on similar topics, and is mostly devoid of original analysis. See "The Intelligence Community and Science and Technology: The Challenge of the New S&T Landscape," Intelligence Science Board, November 2006, released December 2010:

The Intelligence Science Board, which was disestablished last year, provided independent science advice to the Director of National Intelligence. Its most important and influential product was a 2006 report entitled "Educing Information: Interrogation: Science and Art," on the weak scientific basis for prisoner interrogation practices:


A new government advisory committee on access to classified information by state, local and other non-federal bodies will hold its first meeting in Washington tomorrow. The State, Local, Tribal, and Private (SLTP) Sector Policy Advisory Committee "will advise the President, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office, and other executive branch officials on all matters concerning the policies relating to access to and safeguarding of classified national security information by U.S. State, Local, Tribal, and Private Sector Entities." The Committee will meet January 11 at the National Archives.

One excellent way to improve access to classified information, of course, is to declassify it. An outfit called the "Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group (ITACG) Detail" is responsible for finding classified intelligence information that could usefully be shared with state and local officials in unclassified form.

"A critical function of the Detail is to identify intelligence products which should be downgraded in classification for release to SLTP partners," according to a new ITACG annual report. "The Detail reviews reporting from the IC on a daily basis, looking for products which cover information that may be of interest to SLTP partners. Once a product or specific information contained therein is identified, the Detail contacts the author or the originating agency's disclosure office and requests a classification downgrade. Once the downgrade is approved and completed, the Detail requests the document be posted to the appropriate portal for SLTP customers."

"Last year, the Detail requested a classification downgrade for 74 products on behalf of SLTP partners. Based on these requests, 58 products were downgraded; ten of the requests were denied due to source sensitivities; and six requests are pending as of the date of this report."

See "2010 Report on the Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group (ITACG)," prepared by the Program Manager, Information Sharing Environment, December 9, 2010:


Defense agencies have complied with a recommendation to prohibit the use of military survival training techniques -- such as waterboarding -- in prisoner interrogation, the DoD inspector general confirmed in a report last year.

In response to a previous Inspector General report, a 2008 DoD directive stated that "Use of SERE [survival, evasion, resistance, and escape] techniques against a person in the custody or effective control of the Department of Defense or detained in a DoD facility is prohibited." Likewise, a 2009 memorandum for the military services and the Special Operations Command specified that use of "SERE techniques for interrogations of personnel in DoD custody or control is prohibited."

The 2010 IG report found that "all US Air Force, US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps, and [Joint Personnel Recovery Agency] SERE training programs included, as part of their curriculum, a prohibition against the use of SERE techniques for interrogation of personnel in DoD custody or control." See "Field Verification-Interrogation and Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) Techniques Recommendation," DoD Inspector General Report 10-INTEL-05, April 16, 2010 (released under FOIA in December 2010):

SERE training provides "a reasonable means to train [U.S. military personnel] for the most challenging captivity environment where captors do not abide by the Geneva Conventions," the IG report said. But "the physical and psychological pressures developed for... SERE training were not intended for real-world interrogations. Intelligence resistance training does not qualify a SERE Specialist instructor to conduct interrogations or provide subject matter expertise to those who are trained in that specialty."


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

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