from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2011, Issue No. 18
February 22, 2011

Secrecy News Blog:


Last week the Senate confirmed Stephanie O'Sullivan to be the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence (PDDNI), the number two position in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Ms. O'Sullivan, a longtime CIA employee who is currently Associate Deputy Director of CIA, will be the fourth person to hold that office.

A review of the materials submitted in support of her nomination, especially a set of answers to pre-hearing questions submitted by the Senate Intelligence Committee, turns up a number of interesting new details concerning intelligence policy. For example:

** ODNI began an effort last year "to reinvigorate the declassification of imagery for public release," Ms. O'Sullivan said. She indicated that this program had been "launched in May 2010," but there is little sign that it has had any impact to date.

On the contrary, attempts to gain access to historical intelligence satellite imagery remain as contentious and mostly as fruitless as ever. "Trying to get [satellite imagery] declassified today, it's like I'm taking their marbles away," said Charles P. Vick of earlier this month, "and it's over 40 years old." ("New Secrets of Huge Soviet Moon Rocket Revealed" by Leonard David,, February 7, 2011).

** Over the past several years, science and technology research activities at CIA "have improved substantially," leading to the operational use of new intelligence technologies, Ms. O'Sullivan told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

This upbeat assertion contrasts, for example, with a 2006 Intelligence Science Board report which found that technological "innovation in the Intelligence Community" was "hobble[d]" and that the problem was approaching "critical levels." ("Intel Science Board on 'The New S&T Landscape'," Secrecy News, January 10, 2011).

But Ms. O'Sullivan said that "There has been a marked increase in cutting edge technology which has been developed through research and development and successfully transitioned to operations... [The CIA Directorate of Science and Technology's] acquisitions and operations have also delivered innovative new capabilities and technical operations that have closed collection gaps."

The nature of these capabilities and operations was not specified. One trusts that they did not include the fraudulent intelligence-related technologies that were central to the unfolding Dennis Montgomery/e-Treppid Technologies scandal and featured in the New York Times last weekend. ("Government Tries to Keep Secret What Many Consider a Fraud" by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, New York Times, February 20, 2011).

Ms. O'Sullivan also provided brief commentary on the obscure and mostly classified Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), which she said was "progressing satisfactorily." She discussed in general terms the government's response to WikiLeaks, which she said "represents the magnitude of the potential danger when technology, opportunity, and malevolent human motivation combine." Her answers to the pre-nomination hearing questions may be found here:

Sometimes the questions that were posed to Ms. O'Sullivan were more interesting than the answers. Thus, in an oddly flattering formulation, the Senate Intelligence Committee observed that "The National Reconnaissance Office has historically attempted to deliver more program content that can be accomplished under the budgets requested by the President or appropriated by Congress. We understand that this problem is again arising in the fiscal year 2012 budget build now in progress."

A routine questionnaire for Presidential nominees asks whether the nominee has ever been arrested or charged with committing a crime. Ms. O'Sullivan noted that she was charged with trespassing in August 1989 for "being in a public park after closing." The charges were subsequently dropped.


Newly updated reports of interest from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

"Egypt: The January 25 Revolution and Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy," February 11, 2011:

"Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Set to Expire February 28, 2011," February 10, 2011 (a three month extension until May 27, 2011 was passed by Congress last week):

"Intelligence Identities Protection Act," January 28, 2011:

"Closing the Guantanamo Detention Center: Legal Issues," February 11, 2011:

"Nanotechnology and Environmental, Health, and Safety: Issues for Consideration," January 20, 2011:

"Foreign Aid: An Introduction to U.S. Programs and Policy," February 10, 2011:


Former Congressman Steve Horn (R-CA), who was a leading congressional proponent of the Freedom of Information Act and of public access to government information generally, died last week at age 79.

Rep. Horn was a primary sponsor, along with Sen. Patrick Leahy, of the Electronic Freedom of Information Act of 1996, which formally extended the provisions of the FOIA to electronic records. He led congressional efforts to oversee FOIA implementation and to address defects in agency compliance.

As chairman of a House Government Reform subcommittee with jurisdiction over FOIA, "What struck me then and now is the critical role that public access to Government information plays in our democracy," Horn said in 2002. "It is key to having an informed citizenry and to supplying our citizens with the knowledge they need to hold their Government accountable. Therefore, I have always been a strong advocate of the Act."

Rep. Horn "was outspoken against the abuse of secrecy by executive agencies and the willingness of many Congressional Committees to ignore their duties and allow such secrecy," recalled Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) after his retirement in 2002. "He forced the CIA and the Department of Defense to release documents so that Congress could effectively perform oversight."

In a rather modest gesture of respect, Congress named a post office after him in 2003 (the "Stephen Horn Post Office Building" at 2300 Redondo Avenue in Long Beach, California).

Horn's family invited donations in his name to the University Library, California State University, Long Beach, c/o CSULB Foundation, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90840.


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

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