from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2011, Issue No. 103
November 3, 2011

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Last week, the Congressional Research Service issued a report about "The Arsenal Act," a peculiar and little-known law dating back to 1854 that authorizes the Secretary of the Army to "abolish any United States arsenal that he considers unnecessary." If you wanted to read that report you could purchase a copy for $29.95 from a commercial vendor. Or you could write to your Congressman to request that a copy be sent to you. Or you could simply read the report right now for free on the Federation of American Scientists web site.

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Earlier this week, we noted that it was increasingly unlikely that the budget for the National Intelligence Program (NIP) would be removed from concealment in the Defense Department budget and given its own budget line item, as the Director of National Intelligence and others had proposed.

Instead, the status quo is likely to persist, we wrote, because "Congress likes it that way." But this remark was too glib. The language we cited from the House version of the Defense Appropriations Act that would prohibit NIP separation has not been adopted in the Senate. Influential members of the Senate Intelligence Committee actually favor a separate NIP budget as a way to increase transparency and to provide the DNI with greater control of appropriated funds. So Congress is not of one mind on this question, and it has not completed action on the prohibition proposed in the House.

We also mistakenly credited the DNI with "voluntarily" disclosing the amount of the FY2012 NIP budget request in February of this year. But in fact, that disclosure was not voluntary. It was mandated by Congress in the FY2010 Intelligence Authorization Act (section 364).

While disclosure of the budget request for the National Intelligence Program is required by law, the disclosure of the budget request for the Military Intelligence Program (MIP) is not specifically required. Secrecy News asked the Pentagon to disclose it anyway. Officials said a response to that request would be forthcoming "sometime around January 1, 2012."


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

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