from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2012, Issue No. 47
May 21, 2012

Secrecy News Blog:


In a directive issued last week, Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh established a new Army Special Programs Directorate (ASPD) to administer and oversee special access programs and other "sensitive activities" conducted by the Army.

"I expect all Army commands, organizations and personnel to be proactive in affording the ASPD and the other members of my sensitive activities oversight team... unfettered and continuing access to any and all information and operational data they deem necessary to accomplish their oversight missions and functions," Secretary McHugh wrote in the May 14 Army directive 2012-10.

The new Directorate is the successor organization to the former Technology Management Office, which performed many of the same functions.

The definition of "sensitive activities" in Army Regulation 380-381 includes: "programs that restrict personnel access [...]; sensitive support to other Federal agencies; clandestine or covert operational or intelligence activities; sensitive research, development, acquisition, or contracting activities; special activities; and other activities excluded from normal staff review and oversight because of restrictions on access to information."

The Army regulation indicates that special access programs (SAPs), which are a subset of sensitive activities, may be used to restrict access to "a specific technology with potential for weaponization that gives the United States a significant technical lead or tactical advantage over potential adversaries"; "extremely sensitive activities conducted in support of national foreign policy objectives abroad, which are planned and executed so that the role of the U.S. Government is not apparent or acknowledged publicly"; "methods used to acquire foreign technology or equipment"; among other potential categories.

"SAPs are not programs or activities planned and executed with the intent to influence U.S. political processes, public opinion, policies, or media," the 2004 Army regulation states.

Secretary McHugh stressed that he retained authority and responsibility for the Army's special programs.

"I reserve the authority to review and take action on matters relating to our Army's conduct of, or support of, the most sensitive or unusual activities," he wrote to Army commanders and senior officials in his directive last week. "I expect you to exercise your judgment as to those activities that should be forwarded for my approval even when you typically exercise approval authority for sensitive, but otherwise routine activities."


The House of Representatives last week adopted an amendment to require the Attorney General to conduct a criminal investigation into "leaks of sensitive information involving the military, intelligence, and operational capabilities of the United States and Israel."

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who sponsored the amendment to the FY2013 defense authorization act, cited stories based on leaks concerning a potential Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities that were published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Foreign Policy.

"Our amendment calls for the Attorney General to investigate these leaks and bring those responsible to justice," Rep. Price said. "Trust and cooperation are vital to securing a strong alliance and a future of peace."

No one spoke in opposition to the amendment, which was approved May 18 by a vote of 379-38.


New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has instructed CRS not to release to the public include the following.

Proliferation of Precision Strike: Issues for Congress, May 14, 2012:

By one official reckoning, there were 35 terrorist incidents in the United States between 2004 and 2011. See The Domestic Terrorist Threat: Background and Issues for Congress, May 15, 2012:

It costs $179,750 per hour to operate Air Force One, the President's official aircraft, according to the latest cost data from the Air Force. See Presidential Travel: Policy and Costs, May 17, 2012:

How FDA Approves Drugs and Regulates Their Safety and Effectiveness, May 18, 2012:

Submission of the President's Budget in Transition Years, May 17, 2012:

Canadian oil sands are 14-20% more greenhouse-gas-intensive than the crude oil they would replace in U.S. refineries. The effect of the Keystone XL pipeline would be to increase the U.S. greenhouse gas footprint by 3-21 million metric tons, equal to the greenhouse emissions from 588,000 to 4 million passenger vehicles. See Canadian Oil Sands: Life-Cycle Assessments of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, May 15, 2012:

Discretionary Spending in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), May 18, 2012:

Economic Recovery: Sustaining U.S. Economic Growth in a Post-Crisis Economy, May 17, 2012:

Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP): Implementation and Status, May 18, 2012:

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria: Issues for Congress and U.S. Contributions from FY2001 to FY2013, May 15, 2012:

Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990, May 17, 2012:


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

The Secrecy News blog is at:

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, go to:


OR email your request to

Secrecy News is archived at:

SUPPORT the FAS Project on Government Secrecy with a donation here: