from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2013, Issue No. 43
May 1, 2013

Secrecy News Blog:


The process of declassifying national security records, which is hardly expeditious under the best of circumstances, will become slower as a result of the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration.

Due to sequestration, "NARA has reduced funding dedicated to the declassification of Presidential records," the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) said in a report last week.

"Instead, NARA staff will prepare documents for declassification, in addition to their existing duties. This will slow declassification processes and delay other work, including FOIA responses and special access requests," said the new report, which also identified several other adverse effects of the across-the-board cuts.

Meanwhile, because of the basic asymmetry between classification and declassification, there is no particular reason to expect a corresponding reduction in the rate at which new records are classified.

Classification is an integral part of the production of new national security information that cannot be deferred, while declassification is a distinct process that can easily be put on hold. Likewise, there is no dedicated budget for "classification" to cut in the way that NARA has cut declassification spending. And while Congress has erected barriers to declassification (such as the Kyl-Lott Amendment to prohibit automatic declassification of records without review), it has simultaneously allowed declassification requirements to go overlooked and unenforced.

Some declassification is actually mandated by law. A 1991 statute on the Foreign Relations of the United States series requires the Department of State to publish a "thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of major United States foreign policy decisions" no later than 30 years after the fact, necessitating the timely declassification of the underlying records. But law or no law, the government has not complied with this publication schedule.


A new report from the Congressional Research Service assesses the economic state of post-revolution Egypt and finds it fairly grim.

"After more than two years of social unrest and economic stagnation following the 2011 popular uprising, the government of Egypt is facing serious economic pressures that, if not remedied, could lead to economic collapse and possibly new levels of violence," the report says.

"Egyptian authorities and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been in negotiations for more than two years over an IMF loan to Egypt in exchange for policy reforms that, if successful, could stave off economic collapse and create more 'inclusive' growth.... [but] No agreement has been finalized or implemented to date. Egyptian authorities have been reluctant to commit to economic reforms that may be politically unpopular and increase the country's debt."

Background on the negotiations and on U.S. aid to Egypt are presented in Egypt and the IMF: Overview and Issues for Congress, April 29, 2013:

Some other CRS reports on Middle Eastern countries that have been recently updated include the following.

Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights, April 26, 2013:

Iran Sanctions, April 24, 2013:

U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, April 11, 2013:

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses, April 4, 2013:

Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations, April 1, 2013:


The international agreements that constitute the infrastructure of international trade and investment are spotlighted in an informative new report from the Congressional Research Service.

"In the absence of an overarching multilateral framework on investment, bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and investment chapters in free trade agreements (FTAs), collectively referred to as 'international investment agreements,' have emerged as the primary mechanism for promoting a rules-based system for international investment," the new report explains.

"Presently, there are over 3,000 BITs globally. The United States has concluded 47 BITs, 41 of which have entered into force." These treaties were tabulated by CRS and presented along with other little-known data on the subject in U.S. International Investment Agreements: Issues for Congress, April 29, 2013:

Other new or newly updated CRS reports obtained by Secrecy News include the following.

Mountaintop Mining: Background on Current Controversies, April 29, 2013:

National Park System: Establishing New Units, April 25, 2013:

The Administrative Process by Which Groups May Be Acknowledged as Indian Tribes by the Department of the Interior, April 26, 2013:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Reform: An Overview of Proposals to Reduce the Growth in SSDI Rolls, April 29, 2013:

Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues, April 26, 2013:


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

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