from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2015, Issue No. 12
February 13, 2015

Secrecy News Blog:


The Director of National Intelligence last week issued a new directive on "critical information," also denominated "CRITIC," which refers to national security information of the utmost urgency.

"Critical information is information concerning possible threats to U.S. national security that are so significant that they require the immediate attention of the President and the National Security Council," the directive explains.

"Critical information includes the decisions, intentions, or actions of foreign governments, organizations, or individuals that could imminently and materially jeopardize vital U.S. policy, economic, information system, critical infrastructure, cyberspace, or military interests."

See "Critical Information (CRITIC)," Intelligence Community Directive 190, February 3, 2015.

Interestingly, any intelligence community official can designate information as "critical," thereby hotlining it for Presidential attention. "Critical information may originate with any U.S. government official in the IC," the DNI directive says.

Moreover, "CRITIC reporting may be based on either classified or unclassified information." However, "CRITIC reporting should be based solely on unclassified information only if that information is unlikely to be readily available to the President and the National Security Council."

The threshold for critical information is fairly high. It includes such things as a terrorist act against vital U.S. interests, the assassination or kidnapping of officials, a cyberspace attack that produces effects of national security significance, and so on.

Confusingly, the term critical information (CRITIC) is used differently in the Department of Defense.

According to the latest DoD Dictionary of Military Terms, "critical information" means "Specific facts about friendly intentions, capabilities, and activities needed by adversaries for them to plan and act effectively so as to guarantee failure or unacceptable consequences for friendly mission accomplishment. Also called CRITIC."


New reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has not made publicly available include the following.

Perspectives on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) "Torture Report" and Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: In Brief, February 10, 2015:

U.S. Sanctions on Russia: Economic Implications, February 4, 2015:

Alien Removals and Returns: Overview and Trends, February 3, 2015:

A Guide to Describing the Income Distribution, February 5, 2015:

The Measles: Background and Federal Role in Vaccine Policy, February 9, 2015:

Bee Health: The Role of Pesticides, February 9, 2015:

Newly updated versions of prior CRS reports that Congress has also withheld from online public distribution include these.

The United States and Europe: Current Issues, February 3, 2015:

Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations, February 11, 2015:

The Presidential Records Act: Background and Recent Issues for Congress, December 31, 2014:

Trafficking in Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean, February 11, 2015:

Monetary Policy and the Federal Reserve: Current Policy and Conditions, February 9, 2015:

Tailoring the Patent System for Specific Industries, February 6, 2015:

The Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI): Budget Authority and Request, FY2010-FY2016, February 6, 2015:

EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases: Congressional Responses and Options, February 5, 2015:

Evaluating the "Past Performance" of Federal Contractors: Legal Requirements and Issues, February 5, 2015:

The Target and Other Financial Data Breaches: Frequently Asked Questions, February 4, 2015:

Domestic Food Assistance: Summary of Programs, February 4, 2015:

Terminating Contracts for the Government's Convenience: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, February 3, 2015:

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR): Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, February 3, 2015:

Offender Reentry: Correctional Statistics, Reintegration into the Community, and Recidivism, January 12, 2015:

Crime and Forfeiture, January 22, 2015:


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

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