from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2019, Issue No. 1
January 7, 2019

Secrecy News Blog:


The recurring dispute over the appropriate degree of secrecy in the Department of Defense arose in a new form last week when President Trump said that certain audits and investigations that are performed by the DoD Inspector General should no longer be made public.

"We're fighting wars, and they're doing reports and releasing it to the public? Now, the public means the enemy," the President said at a January 2 cabinet meeting. "The enemy reads those reports; they study every line of it. Those reports should be private reports. Let him do a report, but they should be private reports and be locked up."

It is not clear what the President had in mind. Did he have reason to think that US military operations had been damaged by publication of Inspector General reports? Was he now directing the Secretary of Defense to classify such reports, regardless of their specific contents? Was he suggesting the need for a new exemption from the Freedom of Information Act to prevent their disclosure?

Or was this simply an expression of presidential pique with no practical consequence? Thus far, there has been no sign of any change to DoD publication policy in response to the President's remarks.

Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Smith, the incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, reiterated his view to the contrary that the Pentagon needs to be more forthcoming with information, not less.

"As Chairman, I will work with my colleagues to promote transparency and Congressional oversight, enhance military readiness, combat inefficiency and waste at DOD, advance green technology in defense and address the threat climate change poses to our national security, fight for an inclusive military, and move towards a responsible approach to nuclear weapons," he said on January 4. (And, he wrote earlier, "Constant misinformation from the president is a real problem in a democratic society.")

There are indications that some Pentagon officials may be receptive to Chairman Smith's concerns.

After reporters complained about the growing use of "For Official Use Only" markings to restrict access to information, Under Secretary of Defense (acquisition and sustainment) Ellen Lord responded that "I understand the need, the requirement" for transparency, "and I will put out guidance to make everything open to the public to the degree we can." See "Pentagon's Chief Weapons Buyer Promises Less Secrecy in Reports" by Anthony Capaccio, Bloomberg, January 4.

While secrecy in the Department of Defense has increased noticeably in the Trump Administration, the Pentagon remains an astonishingly prolific publisher of military information, issuing dozens or hundreds of directives, manuals, reports and other publications each day. Most are the product of routine bureaucratic churning, and are of little if any significance, but some have broader interest or appeal. Here are a few that caught our eye.

Techniques for Visual Information Operations, ATP 6-02.40, US Army, January 3, 2019:

Military Diving Operations: Multi-Service Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, January 2, 2019:

DoD support to non-contiguous States and territories in response to disasters, threats, and emergencies, report to Congress, n.d. (Nov. 2018):

The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028, TRADOC Pamphlet 525-3-1, 6 December 2018:

DoD Scientific and Technical Information Program (STIP), DoD Instruction 3200.12, August 22, 2013, Incorporating Change 3, Effective December 17, 2018:

The latter document directs that "DoD will maximize the free flow of scientific and engineering information developed by or for DoD to the public."


"The President does not need the concurrence of either his military advisors or the U.S. Congress to order the launch of nuclear weapons," the Congressional Research Service reminded readers last month in an updated "defense primer" on "Command and Control of Nuclear Forces."

The CRS defense primer series consists of two-page introductions to a variety of basic military and intelligence topics. The primers do not generally present information that is altogether new to specialists, but they are a convenient way to increase national security literacy among non-specialist members of Congress and the public.

Recently updated items in the series include the following.

Defense Primer: Commanding U.S. Military Operations, CRS In Focus, updated December 20, 2018:

Defense Primer: Intelligence Support to Military Operations, CRS In Focus, updated December 20, 2018:

Defense Primer: U.S. Defense Industrial Base, CRS In Focus, updated December 20, 2018:

Defense Primer: Procurement, CRS In Focus, updated December 20, 2018:

Defense Primer: Information Operations, CRS In Focus, updated December 18, 2018:

Defense Primer: Cyberspace Operations, CRS In Focus, updated December 18, 2018:

Defense Primer: President's Constitutional Authority with Regard to the Armed Forces, CRS In Focus, updated December 17, 2018:


Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

The Special Counsel Investigation After the Attorney General's Resignation, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 2, 2019:

Government Expenditures on Defense Research and Development by the United States and Other OECD Countries: Fact Sheet, updated December 19, 2018:

Executive Branch Ethics and Financial Conflicts of Interest: Disclosure, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 2, 2019:

DHS's Cybersecurity Mission--An Overview, CRS In Focus, updated December 19, 2018:

New U.S. Policy Regarding Nuclear Exports to China, CRS In Focus, December 17, 2018:

Congress's Authority to Influence and Control Executive Branch Agencies, updated December 19, 2018:


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: