from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2019, Issue No. 40
October 24, 2019

Secrecy News Blog:


The Department of the Treasury blocked one transaction by a foreign person or entity who was engaged in malicious cyber activities earlier this year, using the national emergency powers that are available pursuant to a 2015 executive order.

But the value of the intercepted transaction was only $0.04, the Department said in a new report to Congress.

No other transactions were blocked by the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) during the reporting period from March 15 to September 8 of this year, according to the Department's latest report. See Periodic Report on the National Emergency With Respect to Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities, October 3.

Meanwhile, the cost of implementing the national emergency on malicious cyber activities was approximately $770,000 during the latest six-month period, the same report said.

Is this normal? Should Americans be concerned about the stark disparity between the amount of government expenditures and the reported proceeds? The Department of the Treasury did not respond to our inquiry on the subject yesterday.

Background on OFAC's Cyber-Related Sanctions Program can be found here:


A bill introduced by Senator Ron Wyden would require the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence to declassify "any and all information" regarding actions by the government of Saudi Arabia to assist Saudi nationals who are accused of crimes in the United States to flee the country.

As Senator Wyden explained last week, the bill was prompted by multiple cases -- 19 over the past 7 years, according to The Oregonian newspaper -- in which Saudi nationals who were awaiting trial on charges such as manslaughter and sexual assault were able to flee the U.S. and escape trial.

The bill is categorical in its requirements. It does not "ask" for declassification. It does not call for "declassification review" or allow for any exercise of discretion. It does not mention any possible exceptions to declassification for intelligence sources and methods, foreign government information, or other national security-related material. None of that.

Instead, it quite simply states: the FBI and the DNI "shall declassify any and all information" related to the possible role of the Saudi government in this matter.

The bill, known as the Saudi Fugitive Declassification Act (S. 2635), was passed by the full Senate on October 17 and now awaits consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.


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

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