Posts from January, 2007

A Telephone Directory for the Office of the Vice President

The Office of the Vice President under Dick Cheney seems to cultivate secrecy as an end in itself, and not simply to protect national security or personal privacy. The OVP will not even confirm how many staff people work there, who they are, or much of anything else.

“Cheney’s office refuses to give any details to reporters,” observed Justin Rood in TPMmuckraker yesterday, noting further that the OVP “is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, so any such request would be futile.”

Similarly, a Cheney spokesman recently told reporter Laura Rozen, “If we have a personnel announcement we’d like you to know about, we’ll tell you.”

Some Americans still find this willful obscurity offensive to democratic principles, and TPMmuckraker summoned the blogosphere to help pierce the veil.

Secrecy News was able to contribute a 2004 telephone directory for the OVP (pdf), which is marked “for official use only,” naturally. Though it is no longer current — it still lists the departed Scooter Libby as assistant to the Vice President, for example — it provides a good sense of the size and structure of the OVP. It is posted here (with phone and fax numbers redacted by Secrecy News).

See further discussion of the matter on TPMmuckraker here and on The Carpet Bagger Report here.

More on State Secrets and the Hatfill Case

Attorneys for former government scientist Steven J. Hatfill, who is suing the New York Times for linking him to the 2001 anthrax attacks, filed a vigorous rebuttal (pdf) earlier this month against a Times argument that the “state secrets” doctrine should dictate dismissal of the lawsuit.

The Hatfill rebuttal was filed in sealed form on January 12. On the same day, however, the Court dismissed the case for unrelated reasons that have not yet been published.

In a December 12 motion, the New York Times had argued that classification restrictions imposed on government witnesses were equivalent to an assertion of the state secrets privilege and that the case should be dismissed on that basis, since the restrictions limited the Times’ ability to obtain the information needed for its defense.

That’s nonsense, said Dr. Hatfill’s attorneys.

“For one thing, a court may not even consider dismissal of a case on “state secret” grounds until after a department head of a government agency invokes that doctrine, something that has never occurred here,” they wrote.

“And the notion that the inability of The Times to obtain any of this imagined evidence should relieve The Times of the burden of defending itself based on what it actually knew when it ruined Dr. Hatfill’s life is nothing short of offensive.”

Since the case has now been dismissed, it is unlikely that the Court will resolve the dispute over the applicability of the “state secrets” doctrine. But the sealed opposition from Dr. Hatfill’s attorneys has just been released in redacted form.

Selected CRS Reports

Some noteworthy new reports of the Congressional Research Service that are not readily available to the public include the following, obtained by Secrecy News (all pdf).

“Congressional Restrictions on U.S. Military Operations in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Somalia, and Kosovo: Funding and Non-Funding Approaches,” January 16, 2007.

“Defense Contracting in Iraq: Issues and Options for Congress,” January 26, 2007.

“The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review: An Overview,” January 24, 2007.

“Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act, as Passed by the House of Representatives,” updated January 18, 2007.

“North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Development and Diplomacy,”
updated January 3, 2007.

“International Terrorism: Threat, Policy, and Response,” updated January 3, 2007.

“Protection of National Security Information,” updated December 26, 2006.

FY 2007 Intelligence Authorization Bill Advances

After two years without an annual intelligence authorization and more than three months into Fiscal Year 2007, the FY 2007 intelligence authorization bill (S. 372) has been reintroduced in the Senate and reported out of the Senate Intelligence Committee. See the January 24 Committee report here.

“This is a critically important piece of national security legislation, and the fact that our intelligence agencies have operated without authorizing legislation for two years represents an unfortunate failure of Congressional oversight,” wrote Senators Ron Wyden and Russ Feingold, who noted that they nevertheless had concerns about some of its provisions.

Among its positive features, the Senate bill would require disclosure of the amounts requested, authorized and appropriated for the National Intelligence Program (Section 107). It would further mandate consideration of disclosure of the agency budgets of each of the 16 elements of the intelligence community, as recommended by the 9-11 Commission.

Declassification of the intelligence budget is the sine qua non for establishing a sensible national security classification system.

Some other provisions of the Senate bill are controversial, and should require referral of the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further deliberation, argued Kate Martin and Brittany Benowitz of the Center for National Security Studies in a January 11, 2007 assessment.

The bill, they wrote, “would permit the Intelligence Community to access vast troves of personal information on Americans collected by the FBI or other agencies while limiting application of the Privacy Act to that information (section 310); it would limit application of the Privacy Act to records maintained by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (section 416); it would exempt enormous numbers of files of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from even the search and review requirements of the FOIA (section 411); [and] it would permit NSA and CIA protective personnel to make warrantless arrests for offenses not committed in their presence (section 424 and 432).”

Last week the bill was referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee for a ten-day period.

Special Forces Free Fall Operations

The safe performance of parachute entries into hostile territory by Special Forces personnel is addressed in a U.S. Army manual (large pdf).

Military free-fall (MFF) parachute operations “are used when enemy air defense systems, terrain restrictions, or politically sensitive environments prevent low altitude penetration or when mission needs require a clandestine insertion.”

“This field manual presents a series of concise, proven techniques and guidelines that are essential to safe, successful MFF operations.”

See “Special Forces Military Free-Fall Operations,” Field Manual FM 3-05.211, April 2005 (295 pages, 14 MB).

The unclassified Special Forces manual has not been approved for public release, but a copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

Before posting the document on the Federation of American Scientists web site, we turned to M, a friendly parachutist who is attuned to national security classification concerns, and asked whether there was any reason not to do so.

“I reviewed the manual carefully and consulted with a couple of people and I didn’t see anything that would suggest that any portion of the report requires special protection,” he said.

Army Civil Affairs Operations

“Civil Affairs” has recently been elevated to a branch of the U.S. Army by order of Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey on January 12, 2007.

The role of civil affairs is to support “the interaction of military forces with the civilian populace [in or around the battlefield] to facilitate military operations and consolidate operational objectives.”

According to an Army manual on civil affairs operations (pdf), “A supportive civilian population can provide resources and information that facilitate friendly operations. It can also provide a positive climate for the military and diplomatic activity a nation pursues to achieve foreign policy objectives.”

Conversely, “A hostile civilian population threatens the immediate operations of deployed friendly forces and can often undermine public support at home for the policy objectives of the United States and its allies. When executed properly, civil-military operations can reduce friction between the civilian population and the military force.”

The Army manual has not been approved for public release, but a copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See “Civil Affairs Operations,” U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-05.40, September 2006 (184 pages, 4 MB PDF).

Various Resources

In the latest ruling (pdf) in the prosecution of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for allegedly mishandling classified information, Judge T.S. Ellis III said that press leaks regarding the case did not constitute a violation of court rules because the leaks apparently derived from law enforcement sources and not from a sealed grand jury proceeding. On January 26, he rejected a defense motion for a hearing on the leaks.

Legal aspects of the conflicts between freedom of the press and national security secrecy are freshly examined in a study by University of Chicago Professor Geoffrey R. Stone and colleagues for the First Amendment Center. See “Government Secrecy vs. Freedom of the Press” (pdf), December 2006.

And some recent scraps from the Congressional Research Service include “Unmanned Vehicles for U.S. Naval Forces: Background and Issues for Congress” (pdf), updated October 25, 2006, and “Privatization and the Federal Government: An Introduction” (pdf), December 28, 2006.

Army Seeks to Catalyze Open Source Intelligence

A new U.S. Army Field Manual is intended to advance the development and use of open source intelligence (OSINT), which is intelligence that is derived from publicly available data legally obtained.

“The value of publicly available information as a source of intelligence has… often been overlooked in Army intelligence operations. This manual (pdf) provides a catalyst for renewing the Army’s awareness of the value of open sources; establishing a common understanding of OSINT; and developing systematic approaches to collection, processing, and analysis of publicly available information.”

The growing military appreciation of open source intelligence arises from the ever-increasing quality of public sources and the evident limitations of traditional classified approaches.

“Open source research is the most effective means of retrieving authoritative and detailed information on the terrain, weather, and civil considerations as well as external variables that affect or influence the operational environment,” the manual states.

Yet “our reliance on classified databases… has… often left our soldiers uninformed and ill-prepared to capitalize on the huge reservoir of unclassified information available from open sources.”

OSINT is naturally not the solution to all problems or without limitations of its own, the manual says.

“More than any other intelligence discipline, the OSINT discipline could unintentionally provide indicators of US military operations [to hostile observers].”

Furthermore, “Deception and bias are of particular concern in OSINT operations. Unlike other disciplines, OSINT operations do not normally collect information by direct observation of activities and conditions within the area of interest.”

Characteristically, perhaps, the new Army manual on OSINT is marked “for official use only” and it has not been approved for public release. As such, it would not have qualified as an “open source.” Until now.

A copy of the manual was obtained by Secrecy News and posted on the Federation of American Scientists web site.

See “Open Source Intelligence,” U.S. Army Field Manual Interim FMI 2-22.9, December 2006 (161 pages, 2 MB PDF).

The management of open source intelligence activities across the U.S. intelligence community was addressed in a July 2006 Intelligence Community Directive (ICD 301) on the National Open Source Enterprise (pdf).

Some New Intelligence Community Directives

Several recent Intelligence Community Directives (ICDs) were released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on January 22 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Federation of American Scientists.

Though mostly dry and uninformative, they are nevertheless important as expressions of bureaucratic definition and control.

The newly released directives include (all pdf):

ICD 105, “Acquisition,” August 15, 2006

ICD 300, “Management, Integration, and Oversight of Intelligence Collection and Covert Action,” October 3, 2006

ICD 602, “Human Capital — Intelligence Community Critical Pay Positions,” August 16, 2006

ICD 900, “Mission Management,”December 21, 2006

These and other publicly disclosed Intelligence Community Directives are available here.

Special Forces Use of Pack Animals

U.S. special operations forces typically make use of some of the most sophisticated military and intelligence gear available. But sometimes a “no tech” solution is the right one.

So, for example, Special Forces “may find themselves involved in operations in rural or remote environments… using pack animals,” including horses, donkeys and mules.

“Pack animal operations are ideally suited for, but not limited to, conducting various missions in high mountain terrain, deserts, and dense jungle terrain.”

An Army Special Forces manual (large pdf) provides instruction and doctrinal guidance for using pack animals in training and combat missions.

“This manual provides the techniques of animal pack transport and for organizing and operating pack animal units. It captures some of the expertise and techniques that have been lost in the United States Army over the last 50 years.”

The 225 page manual provides a basic introduction to the characteristics of each of the various pack animals, some rudiments of veterinary care, and miscellaneous lore.

“Mules are intelligent and possess a strong sense of self-preservation. A packer cannot make a mule do something if the mule thinks it will get hurt, no matter how much persuasion is used…. many people confuse this trait with stubbornness.” (p. 2-1)

“Elephants are considered an endangered species and as such should not be used by U.S. military personnel… Elephants are not the easygoing, kind, loving creatures that people believe them to be. They are, of course, not evil either.” (p. 10-8)

The Special Forces manual has not been approved for public release, but a copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See “Special Forces Use of Pack Animals,” Field Manual FM 3-05.213, June 2004 (in a very large 16.5 MB PDF file).