Posts from January, 2007

Even More from CRS

Some noteworthy, newly updated products of the Congressional Research Service that are not readily available in the public domain include the following (all pdf).

“Congressional Oversight Manual,” updated January 3, 2007.

“Paperwork Reduction Act Reauthorization and Government Information Management Issues,” updated January 4, 2007.

“Nuclear Arms Control: The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty,” updated January 3, 2007.

“Proliferation Control Regimes: Background and Status,” updated December 26, 2006.

Report: Militarization of U.S. Embassies Arouses Suspicion

The growing military presence at U.S. embassies abroad is arousing suspicion among some foreign officials and producing friction between civilian foreign service officers and military personnel, according to a new staff report from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“There is evidence that some host countries are questioning the increasingly military component of America’s profile overseas,” the report found. “Some foreign officials question what appears to them as a new emphasis by the United States on military approaches to problems that are not seen as lending themselves to military solutions.”

“For the most part, ambassadors welcome the additional resources that the military brings and they see strong military-to-military ties as an important ingredient in a strong bilateral relationship. Nonetheless, State and USAID personnel often question the purposes, quantity, and quality of the expanded military activities in-country.”

“One ambassador lamented that his effectiveness in representing the United States to foreign officials was beginning to wane, as more resources are directed to special operations forces and intelligence. Foreign officials are ‘following the money’ in terms of determining which relationships to emphasize, he reported.”

“Left unclear, blurred lines of authority between the State Department and the Defense Department could lead to interagency turf wars that undermine the effectiveness of the overall U.S. effort against terrorism. It is in the embassies rather than in Washington where interagency differences on strategies, tactics and divisions of labor are increasingly adjudicated.”

See “Embassies as Command Posts in the Anti-Terror Campaign,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report, December 15, 2006.

Update: Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times reported on the Committee report on December 20, and it was discussed the same day in WhirledView.

New Legislation and Congressional Publications

A recent Presidential signing statement on the Postal Reform Act “has resulted in considerable confusion and widespread concern about the President’s commitment to abide by the basic privacy protections afforded sealed domestic mail,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). “For some, it raised the specter of the Government unlawfully monitoring our mail in the name of national security.”

To mitigate such concerns, Senator Collins yesterday introduced a proposed resolution to “reaffirm the fundamental constitutional and statutory protections accorded sealed domestic mail.”

The Federal Agency Data Mining Reporting Act of 2007 was introduced by Senators Russ Feingold (D-Wisc) and John Sununu (R-NH) to require agencies to report to Congress on their data mining activities.

The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded its review of the ABLE DANGER program with a letter report (pdf) finding that, contrary to claims advanced by former Rep. Curt Weldon and others, the program “never produced a chart with Mohammed Atta’s photograph or name prior to the 9/11 attacks.”

There are still “unanswered questions” about former national security advisor Samuel R. Berger’s unauthorized removal of classified records from the National Archives, according to a House Government Oversight Committee minority staff report. See “Sandy Berger’s Theft of Classified Documents: Unanswered Questions” (pdf), January 9, 2007.

“Catching Terrorists: The British System versus the U.S. System” was the subject of a September 14, 2006 hearing of a Senate Appropriations Committee subcommittee hearing.

NRO Budget Book for FY 2006 (Redacted)

A redacted version of the National Reconnaissance Office Congressional Budget Justification Book for Fiscal Year 2006 was released to the Federation of American Scientists last week in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and in compliance with a court order. The more intelligible portions of the document are now posted here (pdf).

Jargon-heavy and formulaic, the redacted volume will nevertheless be of interest to close students of the NRO.

“The NRO develops and operates unique and innovative space reconnaissance systems and conducts intelligence related activities essential for U.S. national security.”

DoD Doctrine on Recovering Captured Military Personnel

The recovery of American personnel who are lost or captured in the course of military operations abroad is the subject of a new Department of Defense doctrinal publication (pdf).

“The President of the United States can choose to exercise military, diplomatic, or civil options, or a combination thereof, to recover isolated personnel” and each of these options has been utilized over the past two decades, the report notes.

The practices and procedures for locating missing personnel and for planning and executing their recovery are discussed. See “Personnel Recovery,” Joint Publication 3-50, January 5, 2007 (283 pages, 2.5 MB PDF).

More from CRS

Some recent products of the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News and not readily available in the public domain include the following (all pdf).

“Maritime Security: Potential Terrorist Attacks and Protection Priorities,” January 9, 2007.

“The Protection of Classified Information: The Legal Framework,” updated December 21, 2006.

“Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004: ‘Lone Wolf’ Amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” updated December 19, 2006.

Automatic Declassification: Did Anything Happen?

The December 31, 2006 deadline for automatic declassification of historically valuable 25 year old classified records has come and gone. Was anything automatically declassified?

Yes, said Bill Leonard, director of the Information Security Oversight Office.

“Hundreds of millions of pages of records were automatically declassified at the FBI alone,” he said yesterday. Numerous other records were also declassified at some other executive branch agencies.

But he stressed that automatic declassification did not mean disclosure or immediate availability.

Declassified documents may still need to be reviewed for exempt material other than classified information (such as privacy data), and will need to be processed for public access.

Even so, public access to the records should be expedited by the elimination of a classification review requirement, Mr. Leonard said. And the deadline will continue to take new effect as more documents become 25 years old with each passing year.

NRO Releases Unclassified Budget Document

In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the National Reconnaissance Office last week released to the Federation of American Scientists the unclassified portions of the NRO Congressional Budget Justification Book for Fiscal Year 2006.

“You have joined a very exclusive club of people who not only win FOIA cases but actually get some documents as a result,” wrote Harry Hammitt, editor of the newsletter Access Reports.

The two-volume, 582-page document was almost entirely blacked out on national security classification grounds. But a few substantive narrative portions were released (and will be posted once our scanner is fixed).

Perhaps more important, the lawsuit successfully countered the claim that such records can be excluded from FOIA processing by designating them as “operational files.”

See “Watchdog wins release of National Reconnaissance Office documents” by Daniel Friedman, Federal Times, January 9.

New Bills in Congress

Several noteworthy pieces of legislation on intelligence and national security have already been introduced (or in some cases re-introduced) in the new Congress, including these.

A Resolution to Enhance Intelligence Oversight (H.Res. 35) by Rep. Obey, January 5.

Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007 (H.R. 1), January 5.

NSA Oversight Act (pdf) (H.R. 11), introduced by Reps. Schiff and Flake, January 4.

Introduction of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Oversight and Resource Enhancement Act (S. 187) by Sen. Specter, January 4.

Introduction of the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 (S. 185), by Sens. Specter and Leahy, January 4.

Introduction of the Intelligence Community Audit Act of 2007 (S.82), by Sen. Akaka, January 4.