Posts from April, 2007

And More from CRS

Some new or newly updated products of the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include the following (all pdf).

“National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations: Legal Background and Recent Amendments,” updated March 20, 2007.

“Navy Force Structure: Alternative Force Structure Studies of 2005 — Background for Congress,” April 9, 2007.

“Enemy Combatant Detainees: Habeas Corpus Challenges in Federal Court,” updated April 6, 2007.

“Opening of the International Tracing Service’s Holocaust-Era Archives in Bad Arolsen, Germany,” April 5, 2007.

New DoD Instructions

The Department of Defense has issued several noteworthy new policy Instructions on intelligence and national security matters, including the following (all pdf).

“Joint Reserve Intelligence Program (JRIP),” DoD Instruction 3305.07, March 27, 2007.

“DoD Counterintelligence (CI) Training,” DoD Instruction 3305.11, March 19, 2007.

“Minimum Security Standards for Safeguarding Chemical Agents,” DoD Instruction 5210.65, March 12, 2007.

Pending Intelligence Legislation

“Today, following over a year of coordinated effort among the Intelligence Community and the Department of Justice a bill is being submitted to Congress to request long overdue changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” according to an April 13 fact sheet (pdf) on the proposed changes issued by the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The text of the proposed legislative changes to FISA, with a section by section analysis, may be obtained here (pdf).

“If S. 372 [the FY 2007 Intelligence Authorization bill pending in the Senate] were presented to the President, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill,” according to an April 12 Statement of Administration Policy (pdf). Among the bill’s intolerable provisions, the Statement said, are the fact that it would require public disclosure of the annual intelligence budget total.

Visual Aircraft Recognition Revisited

When Secrecy News gained unauthorized access to a restricted U.S. Army manual on visual identification of U.S. and foreign aircraft, we supposed that it was just one more case of unnecessary and inappropriate secrecy.

But it turns out to be something worse than that, since the document (pdf) contains a surprising number of technical errors.

The dimensions given in the Army manual for the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle are wrong, the Entropic Memes blog astutely noted. And the entry for the B-52, among others, is likewise incorrect.

“Please,” Entropic Memes exclaimed. “If they can’t get the details of one of their own systems correct, how much faith can you have that they got the details of anyone else’s systems right?”

In this case, the secrecy of the Army manual was not just an arbitrary barrier to public access. It also “protected” numerous errors that may make the document worse than useless.

Conversely, exposing the document to public scrutiny may now make it possible to correct its errors so as to fulfill its intended purpose.

Since it was posted on the Federation of American Scientists website 48 hours ago, the Visual Aircraft Recognition manual has been downloaded over seventy thousand times, an exceptionally high rate of access.

Update: “This is not a subject I’ve so far spent a lot of time on, but the entry for every aircraft I’ve looked up in the manual thus far contains errors,” adds Entropic Memes in a new post.

Visual Aircraft Recognition (FOUO)

More than 160 U.S. and foreign military aircraft are catalogued in a U.S. Army manual (large pdf) which describes their distinctive physical characteristics in order to permit visual identification of the aircraft in flight.

The manual is nominally a restricted document, marked “for official use only,” and it has not been approved for public release. But a copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

Proper identification of aircraft is obviously a matter of military significance.

Incorrectly identifying a friendly aircraft (such as an F-15 Eagle) as an enemy aircraft (such as a MiG-29 Fulcrum) in wartime “could cause fratricide,” meaning the destruction of friendly aircraft, the manual states.

Conversely, incorrectly identifying an enemy aircraft (a Su-24 Fencer) as a friendly one (such as a Tornado) “might allow a hostile aircraft entry into, or safe passage through, the defended area.”

On the other hand, mistaking one type of hostile aircraft (a Su-17 Fitter) for another type of hostile aircraft (a MiG-21 Fishbed) would generally have “no impact” — except “if friendly countries were flying some aircraft types that are normally considered hostile.”

Likewise, mistaking one type of friendly aircraft (an F-4 Phantom) for another (an A-4 Skyhawk) would normally not be a great problem unless “a hostile country was using an aircraft type that is normally considered friendly.”

The manual covers both well-known and relatively obscure systems, but does not include classified aircraft.

Although an earlier edition of the manual was published without access restrictions, the current edition (2006) was not approved for public release.

But as the government imposes publication restrictions on an ever larger set of records, the control system seems to be breaking down at the margins, permitting unauthorized access with increasing frequency.

In this case, contrary to the restriction notice on the title page, the document does not reveal sensitive “technical or operational information,” in Secrecy News’ estimation.

See “Visual Aircraft Recognition,” U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-01.80, January 2006 (413 pages in a very large 28 MB PDF file).

Update: Entropic Memes points out that there is reason to doubt the accuracy of some of the data in the manual.

CIA Personnel Regulations Disclosed

The Central Intelligence Agency has released three of its internal personnel regulations in redacted form as part of a defense against charges that it improperly dismissed a former undercover contract employee.

A 2002 regulation signed by then-DCI George Tenet established the CIA Personnel Evaluation Board (pdf), which is “the primary mechanism for reviewing employee suitability and security cases that may result in the imposition of serious discipline, termination of employment, or revocation of security clearances.”

The “circumstances under which Agency employment may be terminated” are described in another 2002 regulation (pdf).

The role of “contract employees” — which are not the same as “contractors” — is described in a third redacted CIA regulation (pdf).

The regulations were disclosed by CIA in response to a lawsuit filed by “Peter B.” (pdf), a covert contract employee who alleged that he was wrongly terminated and was subjected to unlawful retaliation by the CIA.

The CIA replied (pdf) that the CIA Director “has discretion to terminate a person employed by the CIA for any reason and the decision is not subject to review.”

The newly disclosed CIA personnel regulations were characterized in a declaration (pdf) by CIA information review officer Linda Dove.

In Memoriam: Paul Leventhal, John W. Leonard

Almost every day brings forceful reminders of the transience of all human endeavors, challenging us to consider our own mortality and to act with compassion, if we can.

Paul Leventhal, a tireless advocate for the cause of nuclear non-proliferation, died this week of cancer. As president of the public interest Nuclear Control Institute, he was a relentless critic of nuclear policy, a font of new ideas, and a mentor to a generation of younger activists. He is remembered here.

John William Leonard, who also died this week at age 30, was the son of Bill Leonard, the respected director of the Information Security Oversight Office. “He was more than a good son, he was a good man,” said an obituary notice in the Washington Post today (4/11/07, page B8). The notice stated that charitable contributions may be made to the John William Leonard Memorial Fund, c/o Bank of America, 28250 Three Notch Road, Mechanicsville, MD 20659.

Army Sees Gap in Jurisdiction Over Military Contractors

Contractors accompanying U.S. military forces in Iraq or elsewhere who commit crimes may be beyond the reach of law enforcement, a recent Army publication warns (pdf), because the Defense Department has not yet updated its regulations to conform to a Congressional mandate, resulting in a “gap” in legal jurisdiction.

“In November 2006, Congress expanded UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] authority over contractor personnel authorized to accompany the force. However, as of February 2007, DOD has provided no implementation guidance for this change in law.”

See “Contractors Accompanying the Force – Training Support Package” (pdf), 12 March 2007 (at page 31).

As of mid-March, there was still no such implementation guidance.

“The liability and accountability of contractor personnel in most cases is already provided for in U.S. law, international agreements, conventions, treaties, and Status of Forces Agreements,” another Army document explains (pdf, at page 26).

“However, in some cases a gap may emerge where the contractor personnel are not subject to the UCMJ (only in time of declared war) and the contractor commits an offense in an area that is not subject to the jurisdiction of an allied government (for example, an offense committed in enemy territory).”

“In such cases, the contractor’s crime may go unpunished unless other federal laws, such as the military extraterritorial jurisdiction act (MEJA) or the war crimes act (WCA) apply, or the contractor is otherwise subject to the UCMJ (for example, a military retiree).”

1967 Hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Declassified transcripts of dozens of closed hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1967 have now been published.

The hearings feature testimony by Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms and other Johnson Administration officials on Soviet nuclear weapons policy, anti-ballistic missiles, Vietnam, the Middle East, and other topics of contemporary concern.

See “Executive Sessions of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Together with Joint Sessions with the Senate Armed Services Committee (Historical Series),” Volume XIX, 1967, made public in 2007.

Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq, and More from CRS

“The humanitarian crisis many feared would take place in March 2003 as a result of the war in Iraq appears to be unfolding,” says a new report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service.

“It is estimated that in total (including those displaced prior to the war) there may be two million Iraqi refugees who have fled to Jordan, Syria, and other neighboring states, and approximately two million Iraqis who have been displaced within Iraq itself.” See “Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: A Deepening Humanitarian Crisis?,” March 23, 2007.

Another Congressional Research Service report provides a detailed examination of the pending defense supplemental appropriations bills, which include congressional direction on redeployment or withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. See “FY2007 Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Other Purposes” (pdf), updated March 28, 2007.

Other recent CRS products which have not been made readily available to the public include the following (all pdf).

“V-22 Osprey Tilt-Rotor Aircraft,” updated March 13, 2007.

“U.S. Assistance to the Former Soviet Union,” updated March 1, 2007.

“Nuclear Power: Outlook for New U.S. Reactors,” updated March 9, 2007.

“Military Medical Care: Questions and Answers,” updated March 7, 2007.

“Military Construction, Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs: FY2007 Appropriations,” updated March 6, 2007.

“U.S. International HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Spending: FY2004-FY2008,” updated March 6, 2007.