Posts from July, 2007

Clinton Campaign Urges Publication of All Agency Budgets

Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has put forward an agenda to increase transparency in government that includes “publishing budgets for every government agency.”

This appears to be a roundabout way of endorsing disclosure of intelligence agency budgets, since the budgets of all other agencies are already published.

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment or elaboration on the proposal.

Intelligence budget secrecy is perhaps the preeminent and most enduring example of overclassification, i.e. classification that is not justified by a valid national security concern.

A proposal to declassify the aggregate figure for the National Intelligence Program, comprised of over a dozen individual agency intelligence budgets, is pending in the Senate version of the FY 2008 Intelligence Authorization Act (S. 1538 [pdf]).

The 9/11 Commission went further and said “the overall amounts of money being appropriated for national intelligence and to its component agencies should no longer be kept secret.” (Final Report, p. 416).

The Clinton campaign appears to have adopted this bipartisan Commission recommendation for release of component agency budget information. The Bush Administration opposes any disclosure (pdf) of any intelligence budget data, even the aggregate figure.

CRS Reports on the Middle East

Recent reports of the Congressional Research Service on Middle East-related topics, obtained by Secrecy News without CRS authorization, include the following.

“U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background, Recent Trends, and the FY2008 Request,” updated July 3, 2007.

“Libya: Background and U.S. Relations,” updated June 19, 2007.

“U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” updated April 25, 2007.

“Lebanon,” updated July 11, 2007.

“The Iran Sanctions Act (ISA),” updated July 9, 2007.

“Iran’s Influence in Iraq,” updated July 9, 2007.

CRS Reports on Various Topics

More publicly unreleased reports from the Congressional Research Service on various topics of interest to some include these (all pdf).

“Journalists’ Privilege to Withhold Information in Judicial and Other Proceedings: State Shield Statutes,” updated June 27, 2007.

“Federal Sentencing Guidelines: Background, Legal Analysis, and Policy Options,” updated June 30, 2007.

“Critical Infrastructure: The National Asset Database,” updated July 16, 2007.

“Chemical Facility Security: Regulation and Issues for Congress,” updated June 21, 2007.

“Pipeline Safety and Security: Federal Programs,” updated July 11, 2007.

Maggot Therapy and Other Special Forces Medicine

Under extreme conditions, live maggots may be inserted into a wound to consume damaged or diseased flesh, according to a medical manual for U.S. Army Special Forces (large pdf).

“Despite the hazards involved, maggot therapy should be considered a viable alternative when, in the absence of antibiotics, a wound becomes severely infected, does not heal, and ordinary debridement [removal of diseased tissue] is impossible,” according to the 1982 manual (at page 22-3).

See “U.S. Army Special Forces Medical Handbook,” ST 31-91B, 1 March 1982 (407 pages, 16 MB PDF file).

It turns out that maggot therapy is recognized and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Sterilized maggot colonies can be ordered, by prescription only, from specialized suppliers.

The Special Forces manual, however, envisions the use of unsterilized maggots for emergency use.

Along with a lot of standard wilderness medicine, the manual also describes various unorthodox, potentially dangerous remedies that may be considered when conventional medical alternatives are unavailable.

For example, the manual suggests that intestinal worms can be combated by eating cigarettes. “The nicotine in the cigarette kills or stuns the worms long enough for them to be passed.”

Another option for dealing with intestinal parasites is to swallow kerosene. “Drink 2 tablespoons. Don’t drink more.” (page 22-2).

Update: But see also “A Caveat on the Special Forces Medical Manual.”

Army Views “Civil Affairs” Operations

The crucial interactions between military forces and the civilian environment in which they operate are the domain of “civil affairs,” a subject of urgent interest to the U.S. military in Iraq and elsewhere.

Civil affairs operations that promote cooperation between the military and the local population help to advance the military mission. Activities that generate friction or inspire opposition are not helpful.

“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,” according to U.S. military doctrine.

“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.”

“The problem of achieving maximum civilian support and minimum civilian interference with U.S. military operations will require the coordination of intelligence efforts, security measures, operational efficiency, and the intentional cultivation of goodwill.”

“Failure to use CA [civil affairs] assets in the analysis of political, economic, and social bases of instability may result in inadequate responses to the root causes of the instability and result in the initiation or continuation of conflict.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Army issued a revised “how-to” manual on the conduct of civil affairs. That manual has not been approved for public release and is not readily available. But a copy of the prior edition from 2003 was obtained by Secrecy News.

See “Civil Affairs Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures,” U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-05.401, September 2003 (535 pages, 16 MB PDF file).

A more concise treatment of the same subject was given in another recent manual. Though not approved for public release, a copy was obtained by Secrecy News. See “Civil Affairs Operations,” U.S. Army Field Manual 3-05.40, September 2006 (183 pages, 4 MB PDF file).

CRS Reports on Afghanistan

The Congressional Research Service has recently updated several publications on Afghanistan, including these (all pdf).

“NATO in Afghanistan: A Test of the Transatlantic Alliance,” updated July 16, 2007.

“Afghanistan: Post-War Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy,” updated June 21, 2007.

“Afghanistan: Narcotics and U.S. Policy,” updated June 19, 2007.

“Afghanistan: Government Formation and Performance,” updated June 15, 2007.

CRS Reports on China

Recent reports from the Congressional Research Service concerning China include these (all pdf).

“Hong Kong: Ten Years After the Handover,” June 29, 2007.

“China’s Economic Conditions,” updated July 13, 2007.

“Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990,” updated July 12, 2007.

“China-U.S. Trade Issues,” updated July 11, 2007.

“China-U.S. Relations: Current Issues and Implications for U.S. Policy,” updated June 14, 2007.

“Food and Agricultural Imports from China,” updated July 17, 2007.

“The Southwest Pacific: U.S. Interests and China’s Growing Influence,” July 6, 2007.

“China’s Currency: A Summary of the Economic Issues,” updated July 11, 2007.

CRS Reports on Various Topics

The Congressional Research Service, at congressional direction, does not permit direct public access to its products. Members of the public must connive or contrive to gain such access. So we do.

Some recent CRS reports that caught our eye include these (all pdf).

“Presidential Claims of Executive Privilege: History, Law, Practice and Recent Developments,” updated July 5, 2007.

“The Palestinian Territories: Background and U.S. Relations,” July 5, 2007.

“Restructuring EPA’s Libraries: Background and Issues for Congress,” updated June 15, 2007.

“U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress,” updated June 28, 2007.

“Airborne Laser (ABL): Issues for Congress,” updated July 9, 2007.

Congressional Authority to Limit Military Operations

Does Congress have the constitutional authority to legislate limits on the conduct of the war in Iraq?

The answer may seem obvious. But to resolve any lingering doubt, the Congressional Research Service gave the topic a thorough analytic treatment in a newly updated report (pdf) and concluded that Congress does have such authority.

“It has been suggested that the President’s role as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces provides sufficient authority for his deployment of troops, and any efforts on the part of Congress to intervene could represent an unconstitutional violation of separation-of-powers principles.”

“While even proponents of strong executive prerogative in matters of war appear to concede that it is within Congress’s authority to cut off funding entirely for a military operation, it has been suggested that spending measures that restrict but do not end financial support for the war in Iraq would amount to an ‘unconstitutional condition’.”

To rebut any such suggestion, the newly updated CRS report “provides historical examples of measures that restrict the use of particular personnel, and concludes with a brief analysis of arguments that might be brought to bear on the question of Congress’s authority to limit the availability of troops to serve in Iraq.”

“Although not beyond debate, such a restriction appears to be within Congress’s authority to allocate resources for military operations,” the report stated.

See “Congressional Authority To Limit U.S. Military Operations in Iraq,” updated July 11, 2007.

See, relatedly, “Defense: FY2008 Authorization and Appropriations” (pdf), updated July 13, 2007.

and “FY2007 Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Other Purposes” (pdf), updated July 2, 2007.

CRS Reports on Iraq

The Congressional Research Service has produced several newly updated reports on Iraq for congressional consumption. CRS does not make its publications freely available to the public. But the following reports were obtained by Secrecy News (all pdf).

“Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security,” updated July 13, 2007.

“Iraq: U.S. Military Operations,” updated July 15, 2007.

“Iraq: Reconstruction Assistance,” updated June 25, 2007.

“Post-War Iraq: Foreign Contributions to Training, Peacekeeping, and Reconstruction,” updated June 18, 2007.

“Iraq: Summary of U.S. Casualties,” updated July 12, 2007.

“U.S. Embassy in Iraq,” updated July 13, 2007.

“Iraq: Milestones Since the Ouster of Saddam Hussein,” updated June 19, 2007.

“The Kurds in Post-Saddam Iraq,” updated June 12, 2007.

“Iraq: Government Formation and Benchmarks,” updated July 13, 2007.

“The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,” updated July 16, 2007.