Posts from September, 2007

World Law Bulletin

The World Law Bulletin is a monthly publication of the Law Library of Congress that reports on significant or interesting legal developments in countries around the world.

For its own peculiar reasons, the Law Library has declined to make this serial available to the public. (In response to insistent pleas, a derivative publication called the Global Legal Monitor was created last year for public release.)

But now a collection of back issues of World Law Bulletin, dating from October 2000 to March 2006, has become publicly available through alternate channels.

Its most enduring value may be in the legal responses to terrorism that are described in the months following September 2001. But the Bulletin also contains all kinds of legal odds and ends that one is unlikely to encounter elsewhere. (“Latvian lawmakers adopted a resolution that imposes weight limits on children’s school bags following a study which concluded that 60 percent of Latvian students have posture problems.”)

Copies of the World Law Bulletin dating from July 2001 to April 2005 were obtained by Michael Ravnitzky who kindly shared them.

The whole collection may be found here.

DoD Updates Policy on Intelligence Activities

The Department of Defense last week issued a new directive (pdf) that regulates the conduct of its intelligence activities. It replaces a prior directive from 1988, and reflects the structural changes in national and military intelligence that have occurred since then.

“All DoD intelligence and CI [counterintelligence] activities shall be carried out pursuant to the authorities and restrictions of the U.S. Constitution, applicable law, [Executive Order 12333], the policies and procedures authorized herein, and other relevant DoD policies…,” the new directive reaffirms.

“Special emphasis shall be given to the protection of the constitutional rights and privacy of U.S. persons.”

“No Defense Intelligence or CI Component shall request any person or entity to undertake unauthorized activities on behalf of the Defense Intelligence or CI Component.”

“Under no circumstances shall any DoD Component or DoD employee engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.”

See “DoD Intelligence Activities,” Department of Defense Directive 5240.01, August 27, 2007.

The new directive renews the authorization of a 1982 DoD Regulation on “Procedures Governing the Activities of DoD Intelligence Components that Affect United States Persons” (pdf), DoD 5240.1-R, December 11, 1982.

Army Warns Against “False Impressions” on Information Sharing

The U.S. Army says it will fulfill its obligations to share information with foreign governments and organizations pursuant to international agreements, but it cautions against promising too much.

“The policy of the United States is to avoid creating false impressions of its willingness to make classified or unclassified information/technology available,” according to an August 2 memorandum on international disclosure policy (pdf) from the US Army Armor Center at Fort Knox.

The new DoD Directive on intelligence activities (pdf) presents a seemingly more forthcoming statement of DoD disclosure policy (sect. 4.5.2):

“The broadest possible sharing of intelligence with coalition and approved partner countries shall be accomplished unless otherwise precluded from release by law, explicit direction, or policy.”

Secrecy Report Card 2007

By most available quantitative measures, government secrecy continues to grow in problematic ways, according to a new annual survey (pdf) from the advocacy coalition OpenTheGovernment.org.

While the creation of new secrets (termed “original classification decisions”) actually declined in the past year, total classification activity grew significantly, as did the use of controls on unclassified information, and the costs of maintaining the apparatus of national security classification.

“The current administration has increasingly refused to be held accountable to the public, including through the oversight responsibilities of Congress,” said Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org.

See “Secrecy Report Card 2007,” September 2007.

Congress and the Internet, and More from CRS

Noteworthy reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include the following (all pdf).

“Congress and the Internet: Highlights,” August 29, 2007.

“Pakistan-U.S. Relations,” updated August 24, 2007.

“United Nations Peacekeeping: Issues for Congress,” updated August 21, 2007.

“Intelligence Issues for Congress,” updated August 7, 2007.

“Extradition To and From the United States: Overview of the Law and Recent Treaties,” updated August 3, 2007.

“Congressional Commissions, Committees, Boards, and Groups: Appointment Authority and Membership,” updated April 4, 2007.