Posts from October, 2007

DNI Discloses National Intelligence Program Budget

As required by law, the Director of National Intelligence today disclosed (pdf) that the budget for the National Intelligence Program in Fiscal Year 2007 was $43.5 billion.

The disclosure was strongly resisted by the intelligence bureaucracy, and for that very reason it may have significant repercussions for national security classification policy.

Although the aggregate intelligence budget figures for 1997 and 1998 ($26.6 and $26.7 billion respectively) had previously been disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Federation of American Scientists, intelligence officials literally swore under oath that any further disclosures would damage national security.

“Information about the intelligence budget is of great interest to nations and non-state groups (e.g., terrorists and drug traffickers) wishing to calculate the strengths and weaknesses of the United States and their own points of vulnerability to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies,” then-DCI George J. Tenet told a federal court in April 2003, explaining his position that disclosure of the intelligence budget total would cause “serious damage” to the United States.

Even historical budget information from half a century ago “must be withheld from public disclosure… because its release would tend to reveal intelligence methods,” declared then-acting DCI John E. McLaughlin (pdf) in a 2004 lawsuit, also filed by FAS.

Deferring to executive authority, federal judges including Judge Thomas F. Hogan and Judge Ricardo M. Urbina (pdf) accepted these statements at face value and ruled in favor of continued secrecy.

But now it appears that such information may safely be disclosed after all.

Because the new disclosure is so sharply at odds with past practice, it may introduce some positive instability into a recalcitrant classification system. The question implicitly arises, if intelligence officials were wrong to classify this information, what other data are they wrongly withholding?

Some historical background on U.S. intelligence spending may be found here.

And see “2007 Spying Said to Cost $50 Billion” by Walter Pincus, Washington Post, October 30.

DNI Issues Directives on History, Sourcing, Priorities

“The United States Intelligence Community (IC) has an obligation to learn from its history and its performance and to document its activities,” Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell wrote in a newly disclosed Intelligence Community Directive.

Towards that end, “each IC agency/organization shall establish and maintain a professional historical capability… to document, analyze and advance an understanding of the history of the agency or organization and its predecessors.”

See “Intelligence Community History Programs” (pdf), Intelligence Community Directive 180, August 29, 2007.

Another new DNI directive instructs intelligence analysts that “disseminated analytic products must contain consistent and structured sourcing information for all significant and substantive reporting or other information upon which the product’s analytic judgments, assessments, estimates, or confidence levels depend.”

“Thorough and consistent documentation enhances the credibility and transparency of intelligence analysis and enables consumers to better understand the quantity and quality of information underlying the analysis.”

See “Sourcing Requirements for Disseminated Analytic Products” (pdf), Intelligence Community Directive 206, October 17, 2007.

Intelligence collection and analysis objectives are defined and ranked through something called the National Intelligence Priorities Framework (NIPF), which “is the DNI’s sole mechanism for establishing national intelligence priorities.”

Based on topics approved by the President, the NIPF provides a process for prioritizing competing intelligence requirements and allocating resources accordingly.

See “Roles and Responsibilities for the National Intelligence Priorities Framework” (pdf), Intelligence Community Directive 204, September 13, 2007.

National Academy Defends Open Research Policies

Poorly considered security restrictions on unclassified research and limits on foreign scientists’ access to U.S. laboratories could erode U.S. scientific and engineering prowess, a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences concluded.

“The success of U.S. science and engineering has been built on a system of information sharing and open communication, not only among U.S. institutions, but also with the international science and technology communities.”

“Given the current diminishing rates of new scientific and engineering talent in the United States … the size of the U.S. research and development effort cannot be sustained without a significant and steady infusion of foreign nationals,” the report said.

See “To Maintain National Security, U.S. Policies Should Continue to Promote Open Exchange of Research,” NAS news release, October 18.

White House Seeks to Ratify Nuclear Protection Policy

To submit an international arms control agreement to the U.S. Senate for ratification has not always been the Bush Administration’s first instinct. But last month the White House asked the Senate to ratify a 2005 Amendment to the 1980 Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

“This Amendment is important in the campaign against international nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation,” President Bush wrote in his transmittal letter.

“It will require each State Party to the Amendment to establish, implement, and maintain an appropriate physical protection regime applicable to nuclear material and nuclear facilities used for peaceful purposes.”

The pending Amendment along with a State Department overview and related materials were recently printed for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. See “Amendment to Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material” (pdf), submitted by the President of the United States to the U.S. Senate, September 4, 2007.

International progress on ratifying the Amendment “remains slow,” lamented Mohamed El Baradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in a September 10 statement. Of the 128 States that are party to the 1980 Convention, only 11 have approved the 2005 Amendment, he said.

Covert Action, and More from CRS

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

“Covert Action: Legislative Background and Possible Policy Questions,” updated October 11, 2007.

“U.S.-China Counterterrorism Cooperation: Issues for U.S. Policy,” updated October 10, 2007.

“Mexico’s Drug Cartels,” October 16, 2007.

“Burma-U.S. Relations,” updated October 4, 2007.

“The Export Administration Act: Evolution, Provisions, and Debate,” updated September 28, 2007.

“Status of a Member of the House Who Has Been Indicted for or Convicted of a Felony,” updated October 5, 2007:

Joint Staff Views Peace Operations

A new publication (pdf) from the Joint Chiefs of Staff defines military doctrine regarding “peace operations.”

Peace operations utilize “all instruments of national power with military missions to contain conflict, redress the peace, and shape the environment to support reconciliation and rebuilding and facilitate the transition to legitimate governance. Peace operations include peacekeeping, peace enforcement, peacemaking, peace building, and conflict prevention efforts.”

There are 15 fundamental elements of peace operations, according to the new doctrine, including: transparency, impartiality, credibility, freedom of movement, restraint and minimum force, and so on.

See “Peace Operations,” Joint Publication JP 3-07.3, October 17, 2007.

Administration of Torture

Much of what is publicly known regarding the abuse of detainees held in U.S. custody did not emerge from congressional investigations — there were no such investigations — or from other conventional means of oversight.

Instead, a large portion of the public record on interrogation policy was uncovered through an unusually effective Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

A new documentary collection on detainee abuse edited by ACLU attorneys Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh has just been published by Columbia University Press under the title “Administration of Torture,” with a narrative introduction by the editors.

America and the Islamic Bomb

The U.S. Government was acquiescent in Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons technology over a period of decades, according to a new book on the subject.

The activities of individual members of Pakistan’s nuclear procurement network in the United States are examined in detail by investigative reporters David Armstrong and Joseph Trento in “America and the Islamic Bomb,” Steerforth Press, 2007.

Richard M. Barlow, a former CIA and Defense official who attempted to “blow the whistle” on Pakistan’s pursuit of nuclear technology in the 1980s, was effectively punished for his efforts.

“For his candor, and despite the backing of some top intelligence officials, Barlow was stripped of his Top Secret/Codeword clearances and hounded out of the Pentagon,” wrote Jeff Stein in “The Nuclear Bombshell That Never Went Off,” CQ Homeland Security, October 19.

Intelligence Budget Will Be Disclosed, ODNI Says

Within a week, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will formally disclose the size of the National Intelligence Program budget for fiscal year 2007, an ODNI spokeswoman said.

The anticipated disclosure marks the culmination of decades of advocacy, debate and litigation.

Last July Congress enacted an intelligence budget disclosure requirement over White House objections as part of a bill to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

“The Administration strongly opposes the requirement in the bill to publicly disclose sensitive information about the intelligence budget,” according to a February 28 statement of administration policy (pdf).

But on August 3 President Bush nevertheless signed the final bill, which allows the (next) President to waive the disclosure requirement on national security grounds, if necessary, starting in 2009.

The disclosure requirement states (in section 601 of H.R. 1):

“Not later than 30 days after the end of each fiscal year beginning with fiscal year 2007, the Director of National Intelligence shall disclose to the public the aggregate amount of funds appropriated by Congress for the National Intelligence Program for such fiscal year.”

Since fiscal year 2007 ended on September 30, the legal deadline for budget disclosure is October 30.

Will the DNI comply?

“That’s what the law requires,” said Vanee Vines of the ODNI public affairs office today, “and we’re going to follow the law.”

The aggregate intelligence budget (a broad term which included “tactical” as well as “national” intelligence spending) was first officially disclosed ten years ago, in October 1997, in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Federation of American Scientists. At that time, the (FY 1997) budget figure was $26.6 billion. The last officially authorized disclosure was in March 1998, when the budget was $26.7 billion.

Treatment of Chemical Weapons Casualties

The treatment of injuries caused by chemical weapons and other chemical agents is addressed in a new military field manual (pdf). The manual, issued jointly by the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, characterizes the threat from chemical weapons, describes the diagnosis of chemical injuries and outlines preventive and remedial measures.

See “Multiservice Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Treatment of Chemical Agent Casualties and Conventional Military Chemical Injuries,” FM 4-02.285, September 2007.

Last week, President Bush issued Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 on “Public Health and Medical Preparedness,” which is intended to advance “preparedness for all potential catastrophic health events.”