Resources on Manhattan Project, FOIA, FISA Reform

The Department of Energy has undertaken a new effort to publish information and documents concerning the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bomb. The effort will notably include “the entire thirty-six volume Manhattan District History. Many of the volumes have been declassified” and are now online. “The remaining classified volumes are being declassified with redactions, i.e., still classified terms, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs are removed and the remaining unclassified parts made available to the public. The volumes will be posted incrementally as review and processing is completed.”

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, has issued a report on legislation to amend the Freedom of Information Act.  As detailed in the report, the pending House bill “amends FOIA to provide for more proactive disclosure of records, encourages enhanced agency compliance, and improves the FOIA process for both agencies and requesters.”

Critics of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, including some former Court members, have lately suggested that Court procedures could be improved if they allowed for an advocate to argue against the government’s applications for surveillance and to contest proposed changes in the Court’s interpretations of the law. This proposal was originally presented nearly twenty years ago by the late Kenneth C. Bass at a 1994 hearing of the House Intelligence Committee on “Amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.”

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