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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2001 > Nov > Nov 30

Secrecy News -- 11/30/01

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood@fas.org>
Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 10:57:18 -0500
Fwd Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 22:26:05 -0500
Subject: Secrecy News -- 11/30/01

from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
November 30, 2001



The death of CIA officer Johnny Micheal Spann in Afghanistan was
acknowledged with dignity and eloquence on November 28 by
Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet.

In an extraordinary departure from past practice, however, the
CIA issued a press release about Spann's death:


Why did the Agency take this unusual step?

CIA spokesman Bill Harlow told Reuters that "Some circumstances
will permit you to identify people who have given their lives
for their country and for the Agency and when we can do so, we

But this is not a satisfactory explanation or an accurate
description of CIA disclosure policy.

There is a stubborn, irrational resistance to disclosure of such
information, author Ted Gup found in his recent study "The Book
of Honor: Covert Lives and Classified Deaths at the CIA." The
Book of Honor refers to the record of those CIA officers who
were killed in the line of duty (of which there are now 79),
nearly half of whom are still not identified by name but only by
an engraved star.

"Douglas S. Mackiernan was killed on the Tibetan border in
1950," wrote Gup last year.  "His star remains nameless.  So,
too, does that of Hugh Francis Redmond, who died in 1970 after
nineteen years in a Chinese prison.  In both instances the
Chinese knew they were CIA spies.  Only the American public did

This practice is not only an injustice to the memory of those
who died, it is also bad policy because it erodes the already
shaky credibility of CIA classification actions.

It is possible to do better.

Thus, in the course of his investigation Ted Gup learned the
identity of "a young woman [CIA officer] who died a violent and
selfless death in 1996" but did not reveal her name because "The
Agency made a compelling case that to identify her would put
others at risk."

Information about "The Book of Honor" by Ted Gup may be found


A volatile former CIA counterterrorism officer named Larry
Johnson yesterday accused the CIA of engaging in a "public
relations battle" at the expanse of Mr. Spann's family who, he
suggested, are now "at risk" as a result.  Mr. Johnson spoke on
the PBS News Hour:


According to a CIA spokesman, Johnny Micheal Spann's middle name
is properly spelled "Micheal" and not, as New York Times editors
and others have emended it, "Michael."


The House of Representatives described with unwonted specificity
the amount of money allocated to the U.S. intelligence community
for emergency counterterrorism activities in the Defense
Appropriations bill that passed the House on November 28.

The House established a new Counter-Terrorism and Operational
Response Transfer Fund in Title IX of the defense spending bill
in which it directed that "$451,000,000 shall be made available
to the Director of Central Intelligence."

This is unusual since, as a rule, dollar amounts for
intelligence are not disclosed.

(The limited exceptions include spending for CIA retirement
accounts and for the Community Management Staff, which are
disclosed annually, as are funds for a variety of small tactical
intelligence programs in the defense budget.  In 1994, the House
Defense Appropriations subcommittee accidentally published more
detail.  See Secrecy & Government Bulletin, Issue No. 41,
November 1994; and "$28 Billion Spying Budget Is Made Public by
Mistake" by Tim Weiner, New York Times, November 5, 1994.)

The House allocated the new intelligence money, with additional
funds for the Defense Department, for the following purposes:

"For urgent enhancements to intelligence and military
capabilities in order to prosecute Operation Enduring Freedom;
to discover, infiltrate, and deter terrorist groups; to protect
against terrorist attacks that might employ either conventional
means or weapons of mass destruction, and to prepare against the
consequences of such attacks; to deny unauthorized users the
opportunity to modify, steal, inappropriately disclose, or
destroy sensitive military intelligence data or networks, and to
accelerate improvements in information networks and operations."

With notable passivity, the House directed the Pentagon and the
DCI to report back in 90 days on how they would spend the new
money.  See excerpts from the bill here:


The White House opposed this Title IX provision of the defense
bill, arguing that the money should go into existing accounts
rather than into a new funding construct.  "The immediate effect
of this legislation would be to fragment programs and disrupt
... ongoing activities," the Administration argued.  See:


"Since 1995, the congressional intelligence committees have
become less effective in providing public oversight and in
advancing needed reforms," writes Steven Aftergood in a letter
to the editor of the New York Times:



Prepared testimony from the important November 28 hearing before
the Senate Judiciary Committee on "Preserving Our Freedoms While
Defending Against Terrorism" may be found here:


In a healthy sign of resistance to unwarranted secrecy,
historians and public interest groups, represented by Public
Citizen, filed a lawsuit November 28 seeking to overturn the
recent executive order issued by President Bush that limits
access to the records of former presidents. See:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.

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