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Secrecy News -- 04/10/02

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood@fas.org>
Date: Wed, 10 Apr 2002 11:10:33 -0400
Fwd Date: Wed, 10 Apr 2002 16:45:05 -0400
Subject: Secrecy News -- 04/10/02

from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 29
April 10, 2002



In one of its more astute recommendations, the new report of the
Webster Commission on FBI security practices urged creation of
an interagency mechanism that would enable intelligence agencies
to learn from each other's security failures, so that each
agency would not need to repeat every such mistake on its own.

"A system should be established whereby security lapses in a
particular entity lead to improved security measures throughout
the entire Intelligence Community," the Webster Commission
stated in its report (page 22).

But as if to exemplify the problem, the Commission was evidently
unaware of recent efforts to establish precisely this kind of
system, and so it was unable to draw any lessons from the
failure of those efforts.

The Commission did recall that a 1994 DOD-DCI Joint Security
Commission recommended the establishment of an interagency
"security executive committee" in order to "unify security
policy development; serve as a mechanism for coordination,
dispute resolution, evaluation, and oversight; and provide a
focal point for Congressional and public inquiries regarding
security policy...." (page 21).

Yet the authors failed to note that this recommendation was
accepted, and such an interagency Committee was actually

See the Charter of the Joint Security Executive Committee
(JSEC), which was established by the Deputy Secretary of Defense
and the Director of Central Intelligence in June 1994, here:


The JSEC was redesignated the Security Policy Board (SPB) in
September 1994, with expanded membership to include all national
security agencies, and with a mandate to develop consistent and
cost-effective security policies government-wide.  See
Presidential Decision Directive 29 on "Security Policy


But in April 2001, after seven years of largely fruitless
wrangling, the SPB was abolished by President Bush's National
Security Presidential Directive 1.

Now, before establishing a new interagency security coordination
process as recommended by the Webster Commission, one would
think that the lessons of the demise of the Security Policy
Board ought to be considered.

No formal post-mortem assessment of the SPB has been conducted
to determine exactly why it proved ineffective (even though, on
occasion, it made a useful contribution).

A preliminary assessment suggests that the SPB membership grew
too large and its deliberations became burdensome and
inconclusive as a result. The SPB leadership in CIA and DOD was
not committed to the process, and so it never gained the
confidence of other senior policy makers.  Public input into the
security policy process was discouraged by naming retired
government security officials to represent the "non-governmental
and public interest perspective" on the Security Policy Advisory

See an archive of Security Policy Board documents here:


See the text of the 1994 DOD-CIA Joint Security Commission
report, "Redefining Security," here:


The Webster Commission report, "A Review of FBI Security
Programs," is posted here:



A new annotated list of judicial decisions in Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits for the first quarter of 2002
has just been published by the Department of Justice.  Although
it is a mixed bag, most of the latest rulings appear to favor
the government rather than the FOIA requester.  See:


"Litigation intended to promote openness in government in the
national security arena almost invariably harms the cause of
open government," according to Steven Garfinkel, former director
of the Information Security Oversight Office, who spoke at the
Freedom Forum on March 15.

"By now, everyone here should know that the courts almost never
substitute their judgment for that of the executive branch on
national security issues," Mr. Garfinkel said.  See his remarks


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

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Steven Aftergood
Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists
web:    www.fas.org/sgp/index.html
email:  saftergood@fas.org
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