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Secrecy News -- 01/22/07

From: Steven Aftergood  <saftergood.nul>
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2007 11:59:44 -0500
Fwd Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2007 22:50:50 -0500
Subject: Secrecy News -- 01/22/07


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 8
January 22, 2007

Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

Support Secrecy News:
http://www.fas.org/static/contrib_sec.jsp


**	CRS DIRECTOR MOVES TO RESTRICT ANALYSTS' MEDIA CONTACTS
**	THE STATE SECRETS DOCTRINE AND THE HATFILL CASE


CRS DIRECTOR MOVES TO RESTRICT ANALYSTS' MEDIA CONTACTS

The Director of the Congressional Research Service last week
issued a revised agency policy on "Interacting with the Media"
that warns CRS analysts about the "very real risks" associated
with news media contacts and imposes new restrictions on
speaking to the press.

"CRS staff must report within 24 hours all on-the-record
interactions with any media to their supervisor, including the
name of the reporter, media affiliation, date, time, and
detailed notes on the matters discussed or to be discussed," the
new policy states.

"Violations of the media policy will be addressed promptly,"
wrote CRS director Daniel P. Mulhollan.

A copy of the CRS policy on "Interacting with the Media" was
obtained by Secrecy News.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/crs011607.pdf

The new policy "will obviously have a chilling effect on staff,"
said one CRS analyst on a not-for-attribution basis. "That's
what it is intended to do."

The CRS has gained increasing prominence in the news media in
recent years. The number of citations to CRS in the Nexis news
database rose from 2,076 in 2004 to 3,101 in 2005 to 4,179 in
2006.

This growing public attention is a source of anxiety for CRS
management, which fears that the agency may come to be perceived
as having an institutional agenda of its own or that its
impartiality will be questioned by members of Congress.

"We have all seen the way in which portions of products can be
misquoted and taken out of context, potentially damaging the
image of our colleagues and the Service in the eyes of some of
our clients," CRS director Mulhollan wrote.

"To assist CRS in refuting misstatements or misquotations, staff
must keep detailed notes of media interactions and report
promptly to their supervisor," he instructed.

But the relative impartiality of the CRS and its analysts'
quasi-official standing make it an attractive resource for
reporters covering all kinds of domestic and foreign policy
matters.

The new restrictions on CRS contacts with the press will
therefore be a blow first of all to reporters and others who
rely on CRS expertise.

Over time, however, the new policy may also backfire against CRS
itself. If analysts cannot publish or freely comment on subjects
of their expertise, some will conclude that CRS is not a
hospitable venue for their professional development and they
will go elsewhere.

"From my personal perspective CRS is being managed without
respect and trust for the staff," said Dennis M. Roth, president
of Congressional Research Employees Association, the CRS
employees' union, in July 27, 2006 testimony to the House
Administration Committee.

"Leadership can be accomplished in many ways, and we believe
that CRS currently practices a style inappropriate, damaging,
and destructive for a professional service organization.... It
is autocratic, centralized, and secretive," he said.


THE STATE SECRETS DOCTRINE AND THE HATFILL CASE

In an unusual legal maneuver, the New York Times invoked the
"state secrets" doctrine last month in a motion to dismiss the
libel suit brought against it by Steven J. Hatfill, the former
Army scientist who said he was erroneously linked by the Times
to the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The case was dismissed on January 12, 2007 on other grounds (to
be spelled out in an opinion that has not yet been published).

But in a sealed motion on December 29, the New York Times argued
that the classification restrictions imposed on the case were
tantamount to an assertion of the state secrets privilege. Times
attorneys cited the case law on state secrets to support their
argument that the case should be dismissed.

The "state secrets" doctrine, they said, "precludes a case from
proceeding to trial when national security precludes a party
from obtaining evidence that is... necessary to support a valid
defense. Dismissal is warranted in this case because the Times
has been denied access to such evidence, specifically documents
and testimony concerning the work done by plaintiff [Hatfill] on
classified government projects relating to bioweapons, including
anthrax."

"It would be manifestly unjust and improper to require the Times
to defend against the claims being advanced by Steven Hatfill
without affording it access to critical information concerning
his own activities that could serve to defeat those claims."

"The government has not formally intervened in this case to
assert the [state secrets] privilege, as it has typically done
in analogous cases," the Times acknowledged in an accompanying
memorandum of law.

"Nevertheless, ... it is now evident that the government has in
fact invoked the privilege through ex parte evidentiary
submissions by DOD, the Department of Justice and the CIA
establishing that information concerning projects worked on by
plaintiff and his colleagues were properly 'classified'," the
Times' attorneys claimed.

A redacted copy of the December 29 New York Times Memorandum of
Law in Support of Defendant's Motion for an Order Dismissing the
Complaint Under the "State Secrets" Doctrine was obtained by
Secrecy News. See:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/jud/statesec/nyt122906-memo.pdf

Attorneys for Dr. Hatfill filed a sealed response on January 12
in opposition to the motion for dismissal on state secrets
grounds. A redacted copy of their opposition was not immediately
available.



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

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send email to
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Secrecy News is archived at:
http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/index.html

Secrecy News is available in blog format at:
http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

SUPPORT Secrecy News with a donation here:
http://www.fas.org/static/contrib_sec.jsp

_______________________
Steven Aftergood
Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists
web:  www.fas.org/sgp/index.html
email: saftergood.nul
voice: (202) 454-4691




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