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Secrecy News - 03/12/07

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood.nul>
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007 20:13:45 -0400
Fwd Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 10:51:10 -0400
Subject: Secrecy News - 03/12/07

from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 28
March 12, 2007

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

Support Secrecy News:



The steps by which the Justice Department conducts
investigations of unauthorized disclosures of classified
information ("leaks") were described by then-Attorney General
Janet Reno in 2000 testimony before a closed hearing of the
Senate Intelligence Committee.

At a moment when some, such as Senator Jon Kyl, are proposing to
enact new statutory penalties against leaks, it is noteworthy
that the Attorney General concluded that such penalties are

"We believe that the criminal statutes currently on the books
are adequate to allow us to prosecute almost all leak cases,"
she testified.

Significantly, "We have never been forced to decline a
prosecution solely because the criminal statutes were not broad

(A similar judgment was offered by Attorney General John
Ashcroft in a 2002 report to Congress: "I conclude that current
statutes provide a legal basis to prosecute those who engage in
unauthorized disclosures, if they can be identified.")

Ms. Reno's testimony, formally released under the Freedom of
Information Act last week, provides perhaps the best single
overview of the Justice Department's handling of leak cases,
from the initial "crime report" (sometimes called a "crimes
report") that advises the Justice Department of the leak, to the
agency's submission of answers to eleven specific questions
about the leak, to the difficulties of conducting an
investigation and the Department's decision whether to

"While we are prepared to prosecute vigorously those who are
responsible for leaks of classified information,... I also want
to say that the Department of Justice believes that criminal
prosecution is not the most effective way to address the leak
problem," she said.

"In addition to the difficulties of identifying leakers, bring
leak prosecutions is highly complex, requiring overcoming
defenses such as apparent authority, improper classification,
and First Amendment concerns, and prosecutions are likely to
result in more leaks in the course of litigation."

"In general, we believe that the better way to address the
problem of leaks is to try to prevent them through stricter
personnel security practices, including prohibitions of
unauthorized contacts with the press, regular security
reminders, and through administrative sanctions, such as
revocation of clearances," she told the Senate Intelligence

The Committee proceeded to endorse a new anti-leak statute
against her advice. It was enacted by Congress and then vetoed
in November 2000 by President Clinton.

The Justice Department Office of Public Affairs released the
Reno testimony in October 2003 to reporters from the Washington
Post and the Associated Press, who briefly quoted it in passing.
But others who requested a copy, including Secrecy News, were
told to file a Freedom of Information Act request.

Following a pointless and wasteful three-and-a-half year
"review" by the Justice Department, the testimony has now been
formally released under the FOIA without redaction. See:


But leak controversies remain ever green, even aside from the
proposed Kyl Amendment, the ongoing prosecution of two former
AIPAC officials for allegedly mishandling classified
information, and so on.

The New York Sun reported that Rep. Tom Davis, the ranking
Republican on the House Oversight Committee, rebuked the Justice
Department last week for failing to properly account for leak
investigations that had been terminated.

See "Gonzales Said To Stonewall a GOP Query" by Josh Gerstein,
New York Sun, March 12:



Some recent products of the Congressional Research Service that
have not been made readily available to the public include the

"China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and
Missiles: Policy Issues," updated January 31, 2007:


"National Guard Personnel and Deployments: Fact Sheet," updated
January 10, 2007:


and courtesy of U.S. News and World Report's "Bad Guys Blog"
(www.usnews.com/usnews/news/badguys/), "Drug Trafficking and
North Korea: Issues for U.S. Policy," updated January 25, 2007:



The conduct of warfare today raises challenging new legal issues
that require prompt and operationally sound responses, according
to a new publication from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"Modern military operations take place in an increasingly
complex geo-political environment. The classic scenario of
defending against cross-border aggression represents only one of
the challenges facing current [joint forces]. Stability
operations, foreign humanitarian assistance operations, and
civil-military operations present increased requirements for
direct legal support," the new document states.

"Military lawyers were true combat multipliers in Iraq," said
General David H. Petraeus, who is now U.S. commander in Iraq. "I
tried to get all the lawyers we could get our hands on - and
then sought more."

The missions and functions of military lawyers and legal
organizations are described in "Legal Support to Military
Operations," Joint Publication JP 1-04, March 1, 2007:


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.nul
voice: (202) 454-4691

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