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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Oct > Oct 8

Secrecy News -- 10/08/07

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood.nul>
Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2007 12:00:01 -0400
Archived: Mon, 08 Oct 2007 12:24:59 -0400
Subject: Secrecy News -- 10/08/07


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 98
October 8, 2007

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

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


**	BILL ON CONTRACTOR LIABILITY RAISES INTEL AGENCY CONCERNS
**	1997 REPORT OF THE OVERSEAS JURISDICTION ADVISORY COMMITTEE
**	JPL SCIENTISTS GAIN REPRIEVE FROM INTRUSIVE INVESTIGATIONS


BILL ON CONTRACTOR LIABILITY RAISES INTEL AGENCY CONCERNS

Last week the House of Representatives passed a bill to extend
federal legal jurisdiction to crimes committed abroad by U.S.
contractors in war zones such as Iraq, so that such crimes could
be prosecuted in U.S. courts.

But before the bill (H.R. 2740) was passed, it triggered alarms
by those who were concerned that its provisions could undermine
U.S. intelligence activities.

"The bill would have unintended and intolerable consequences for
crucial and necessary national security activities and
operations," the White House said without elaboration in an
October 3 statement outlining its opposition to the bill.

http://www.fas.org/irp/news/2007/10/sap100307.pdf

Congressman J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) spelled out those
intelligence agency concerns in more detail on the House floor.

For example, he said, "If a clandestine asset was implicated in
a crime, investigating and arresting that asset under
traditional criminal procedures could expose other assets and
compromise critical intelligence activities."

More fundamentally, he complained, the new bill "applies the
entire criminal code to the new category of potential offenders
and could implicate the authorized business of the intelligence
community employees and contractors."

Rep. Forbes therefore introduced a motion stating that "Nothing
in this Act shall be construed to affect intelligence activities
that are otherwise permissible prior to the enactment of this
Act."

The motion was approved, but not without some critical
commentary.

"The [Forbes] amendment raises serious questions about the
activities its proponents may be seeking to protect," said Rep.
David Price (D-NC), who authored the new bill.

"Given that my bill only targets activities that are unlawful,
why do my colleagues feel the need to clarify that it does not
affect activities that are permissible?"

"What activities are contractors carrying out that are
permissible but not lawful?" Rep. Price wondered aloud.

"If there are private, for-profit contractors tasked with duties
that require them to commit felony offenses, Congress needs to
know about it. Such a revelation would point to a need for a
serious debate about whether we are using contractors
appropriately," he said.

See the October 4 House debate on the new bill, the "Military
Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act Expansion and Enforcement Act
of 2007," which was passed by a large majority, here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2007_cr/h-meja.html

The awkward fact is that intelligence collection operations are
routinely conducted in violation of established laws, including
international legal norms to which the United States Government
is formally committed.

"The CS [clandestine service] is the only part of the IC
[intelligence community], indeed of the government, where
hundreds of employees on a daily basis are directed to break
extremely serious laws in counties around the world in the face
of frequently sophisticated efforts by foreign governments to
catch them," according to a 1996 House Intelligence Committee
staff report called IC21 (chapter 9, at page 205).

"A safe estimate is that several hundred times every day (easily
100,000 times a year) DO [Directorate of Operations] officers
engage in highly illegal activities (according to foreign law)
that not only risk political embarrassment to the US but also
endanger the freedom if not lives of the participating foreign
nationals and, more than occasionally, of the clandestine
officer himself."

  http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1996_rpt/ic21/ic21009.htm


1997 REPORT OF THE OVERSEAS JURISDICTION ADVISORY COMMITTEE

A decade ago Congress established an advisory committee to
examine the very issues of contractor liability in war zones
abroad that have recently been in the headlines again.

The Overseas Jurisdiction Advisory Committee spent a year
analyzing the state of the law, found "significant
jurisdictional gaps" in the government's ability to prosecute
crimes committed abroad by contractors, and recommended
legislative remedies.

The Committee's extensive report laid the foundation for the
2000 Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which applied
to defense contractors, and which would be extended by now-
 pending legislation to non-defense contractors as well.

Up to now, the Committee's report has not been available online,
rendering it practically inaccessible. A copy of the report
obtained by Secrecy News is now available on the Federation of
American Scientists web site.

See the Report of the Advisory Committee on Criminal Law
Jurisdiction Over Civilians Accompanying the Armed Forces in
Time of Armed Conflict (Overseas Jurisdiction Advisory
Committee), April 1997:

http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/ojac.pdf


JPL SCIENTISTS GAIN REPRIEVE FROM INTRUSIVE INVESTIGATIONS

A federal appeals court on Friday granted a temporary injunction
blocking implementation of a policy that would require
scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to undergo intrusive
background investigations as a condition of continued
employment.

The requirement stems from President Bush's Homeland Security
Presidential Directive 12, under which all federal employees and
contractors are obliged to obtain secure forms of federal
identification.

As interpreted by NASA, this provision means that JPL employees
must not only provide verifiable proof of identity, which all
are willing to do, but must also accept an open-ended background
investigation into their personal conduct.

Under the NASA standard, according to critics, "any
investigator" from "any federal agency" would be permitted to
collect "any information" regarding the employee.

Dozens of JPL scientists said no.

A lower court rejected their request for an injunction against
the policy on October 3. But the appeals granted it on October
5, until further proceedings can be held. For background on the
case see:

http://www.hspd12jpl.org/

"We cannot drive scientists into our laboratories," said
President Truman in a September 13, 1948 speech to the AAAS,
"but, if we tolerate reckless or unfair attacks, we can
certainly drive them out."




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

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

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, go to:
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OR email your request to saftergood.nul

Secrecy News is archived at:
http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/index.html

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
1725 DeSales St NW, 6th floor
Washington, DC 20036

web:  www.fas.org/sgp/index.html
email: saftergood.nul
voice: (202)454-4691




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