Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Intel agencies hiding in dark closets...or trying to....

From Secrecy News:


Several defense intelligence agencies will withhold unclassified
information about their contracts from a new public database of
government spending.

The new database at USAspending.gov is intended to provide increased
transparency regarding most government contracts (Secrecy News,

But when it comes to intelligence spending, there will actually be a
net loss of public information because categories of intelligence
contracting data that were previously disclosed will now be withheld.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National
Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and the Counterintelligence Field
Activity (CIFA) argued that online disclosure of their unclassified
contracts could present an operational security vulnerability.

"I appreciate your concerns that reporting these actions to the
publicly accessible website could provide unacceptable risk of insight
to your individual missions and budgets," wrote Shay D. Assad of the
Under Secretary of Defense in a December 7 memorandum.

"As such, I concur with your waiver requests to not report your
unclassified actions to FPDS-NG [Federal Procurement Data System - Next
Generation] at this time," he wrote.


The new waiver, which was first reported by Daniel G. Dupont in
InsideDefense.com, applies to unclassified contract data for FY 2007
and 2008, and must be renewed each year thereafter.

But it does not apply retroactively, so it is possible to examine
detailed contracting information for thousands of intelligence
contracts with DIA and NGA from FY2005-2006, ranging in amounts from
tens of dollars to hundreds of millions of dollars. (Prior contract
information for CIFA is not currently available.)

Those intelligence agencies' past contracts can be examined using the
drop-down menu for contracting agency on this page:


The sharp growth in intelligence agency contracting has prompted new
concern in Congress and elsewhere. The latest intelligence
authorization act (section 307) requires a "comprehensive report on
intelligence community contractors."

But while intelligence contracting is going up, public accountability
is going down.


The U.S. intelligence community is reverting to old patterns of cold
war secrecy, warned the former Chairman of the National Intelligence
Council (NIC), to the detriment of U.S. intelligence.

"The reality that I see is an Intelligence Community that is retreating
into greater secrecy and old cultural habits, even in the short time
since I left the NIC in early 2005," said Amb. Robert L. Hutchings in
recent testimony.

"Try to get a CIA analyst to go on the record at an academic
conference, or participate in an interactive website or blog with
experts from outside government or other countries, and you will see
how deeply ingrained are the old Cold War cultural habits and
mind-sets," he said.

"What this means, additionally, is that the Intelligence Community is
not attracting the 'best and brightest' into their ranks. They go

See his prepared testimony from a December 6 hearing of the House
Intelligence Committee here:


One of the aspects of the trend towards increasing secrecy is what
appears to be a newly restrictive approach to pre-publication review of
writings by current or former intelligence employees.

Earlier this year, the Central Intelligence Agency refused to permit
former intelligence officer and author Valerie Plame Wilson to publish
certain information about her career that had already been disclosed in
the Congressional Record.

The publishers of Ms. Wilson's memoir devised a novel and effective
solution: They hired journalist Laura Rozen to write an afterword,
based entirely on information gathered in the public domain, filling in
many of the missing details of Ms. Wilson's account. Laura Rozen, who
writes for Mother Jones and for the War and Piece blog, tells the story


[Use links above to continue reading]


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