Policy and News Updates for July 7, 2004

Policy Updates

(New information is highlighted with [new] or [updated] in the title)

Sensitive Security Information (SSI): Federalism v. Secrecy
The Senate pushed to pre-empt state and local sunshine laws in order to mandate secrecy about public safety problems in aviation, rail and other transportation systems.
Status: The administration-sponsored secrecy provisions were in the Senate-passed version of the $ 350 billion transportation bill (H.R. 3550); the version passed by the House lacks them. Currently in conference.

Patriot Act #1: Reversing the Patriot Act
The Civil Liberties Restoration Act 2004 (S. 2528) would end secret hearings, ensure due process for detained individuals, limit secret seizures of records, and limit the use of secret evidence.

Status: Introduced by members of the House and Senate June 16, and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Resource: Text of the bill, June 16, 2004. A bill analysis & talking points is available from the Rights Working Group.

Patriot Act #2: Extending Patriot Act
H.R. 3179, introduced by Reps. Sensenbrenner and Goss, includes several sections of Patriot II.
After opposition from many groups coordinated by the Rights Working Group, H.R. 3179 was not added to the intelligence authorization bill (S. 2386) during a closed mark-up session on June 16th.
Status: May come up as a floor amendment to the intelligence authorization bill in the Senate. Resource: Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Patriot Act #3: Patriot Act Sunsets
On May 21, ten senators introduced a bill, S. 2476, that would make permanent many provisions of the Patriot Act scheduled to sunset next year. The bill is referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Media Coverage of Military Coffins
By a vote of 54-39, the Senate on June 21, upheld a ban on media coverage of fallen soldiers’ flag-draped coffins returning to the U.S. Resource: New York Times, June 22, 2004.

For Official Use Only Provisions
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is imposing extraordinary new access controls on unclassified information that it deems “for official use only” (FOUO), which includes “information that could be sold for profit” or indicate “government intentions.” This type of information is different from Sensitive But Unclassified information, which DHS is expected to write provisions for very soon.
Resource: Secrecy News June 11, 2004.


*The apparatus of government secrecy takes on its most concentrated form in classified programs known as “special access programs” (SAPs). Security policy for SAPs has recently been updated by the Pentagon.
Resource: Secrecy News, July 2, 2004.

*The Department of Energy says it has posted online some 1.2 million documents related to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, which the federal government hopes to build in Nevada.
Resource: SEJ WatchDog, July 2, 2004.

*The Advertising Council announced today that it is launching the third round of its Campaign for Freedom work in time for Independence Day. The new television, radio and print PSAs are designed to encourage all Americans to engage in everyday civic activities that will express freedom in action.
Resource: Ad Council, June 30, 2004.

*Judge Charles R. Breyer of the northern district of California ruled several weeks ago that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Transportation Security Administration had improperly withheld information as “sensitive security information,” exempting it from release under FOIA.
Resource: Secrecy News, June 30, 2004.

Past Updates…