Policy and News Updates for May 18, 2006

Italics indicates new or updated news

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Policy Updates

[new] More secret spying by the NSA
The National Security Agency (NSA) has been secretly collecting phone call records of millions of Americans, according to a May 11th USA Today article. The NSA is creating a massive database of domestic call records collected from Verizon, AT&T, and BellSouth. This information is in addition to the NSA spying on international calls, reported in the New York Times in December. In response, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA] introduced a bill, H. R. 5371, that would require the NSA to get approval from the FISA Court for any spying program. In the Senate, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) plans to hold hearings on the program.
Status: The legality of the program remains in question. H.R. 5371 was referred to committee.
Sources: NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls [USA Today]; Key articles and statements [collected by CDT]; Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts [New York Times- subscription required]; H.R. 5371

[new] FBI to reporters: We’re listening
The FBI is seeking reporters’ phone records in leak investigations, according to ABC News’ blog The Blotter. In a statement on Monday, May 15, the FBI press office said they seek the phone records of reporters when government records are not enough to determine whether a government employee leaked classified information.
Sources: FBI Acknowledges: Journalists’ Phone Records are Fair Game [The Blotter]; UPDATE: FBI Source Confirms ABC Report on Monitoring of Reporters’ Calls [Editor and Publisher]

[new] New GAO report recommends more improvements to information sharing
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report looking at the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to implement and carry out the Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002. In the report, “Information Sharing: DHS Should Take Steps to Encourage More Widespread Use of Its Program to Protect and Share Critical Infrastructure Information,” GAO recommends that DHS better define agencies’ critical infrastructure needs and explain how agencies will use the information received from the private sector.

Status:The report was released to the public on May 17.

Sources:The full GAO report and highlights; CII information page [OpenTheGovernment.org]

News from Coalition Partners and Others

[new] National Archives sponsors mandatory declassification review workshop
The National Archives Information Security Oversight Office will hold a free workshop aimed at informing the researcher public and the media of their rights in obtaining the maximum information by requesting a declassification review of classified national security documents. The event, to held from 9 A.M. – Noon on Friday, June 30, 2006, is open to the public, but pre-registration is required. Call 202-357-5250 or email isoo@nara.gov to reserve a place.