Policy and News Updates for October 13, 2004

 We apologize for the break in our updates last week. We will resume weekly delivery at its usual time on Tuesdays starting next week.

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 Policy Updates

 [new]Good news on the Patriot Act (Kyl Amendment)
The largest expansion of federal powers since the USA PATRIOT Act died in the Senate last week. Senator Jon Kyl’s (R-AZ) amendment to the Senate intelligence reform bill, S. 2845, was ruled nongermane and would have gone outside the scope of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations.
Source: text of the amendment

 [updated]Whistleblower Protection Legislation
The first stand-alone whistleblower protection bill to be approved in 10 years has passed House and Senate committees. This legislation would amend the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) to ensure protection against reprisal for federal employees who bring government wrongdoing to light.
Status: S.2628 is on the Senate legislative calendar. H.R. 3281 is stalled, although a Davis substitute would offer a compromise. The substitute will not get a House vote unless the White House approves it.
Action: Tell the President to allow a House vote!

 [updated]Independent Classification Board
The Senate passed a version of the Independent Classification Board Act of 2004 (S. 2672). Legislation had been introduced in both houses of Congress to create an Independent National Security Classification Board in the executive branch.
Status: An amendment by Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) was added to the Senate’s intelligence reform bill (S. 2845) merging the proposed board with the existing Public Interest Declassification Board and allowing only Congress to appeal agency decisions to the Board. The freestanding S. 2672 has been referred to the Committee on Intelligence. Its House counterpart, H.R.4855, was referred to the House Committee on Intelligence.
Action: Send a letter to Congress in support of a classification board!

 [updated]Professor Sues for Photos of Flag-Draped Coffins
On Oct. 1, former CNN correspondent Ralph Begleiter sued the Pentagon challenging the ban on releasing photographs of fallen soldiers’ flag-draped coffins. On June 21, the Senate upheld (54-39) the ban.
Source: National Security Archive and New York Times, June 22, 2004.

 [updated]Intelligence Reform Bill Includes Budget Disclosure
Annual public disclosure of the intelligence budget was included in intelligence reform legislation in the Senate. Section 201 of the bill, S. 2845, requires disclosure of the annual intelligence budget.
Status: The Senate approved the measure 55-37 on Oct. 4, 2004.
Source: Secrecy News Oct. 5, 2004.

 [updated]Satellite Imagery FOIA Exemption
A proposed Freedom of Information Act exemption, restricting public access to satellite images and related data has been narrowed in conference. The new language would apply only to imagery whose sale to non-government customers is already prohibited "for reasons of national security." The previous language was so broad it would have threatened significant amounts of unclassified data that journalists, public interest groups, scientist, and the public use routinely.
Status: H.R. 4200 was passed Oct. 9, 2004.
Source: Secrecy News, Oct. 12, 2004

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 News Highlights

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  Feds release some info on no-fly list
[Associated Press Oct. 11]

 Privacy Act, Order Shielded U.S. Names on List
[Washington Post Oct. 8]

 Special Report from the Center for Public Integrity published that supplies classified documents on Abu Ghraib.

  A Terror Attack, Coming Soon to a Plant Near You
[Los Angeles Times Oct. 7]

  Military base blocks anti-secrecy website
[United Press International Oct. 7]

 High secrecy comes at a high price in dollars and democracy
[The Daily Herald Oct. 7]

 Energy Dept Increases Intelligence Budget Secrecy
[Secrecy News Oct. 5]

 Suit Seeks Military Coffin Photos
[Atlanta Journal-Constitution Oct. 5]

 GAO policy reflects security concerns
[Federal Computer Week Oct. 4]

 Fox Guarding the Clearinghouse on Contracts Data
[OMB Watcher Oct. 4]

 Judge Orders Release of Lennon FBI Files
[Washington Post Oct. 1]

 Ashcroft Says Likely to Appeal Patriot Act Ruling
[Reuters Sept. 30]

 Bush document detailing military departure released
[Associated Press Sept. 30]

 Judge Rules Against Patriot Act Provision
[Reuters Sept. 29]

 CIA Previously Disclosed Historical Intel Budget Figures
[Secrecy News Sept. 28, 2004]

 Spy Imagery Agency Watching Inside US
[Associated Press Sept. 27]

 Past Updates…