[govinfo] GovInfo News -- 12-13-06

  • From: "Patrice McDermott" <pmcdermott@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <govinfo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "FOI-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" <FOI-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 10:30:15 -0500

- GAO: DOJ needs to fix classification problems
- Effective Counterterrorism and the Limited Role of Predictive Data Mining
- Seeking Iran Intelligence, U.S. Tries Google

Patrice McDermott, Director
202-332-OPEN (6736)


11/21/06 -- 10:39 AM
By Kerri Hostetler

The Justice Department needs a standard classification system and needs to 
address its staffing shortage, according to a report issued by the Government 
Accountability Office [http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0783.pdf ].

DOJ and its bureaus, specifically the FBI, were under review to determine if 
the department implemented the National Archives and Records Administration's 
Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) recommendations to correct 
problems in their document classification systems.
DOJ ranks third in the number of documents classified in the executive branch, 
behind the Defense Department and the CIA. Within DOJ, the FBI handles 98 
percent of that work.

In any DOJ entity, a document can be classified in one of five ways: Limited 
Office Use Only, For Office Use Only, Law Enforcement Sensitive, Propriety 
Information or DEA-sensitive (specific to DEA). Each of these designations have 
"unique definitions and safeguard requirements," but they do not have "specific 
guidance on the types of information that merit each designation," the report 

Without specific guidelines, employees do not know if the information warrants 
a sensitive but classified distinction. The components of DOJ do not train 
their employees to make these decisions nor do they oversee the process by 
which employees label the information.

Coordinating the classification process within DOJ will not take place until 
the end of December. Officials are waiting on results from an interagency work 
group that is standardizing classification procedures throughout the 
government. The agency said once these standards are available, they will make 
additional changes to their component's current practices.

Once the work group's standards are available, auditors recommend the attorney 
general make DOJ:
Establish specific guidance for applying the designations they will use;
Ensure that all employees authorized to make the designations have the 
necessary training before they can designate documents; and
Set internal controls for overseeing sensitive but unclassified designations to 
help ensure that they are properly applied.
DOJ has taken action on five of the 10 ISOO recommendations, GAO found. The 
department has addressed its need to update and make its training more relevant 
and to fix its component monitoring problems. But Justice needs more people to 
do this and the department has failed to address its staff shortage issues, 
which GAO cited as ISOO's most important recommendation.



by Jeff Jonas [engineer and chief scientist with IBM's Entity Analytic 
Solutions Group] and Jim Harper [director of information policy studies at the 
Cato Institute].

"Though data mining has many valuable uses, it is not well suited to the 
terrorist discovery problem. It would be unfortunate if data mining for 
terrorism discovery had currency within national security, law enforcement, and 
technology circles because pursuing this use of data mining would waste 
taxpayer dollars, needlessly infringe on privacy and civil liberties, and 
misdirect the valuable time and energy of the men and women in the national 
security community."
Thanks to Sabrina Pacifici, beSpacific.org


Cited in U.N. Draft Resolution

By Dafna Linzer (Staff writer Colum Lynch at the United Nations contributed to 
this report)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 11, 2006; A01

When the State Department recently asked the CIA for names of Iranians who 
could be sanctioned for their involvement in a clandestine nuclear weapons 
program, the agency refused, citing a large workload and a desire to protect 
its sources and tradecraft.

Frustrated, the State Department assigned a junior Foreign Service officer to 
find the names another way -- by using Google. Those with the most hits under 
search terms such as "Iran and nuclear," three officials said, became targets 
for international rebuke Friday when a sanctions resolution circulated at the 
United Nations.

Policymakers and intelligence officials have always struggled when it comes to 
deciding how and when to disclose secret information, such as names of Iranians 
with suspected ties to nuclear weapons. In some internal debates, policymakers 
win out and intelligence is made public to further political or diplomatic 
goals. In other cases, such as this one, the intelligence community 
successfully argues that protecting information outweighs the desires of some 
to share it with the world.

But that argument can also put the U.S. government in the awkward position of 
relying, in part, on an Internet search to select targets for international 

None of the 12 Iranians that the State Department eventually singled out for 
potential bans on international travel and business dealings is believed by the 
CIA to be directly connected to Iran's most suspicious nuclear activities.

"There is nothing that proves involvement in a clandestine weapons program, and 
there is very little out there at all that even connects people to a 
clandestine weapons program," said one official familiar with the intelligence 
on Iran. Like others interviewed for this story, the official insisted on 
anonymity when discussing the use of intelligence.

What little information there is has been guarded at CIA headquarters. The 
agency declined to discuss the case in detail, but a senior intelligence 
official said: "There were several factors that made it a complicated and 
time-consuming request, not the least of which were well-founded concerns" 
about revealing the way the CIA gathers intelligence on Iran.
That may be why the junior State Department officer, who has been with the 
nonproliferation bureau for only a few months, was put in front of a computer.

An initial Internet search yielded over 100 names, including dozens of Iranian 
diplomats who have publicly defended their country's efforts as intended to 
produce energy, not bombs, the sources said. The list also included names of 
Iranians who have spoken with U.N. inspectors or have traveled to Vienna to 
attend International Atomic Energy Agency meetings about Iran.
It was submitted to the CIA for approval but the agency refused to look up such 
a large number of people, according to three government sources. Too 
time-consuming, the intelligence community said, for the CIA's Iran desk staff 
of 140 people. The list would need to be pared down. So the State Department 
cut the list in half and resubmitted the names.

In the end, the CIA approved a handful of individuals, though none is believed 
connected to Project 1-11 -- Iran's secret military effort to design a weapons 
system capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The names of Project 1-11 staff 
members have never been released by any government and doing so may have raised 
questions that the CIA was not willing or fully able to answer. But the agency 
had no qualms about approving names already publicly available on the Internet.

"Using a piece of intel on project 1-11, which we couldn't justify in 
open-source reporting, or with whatever the Russians had, would have put us in 
a difficult position," an intelligence official said. "Inevitably, someone 
would have asked, 'Why this guy?' and then we would have been back to the old 
problem of justifying intelligence."

A senior administration official acknowledged that the back-and-forth with the 
CIA had been difficult, especially given the administration's desire to isolate 
Iran and avoid a repeat of flawed intelligence that preceded the Iraq war.

"In this instance, we were the requesters and the CIA was the clearer," the 
official said. "It's the process we go through on a lot of these things. Both 
sides don't know a lot of reasons for why either side is requesting or denying 
things. Sources and methods became their stated rationale and that is what they 
do. But for policymaking, it can be quite frustrating."

Washington's credibility in the U.N. Security Council on weapons intelligence 
was sharply eroded by the collapse of prewar claims about Iraq. A senior 
intelligence official said the intelligence community is determined to avoid 
mistakes of the past when dealing with Iran and other issues. "Once you push 
intelligence out there, you can't take it back," the official said.

U.S., French and British officials came to agree that it was better to stay 
away from names that would have to be justified with sensitive information from 
intelligence programs, and instead put forward names of Iranians whose jobs 
were publicly connected to the country's nuclear energy and missile programs. 
European officials said their governments did not rely on Google searches but 
came up with nearly identical lists to the one U.S. officials offered.


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