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DOJ Seeks Comments on “Release to One, Release to All” Policy by Dec. 23: FRINFORMSUM 12/15/2016

December 15, 2016

Release to One, Release to All – Law Enforcement Carve-out Citing Mosaic Theory a Slippery Slope


The Department of Justice is seeking comments on the “Release to One, Release to All” policy prepared by the Office of Information Policy (OIP); the comment period is open through 11:59 PM on December 23.

The draft contains two potential options for the timing of posting FOIA-processed documents: “1) agencies should post documents online as soon as administratively feasible following a release to a requester; or 2) agencies should post documents online as soon as administratively feasible, but only after a delay of five working days following release to a requester, to allow requesters a brief period of time with exclusive access to the requested records.”

The National Security Archive would be happy to see agencies posting documents either immediately or with a brief delay.

The potentially problematic part of the policy, however, is part B – the “good cause” exemptions to posting. The “good cause” exemption, if enacted, would contain a broad carve-out for law enforcement agencies wishing to not publicly release records under the so-called“mosaic theory” argument, in which intelligence agencies argue that someone could collect “seemingly disparate pieces of information and assembl[e] them into a coherent picture” in such a way that would pose a grave damage to national security.  This could become an “any document, any time” excuse for some agencies to avoid their responsibilities under FOIA.

Department of Defense Releases Office of Net Assessment Documents


The Department of Defense recently posted a batch of 61 documents from Andy Marshall’s Office of Net Assessment (ONA) (the documents begin with “litigation release”). Topics covered include “Axis of Troubles: Male Youth, Factional Politics and Religion,” “Building ‘Hedgehogs’ in the Persian Gulf Region,” and  “Why China Seeks Confrontation with the United States.” ONA was established in 1973 and Marshall served as its director from its inception until early last year; the office looks at a wide variety of significant issues, ranging from “nuclear proliferation, future naval warfare and the use of space,” and hopefully this batch of documents is an indicator that more ONA documents will eventually be made public.

Flynn “Did Not Have Permission” to Share Classified Information, Army Says

Army documents from a 2010 investigation into complaints Michael Flynn inappropriately divulged classified information on Afghanistan with foreign military officials “determined that Flynn did not have permission to share the particular secrets he divulged.” The documents were released to the Washington Post under the FOIA. Flynn was not punished for the disclosure, “after the investigation concluded that he did not act ‘knowingly’ and that ‘there was no actual or potential damage to national security as a result.’”

In an interview with the Post’s Dana Priest that was published on August 15, 2016, Flynn said of the investigation: “I’m proud of that one. Accuse me of sharing intelligence in combat with our closest allies, please.”

A month earlier at the Republican National Convention in July, Flynn condemned Hillary Clinton for her her private email set-up, urging the crowd to “lock her up,” and saying, “If I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth, a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today.”

First declassified listing of strategic warheads outside Russia in 1991 = 3,429

Newly declassified documents – released to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Nunn-Lugar Act –  show that the risk of nuclear proliferation at the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 was even greater than publicly known at the time, with 3,429 Soviet strategic warheads scattered outside of Russia in various former Soviet republics. The Nunn-Lugar legislation began a flow of U.S. funding that helped secure the post-Soviet nuclear weapons as well as reduce chemical and biological dangers, with the hands-on cooperation of Russian, Kazakh and American military personnel and scientists. The National Security Archive, in addition to posting ten newly declassified documents helping show just how much cooperative security worked, hosted a 25th reunion this week of dozens of Nunn-Lugar veterans including Russians, Kazakhs, and Americans – including Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar – in the historic Kennedy Caucus Room of the U.S. Senate.

Obama Declassifies Top Secret Intelligence Files on Repression in Argentina

The Obama administration has released a comprehensive CIA report on Operation Condor operations showing that there existed plans to target Amnesty International officials as well as human rights groups, and planned overseas missions in Paris and London . “The basic mission of Condor teams to be sent overseas,” according to the CIA, was “to liquidate top-level terrorist leaders. Non-terrorists also were reportedly candidates for assassination,” the CIA reported in May 1977, and “some leaders of Amnesty Internation[al] were mentioned as targets.”

The secret CIA report is included among more than 500 pages of documents on repression during the military dictatorship in Argentina declassified today by the Obama administration as part of a commitment made by the president last March when he visited Buenos Aires on the 40th anniversary of the military coup.

Among the documents that the National Security Archive identified as newsworthy was a NSC summary of the torture of Alfredo Bravo the president of Argentina’s Permanent Assembly for Human Rights. The report was sent in August 1978 to President Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, by his top aide for Latin America, Robert Pastor, who detailed the atrocities the military had committed against Bravo. Pastor reported that Bravo had been “subjected to a bucket treatment where his feet were held in a bucket of ice water until thoroughly chilled and then shoved into a bucket of boiling water.” Bravo had also been subjected to electrical shocks and “subjected to ‘the submarine’—repeatedly being held under water until almost drowned.”

Remains of Eighth Individual Listed in Notorious Guatemalan “Death Squad Diary” ID’d

The exhumation of La Verbena cemetery in 2010 -- (c) James Rodríguez,

The exhumation of La Verbena cemetery in 2010
— (c) James Rodríguez,

The Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation (FAFG) has confirmed the identification of one of the victims associated with the notorious “Death Squad Diary,” or Diario Militar, a Guatemalan military document of the disappeared made public in 1999 by the National Security Archive. FAFG unearthed Juan Ramiro Estuardo Orozco López’s remains during its exhumation of ossuaries containing thousands of unidentified corpses at La Verbena cemetery in Guatemala City, and recently identified him by matching his body’s DNA with his family’s. In 1999, the Historical Clarification Commission concluded that some 200,000 civilians lost their lives during Guatemala’s civil conflict, among them 40,000 disappeared by state security forces. The National Security Archive continues its forensic archival work to find evidence of the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared, as well as to hold the Guatemalan state responsible for kidnapping and killing them.

TBT – U.S. Nuclear Terrorism Exercise Leaves Indianapolis in “Ruins”

Today’s #tbt pick is a 2012 posting on Mighty Derringer – a secret exercise by a U.S. government counter-terrorist unit that uncovered a host of potential problems associated with disrupting a nuclear terrorist plot in the United States. The posting contains almost 70 declassified documents and is notable for being the first publication of documents that provide in-depth exposure into all aspects of such an exercise – including the state-of-play at key points and the array of issues involved in disabling terrorist devices.

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Happy FOIA-ing!


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