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Gina Haspel’s CIA Torture File, Potential Changes to DOD’s MDR Process, and More: FRINFORMSUM 4/26/2018

April 26, 2018

Gina Haspel’s CIA Torture File

The Trump administration’s nominee to be CIA director, Gina Haspel, personally supervised the torture of a CIA detainee in 2002 leading to at least three waterboard sessions, subsequently drafted the cable that ordered destruction of the videotape evidence of torture, and served as a senior CIA official while the Agency was lying to itself, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the Congress, and the public about the effectiveness of torture in eliciting useful intelligence, according to declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive.

The documents include a new and less-redacted version of the CIA Inspector General’s report from 2004, repeated references in the declassified Senate Intelligence Committee torture report to Ms. Haspel’s tenure as chief of base of the CIA black site (“Detention Site Green” in Thailand) in 2002, and other CIA documents on the shyster shrinks, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, whose torture program Ms. Haspel supervised in November 2002 and supported through multiple senior CIA positions until President Obama ended the torture program in 2009.

Read the full story and the documents here.

DOD’s Latest “Homeland Defense” Guidance Critical of Use of Classified Information Systems

The Joint Chiefs of Staff issued new guidance “on cyberspace operations, unmanned aerial systems, defense support of civil authorities, and even a bit of national security classification policy” last week. Steve Aftergood points out an “odd editorial remark” in the guidance that faults the DOD itself for over-relying on classified information systems, on which it stores both classified and unclassified information. The guidance correctly argues that the practice inhibits transparency and information sharing.

Change to MDR Process at Pentagon Coming?

A bill introduced by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, should be monitored carefully by open government advocates and historians. The bill proposes eliminating the Defense Department’s Washington Headquarters Service Agency, the entry point for Mandatory Declassification Review requests for many DOD agencies including the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The bill aims to drastically cut spending at the agency, as much as 25 percent, and does not address how WHS functions – like MDR and FOIA processing – would be relocated.

Corruption at Customs and Border Protection

Thirteen Customs and Border Protection officers have been arrested on corruption-related charges since the beginning of the Trump administration, according to FOIA-released records obtained by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO). The charges range from “drug smuggling to bribery to theft to sharing top-secret government data” and add to the growing list of over 200 CBP employees who have been arrested since 2004. Drug smuggling is the most common charge levied against CBP employees under the Trump administration. Of the more than 200 CBP employees arrested, 52 were removed or fired, with two being later reinstated, and 124 resigned.

EPA Removes FOIA-Released Documents from Online Portal after Critical News Coverage

The Union of Concerned Scientists reports that FOIA-released records show that a new Environmental Protection Agency policy “would restrict the agency’s ability to use the best available science in decision-making is driven by politics.” The FOIA release also demonstrates that EPA officials were more concerned about releasing industry trade secrets than personal information when responding to FOIA.

The documents – 124 of them – were released in response the UCS’s FOIA requests were and posted by the EPA on FOIAonline. But the EPA removed the documents three days later after extensive reporting on the policy, claiming concern about personal privacy and attorney-client communications. In his coverage of the story Scott Hodes reminds that, “whenever there is a controversy about publicly released documents, it’s always a standby position for agency officials to say the word privacy in their reason to block public dissemination of documents.”

UCS posts more than 100 of the 124 documents here.

My Dear Fidel

The Archive’s Peter Kornbluh’s remarkable telling of the love affair between Fidel Castro and ABC’s Lisa Howard, and its impact on US-Cuba relations, is this month’s Politico Magazine cover story. After the CIA obtained “disturbing” intelligence reports that Fidel Castro had threatened to shoot down US reconnaissance planes in retaliation for the Coast Guard seizure of four Cuban fishing boats, Howard secretly traveled to Cuba to convey a US government warning to Castro, and returned with his assurances that “nothing will happen to our planes, and that we do not need to send him any warnings” – a message passed through UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson directly to President Johnson.

The documents behind the Politico piece, including Howard’s personal papers, show how “intimate diplomacy” helped resolve a potential crisis with Cuba in mid-1964, are published on the Archive’s website.

Cyber Briefing: NIST Framework for Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity

This week the National Security Archive’s Cyber Vault highlights the newest iteration of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s critical infrastructure cybersecurity framework. The “Cyber brief” includes this document (Version 1.1), two developmental drafts with comments, a summary of a workshop held on the framework, and the first edition (Version 1.0) accompanied by two presentations on the framework. This collection of documents highlights the work of a key contributor to cybersecurity policy that is not considered to be part of the national security apparatus by most of the public.

TBT Pick – Is Kanye/Trump the New Elvis/Nixon?

This week’s #TBT pick is chosen with Kanye West’s recent Twitter proclamation that “the mob can’t make me” not love President Trump In mind (Trump tweeted back: Very cool!). Kanye isn’t the first music star to gush about a president – the most famous is probably Elvis’ fondness for President Nixon. The bizarre photo of the two men together on December 21, 1970 was at one point the most requested photo reproduction from the US National Archives. According to a National Security Archive posting:

The meeting was initiated by Presley, who wrote Nixon a six-page letter requesting a visit with the President and suggesting that he be made a “Federal Agent-at-Large” in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. The events leading up to and after the meeting are detailed in the documentation and photographs included here, which include Presley’s handwritten letter, memoranda from Nixon staff and aides, and the thank-you note from Nixon for the gifts (including a Colt 45 pistol and family photos) that Presley brought with him to the Oval Office.

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