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CIA does not have to reveal budget request information

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  1. Freedom of Information

    NMU         WASHINGTON, D.C.         Freedom of Information         Nov 23, 1999    

CIA does not have to reveal budget request information

  • Because CIA budget requests might affect national security or reveal information that is confidential under federal law, the agency will not be ordered to divulge its total intelligence budget request for 1999.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. ruled in mid-November that the Central Intelligence Agency can keep its 1999 intelligence total budget request secret, holding both that release of the aggregate figure could damage national security and that its disclosure would reveal “sources and methods” that are confidential under a federal statute.

Judge Thomas Hogan rejected arguments made by Steven Aftergood on behalf of the Federation of American Scientists. Aftergood said that Article I of the U.S. Constitution dictates that “a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.”

Aftergood also told the court that the CIA had disclosed budget totals in response to Freedom of Information Act lawsuits in previous years and no damage to national security had occurred.

The judge agreed with the government that disclosure of the budget request would provide foreign governments with the nation’s “own assessment of its strengths and weaknesses,” that it would assist them in correlating their own intelligence programs, and that it would free them from “their limited collection and analysis resources for other efforts targeted against the United States.”

The government also argued successfully that because appropriations for the CIA and additional intelligence agencies are hidden in other appropriations requests, release of the total request might tend to reveal secret budgeting mechanisms constituting “intelligence methods.”

Hogan did not make the decision public until late November.

(Aftergood v. CIA; Counsel for Aftergood: Kate Martin, Washington, D.C.)

© 1999 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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