The process of declassifying national security records, which is hardly
expeditious under the best of circumstances, will become slower as a result
of the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration.

Due to sequestration, “NARA has reduced funding dedicated to the
declassification of Presidential records,” the National Archives and
Records Administration (NARA) said in a report last week.

“Instead, NARA staff will prepare documents for declassification, in
addition to their existing duties. This will slow declassification
processes and delay other work, including FOIA responses and special access
requests,” said the new report, which also identified several other adverse
effects of the across-the-board cuts.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2013/04/nara-seq.pdf

Meanwhile, because of the basic asymmetry between classification and
declassification, there is no particular reason to expect a corresponding
reduction in the rate at which new records are classified.

Classification is an integral part of the production of new national
security information that cannot be deferred, while declassification is a
distinct process that can easily be put on hold. Likewise, there is no
dedicated budget for “classification” to cut in the way that NARA has cut
declassification spending. And while Congress has erected barriers to
declassification (such as the Kyl-Lott Amendment to prohibit automatic
declassification of records without review), it has simultaneously allowed
declassification requirements to go overlooked and unenforced.

Some declassification is actually mandated by law. A 1991 statute on the
Foreign Relations of the United States series requires the Department of
State to publish a “thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of
major United States foreign policy decisions” no later than 30 years after
the fact, necessitating the timely declassification of the underlying
records. But law or no law, the government has not complied with this
publication schedule.

EGYPT AND THE IMF, AND MORE FROM CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service assesses the economic
state of post-revolution Egypt and finds it fairly grim.

“After more than two years of social unrest and economic stagnation
following the 2011 popular uprising, the government of Egypt is facing
serious economic pressures that, if not remedied, could lead to economic
collapse and possibly new levels of violence,” the report says.

“Egyptian authorities and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been
in negotiations for more than two years over an IMF loan to Egypt in
exchange for policy reforms that, if successful, could stave off economic
collapse and create more ‘inclusive’ growth…. [but] No agreement has been
finalized or implemented to date. Egyptian authorities have been reluctant
to commit to economic reforms that may be politically unpopular and
increase the country’s debt.”

Background on the negotiations and on U.S. aid to Egypt are presented in
Egypt and the IMF: Overview and Issues for Congress, April 29, 2013:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/R43053.pdf

Some other CRS reports on Middle Eastern countries that have been recently
updated include the following.

Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights, April 26, 2013:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RS21968.pdf

Iran Sanctions, April 24, 2013:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RS20871.pdf

U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, April 11, 2013:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses, April 4, 2013:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL32048.pdf

Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations, April 1, 2013:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33546.pdf

INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT AGREEMENTS, AND MORE FROM CRS

The international agreements that constitute the infrastructure of
international trade and investment are spotlighted in an informative new
report from the Congressional Research Service.

“In the absence of an overarching multilateral framework on investment,
bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and investment chapters in free trade
agreements (FTAs), collectively referred to as ‘international investment
agreements,’ have emerged as the primary mechanism for promoting a
rules-based system for international investment,” the new report explains.

“Presently, there are over 3,000 BITs globally. The United States has
concluded 47 BITs, 41 of which have entered into force.” These treaties
were tabulated by CRS and presented along with other little-known data on
the subject in U.S. International Investment Agreements: Issues for
Congress, April 29, 2013:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R43052.pdf

Other new or newly updated CRS reports obtained by Secrecy News include
the following.

Mountaintop Mining: Background on Current Controversies, April 29, 2013:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS21421.pdf

National Park System: Establishing New Units, April 25, 2013:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS20158.pdf

The Administrative Process by Which Groups May Be Acknowledged as Indian
Tribes by the Department of the Interior, April 26, 2013:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43051.pdf

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Reform: An Overview of
Proposals to Reduce the Growth in SSDI Rolls, April 29, 2013:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43054.pdf

Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles:
Background and Issues, April 26, 2013:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/R41464.pdf

_______________________________________________
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.

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_______________________
Steven Aftergood
Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists
web: http://www.fas.org/sgp/index.html
email: saftergood@fas.org
voice: (202) 454-4691
twitter: @saftergood

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