Trust Us, We’re Spies (continued)



previous

But on April 6, CIA Director George Tenet took time out from the war in Yugoslavia to file a motion in a U.S. District Court arguing that the number the President requested for 1999 could not be released.(Tenet had already released the appropriated figure for those years.) Aftergood and his attorney, Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies, filed their own brief, which the CIA was supposed to rebut by early June.

Instead, citing other priorities, the agency put off its answer a few weeks, filing a final appeal on June 17. Martin has asked the judge to call for oral arguments on the case. The judge may rule on the case at any time.

Given the court’s track record in cases involving CIA claims of national security (it almost always rules in favor of the CIA), the FAS lawsuit might seem dead on arrival. Already, according to Aftergood and Martin, the CIA has filed a classified brief — which the two can’t even see, let alone rebut — arguing against the release of the 1999 intelligence budget figures.

The CIA won’t give up easily, but Martin claims to have some very powerful friends on her side: the President and Congress. In 1994, Congress asked a commission of bipartisan national security experts to determine, as part of a study of U.S. intelligence after the Cold War, whether the budget request could be released without damage to national security. In 1996, the panel declared that both the President’s request and Congress’ final appropriation could be safely disclosed, and recommended that the President do so. In response, President Clinton said in April of that year he was authorizing the release of the overall intelligence budget figure.

Nonetheless, it took the FAS lawsuit to actually force the figure’s release. Now, according to Tenet, certain things have changed which justify keeping the intel budget numbers from the public after all. The CIA maintains the budget request, in fact, cannot be released because to do so now “reasonably could be expected to provide foreign governments with the United States’ own assessment of its intelligence capabilities and weaknesses,” Tenet wrote in his April 6 declaration, submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

next

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

Our goal is to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We're aiming to create a reporting position dedicated to uncovering corruption, build a team, and let them investigate for a year—publishing our stories in a concerted window: a special issue of our magazine, video and podcast series, and a dedicated online portal so they don't get lost in the daily deluge of headlines and breaking news.

We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate