Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Secrecy and More Secrecy: Department of War's "Special Access Programs" (SAP's)

While King George and Company are busy trying to convince us the “Unitary Executive” theory is Constitutional (just think Imperial Presidency with zero accountability or oversight), Don Rumsfeld and his Department of War are hiding what is being done thru “Special Access Programs—SAP’s—which allows all to be hidden from congress, the courts and especially us, “We the People”. Welcome to Democracy ala Bush/Cheney & Co., Inc. This will get worse when Samuel Alito is on the Supreme Court as he also believes in an Imperial Presidency as do all members of the Federalist Society. The following on SAP’s is from Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News. -- Jack


The Department of Defense has issued an updated directive governing the conduct of Special Access Programs, or SAPs.

SAPs are highly classified programs involving heightened security measures -- such as access control lists, special non-disclosure agreements, polygraph tests, etc. -- that go beyond those of ordinary ("collateral") programs that involve classified information.

Within the Department of Defense, there are Acquisition SAPs for classified military procurement, Intelligence SAPs dealing with particularly sensitive intelligence collection activities, and Operations and Support SAPs that cover sensitive military operations.

SAPs range in sensitivity from "acknowledged SAPs," the existence of which may be publicly admitted, to "unacknowledged SAPs," whose very existence is classified, to "waived SAPs," a subset of unacknowledged SAPs for which normal congressional reporting requirements are limited to eight senior members of Congress.

Almost by definition, assigning SAP status to a program impedes independent and congressional oversight. In the wake of the collapse of several large DoD acquisition SAPs in the early 1990s, internal DoD controls on SAPs were increased.It is possible that the recently disclosed NSA domestic surveillance operation was a "waived SAP," but this has not been confirmed.

See: DoD Directive 5205.07, "Special Access Program (SAP) Policy," January 5, 2006:

In 2001, Congress prohibited the creation of new SAPs except where 30 day prior notice was given to the congressional defense committees.

But in an early display of its controversial use of presidential signing statements to undercut legislative action, the Bush White House issued a statement reserving the right to defy this notification requirement (Secrecy News, 01/11/02):

Meanwhile, Pentagon program managers have devised a way to impose "SAP-like" security measures without even the limited oversight involved in an actual SAP, observed Washington Post blogger William Arkin last week.ACCMs, or "Alternative or Compensatory Control Measures," are quasi-SAPs that are "easier to establish [than SAPs] and the program doesn't have to be reported to Congress!" wrote Arkin, who notes that hundreds of ACCMs have been initiated since 9/11.

See: "More Compartmented Programs," Early Warning, January 13, 2006:


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