Zakaria - Reuters
WASHINGTON — A Web site has posted CIA documents revealing a 1998 briefing for visiting Japanese security officials about the structure and focus of U.S. intelligence — but experts said on Sunday that the most exciting thing about it was probably its "secret" designation.
The documents were posted on a Web site maintained by New York architect John Young that is dedicated to fighting government secrecy. They included the agenda for a CIA briefing of officials from Japan's Public Security Investigation Agency, a slide presentation marked "secret" and a list of PSIA agents.
The Japanese Ministry of Justice describes the PSIA as one its "major external organs," set up in 1952 to gather domestic and international information on "subversive organizations."
The agency's most prominent target in recent years has been the Aum Shinri Kyo (Supreme Truth) doomsday cult, whose gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995 killed 12 people and injured thousands.
Much of the CIA material was basics about the structure and function of U.S. intelligence operations, and its disclosure was not generally seen as a threat to national security.
"It ain't the end of the world," one U.S. intelligence official said.
Request for Removal Snubbed
Young said the FBI had asked him, at the request of Japanese authorities, to remove the list of PSIA employees from his Internet site, Cryptome (http://jya.com/crypto.htm), but he had refused.
He acknowledged in an e-mail to the FBI that he expected in consequence to be contacted directly by the Ministry of Justice.
Young said his purpose in publishing the names was "to contribute to public awareness of how government functions and to identify who performs those functions."
Hironari Noda, a former PSIA officer, gave the briefing materials to Young.
The agenda for the visiting Japanese intelligence officials, dated June 22, 1998, included a general overview of the U.S. intelligence community and discussion of the latest activities of terrorist organizations and the countries most active in nuclear arms proliferation. Information was to be shared on the development and production of nuclear weapons in India and Pakistan.
The slide presentation, dated the same day, included the information that a presidential directive had established "hard targets" for intelligence efforts, concentrating on Iran, China, North Korea, Cuba and Russia.
Executive boards had been created between July 1996 and May 1997 to review intelligence plans for each country, the slides said.
They also referred to a "watch" tier of countries with the potential of hatching a major crisis in six to 12 months. These included Algeria, Angola, Burundi/Rwanda, Cambodia, Congo (Kinshasa), Haiti and Indonesia.
Discussing trends in the intelligence budget, the slides said it had fallen 16 percent in real terms since fiscal 1990.
They said foreign intelligence programs had been downsized by more than 20,559 people, or 20 percent, since fiscal 1991.
Intelligence budgets and personnel levels are classified.
Despite the downsizing, personnel costs rose to $5.4 billion in fiscal 1999 from $4.7 billion in fiscal 1991, according to the slides. "If we had not downsized, personnel costs would have been $1.4 billion higher in fiscal 1999," one said.
"I don't think they're earthshaking," Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' project on government secrecy, said of the leaked documents. "If they were not classified, they would hardly be worth a second glance."
"We're interested in making more government documents available to the public," Young said in a telephone interview. "This is in the public interest for more transparency."