Powerful Democrat agrees to block disclosure of intelligence budget
John Byrne
Published: Tuesday August 7, 2007


Print This  Email This
 

Murtha accepts amendment to mask budget without debate

Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense John Murtha (D-PA) has moved to block a provision President Bush signed into law making the national intelligence budget public.

"One day after President Bush signed into law a bill that requires public disclosure of the national intelligence budget, the House of Representatives adopted an amendment to prevent that requirement from taking effect," Steven Aftergood, editor of Secrecy News, wrote Monday.

Passed by Congress last month and signed into law last Friday, "Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007," called for the disclosure of the national intelligence budget.

If adopted, it would make the first time the legislative branch has compelled the executive branch to reveal currently classified information, Aftergood say.

Only it now appears that a powerful member of the party challenging Bush Administration secrecy -- the Democrats -- will move to keep the figures under wraps.

After California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa offered an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act Aug 5 that would prohibit budget disclosure, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) announced the amendment was accepted -- without any debate.

The amendment will now be addressed in a House-Senate conference, which works to reconcile differences in the bills passed in each chamber before they are passed to the president to be signed into law.

The White House says they don't want the figures public, even despite Bush's signature on the bill.

"The opposing view," according to Aftergood, "adopted by the 9/11 Commission and endorsed by Congress last month, is that budget disclosure is an indispensable precondition to broader accountability and that it is essential to restoring the credibility of a defective classification system."