Information Flow

By Sebastian Sprenger / May 13, 2009 at 5:00 AM

At a House Armed Services Committee hearing with Defense Secretary Robert Gates this morning, senior Republicans on the panel complained that, in their view, Congress was kept in the dark about the analytical underpinnings of the Pentagon's defense budget request.

Part of the problem, they argued, were the nondisclosure agreements Gates asked of those working on budget matters. Gates dismissed the criticism, arguing the measure was necessary to prevent leaks during budget deliberations, particularly to Congressional offices.

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), who held up what appeared to be a copy of the pledge during his questioning, grilled Gates on some of the specifics of the agreements.

Gates said he was unaware of the exact number of officials forced to sign them, but he estimated that figure to be around "several hundred."

He added that the non-disclosure agreement is no longer binding because the White House submitted the budget details to Congress last week -- a point Gates said he made during a staff meeting on Monday.