Public companies working on national defense or national security issues can now get an exemption from the reporting requirements governed by the Securities and Exchange Commission from the director of national intelligence.

In a May 5 memo published in last week's Federal Register, President Bush granted his intelligence czar -- currently John Negroponte -- with the authority to excuse public companies from basic filing requirements. Carrying a less-than-transparent heading, "Assignment of Function Relating to Granting of Authority for Issuance of Certain Directives," the president's memo referred to the Constitution in assigning Negroponte's office the power to suspend provisions of the 1934 Securities and Exchange Act .

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