The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 launches the NROL-35 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Dec. 12, 2014. Reuters

One of the lesser known U.S. intelligence agencies altered its transparency policies by making its budget records classified and switching previously “releasable” material like unclassified budget information to classified material, according to a blog post by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) is the country’s main intelligence agency for building and operating its satellites, and also falls under the Department of Defense’s purview, since its inception in 1961.

According to the FAS, the NRO has released it’s the unclassified sections of its “budget justification documents” under past Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests since 2006, but last month issued a letter stating those documents now fall under the jurisdiction of an executive order issued by now former President Barack Obama in Dec. 2009.

The NRO did not respond to a request for comment from International Business Times.

Director of the FAS’s Project on Government Secrecy, Steven Aftergood, filed an FOIA request in March 2015 for a copy of the NRO’s Congressional Budget Justification Book for Fiscal Year 2016. The NRO’s letter, sent on Jan. 23, said his request was processed and denied under several sections of Obama’s order 13526. Aftergood also wrote the blog post.

The section in question is called “Classification Categories," with Obama’s order stating: “ Information shall not be considered for classification unless its unauthorized disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause identifiable or describable damage to the national security in accordance with section 1.2 of this order, and it pertains to one or more of the following:

"Those conditions include intelligence activities (including covert action), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology; scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to national security; vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, infrastructures, projects, plans, or protection services relating to the national security."

The letter also cited Section 1.7 (e) of the order that reads: “Compilations of items of information that are individually unclassified may be classified if the compiled information reveals an additional association or relationship that: (1) meets the standards for classification under this order; and (2) is not otherwise revealed in the individual items of information.”

The FAS considers the NRO’s denial a “misreading” of the aforementioned section and filed an administrative appeal Wednesday.

There are 1,419 satellites orbiting the Earth as of June 30 of last year, according to the Union of Concern Scientists. The U.S. has 576 satellites - compared to Russia’s 140 and China’s 181 – and 286 of those are for commercial use. However, the U.S. government and military control a combined 278 satellites.