Steven Aftergood

Recent Activity from Steven Aftergood

Special Operations Beyond War and Peace

“Power and influence are now diffusing to a range of actors, both state and non-state, who have not traditionally wielded it,” said Gen. Joseph L. Votel, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), last month. Under these circumstances, “Traditional approaches to deterrence are increasingly inadequate,” he said. “Adversaries [seek] to maximize their coercive influence while limiting their risk of serious retribution. They are becoming adept at avoiding crossing thresholds that would clearly justify the use […]

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Islamic State Financing, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have been withheld from public distribution include the following. Islamic State Financing and U.S. Policy Approaches, April 10, 2015 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force: Issues Concerning Its Continued Application, April 14, 2015 The War Powers Resolution: Concepts and Practice, April 3, 2015 Iran: Efforts to Achieve a Nuclear Accord, April 9, 2015 Science and Technology Issues in the 114th Congress, April 7, […]

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No Fly List: Govt Offers New Redress Procedures

Updated below The government will no longer refuse to confirm or deny that persons who are prevented from boarding commercial aircraft have been placed on the “No Fly List,” and such persons will have new opportunities to challenge the denial of boarding, the Department of Justice announced yesterday in a court filing. Until now, the Government refused to acknowledge whether or not an individual traveler had been placed on the No Fly List and, if […]

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National Archives Tackles Email Management

Overwhelmed by the challenge of trying to sort, identify and preserve historically valuable government email, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has devised what it calls the Capstone approach to email management. Under Capstone, government email would be categorized for retention or disposal based on the title or position of the email sender, rather than the contents of the email message. Those officials responsible for agency policy and mission performance would have their emails […]

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Justice Dept Updates its FOIA Regulations

The Department of Justice last week published newly updated regulations on implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, with several notable changes made in response to public comments. Fifteen sets of comments were submitted by individual members of the public or public interest organizations after the Department released its draft FOIA regulations in 2011. In a lengthy Federal Register notice on April 3, the Department addressed all of the comments, and actually adopted a number […]

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Railroad-Related Fatalities, and More from CRS

The leading cause of railroad-related deaths is not collisions or derailments, but trespassing, explains a neatly argued new issue brief from the Congressional Research Service. See Rail Safety Efforts Miss Leading Cause of Fatalities, CRS Insights, April 2, 2015. Other new and newly updated CRS reports that Congress has withheld from public distribution include the following. Net Neutrality: Selected Legal Issues Raised by the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, April 6, 2015 Ballistic Missile Defense […]

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Intelligence Oversight in the 113th Congress

During the last two years, the U.S. intelligence community has faced momentous challenges and experienced extraordinary upheaval, including the Snowden disclosures beginning in June 2013 and the release of a redacted summary of the Senate report on CIA interrogation practices last year. Those episodes and others are reflected in a new report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence describing its oversight activities in the 113th Congress from January 2013 to January 2015. Highlights of […]

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FRUS on Investigating Intelligence in the 1970s

“There is too much disclosure,” complained George H. W. Bush, then-Director of Central Intelligence, in a 1976 memo to President Gerald Ford. “We are continually pressed by Congress, by the courts, by the Freedom of Information Act, to give up sensitive material,” DCI Bush added. “We are trying to hold the line but there is a continuous erosion which gives away classified information at home and complicates our liaison relationships abroad. I am frustrated by […]

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Two New Judges Appointed to FISA Court

The Chief Justice of the United States has named two new judges to the eleven-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the Court announced last week. Chief Justice Roberts designated Judge James P. Jones of the Western District of Virginia and Judge Thomas B. Russell of the Western District of Kentucky to serve on the FISC beginning May 19, 2015. Judge Jones and Judge Russell were both nominated to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton. […]

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DHS Seeks Increase in Domestic HUMINT Collection

The Department of Homeland Security aims to increase its domestic human intelligence collection activity this year, the Department recently told Congress. In a question for the record from a September 2014 congressional hearing, Rep. Paul C. Broun (R-GA) asked:  “Do we currently have enough human intelligence capacity–both here in the homeland and overseas–to counter the threats posed by state and non-state actors alike?” The Department replied, in a response published in the full hearing volume […]

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