Steven Aftergood

Recent Activity from Steven Aftergood

Energy Dept to Review Classification Standards for Clarity

The Department of Energy will review its classification standards to improve their clarity and to eliminate possible ambiguities, the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration told the Federation of American Scientists this week. The issue arose in response to the case of James Doyle, a Los Alamos political scientist who published an article on nuclear weapons policy that was initially cleared for publication, but then was said to contain classified information. Doyle’s employment at […]

Read More

State Secrets Privilege Used Improperly, Court is Told

When the government intervened in a private lawsuit to assert the state secrets privilege and to seek dismissal of the entire proceeding (Secrecy News, September 15), it acted improperly and misused the state secrets privilege, the attorney for the plaintiff in the case told the Court yesterday. “The Government has improperly invoked the state secrets privilege, deprived Plaintiffs of the opportunity to test the Government’s claims through the adversarial process, and limited the Court’s opportunity […]

Read More

CIA Posts Hundreds of Declassified Journal Articles

The Central Intelligence Agency has posted hundreds of declassified and unclassified articles from its in-house journal Studies in Intelligence, in an effort to settle a lawsuit brought by a former employee, Jeffrey Scudder. Until lately, the CIA had resisted release of the requested articles in softcopy format (Secrecy News, March 17), but the Agency eventually relented. “Of the 419 documents that remain in dispute in Scudder, the CIA has produced 249 in full or in […]

Read More

Court Requires Review of State Secrets Documents

Over the objections of government attorneys, a federal judge said yesterday that he would require in camera review of documents that the government says are protected by the state secrets privilege. The issue arose in the case of Gulet Mohamed v. Eric Holder, challenging the constitutionality of the “no fly” list. The government had argued that it is “inappropriate” for a court to review such records to verify that they are validly privileged, and that […]

Read More

Private Lawsuit Jeopardizes State Secrets, US Says

The U.S. Government asserted the state secrets privilege last week in a private lawsuit to which the government is not a party and moved for dismissal of the case. Greek businessman Victor Restis had filed a lawsuit last year against the private advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), alleging that the group had falsely and maliciously accused Restis of engaging in illict commerce with Iran. UANI, whose advisory board includes numerous former government officials, […]

Read More

PDD 62: Counterterrorism Policy Prior to 9/11

According to a newly declassified White House policy directive, counterterrorism policy has yielded “an increased rate of renditions, apprehensions, and convictions of terrorists,” as well as “a significant expansion of counterterrorism legislative authorities” and “a large increase in counterterrorism funding.” But that White House directive — Presidential Policy Directive 62, Protection Against Unconventional Threats to the Homeland and Americans Overseas — was issued by President Bill Clinton, and dates from May 22, 1998. Even the […]

Read More

Iraqi and Afghan Immigrant Visa Programs, and More from CRS

New products from the Congressional Research Service that have been withheld from online public distribution include the following. Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Programs, September 12, 2014 The Federal Trade Commission’s Regulation of Data Security Under Its Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices (UDAP) Authority, September 11, 2014 Diplomatic and Embassy Security Funding Before and After the Benghazi Attacks, September 10, 2014

Read More

Special Operations as a Technology Driver

The continuing prominence of special operations as an instrument of U.S. force projection is creating requirements for “revolutionary, game changing” new technologies and fostering the development of solutions to those requirements. Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command until last month, told the House Armed Services Committee in two newly published hearing volumes that a range of new technologies are under development by SOCOM, including laser weapons, new emergency medicine techniques, color […]

Read More

Military Action Against the Islamic State, and More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service considers the legal underpinning of U.S. military action against the so-called Islamic State, including the sources and limits of presidential authority, and the relevance of past Authorizations for Use of Military Force. See U.S. Military Action Against the Islamic State: Answers to Frequently Asked Legal Questions, September 9, 2014. See also Considerations for Possible Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State, CRS Insights, September […]

Read More

New Exemptions from 50 Year Declassification Approved

Most of the national security agencies in the executive branch have now been granted approval to exempt certain 50 year old classified information from automatic declassification. The national security classification system normally requires declassification of classified documents as they become 25 years old, with several specified exemptions to allow continued classification up to 50 years. Only “in extraordinary cases” may agency heads propose to exempt information from declassification when it is 50 years old, says […]

Read More