FAS Roundup- February 20, 2012

FAS Roundup: February 20, 2012

Pentagon discloses military intelligence budget request, potential cuts in U.S. nuclear forces by Obama administration, question of reporter privilege and much more. 

From the Blogs

  • Pentagon Basic Research Said to Need “More Transparency”: The Department of Defense basic research program has many strengths as well as some serious weaknesses, according to a new report from the Defense Science Board (DSB) obtained by Secrecy News. But, DoD needs to open up and to improve its information management practices.
  • Nuclear Studies and Republican Disarmers: A recent report that the Obama administration is considering deep cuts in U.S. nuclear forces has Congressional Republicans up in arms. Right-wing institutions have criticized the administration for preparing reckless unilateral cuts that jeopardize U.S. security. Hans Kristensen writes that as it turns out, Republican presidents have been the biggest nuclear reducers in the post-Cold War era.
  • Reporter’s Privilege at Issue in Sterling Leak Case: The question of whether a reporter is entitled to protect confidential sources has emerged as a central issue in the pending pre-trial appeal in prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling, the former CIA officer who is accused of leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen.
  • Who Gives a Fig for the Higgs?: A few months ago, the Center for European Nuclear Research reported it had found evidence of the most-wanted subatomic particle – the Higgs Boson (aka the God particle). If this finding is confirmed it will wrap up one of the longest-standing loose ends in our current model (the Standard Model) of particle physics. Dr. Y examines what the Higgs particle is and why we care about it.
  • Pentagon Discloses Military Intelligence Budget Request: Steven Aftergood writes that the release of the FY 2013 budget proposal on February 13, 2012 contained one surprise: the disclosure by the Department of Defense of the amount requested for the Military Intelligence Program (MIP). This is something that the Pentagon has never done before, and indeed had refused to do.
  • A Quick Note About Iranian Nuclear Weapons:  Dr. Y writes that there has been a lot of debate recently about the continually putative Iranian nuclear weapons program. This obviously poses a risk and it seems at least plausible to assume that developing nuclear weapons is an Iranian goal. But we still have to be careful about the claims that are being made to make sure that we understand the severity of the situation.
  • Agencies Told to Report on Decline in Secrecy: After all the speeches about greater openness and press releases about secrecy reform, one may ask: What has actually been accomplished? The Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), which is responsible for oversight of the national security classification system, would like agencies to answer this question when they submit their final reports on the Fundamental Classification Guidance Review in June 2012.


Event Transcript

  • Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project, gave a briefing at the Fourth Nuclear Deterrence Summit in Arlington, VA on February 15, 2012 on the Obama administration’s ongoing nuclear targeting review; slides from the briefing can be viewed here. 
  • FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson spoke at a colloquium hosted by American University’s Department of Physics in Washington, DC on February 15, 2012 on how to build and dismantle nuclear bombs. Presentation slides can be viewed here.
  • Melanie Stegman, director of the Learning Technologies Project, spoke at the annual eTech Ohio Conference in Columbus, OH on February 14, 2012 regarding Immune Attack and how students can use video games to learn scientific concepts.


Volunteer Opportunity for DC Members

  • FAS will have a booth at the 2nd Annual USA Science and Engineering Festival which will be held on April 28-29 in Washington, DC. We are looking for volunteers to staff our booth-come share your knowledge and career experiences with festival attendees! If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Melanie Stegman at [email protected].For more information on our booth and the festival, click here.      


FAS in the News


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