FAS Roundup: April 16, 2012

France’s nuclear forces, water security in Yemen, innovation in secrecy policy and much more.

From the Blogs

  • Secret Satellite Promptly Detected in Orbit: On April 3, the National Reconnaissance Office successfully launched a classified intelligence satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base.  Notwithstanding the usual operations security measures, amateur satellite trackers were able to locate the satellite in orbit within a few hours and videotape its passage overhead.
  • Technological Assessment at the Congressional Research Service: The elimination of the congressional Office of Technology Assessment in 1995 was a self-inflicted wound that left Congress with diminished capacity to evaluate the challenging scientific and technological issues that continue to confront it.  Steven Aftergood writes that the need for such an enterprise to support the legislative process has not gone away, and to a limited extent it is now being addressed by the Congressional Research Service (as well as the Government Accountability Office).
  • A Closer Look at Water Security in Yemen: A few weeks ago, the State Department took advantage of World Water Day to announce the release of a National Intelligence Council report entitled “Water Security,” which assessed the possible effects of water shortages on U.S. national security over the next several decades. Mark Jansson investigates the relationship between water security and U.S. national security, and how the NIC report relates to Yemen’s current water challenges on the FAS in a Nutshell Blog.
  • Fermi Versus Some Guy from Podunk: In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y writes that the world is the way that it is and the job of science is to try to tease out the rules that describe its workings. No vote – no matter how overwhelmingly one-sided – will change the rules of nature. So why is it that a recent University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) survey showed that belief in science continues to dwindle in the United States?
  • Institutionalizing Innovation in Secrecy Policy: Steven Aftergood writes that it is possible to imagine all kinds of changes in government secrecy policy that would make the secrecy system smaller, more efficient, more susceptible to error correction, and more attuned to shifting security requirements. But before any change could be adopted in practice, it would almost certainly need to be tested and validated for use, particularly if it involved a real departure from current procedures.
  • A New Edition of the Manual for Courts-Martial: Last week, the Department of Defense published the 2012 edition of the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM). The Manual contains the Rules for Courts-Martial (RCM), the Military Rules of Evidence (MRE), and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  The latest edition incorporates legislative amendments and other changes introduced since the previous edition was published in 2008.




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