FAS Roundup: April 30, 2012

Investigation into leak prosecutions, nuclear forensics, new CRS reports and much more.


From the Blogs

  • Senate Review of CIA Interrogation Program “Nearing Completion”: The Senate Intelligence Committee has been reviewing the post-9/11 detention and interrogation practices of the Central Intelligence Agency for four years and is still not finished.  But the end appears to be in sight. Committee staff are said to have reviewed millions of pages of classified documents pertaining to the CIA program.
  • Govt Appeals Court-Ordered Release of Classified Document: On April 29,  government attorneys said that they would appeal an extraordinary judicial ruling that required the release of a classified document in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The document in question is a one-page position paper produced by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) concerning the U.S. negotiating position in free trade negotiations.  It was classified Confidential and was not supposed to be disclosed before 2013.
  • Nuclear Forensics: A terrorist attack using an improvised nuclear device would be hugely destructive. During the Cold War, nuclear weapons had a ‘return address’ since the U.S. could trace the trajectory back to the point of origin. Dr. Y investigates the background of nuclear forensics in a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog.
  • Patent Office Weighs Patent Secrecy for “Economic Security”: Steven Aftergood writes that in response to congressional direction, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is considering whether to expand the scope of patent secrecy orders — which prohibit the publication of affected patent applications — in order to enhance “economic security” and to protect newly developed inventions against exploitation by foreign competitors. Currently, patent secrecy orders are applied only to patent applications whose disclosure could be “detrimental to national security” as prescribed by the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951.

  • Why Are There So Many Leak Prosecutions?: As is often remarked, the number of individuals charged with Espionage Act violations by the Obama Administration for disclosing information to the media without authorization is unprecedented and exceeds all previous cases in all prior Administrations combined.  But why is that?
  • Govt Wants More Time to Respond to CIA Drone FOIA Case: On April 24, government attorneys asked a court for an extension of time to respond to two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits seeking disclosure of records pertaining to “alleged targeted lethal operations” conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency, including the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. The attorneys’ request seems to portend a possible change in the government’s persistent refusal to acknowledge the widely reported fact of the CIA’s use of drones in targeted killing operations.



  • FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson spoke at a colloquium hosted by the physics department at the University of Texas at Austin on April 25, 2012 regarding the role of scientists and engineers in the security field. You can view Dr. Ferguson’s presentation here.


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