FAS Roundup: July 16, 2012

Polygraph tests and leaks, DoD report on Iran and much more.

From the Blogs

  • Fundamental Classification Review Yields Uncertain Results: The executive branch has just completed a two-year review of its classification guidance that was ordered by President Obama as a way to combat overclassification of government information. The early results of the Fundamental Classification Guidance Review, which formally concluded on June 27, make it clear that something out of the ordinary occurred and that some changes have been made, but the significance of those changes remains uncertain. The single most dramatic outcome of the review is that the Department of Defense, which is the largest classifying agency, eliminated more than 400 of its 2000 classification guides.  Each guide is a compilation of detailed classification instructions for an individual program or topical area.  Those cancelled guides can no longer be used to authorize the classification of information.
  • Polygraphs and Leaks- A Look Back at NSDD 84: Steven Aftergood investigates the history behind National Security Decision Directive 84 from March 11, 1983 which directed that “All departments and agencies with employees having access to classified information are directed to revise existing regulations and policies, as necessary, so that employees may be required to submit to polygraph examinations, when appropriate, in the course of investigations of unauthorized disclosures of classified information.”

  • Flame Wars: There is a recent report in the United Kingdom of a number of fires aboard British ballistic missile submarines over the past few years- as high as 266 fires on submarines over the last quarter-century. Dr Y. investigates the scale of these incidents on the ScienceWonk Blog.
  • A New Judge for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court: Steven Aftergood writes that Judge Raymond J. Dearie of the Eastern District of New York was appointed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on July 2 by the Chief Justice of the United States.The 11-member FIS Court rules on applications for domestic intelligence surveillance and physical search under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
  • Pentagon: Iran Seeks to “Force a Diplomatic Solution to Hostilities”: Iran continues to develop its military capabilities, including ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons-related technologies, and unconventional forces, according to a new Department of Defense report to Congress obtained by Secrecy News. The report itself appears to stress that while developing offensive capabilities, Iran’s military posture is essentially defensive in character.
  • Due Process Guarantee Act: The Due Process Guarantee Act  is a bill that was introduced last year by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and colleagues to explicitly prohibit the indefinite detention without trial of United States citizens who are apprehended within the United States on suspicion of terrorism. The bill was crafted due to a residual ambiguity in last year’s defense authorization act that seemed to leave it an open question as to whether Americans could be so detained or not. The bill has not progressed to a vote in the House or the Senate.  But the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on it last February 29 and the full record of that hearing has recently been published.
  • DNI  Seeks to Bolster IC Foreign Language Capability: The Director of National Intelligence issued a new directive that is intended to improve foreign language skills throughout the U.S. intelligence community. “Foreign language capabilities are essential to the performance of intelligence missions and operations,” the May 2012 directive notes.
  • Quick Bits: Dr. Y summarizes and discusses recent science stories in the news including contaminated stainless steel in pet dishes, the development of a new type of neutron detector, and the plausibility that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat might have been poisoned with polonium in 2004.
  • Army Intelligence on Language and Cultural Competency: Secrecy News has obtained the latest issue of the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. “Language and cultural competency” is the theme of the issue, which includes topics such as cultural relativism, ethnography, “patron-client relations,” the stand-up of AFRICOM (US Africa Command) from an African perspective, and “operational culture training for the French military in Africa.”
  • Former ISOO Director Again Asks Court to Release NSA Documents: Last May, J. William Leonard, the former director of the Information Security Oversight Office, asked a federal court for permission to disclose and discuss declassified National Security Agency documents that had been cited in the prosecution of former NSA official Thomas Drake.  The documents represented a particularly “egregious” and “willful” case of overclassification, Mr. Leonard said, that needed to be publicly addressed. Last month, government attorneys said there was no basis for action by the Court, and they suggested that Mr. Leonard could submit a Freedom of Information Act request to NSA for the documents instead. On July 11, Mr. Drake’s attorneys fired back in support of Mr. Leonard, who served as an expert for the Drake defense. They said Mr. Leonard is properly seeking relief from the Court because it was the Court that issued the Protective Order that limits his ability to discuss the issue.
  • Article V Conventions to Amend the Constitution:  Steven Aftergood writes that the Congressional Research Service has just produced a second report concerning “Article V Conventions” by which state legislatures can try to initiate amendments to the U.S. Constitution. In other CRS related news, on July 10, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives that make non-confidential CRS reports publicly available on a congressional website.  If the resolution is approved, the public would have authorized access to most CRS reports and would no longer have to rely on unauthorized access.


  • On Tuesday, July 10, FAS and The Heritage Foundation hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on innovations in nuclear waste management. Speakers included FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson, Professor Cliff Singer of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Jack Spencer from the Heritage Foundation, and Sharon Squassoni of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. To read a recap of the event click here.

FAS in the News


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