FAS Roundup: August 6, 2012

Anniversary of Hiroshima, sanctions on Iran, anti-leak measures in Senate Bill and much more.

FAS Perspectives on Hiroshima

To commemorate the 67th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city of Hiroshima, FAS has invited members and distinguished experts to submit an opinion or reminiscence of Hiroshima and its lasting impacts for nuclear security and safety. FAS also invites your comments at the bottom of the page.

To read the essays click here.

From the Blogs

  • Defense, Critique of NSA Classification Action Released: A persistent controversy involving allegations of overclassification reached a new level of intensity on Friday when the National Security Agency released its explanation for the disputed classification of an NSA email message that was used to support an Espionage Act prosecution. The dispute concerns the validity of the classification of an internal NSA email message entitled “What a Wonderful Success!” that was found in the home of former NSA official Thomas Drake and that served as the basis for a felony charge against him, which was ultimately dismissed.  The email message, which was formally declassified in 2010, was itself publicly released the week before last.

  • What is Unauthorized Disclosure?: The anti-leak provisions proposed by the Senate Intelligence Committee in the pending FY2013 intelligence authorization act have been widely criticized as misconceived and ill-suited to achieving their presumed goals. Steven Aftergood writes that they also suffer from a lack of clarity and an absence of definitions of crucial terms. There is no clear definition of “the news media” to whom unauthorized disclosures are to be prohibited. Nor is the term “classified information” defined in the new bill as precisely as one would wish.
  • Pentagon Use of Polygraph Tests Rises Sharply: The number of polygraph examinations performed by the Department of Defense more than doubled over the past decade to over 43,000 tests in a one-year period, according to a study performed last year for the Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence). The large majority of the tests were for pre-employment or periodic reinvestigation employee screening purposes.  The remainder were conducted in the course of criminal or other investigations.
  • The Big Accelerator in the Sky: Where do cosmic rays come from? Most of these are born in the death of massive stars, and are accelerated to extraordinarily high energies by processes that we still don’t fully understand. In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y investigates the origin of high-energy cosmic rays.
  • Anti-Leak Measures in Senate Bill Target Press, Public: The Senate Intelligence Committee markup of the FY2013 Intelligence Authorization Act, which was officially filed on July 30, devotes an entire title including twelve separate provisions to the issue of unauthorized disclosures of classified information, or leaks. But several of those provisions aim to disrupt the flow of unclassified information to the press and the public rather than to stop leaks of classified information.
  • Leak Furor Persists in Senate: Speaking on the floor on August 1, Sen. John McCain reiterated his criticism of the Obama White House for allegedly leaking classified information that endangered national security, and he repeated his call for appointment of a special counsel to independently investigate the claims. Sen. McCain cited a particular incident in 2009 described by David Sanger of the New York Times in which a senior National Security Council official arranged a special briefing for Sanger in the Presidential suite at a Pittsburgh hotel about a secret nuclear site in Iran.
  • U.S. Army on Military Mountaineering: Secrecy News has obtained an updated training manual written by the U.S. Army on military mountaineering. From bowline knots to glacier traverses and emergency evacuations, the 300-page manual covers the basic techniques and essential skills of mountaineering.  It is intended as a training aid and naturally cannot serve as a substitute for training by an experienced instructor.


Up for Debate: Iran Sanctions

The United States has imposed new sanctions targeting Iranian oil sales to increase pressure on Tehran over its nuclear program. Iran continues to insist that its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes. The U.S. sanctions prohibit almost all trade with Iran.

Dr. Fariborz Ghadar of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Ms. Malou Innocent of The CATO Institute; Dr. Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute; and Dr. Djavid Salehi-Isfahani of Virginia Tech and the Brookings Institution debate the United States and United Nations sanctions policy towards Iran.

To view the debate click here.

FAS in the News


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