FAS Roundup: October 1, 2012

U.S.-NZ relations, new DNI directives, declassification at Department of Energy and much more.

From the Blogs

  • In 1962, Kennedy was Urged to Take “Drastic Action” Against Leakers: Fifty years ago, the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) urged President John F. Kennedy to take “drastic action” against whoever had leaked classified intelligence information to a New York Times reporter.  The Board also suggested that the CIA be empowered domestically to track down such leaks. The PFIAB recommendations to President Kennedy were memorialized in an August 1, 1962 report that established a template for future efforts to combat leaks, up to the present day.
  • Declassification Proceeds Methodically at Energy Department: The capacity of gas centrifuges to enrich uranium increased by two orders of magnitude between 1961 and 1967, from 0.39 kg-SWU/year to 30 kg-SWU/year. That striking fact was declassified by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2008 and made public this month. Under the terms of the Atomic Energy Act (section 142), which governs the classification of nuclear weapons-related information, the Department of Energy is required to conduct a “continuous review” of its classified information “in order to determine which information may be declassified.”  And so it does. Slowly and methodically, the Department has declassified numerous categories of nuclear information over the last several years.
  • In Warming U.S.- NZ Relations, Outdated Nuclear Policy Remains Unnecessary Irritant: Last week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited New Zealand to ease restrictions on New Zealand naval visits to U.S. military bases. In a new blog post, Hans Kristensen writes that this move shows that Washington, after nearly 30 years of punishing the small South Pacific nation for its ban against nuclear weapons, may finally have come to its senses and decided to end the vendetta in the interest of more important issues.

  • DNI Issues Directive on Civil Liberties and Privacy: In a new Intelligence Community Directive on Civil Liberties and Privacy signed by DNI James R. Clapper on August 31, 2012, DNI  “is committed to protecting civil liberties and privacy, which are foundational principles of our Nation’s democratic society, preserved in the Constitution of the United States, and guaranteed in Federal law.” Beyond affirming the value of civil liberties, the new directive — ICD 107 — also directs the establishment of oversight mechanisms and of procedures for redress of alleged violations.
  • Reagan Directive on “Pre-emptive Neutralization” of Terrorists: In 1984, President Reagan ordered the Director of Central Intelligence to develop “capabilities for the pre-emptive neutralization of anti-American terrorist groups which plan, support, or conduct hostile terrorist acts against U.S. citizens, interests, and property overseas.” Those instructions were contained in National Security Decision Directive 138, “Combatting Terrorism,” which was issued on April 3, 1984. NSDD 138 remained classified for many years and was not fully declassified until two years into the Obama Administration.
  • Research Reactors and Weapons-Grade Uranium: The United States and Russia are both working to replace highly enriched fuel in research reactors (there are 82 around the world at the moment) with less dangerous materials. Most nations stick with enriching uranium to 20% – high enough to produce a useful number of neutrons in the core, but not enough to explode. If a reactor can sustain with only 3% U-235 then why would we even want to go to the extra work to make reactor fuel potent enough to explode?
  • Senate Judiciary Committee Moves to Amend FISA Amendments Act: Steven Aftergood writes that the Obama Administration proposal to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act for another five years would be amended to a three year extension, if the Senate Judiciary Committee has its way.
  • DNI Directive Promotes Use of “Tearline Documents”: In order to promote improved information sharing, the Director of National Intelligence told agencies to make use of “tearlines.” This refers to the practice of segregating and withholding the most sensitive portions of a document, allowing the remainder to be “torn off,” literally or figuratively, and widely disseminated. Although the tearline approach also lends itself to public dissemination of national security documents, with particularly sensitive material removed, the new intelligence directive does not explicitly extend to sharing information with the public.


Symposium and Awards Ceremony Sponsorship Now Available

The next president of the United States and his national security team will need to make urgent decisions about how best to protect the nation from catastrophic threats. To advise the next administration, just three days after the election, FAS will host a symposium with distinguished experts on policy and the technological aspects of conventional, nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons; biotechnology; nuclear safety; electricity generation, distribution, and storage; and cyber security. These experts will make recommendations to reduce the risk from catastrophic threats and develop an effective energy policy.

The luncheon will recognize outstanding people who have made a distinctive contribution to national security. Dr. John Ahearne will be honored with the 2012 Richard L. Garwin Award, Dr. Stanford Ovshinsky will be presented with the 2012 Hans Bethe Award, and Dr. Sidney Drell will receive with the 2012 Public Service Award. Dr. Drell will share the honor of the Public Service Award with Dr. Henry Kissinger, Senator Sam Nunn, Dr. William J. Perry, and Dr. George P. Shultz.

Sponsorship Opportunities: There are a variety of sponsorship opportunities available for the symposium and awards ceremony; for information, click here.

Tickets: Individual tickets to the symposium and awards ceremony are now available for purchase at $250 each; to purchase tickets click here. Please note that tickets are limited and available on a first come, first serve basis.



  • On September 24, Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project, spoke at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University about U.S. and Chinese concerns regarding each other’s nuclear offensive and defense programs. The briefing slides are available here. 


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