FAS Roundup: October 15, 2012

NATO and nuclear transparency, Obama directive on intelligence whistleblowers and much more.

From the Blogs

  • Obama Issues Directive on Intelligence Community Whistleblowers: On October 10, President Obama issued Presidential Policy Directive 19 on “Protecting Whistleblowers with Access to Classified Information.” The directive generally prohibits official reprisals against an intelligence community employee who makes a “protected disclosure” concerning unlawful activity or “waste, fraud, and abuse.” It does not authorize disclosure of classified information outside of official channels to the press or the public. The directive was occasioned by the ongoing failure of Congress to extend the protections of the Whistleblower Protection Act to intelligence community employees.
  • DoD- Strategic Security Not Even Threatened by Greater Russian Forces: A recent DoD report on Russian nuclear forces, conducted in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence and sent to Congress in May 2012, concludes that even the most worst-case scenario of a Russian surprise disarming first strike against the United States would have “little to no effect” on the U.S. ability to retaliate with a devastating strike against Russia.
  • Kiriakou Defense Seeks to Depose Reporters: Steven Aftergood writes that in a new challenge to press independence, attorneys for John Kiriakou, the former CIA officer who is charged with leaking classified information, have asked a court for permission to depose three journalists in support of his defense. The Kiriakou defense said the reporters’ testimony was needed because it could be exculpatory for their client, and that the reporters could affirm that Kiriakou lacked any intent to harm the United States or to benefit a foreign power.

  • U.S. Army Doctrine on Religious Support to Soldiers: Military chaplains in the U.S. Army must have at least a Secret clearance. “This allow them access to the unit operations center and ensures that the chaplain is involved in the unit’s operational planning process.” A newly updated Army doctrinal publication on Religious Support, which describes the functions of chaplains, explains that “Religion plays an increasingly critical role… across the range of military operations.” Essentially, chaplains are expected to fulfill “three basic core competencies: nurture the living, care for the wounded, and honor the dead.”
  • NATO- Nuclear Transparency Begins at Home: Less than six months after NATO’s Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR) adopted at the Chicago Summit called for greater transparency of non-strategic nuclear force postures in Europe, the agenda for the NATO defense minister get-together in Brussels this week listed the Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) meeting with the usual constraint: “no media opportunity.” In a new post on the Strategic Security Blog, Hans Kristensen writes that whatever the reason, the “no media opportunity” is symbolic of the old-fashioned secrecy that continues to constrain NATO nuclear policy discussions. The nuclear planners are insulated deep within the alliance with little or no public scrutiny.
  • Violent Behavior Cannot Be Reliably Predicted, Panel Says: A new report to the Secretary of Defense from the Defense Science Board states that the outbreak of violence by individuals who seek to harm other persons or institutions cannot be reliably predicted today. Instead, efforts to counter violence should focus on prevention and mitigation of the threat. The new DSB study on “Predicting Violent Behavior” was initiated in response to the 2009 Fort Hood shooting in which thirteen people were killed and dozens wounded allegedly by Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who had not previously been identified as a threat.
  • Testing?: Since 1945, there have been over 2,000 tests of nuclear weapons- over 1,000 by the United States and the rest by the Soviet Union. In the early years, the testing  was simply to see what these weapons would do. Today, there is computer software which can run detailed simulations to try help scientists understand how our nuclear weapons will behave under a variety of conditions. In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y asks that with this technology, if we need to continue to test our nukes.
  • Parties Tangle Over Discovery in Kiriakou Leak Case: The trial of former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who is accused of making unauthorized disclosures of classified information, has yet to begin.  But prosecutors and defense attorneys are now locked in a dispute over what classified information must be provided to the defense and can be cleared for disclosure at trial. Steven Aftergood writes that the resolution of the current pre-trial arguments may have a decisive effect not only on the outcome of Mr. Kiriakou’s proceeding but on the future use of the Espionage Act to penalize leaks of classified information. That’s because the pending disagreements involving the nature of the charge will determine the standard by which the defendant will be judged.


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.

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