February 11, 2013

Letter to Congress on B61 Bomb, DoD Special Access Programs and much more.

From the Blogs

  • Spotlight on DoD Special Access Programs: The procedures for establishing, managing and overseeing special access programs (SAPs) in the Department of Defense are spelled out in an updated DoD Instruction that was issued on February 6. A special access program is a classified program that employs security measures above and beyond those that would normally be used to protect ordinary (or “collateral”) classified information. DoD SAPs have been a focus of controversy in the past, because their intensive secrecy seemed to foster mismanagement.
  • Judge Walton Named Presiding Judge of FISA Court: Steven Aftergood writes that Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts has appointed Judge Reggie B. Walton of the D.C. District Court to serve as Presiding Judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, effective February 22, 2013. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reviews and authorizes applications for electronic surveillance and physical search under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

  • The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number: The fundamental principle of Utilitarianism is to add up the cost versus benefit of a number of options and the one with the best trade-off between cost and benefit is the “right” thing to do.We see this approach all over the place in the form of cost-benefit analyses. But these analyses are typically used for business decisions or for decisions with monetary implications – far less often do we total up lives lost and saved to determine what actions we should take. In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y examines Utilitarianism and how it is applied to societal problems today.
  • Brennan: “Perhaps” Classification System is Outdated: Among the questions submitted to DCIA-nominee John Brennan by the Senate Intelligence Committee in advance of his much-anticipated confirmation hearing on February 7 was one about classification policy. A recent report to the President from the Public Interest Declassification Board termed the national security classification system “outdated,” the Committee noted. Does Mr. Brennan agree?
  • An Intelligence History of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War: Steven Aftergood writes that the CIA has  published a series of essays on intelligence and the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, to coincide with a symposium on the subject held last week in California. But, the publication includes some embarrassing errors, such as reports on Israel’s nuclear arsenal.
  • Keeping Secrets from Congress: When government information is classified or otherwise withheld from release, the possibility of government accountability to the public is undermined.  But when the executive branch withholds crucial information from Congress, that may pose an even more fundamental challenge to democratic governance.

Letter to Congress on B-61 Bomb

FAS has joined 14 national security organizations in signing a letter requesting that Congress withhold funding for the B61 life extension program until a public, independent review is completed of the costs and alternatives to the program. It is estimated to cost between $7 to $10 billion dollars to maintain these weapons, which may not be necessary due to further arms reductions.

Read the letter here.

Eddie Walsh Awarded for Service by National Press Club

Congratulations to Eddie Walsh, Adjunct Fellow for  Emerging Technologies and High-end Threats, on receiving the prestigious 2012 Vivan Award  for his service to the members of the National Press Club as the 2012 Vice Chair of its International Correspondents Committee.

Read the press release here.

FAS in the News

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