FAS Roundup: June 17, 2013

Nukes in Europe, ricin, whistleblowers and much more.

From the Blogs

National Security Secrecy and the Right to Know: Steven Aftergood writes that while almost everyone would agree that national security secrecy has a role to play in an open society, such secrecy must be carefully circumscribed if robust public access to government information is to be preserved. A set of principles that open societies around the world can use to help guide and limit the application of secrecy was recently published by the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Edward Snowden, Source of  NSA Leaks Steps Forward: Last week, a former  CIA employee and NSA contractor named Edward Snowden identified himself as the source of the the serial revelations of classified documents concerning U.S. intelligence surveillance activities that were disclosed. In the history of unauthorized disclosures of classified information, a voluntary admission of having committed such disclosures is the exception, not the norm.  And it confers a degree of dignity on the action. Yet it stops short of a full acceptance of responsibility.

Nukes in Europe- Secrecy Under Siege: Two former Dutch prime ministers publicly confirmed the presence of nuclear weapons at Volkel Air Base in the Netherlands, one of six bases in NATO that still host US nuclear weapons. It’s not news that U.S. nukes are stored at this base, it’s news that two Dutch prime ministers have confirmed it. This situation presents an opportunity to engage Russia about increasing the transparency of non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe. Hans Kristensen writes that the continuation of  nuclear secrecy no longer serves a beneficial purpose. The secrecy is not needed for safety or national security; those needs are taken care of by guards, guns, gates, and overall military and political postures. Instead, the secrecy fuels mistrust and rumors that lock NATO and Russia into old mindsets, postures, and relations.

NASA Releases Online Library on Risk Mitigation: NASA has produced a library of “knowledge bundles” describing how various technical problems that arose in the course of its space technology programs were successfully resolved. The library was released online last week.

DoD Warns Employees of Classified Info in the Public Domain: In the wake of a new wave of classified documents appearing online last week, the Department of Defense instructed employees and contractors that they must neither seek out nor download classified material that is in the public domain.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as current developments on the CTBT, carbon capture and sequestration, foreign assistance to North Korea and responding to changes in the Middle East.

On to Mars: Deep space is a dangerous place. No air, millions of miles to the nearest food and water, stray comets and meteors. And then there’s the radiation as well – outside the protection of Earth’s magnetic field radiation levels are much higher than what we experience at the surface of our planet, and the radiation that suffuses space is a lot more damaging than what penetrates to sea level. In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y examines the risks from radiation in space.

Secret Surveillance and the Crisis of Legitimacy: The public uproar over the latest disclosures of secret domestic surveillance by The Guardian and the Washington Post different cannot produce a precisely analogous result, because the oversight mechanisms intended to correct abuses already exist and indeed had signed off on the surveillance activities. Steven Aftergood takes a look at all three branches of government and how they have misrepresented the scope of official surveillance, misgauged public concern and evaded public accountability.

FISA Court Says It Cannot Easily Summarize Opinions: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) told the Senate Intelligence Committee last March that there are “serious obstacles” that would prevent it from preparing summaries of Court opinions for declassification and public disclosure. FISC Presiding Judge Reggie B. Walton replied in a March 27 letter that the preparation of unclassified (or declassifiable) summaries was not a simple matter. Judge Walton did not completely dismiss the proposal. He said that he would encourage the members of the Court “to consider structuring opinions to facilitate declassification, if they believe doing so is warranted in a particular case.

Barely Lethal

What explains the growing use of of ricin as a toxin, despite it causing only a handful of deaths? In a new article published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Senior Fellow on State and Non-State Threats Charles Blair examines the use of ricin as a weapon and how its popularity in pop culture leads many to continue to use it as an agent of harm.

Read the article here.

Workshop on Terrorism Analysis: July 25-26, 2013

FAS Senior Fellow on State and Non-State Threats Mr. Charles Blair will be hosting a workshop  at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, titled Terrorism Analysis: Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methodologies and Tools on July 25-26, 2013.

This non-credit course introduces participants to a variety of quantitative and qualitative methodologies for the study of terrorism and learn how to create and utilize analytical tools for preventing, preparing for, responding to, or predicting terrorism.

Early bird registration ends Monday, June 17. For more information on the workshop and to register, click here.

Postdoctoral Research Associate Opportunity

The Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University is seeking one or two postdoctoral research associates who have a background in physics, engineering or other relevant fields to conduct technical and policy research on issues related to arms control and disarmament, nonproliferation, prevention of nuclear terrorism, nuclear energy and cyber-security. A Ph.D is required, the position is for 12 months beginning in September 2013 , with the possibility of renewal for a second year depending on satisfactory performance. Salary will be determined on the basis of experience and accomplishments.

To apply: Apply on-line at: http://jobs.princeton.edu. The job requisition # is 1300374. Please attach a cover letter, a writing sample, a curriculum vita, and the names and contact information for two individuals who can provide letters of reference.

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