FAS Roundup: July 15, 2013

New Air Force intel report on nukes, White House withholding presidential directives and much more.

From the Blogs

Behind the Scenes at the Congressional Research Service: A long-running personnel dispute at the Congressional Research Service offers up conflicting visions of the proper role of the congressional support agency, which provides policy and legal analysis to Congress. CRS reports provide a balanced, authoritative account of  current policy issues.

Air Force Intelligence Report Provides Snapshot of Nuclear Missiles: The Air Force released its long-awaited update to the Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat report (one of the few remaining public U.S. intel assessments of nuke forces available).  Hans Kristensen writes that there are a few surprising developments in the report, including new short-range missiles being developed by China and provides a rebuttal to recent allegations that Russia is developing an intermediate range ballistic missile.

Inspector General Classification Reviews Due in September: The inspector general of each executive branch agency that classifies national security information is required to produce an evaluation of the agency’s classification program by the end of September. The goal of the reviews is to identify policies and procedures “that may be contributing to persistent misclassification of material.” This is not a straightforward assignment because classification is not a purely objective process that lends itself to external validation;  rather, it is an expression of presidentially-delegated authority.  And if proper classification is a matter of judgment, then so is overclassification.

Thank Goodness for our Schools: A few weeks ago, authorities in upstate New York arrested two men who were trying to build a death-ray gun. It seems they were hoping to market it to either a white supremacist group or to a Jewish group to use against Muslims and the device’s “designers” were hoping that it would mow people down by the hundreds. In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y examines how this weapon would have never worked, and the importance of science education.

NSA Surveillance Leaks and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as information on the two NSA programs that were leaked by Edward Snowden, China’s naval modernization,litigation against surveillance programs and Europe’s energy security.

Avoiding Needless Wars: Afghanistan: The October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, less than a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, might seem like an unavoidable war because the Taliban had sheltered Osama bin Laden, and the United States could not afford to risk a repeat of that disaster. But a more careful analysis shows that our Afghan war, like the others examined in this series, could have been avoided.

Presidential Directives Mostly Withheld by White House: If one is looking for a copy of a Presidential Policy Directive issued by President Obama, the last place to turn is the White House website.  In most cases, the Obama White House does not disclose presidential directives even when they are unclassified. Steven Aftergood writes that this refusal to disclose basic policy information is not merely frustrating and antithetical to transparency. By withholding current policy guidance, the White House may be inadvertently implying that obsolete guidance is still in effect.

Workshop on Terrorism Analysis

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.

Today is the last day to take advantage of the early bird registration pricing. Register today and save 25%! For more information on the workshop and to register click here.

FAS in the News

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