FAS Roundup: July 29, 2013

Dynamics of government secrecy, U.S. sub forces, Syria and much more.


Lessons Unlearned:  Syria is the first WMD-armed country to descend into civil war. How the United States and the world handles Syria will unmistakably affect future dealings in similar situations in which hostile countries possess WMDs.  In a new article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Senior Fellow on State and Non-State Threats Mr. Charles P. Blair writes to get the WMD assessment in Syria right, U.S. and world leaders will have to break free of the past habits of obfuscation, unsound scientific forensics, and withholding of conflicting data.

An Inquiry Into the Dynamics of Government Secrecy: At times, it seems that the national security classification system is static, monolithic and hopelessly inert. But in fact it is relentlessly in motion, with new secrets constantly being created as old secrets are gradually released. In a new paper published byHarvard University’s Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Director of the Government Secrecy Project Mr. Steven Aftergood investigates the factors involved in the classification of government information.

Nonproliferation Misinterpretation: In a new op-ed in The National Interest, Adjunct Senior Fellow Dr. Yousaf Butt writes that if  U.S. policy makers are interested in making headway towards a negotiated solution with Iran they must clarify their understanding of the NPT. There is no agency or international body tasked with checking compliance with the NPT, and  no enforcement arm of the NPT.

From the Blogs

Fractured Consenus Seen in House Vote on Surveillance: An amendment to prohibit intelligence agencies from performing bulk collection of records such as telephone metadata was narrowly defeated in the House of Representatives on July 24 by a vote of 205-217. Although the amendment by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) was not adopted, Steven Aftergood writes that its near-passage on a bipartisan basis signaled an extraordinary loss of congressional support for the national security establishment and for the bulk collection of records revealed by Edward Snowden in particular. It is doubtful that any intelligence program can continue for long with 49% of House members opposed to it.

SSBNX Under Pressure: Submarine Chief Says Navy Can’t Reduce: In a blog and video on the U.S. Navy web site Navy Live, Rear Admiral Richard Breckenridge, head of the U.S. submarine force, claims that the United States cannot reduce its fleet of nuclear ballistic missile submarines further if the U.S. Navy is to be able to conduct continuous deployments in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Hans Kristensen writes that shedding the excess SSBN capacity now would save billions of dollars in construction and operational costs and make it easier to persuade Russia to reduce it forces as well.

Resources on Manhattan Project, FOIA, FISA Reform: Secrecy News has obtained new resources from the Department of Energy on history related to the Manhattan Project, a new report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform regarding legislation to reform the Freedom of Information Act and a proposal from 1994 requesting reform to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

FAS Expert Attends 2nd  PfPC Working Group on Emerging Security Challenges: FAS Adjunct Fellow for Emerging Technologies and High-end Threats,Michael Edward Walsh, participated in the second Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes (PfPC)Emerging Security Challenges Working Group Workshop at the National Defence University in Warsaw, Poland from July 8-10, 2013. This workshop was aimed at bringing together experts on emerging and future security threats from across the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council community to discuss current developments and trends. The Partnership for Peace Consortium of Defense Academies and Security Studies Institutes released its After Action Report with its finding and recommendations which are available on the FAS Blog here.

China’s Currency Policy and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as China’s currency policy, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and proposed transatlantic trade partnerships.

Generation Prague 2013: On July 17, Dr. Charles Ferguson participated in a panel on nuclear energy issues at the Generation Prague 2013: Building a Strategy of Peace conference hosted by the State Department and George Washington University’s Elliot School. Photos from the event can be found here.

FAS in the News

Jul 25: Nextgov“History Of The Atom Bomb Goes Online”

Jul 24: New York Times“The Risky Missile System That Syria’s Rebels Believe They Need”

Jul 23: The Anniston Star“Rogers Amendment Pushes Back At Obama Nuke Cuts”

Jul 23: Mother Jones“New Report: The State Department’s Anti-Hacking Office Is A Complete Disaster”

Jul 22: Federal News Radio“Tester Aims To Strengthen OPM’s Oversight Of Security Clearance Process”

Jul 22: Russian TV Cross Talk“Third World America”

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