FAS Roundup: September 3, 2013

Chemical weapons in Syria, U.S. intel agency budgets and much more.

Chemical Weapons in Syria

In the wake of the chemical weapons attack last week in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, Senior Fellow on State and Non-State Threats Charles P. Blair provides an overview of the chemical weapons that Syria may have including chlorine, white phosphorus, and sarin in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Read the article here. 

Syria’s Age-Old Question

In a new op-ed published in The Hill, Charles P. Blair writes that before the Obama administration acts on Syria, there are a variety of factors that need to be considered including a deadly chemical weapons stockpile and growing instability in the Middle East. Blair writes that there are no simple solutions and finding answers takes time before taking immediate action.

Read the op-ed here.

From the Blogs

U.S. Cyber Offense is “The Best in the World”: The subject of offensive cyber action by the U.S. government was classified for many years and was hardly discussed in public at all.  Then several years ago the possibility of U.S. cyber offense was formally acknowledged, though it was mostly discussed in the conditional mood, as a capability that might be developed and employed under certain hypothetical circumstances. Today, U.S. offensive cyber warfare is treated as an established fact.  Not only that but, officials say, the U.S. military is pretty good at it.

Intelligence Agency Budgets Revealed In Washington Post: Secret intelligence agency budget information was abundantly detailed in theWashington Post on August 29 based on Top Secret budget documents released by Edward Snowden. The newly disclosed information includes individual agency budgets along with program area line items, as well as details regarding the size and structure of the intelligence workforce. Steven Aftergood writes that the current disclosure of intelligence budget information dwarfs all previous releases and provides unmatched depth and detail of spending over a course of several years.

Dispute Over US Nuke In the Netherlands: Who Pays for an Accident?: Only a few years before U.S. nuclear bombs deployed at Volkel Air Base in the Netherlands are scheduled to be airlifted back to the United States and replaced with an improved bomb with greater accuracy, the U.S. and Dutch governments are in a dispute over how to deal with the environmental consequences of a potential accident. The Dutch government wants environmental remediation to be discussed in the Netherlands United States Operational Group (NUSOG). The United States has refused, arguing that NUSOG is the wrong forum to discuss the issue and that environmental remediation is covered by the standard Status of Forces Agreement from 1951.

Financial Disclosure by Federal Officials and More from CRS:Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as politics in Iraq, financial disclosure of information by federal officials,nanotechnology and U.S. national security strategy. 

Avoiding Needless Wars Part 8: Syria: In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Martin Hellman writes that there are many questions the United States needs to answer before it takes military action against Syria. These questions include what what good and what harm will an American attack do, and what other options there are for dealing with Syria.

IG Says Homeland Security Secrecy Program is in Good Shape:According to a new report from the DHS Inspector General, DHS “is streamlining classification guidance and more clearly identifying categories of what can be released and what needs to remain classified.”The Reducing Over-classification Act of 2010 required the Inspector General at each executive branch agency that classifies information to evaluate the agency’s classification practices and to report on the results by the end of September 2013.

 

Call for Applications: NPEC Public Policy Fellowship for Government Staffers

The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) Public Policy Fellowship is designed to educate policymaking staffers in the U.S. government on the essentials of issues related to nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear energy.  Participants will include policy staffers committed to protecting U.S. and international security against the threats posed by the further spread of nuclear weapons.

The lecture-based seminars are taught by Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center; and Charles Ferguson, president of the Federation of American Scientists. The deadline to apply is September 11, 2013.

For more information on the fellowship and application information, click here.

FAS in the News

Sept 2: Businessweek“Cost Makes Chemicals WMD Of Choice For Shrinking Group Of Rogues”

Sept 2: Washington Post“‘Black Budget’: Good News Or Bad?”

Sept 1: CNN, “Syrian Incendiary Attack Alleged”

Sept 1: Washington Post, “U.S. Intelligence Agencies Spend Millions To Hunt For Insider Threats, Document Shows”

Aug 31: The Atlantic“The Neuroscience Of War”

Aug 30: Japan Times“Japan Under Increasing Pressure To Accept Outside Nuclear Help”

Aug 30: CNN“How The Latest Chemical Weapons Claim Differs From Others”

Aug 30: The Guardian“US Should Re-Evaluate Surveillance Laws, Ex-NSA Chief Acknowledges”

Aug 30: Voice of America“US CIA Role Escalates Since 2001″

Aug 29: NPR All Things Considered“Leaked Documents Reveal Budget Breakdown Between CIA, NSA”

Aug 29: New York Times“New Leaked Document Outlines U.S. Spending On Intelligence Agencies” 

Aug 29: Associated Press“Report: Secret Budget Cited 4,000 NSA Leaks”

Aug 29: National Journal“Syria Strike Won’t Eliminate Chemical Weapons Threat”

Aug 29: Washington Post“U.S. Spy Networks Successes, Failures And Objectives Detailed In ‘Black Budget’ Summary”

Aug 29: Businessweek“Hidden Hands: U.S. Spy Court Judges”

Aug 29: Business Insider“Top Secret US Intelligence ‘Black Budget’ Published For First Time After Being Leaked By Edward Snowden”

Aug 28: Los Angeles Times“Why Syria’s Chemical Weapons Stockpile Is Safe From Airstrikes”

Aug 28: New Scientist“Wind And Rockets Key Clues In Syrian Chemical Puzzle”

Aug 28: Scientific American, “A Guide To Suspected Chemical Weapons Used In Syria (A Siideshow)”

Aug 27: Reuters“Factbox – What Is The Chemical Weapon Sarin?”

Aug 26: Washington Times“U.S. Cyberwar Offense “Best In The World”: NSA’s Gen. Keith Alexander”

 

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