FAS Roundup: January 13, 2014

Overview of U.S. nuclear forces, intel implications of virtual worlds, CIA cuts off public access to translated news reports and  more.

U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2014

Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris provide an overview of U.S. nuclear forces in 2014 in the latest Nuclear Notebook published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The U.S. has an estimated 4,650 nuclear warheads available for delivery by more than 800 ballistic missiles and aircraft.

The stockpile includes an estimated 2,130 operational warheads, about 1,150 on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and 470 on intercontinental ballistic missiles. Roughly 300 strategic warheads are located at bomber bases in the United States, and nearly 200 nonstrategic warheads are deployed in Europe, and another 2,530 warheads are in storage. To comply with New START, the U.S. is expected to eliminate land-based missile silos and reduce the number of launch tubes on its missile submarines.

Read the Notebook here. 

From the Blogs

Assessing the Intelligence Implications of Virtual Words: A study conducted for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has found that digitally based-virtual words and online games could have profound impact on national security per a newly disclosed report obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by FAS. The study warns that terrorists could create a virtual Osama Bin Laden avatar that could be used to recruit terrorists and “preach and issue new fatwas for hundreds of years to come.”

CIA Cuts Off Public Access to Its Translated News Reports: Beginning in 1974, the U.S. intelligence community provided the public with a broad selection of foreign news reports, updated daily.  These were collected and translated by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), which was reconstituted in 2004 as the Open Source Center (OSC). But the CIA has now terminated public access to those news reports, available via the World News Connection, as of December 31.

A Foolish Consistency: In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y takes a look at the latest news out of Fukushima and the science behind some concerns including radioactivity in the water and the possibility that the melted reactors could go critical.

The Clapper “Lie,” and the Senate Intelligence Committee: Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper has been widely criticized for making a false statement at a March 2013 hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Clapper was asked if the NSA collects any type of data at all on Americans and he replied “No, sir.” He added “Not wittingly. There are cases where they could, inadvertently perhaps, collect — but not wittingly.” Based on this exchange, and in light of the revelations to the contrary made by Edward Snowden, some have concluded that DNI Clapper “lied to Congress.” What has gone unremarked, however, is the fact that the Committee permitted that statement to stand uncorrected.

National Security Letters: Legal Background and More from CRS:Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as nuclear power plant security, national security letters and legal background, the crisis in South Sudan and Iran’s nuclear program. 

GAO Oversight of NSA: A Neglected Option: Years ago, the Government Accountability Office conducted routine audits and investigations of the NSA. Steven Aftergood writes that in the post- Snowden era, the GAO (the investigative arm of Congress) could perform this oversight function once again.

FAS in the News

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