Making Government Accountability Work

The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly recognize a “public right to know.” But without reliable public access to government information, many features of constitutional government would not make sense. Citizens would not be able to evaluate the performance of their elected officials. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press would be impoverished. Americans’ ability to hold their government accountable for its actions would be neutered. The conditions that make government accountability possible and meaningful […]

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Refugee Admissions and Resettlement, and More from CRS

Newly updated publications from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has withheld from online public distribution include the following. Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy, February 18, 2015 U.S. Tsunami Program: A Brief Overview, February 20, 2015 Legislation to Facilitate Cybersecurity Information Sharing: Economic Analysis, February 23, 2015 Domestic Human Trafficking Legislation in the 114th Congress, February 23, 2015 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, February 24, 2015 Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons, […]

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Adapting to Climate Change, and More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service describes government agency plans to anticipate and adapt to the effects of climate change, as required by a 2013 executive order.   The first step is a vulnerability assessment. For the Department of Defense, climate change may have “potential impacts on geopolitics and national security interests that could result in [new] military operations, risks to existing military infrastructure, and hindrances to readiness and the ability to execute […]

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Battle of the Bands: Army Music Doctrine

Updated below The U.S. Army issued new doctrine this month on the role of music in military operations. “The mission of Army music is to provide music supporting unified land operations and instill in our forces the will to fight and win, foster the support of our citizens, and promote America’s interests at home and abroad,” the Army doctrine states. “Army music stands ready to provide flexible, relevant, and targeted music support where civilian entertainers […]

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CRS on DoD Procurement Programs

Newly updated reports from the Congressional Research Service on various Department of Defense procurement programs and related issues include the following. Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, February 24, 2015 The Army’s Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV): Background and Issues for Congress, February 25, 2015 Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) and Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC): Background and Issues for Congress, February 24, 2015 Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: […]

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Another State Secrets Case Ends in Dismissal

Last week, a federal court dismissed a lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency after the government asserted the state secrets privilege and argued that the case could not be litigated without jeopardizing national security. Former CIA officer Jacob E. Abilt (a pseudonym) had charged the Agency with employment discrimination, improper retaliation and wrongful termination. In December, CIA Director John Brennan invoked the state secrets privilege to block the lawsuit. “The facts of Mr. Abilt’s employment […]

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JASON on the Physics of Nuclear Weapons

Despite the extensive data obtained through the conduct of more than 1000 nuclear explosive tests, there is still much that is unknown or imperfectly understood about the science of nuclear weapons. A newly disclosed report prepared in 2011 by the JASON science advisory panel assessed efforts by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to “develop improved understanding of the underlying physics of the materials and components in nuclear weapons.” The study was released in redacted […]

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New DNI Guidance on Polygraph Testing Against Leaks

Updated below Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper issued guidance this month on polygraph testing for screening of intelligence community personnel. His instructions give particular emphasis to the use of the polygraph for combating unauthorized disclosures of classified information. Counterintelligence scope polygraph examinations “shall cover the topics of espionage, sabotage, terrorism, unauthorized disclosure or removal of classified information (including to the media), unauthorized or unreported foreign contacts, and deliberate damage to or misuse of […]

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Leaks Damaged U.S. Intelligence, Official Says

Unauthorized disclosures of classified information by Edward Snowden have damaged U.S. intelligence capabilities, National Counterterrorism Center director Nicholas J. Rasmussen told Congress last week. “Due to the Snowden leaks and other disclosures, terrorists also have a great understanding of how we seek to conduct surveillance including our methods, our tactics and the scope and scale of our efforts. They’ve altered the ways in which they communicate and this has led to a decrease in collection,” Mr. Rasmussen […]

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DNI Issues Directive on “Critical Information”

The Director of National Intelligence last week issued a new directive on “critical information,” also denominated “CRITIC,” which refers to national security information of the utmost urgency. “Critical information is information concerning possible threats to U.S. national security that are so significant that they require the immediate attention of the President and the National Security Council,” the directive explains. “Critical information includes the decisions, intentions, or actions of foreign governments, organizations, or individuals that could […]

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