Secrecy News was sad to learn that Lee S. Strickland, a former Central Intelligence Agency official, died on January 23.
We first encountered him perhaps 15 years ago when he was the head of the CIA Freedom of Information office, where he used to reliably deny our FOIA requests. Over the years he seemed to enlarge his horizons and to admit the possibility of contrasting views. He taught his students at the University of Maryland that information policy could be exciting as well as important. And he was a nice guy.
See this obituary for Lee Strickland from the University of Maryland College of Information Studies.
China’s entire submarine fleet conducted only two patrols in 2006, according to information declassified by the U.S. Navy and obtained by the Federation of American Scientists under the Freedom of Information Act. The low patrol rate follows a drop from an all-time high of only six patrols in 2000 to none in 2005. China’s single sea-launched ballistic missile submarine Xia, the data shows, has never conducted a deterrent patrol.
The low level of Chinese submarine patrols is a curious contrast to warnings by the Pentagon, some private institutes and news media that China is expanding its submarine operations deeper into the Pacific. Although Chinese submarines occasionally venture into the waters around Japan and Taiwan, the fleet is surprisingly inactive.
The President’s foreign aid budget request for FY2008 contains an unexpected and laudable surprise: a five-fold increase in funding for the State Department’s Small Arms/Light Weapons Destruction initiaitive. If approved by Congress, the additional funding will bolster US efforts to stem the illicit trade in deadly light weapons.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “continues to receive information on terrorist threats to the U.S. aviation industry and to the Western aviation industry worldwide,” according to a May 2006 DHS threat assessment (pdf) that was partially released last week.
Yet “an independent assault at the Los Angeles International Airport in July 2002 that left two dead and four wounded near the El Al ticket counter remains the sole successful aviation-related terrorist attack within the United States since 11 September 2001,” the document noted.
Approximately two-thirds of the unclassified DHS aviation threat assessment was withheld from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. But all of the endnotes were disclosed, including open source references to remotely piloted vehicles, lasers, parachutes and shoulder-fired missiles.
See “Strategic Sector Assessment: U.S. Aviation,” DHS Homeland Infrastructure Threat & Risk Analysis Center (HITRAC), 18 May 2006 (redacted for public release).
The U.S. Navy has issued updated instructions on the use of nicknames to refer to Navy activities, events and other information.
“A nickname is a combination of two separate unclassified words, assigned an unclassified meaning that is employed for unclassified, administrative, morale, or public information purposes. Nicknames may be assigned to actual, real-world events, projects, movement of forces, or other non-exercise activities,” the new policy states.
“Nicknames should not be confused with code words. A code word is a single word assigned a classified meaning by appropriate authority to ensure proper security concerning intentions and to safeguard information pertaining to actual, real-world military plans or operations classified as CONFIDENTIAL or higher once activated.”
The choice of nicknames should not “express a degree of aggression inconsistent with traditional American ideals or current foreign policy.” Nor should it “convey anything offensive to good taste or derogatory to a particular group, sect, or creed.”
See “Code Word, Nicknames, and Exercise Terminology System” (pdf), OPNAVINST 5511.37D, January 30, 2007.
A dictionary of thousands of code words, nicknames and related terms was compiled by Bill Arkin in Code Names, published in 2005.
Noncombatant evacuation operations are addressed in a new doctrinal publication (pdf) from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“Noncombatant evacuation operations (NEOs) are conducted to assist the Department of State (DOS) in evacuating US citizens, Department of Defense (DOD) civilian personnel, and designated host nation (HN) and third country nationals whose lives are in danger from locations in a foreign nation to an appropriate safe haven.”
As generic doctrine, the 169-page document contains but a single passing reference to Iraq, and does not address the question of U.S. obligations toward Iraqi non-combatants.
See “Noncombatant Evacuation Operations,” Joint Publication 3-68, January 22, 2007.
Noteworthy new reports of the Congressional Research Service include the following (all pdf).
“U.S. Strategic and Defense Relationships in the Asia-Pacific Region,” January 22, 2007.
“Kinetic Energy Kill for Ballistic Missile Defense: A Status Overview,” updated January 5, 2007.
“Afghan Refugees: Current Status and Future Prospects,” January 26, 2007.
“Chemical Facility Security: Regulation and Issues for Congress,” January 31, 2007.
“Islamist Extremism in Bangladesh,” January 31, 2007.
U.S. Government-funded non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work to advance civil society in developing countries are encountering new obstacles that impede their progress, according to a recent staff study for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“Increasingly, governments around the world have tightened their controls on foreign NGOs by passing laws to restrict their ability to work independently from government approval,” wrote Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) in a transmittal letter.
There is a “backlash against democracy assistance,” as the National Endowment for Democracy put it in another study, which is appended to the pdf version of the Senate report.
“In extreme cases, democracy promoters are being harassed by authorities. In some nations governments have been able to persuade their citizens that the work of NGOs and the financial assistance provided to them by the USG is a form of American interventionism,” Sen. Lugar observed.
“Thus, in some countries opposition to pro-democracy NGOs is cast as a reaffirmation of sovereignty,” he wrote.
The new Senate study assessed the current status of programs in Africa, Asia, Central Europe and Latin America, and proposed principles and recommendations to guide further work of this kind.
See “Nongovernmental Organizations and Democracy Promotion,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report, December 22, 2006.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has issued new doctrine (pdf) on the conduct of electronic warfare.
“The recognized need for military forces to have unimpeded access to and use of the [electromagnetic environment] creates vulnerabilities and opportunities for electronic warfare (EW) in support of military operations.”
“The purpose of EW is to deny the opponent an advantage in the EM spectrum and ensure friendly unimpeded access to the EM spectrum portion of the information environment.”
“EW can be applied from air, sea, land, and space by manned and unmanned systems.”
See “Electronic Warfare,” Joint Publication JP 3-13.1, 25 January 2007.
The constitutional allocation of war powers between Congress and the President and the authority of Congress to restrict ongoing military operations are considered in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.
See “Congressional Authority To Limit U.S. Military Operations in Iraq” (pdf), January 29, 2007.
A related study on “Congressional Use of Funding Cutoffs Since 1970 Involving U.S. Military Forces and Overseas Deployments” was updated on January 16, 2007.
Also new (or newly updated) from CRS are these:
“Germany’s Relations with Israel: Background and Implications for German Middle East Policy,” January 19, 2007.
“North Korean Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States,” updated January 3, 2007.