New Army Doctrine on WMD Civil Support Teams

The U.S. Army has issued a new field manual (pdf) on the use of National Guard units known as “civil support teams” (CST) to respond to domestic terrorist or other incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.

“The mission of the WMD-CST is to support civil authorities at domestic CBRNE [chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive] incident sites by identifying CBRNE agents and substances, assessing current and projected consequences, advising on response measures, and assisting with appropriate requests for additional support.”

The new manual describes the origins, capabilities, organization, and operations of the civil support teams. The Army approved the document for public release.

See “Weapons of Mass Destruction – Civil Support Team Operations,” U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-11.22, December 10, 2007.

China’s Space Program, and More From CRS

Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News include the following (all pdf).

“China’s Space Program: Options for U.S.-China Cooperation,” December 14, 2007.

“U.S.-China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress,” updated December 12, 2007.

“Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses,” updated December 5, 2007.

“Iraq and Al Qaeda,” updated December 7, 2007.

“Venezuela: Political Conditions and U.S. Policy,” updated November 26, 2007.

“Entering the Executive Branch of Government: Potential Conflicts of Interest With Previous Employments and Affiliations,” updated December 11, 2007.

National Biodefense Science Board Meeting: Day 2

To begin the day the NBSB listened to presentations from each of the members of the Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE). The Enterprise is coordinated within HHS by the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and includes the NIH, CDC, FDA and BARDA. PHEMCE’s role in HHS is to coordinate the research, development, acquisition and deployment of medical countermeasures to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) threats. Many of the topics the NBSB will consider and provide recommendations on will fall within the PHEMC Enterprise, so the board heard a representative from each of the agencies describe their efforts and role in PHEMCE. The morning session ended with presentations from Bruce Gellin giving an overview of the HHS pandemic flu program and Robin Robinson detailing BARDA’s pandemic preparedness and response activities.

During the afternoon session the board got down to business. After being presented with information on the possible topics that they were considering, the NBSB voted for 4 specific topics and formed subcommittees for each.

First the NBSB wanted to address the issue of pandemic influenza preparedness. The subcommittee will evaluate current research, identify the gaps, and then report to the whole board to begin making recommendations.

The second subcommittee will review the US government research portfolio to determine whether efforts are as integrated as they could be. They too will return their findings to the whole board with the goal of making recommendations to increase collaboration and avoid duplication of efforts.

The third subcommittee was commissioned to look at disaster medicine. They will take HSPD-21 as a framework for evaluation and further development of a national disaster medicine plan. It will include the possibility of promoting ‘disaster medicine’ as a new discipline and setting up dedicated training courses and programs.

Finally, it was agreed that a subcommittee be set up to look at the gaps in the medical countermeasures marketplace. This subcommittee will focus on the private sector and look at ways to engage their involvement in countermeasures development.

It was also agreed that the issue of special and at-risk populations and the issue of communications and data interoperability not be stand alone topics. They will be integrated into each of the four subcommittees and a decision to exclude them would need to be explicitly justified.

Finally the members of the NBSB volunteered their placement on subcommittees within their areas of expertise and subcommittee chairs were appointed. Andrew Pavia will chair the pandemic influenza subcommittee, Patrick Scannon; the government research evaluation subcommittee, Jim James; the disaster medicine subcommittee and John Parker; the gaps in countermeasure marketplace subcommittee. The NBSB will meet again in 6 months to hear reports from the subcommittees and make recommendations.

Written with Cheryl Vos

White House Announces (Secret) Nuclear Weapons Cuts

The W62 is the only nuclear warhead that has been publicly identified for elimination under the Bush administration’s secret nuclear stockpile reduction plan.

By Hans M. Kristensen

The While House announced earlier today that the President had “approved a significant reduction in the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile to take effect by the end of 2007.” The decision reaffirmed an earlier decision from June 2004 to cut the stockpile “nearly 50 percent,” but moved the timeline up five years from 2012 to 2007.

Not included in the White House statement, but added by other government officials, is an additional decision to cut the remaining stockpile by another 15% percent, although not until 2012.

The announcement of these important initiatives unfortunately was hampered by Cold War secrecy which meant that government officials were not allowed to reveal how many nuclear weapons will be cut or what the size of the stockpile is. As a result, news media accounts were full of errors, and one can only imagine the misperceptions this misplaced secrecy creates in other nuclear weapon states.
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National Biodefense Science Board Meeting: Day 1

The National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB) began their inaugural meeting yesterday in Washington DC. The board, made up of 13 voting members and 21 non-voting ex officio representatives, was created as part of the 2006 Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act. The NBSB was chartered with the task of providing expert advice to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary on science, technology, and other matters of special interest on chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear issues, including both naturally occurring and deliberate events.

The members include Patricia Quinlisk (Iowa Dept. of Public Health, chair), James J. James (American Medical Association), Steve Cantrell (Denver Health Medical Center), Eric Rose (SIGA Technologies), Albert Di Rienzo (Welch Allyn), Ken Dretchen (Georgetown University Biosecurity Institute), John Grabenstein (Merck Vaccine Division), Ruth Berkelman (Emory University , Thomas MacVittie (University of Maryland School of Medicine), John Parker (SAIC), Andrew Pavia (University of Utah Medical Center) Roberta Carlin (American Association on Health and Disability), and Patrick Scannon (XOMA).

After the morning introductory session, the group listened to several talks presented by executive branch officials that discussed current US Government policies on preparedness and response. After this, the group heard another series of talks that outlined possible topics and issues that the NBSB could focus on initially. The broadly defined proposed topics, developed by officials at HHS, are as follows- an evaluation of research and development components of the HHS influenza preparedness strategy, innovation and medical countermeasure development, how to address gaps in the medical countermeasures marketplace, modeling and metrics to inform medical consequence assessment, and considerations for special and at-risk populations.

Today the group will make decisions about how to go forward as a board. The group will try to prioritize topics and determine how to fulfill their charge. Since the mandate to the NBSB is so broad, many members agreed that it is important to determine the group’s focus in a way that considers issues based on their timeliness and achievability.

The agenda for the meeting is here

NBSB main page

Members list

Written by Nate Hafer

Intel Agencies to Withhold Contract Info from Public Database

Several defense intelligence agencies will withhold unclassified information about their contracts from a new public database of government spending.

The new database at is intended to provide increased transparency regarding most government contracts.

But when it comes to intelligence spending, there will actually be a net loss of public information because categories of intelligence contracting data that were previously disclosed will now be withheld.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) argued that online disclosure of their unclassified contracts could present an operational security vulnerability.

“I appreciate your concerns that reporting these actions to the publicly accessible website could provide unacceptable risk of insight to your individual missions and budgets,” wrote Shay D. Assad of the Under Secretary of Defense in a December 7 memorandum (pdf).

“As such, I concur with your waiver requests to not report your unclassified actions to FPDS-NG [Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation] at this time,” he wrote.

The new waiver, which was first reported by Daniel G. Dupont in, applies to unclassified contract data for FY 2007 and 2008, and must be renewed each year thereafter.

But it does not apply retroactively, so it is possible to examine detailed contracting information for thousands of intelligence contracts with DIA and NGA from FY2005-2006, ranging in amounts from tens of dollars to hundreds of millions of dollars. (Prior contract information for CIFA is not currently available.) Those intelligence agencies’ past contracts can be examined using the drop-down menu for contracting agency on this page.

The sharp growth in intelligence agency contracting has prompted new concern in Congress and elsewhere. The latest intelligence authorization act (section 307) requires a “comprehensive report on intelligence community contractors.”

But while intelligence contracting is going up, public accountability is going down.

U.S. Intelligence Seen “Retreating into Greater Secrecy”

The U.S. intelligence community is reverting to old patterns of cold war secrecy, warned the former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), to the detriment of U.S. intelligence.

“The reality that I see is an Intelligence Community that is retreating into greater secrecy and old cultural habits, even in the short time since I left the NIC in early 2005,” said Amb. Robert L. Hutchings in recent testimony (pdf).

“Try to get a CIA analyst to go on the record at an academic conference, or participate in an interactive website or blog with experts from outside government or other countries, and you will see how deeply ingrained are the old Cold War cultural habits and mind-sets,” he said.

“What this means, additionally, is that the Intelligence Community is not attracting the ‘best and brightest’ into their ranks. They go elsewhere.”

See his prepared testimony from a December 6 hearing of the House Intelligence Committee here.

One of the aspects of the trend towards increasing secrecy is what appears to be a newly restrictive approach to pre-publication review of writings by current or former intelligence employees.

Earlier this year, the Central Intelligence Agency refused to permit former intelligence officer and author Valerie Plame Wilson to publish certain information about her career that had already been disclosed in the Congressional Record.

The publishers of Ms. Wilson’s memoir devised a novel and effective solution: They hired journalist Laura Rozen to write an afterword, based entirely on information gathered in the public domain, filling in many of the missing details of Ms. Wilson’s account. Laura Rozen, who writes for Mother Jones and for the War and Piece blog, tells the story here.

NARA Seeks to Speed Processing of Presidential Records

The National Archives says it is exploring new methods to accelerate the disclosure of records at Presidential libraries.

Archivists “decided to undertake an in-house study in the spring of 2007 to review ways to achieve faster processing of Presidential records,” stated Emily Robison, acting director of the Clinton Presidential Library, in an October 2 declaration (pdf) that was filed in a lawsuit brought against NARA by Judicial Watch.

“As a result of this study, a one-year pilot project was initiated to implement the most promising proposals,” she said (at p. 15). The pilot project was first reported by Josh Gerstein in the New York Sun on October 4.

In response to a request for further information about the project, NARA released a list of procedural changes (pdf) it is using or considering to expedite processing of records. These include “cease routine referral of classified items… for classification review” and “halt printing e-mail attachments that do not easily open.”

An extensive interview with Sharon Fawcett, assistant archivist for presidential libraries, explores the role of President Clinton and Senator Clinton in the processing of records at the Clinton Library, the genesis of President Bush’s executive order on presidential records, and the procedural and resource constraints under which the Presidential records review process operates. See “Inside the Clinton Archives” by Alexis Simendinger, National Journal, December 17.

The Department of the Navy has updated its “Records Management Manual” with considerable detail on the various categories of Navy records and how they are to be handled. See SECNAV Manual 5210.1, November 2007 (473 pages, 5 MB PDF file).

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Congress Zeroes Out Money for the Reliable Replacement Warhead. Part Funding for Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.

The spending bill just agreed by Congress over the weekend explicitly specifies zero funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead, or RRW, and support for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, but below the administration’s request.

The RRW is a new nuclear weapon that the administration claims is essential to maintaining the integrity of the nuclear arsenal. Most outside experts believe that existing nuclear weapons are more than adequately reliable. Moreover, as I have commented previously in this blog, the Reliable Replacement warhead will almost certainly not be more reliable than current warheads and absolutely certainly will not be meaningfully more reliable. Moreover, it will not replace existing warheads but be deployed alongside them for decades, and it is not even the reliable replacement warhead, because a minimum of four new types were planned.
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