Unmanned Aerial Systems in Joint Air Operations

Unmanned aerial systems (UASs) like the Predator drone, which are increasingly in demand for U.S. military missions in Afghanistan and elsewhere, involve challenges to mission control, according to a new Pentagon publication on joint air operations (pdf).

“Recent operations have demonstrated that UASs can be critical to the success of dynamic targeting missions and prosecution of targets of opportunity (unplanned, unanticipated) or TSTs [time sensitive targets].”

However, “UAS communication links are generally more critical than for manned systems, relying on a nearly continuous stream of communications for both flight control and payload for mission success. Therefore, communications security, and specifically bandwidth protection (from both friendly interference and adversary action), is imperative.”

Furthermore, DoD says, “Our adversaries are developing and acquiring UASs, so it is imperative our C2 [command and control] and DCA [defensive counterair] nodes are able to differentiate between friendly and enemy UAs and cruise missiles.”

See “Command and Control for Joint Air Operations,” Joint Publication 3-30, Joint Chiefs of Staff, January 12, 2010.

“Drones are more glitch-prone than traditional planes,” wrote Noah Shachtman in Wired’s Danger Room on January 25, and a U.S. drone reportedly crashed last weekend in Pakistan.

Japanese Government Rejects TLAM/N Claim

Katsuya Okada and Hillary Clinton met in September 2009.

By Hans M. Kristensen

The Japanese government has officially rejected claims made by some that Japan is opposed to the United States retiring the nuclear Tomahawk Land-Attack Missile (TLAM/N).

The final report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States from May 2009 emphasized the importance of maintaining the TLAM/N for extended deterrence in Asia by referring to private conversations with specifically “one particularly important ally” (read: Japan) that “would be very concerned by TLAM/N retirement.”

In a letter sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on December 24, 2009, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada explicitly says that the Japanese government has expressed no such views. Continue reading

Earthquakes, Haiti, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available to the public include the following (all pdf).

“Earthquakes: Risk, Detection, Warning, and Research,” January 14, 2010.

“Haiti Earthquake: Crisis and Response,” January 15, 2010.

“U.S. Immigration Policy on Haitian Migrants,” January 15, 2010.

“The Future of NASA: Space Policy Issues Facing Congress,” January 14, 2010.

“The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) — Responsibilities and Potential Congressional Concerns,” January 15, 2010.

CRS Lawsuit, Marine Mammals, Declassification Funding

A federal court yesterday declined (pdf) to issue an injunction requiring the Congressional Research Service to immediately reinstate Col. Morris Davis, who was fired from CRS after publishing his personal opinions on the subject of military commissions. But DC District Judge Reggie Walton said that, based on the record so far, Davis’s claim that his termination by CRS violated the First Amendment appears to be “well-founded.”  (First reported by by Josh Gerstein in Politico, January 20.)  Davis is represented by the ACLU.

A lengthy rule governing the unintentional “taking” of marine mammals by the U.S. Navy, resulting in their harassment, injury, or death, was published in the Federal Register today.  The rule does not deal with the use of marine mammals for defense missions that was the subject of a recent Navy Instruction, but with the damage to these animals that is anticipated due to military activities conducted at the Naval Surface Warfare Center.  “Although the Navy requests authorization to take marine mammals by mortality, NMFS does not expect any animals to be killed,” according to the Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

The Office of Management and Budget has authorized a request for $5 million in next year’s budget to fund the new National Declassification Center that is supposed to coordinate and expedite the declassification of historical records.  The budget request, to be presented to Congress next month, was noted yesterday by William H. Leary of the National Security Council in a panel discussion at American University’s Collaboration on Government Secrecy on the new Obama Executive Order on national security classification.

DoD “Clarifies” Doctrine on Psychological Operations

The Department of Defense has issued a new publication (pdf) to update and clarify its doctrine on “psychological operations.”

Psychological operations, or PSYOP, are intended to “convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. The purpose of psychological operations is to induce or reinforce foreign attitudes and behavior favorable to the originator’s objectives.”

PSYOP is among the oldest of military disciplines, but the new DoD doctrine continues to wrestle with basic definitional issues.

It endorses a new, negative definition of the term “propaganda,” which had formerly been used in a neutral sense to refer to “Any form of communication in support of national objectives designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of any group in order to benefit the sponsor, either directly or indirectly.” From now on, propaganda will refer only to what the enemy does:  “Any form of adversary communication, especially of a biased or misleading nature, designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of any group in order to benefit the sponsor, either directly or indirectly.”

The new doctrine also dictates that the term “perception management” shall be eliminated from the DoD lexicon (pdf).

DoD acknowledges that PSYOP is limited by legal constraints, including statutes, international agreements, and national policies. Among other things, the DoD doctrine states, there is a “requirement that US PSYOP forces will not target US citizens at any time, in any location globally, or under any circumstances.”  Yet in a near contradiction, the doctrine also states that “When authorized, PSYOP forces may be used domestically to assist lead federal agencies during disaster relief and crisis management by informing the domestic population.”  Perhaps the PSYOP forces are supposed to inform the domestic population without “targeting” them.

Fundamentally, psychological operations are tethered to the reality of U.S. government actions, for good or for ill.  As the new doctrine notes, “Every activity of the force has potential psychological implications that may be leveraged to influence foreign targets.”  But PSYOP cannot substitute for an incoherent policy or rescue a poorly executed plan.

See “Psychological Operations,” Joint Publication 3-13.2, Joint Chiefs of Staff, January 7, 2010.

Some New Congressional Hearing Volumes

Newly published congressional hearing volumes on national security-related topics include the following.

“Nomination of Leon Panetta to be Director of Central Intelligence Agency,” Senate Intelligence Committee, February 5-6, 2009.

“Nomination of David S. Kris to be Assistant Attorney General for National Security,” Senate Intelligence Committee, March 10, 2009.

“Nomination of J. Patrick Rowan to be Assistant Attorney General for National Security” (pdf), Senate Intelligence Committee, September 25, 2008.

“USA Patriot Act,” House Judiciary Committee, September 22, 2009.

“Advancing Technology for Nuclear Fuel Recycling: What Should Our Research, Development, and Demonstration Strategy Be?” (pdf), House Science and Technology Committee, June 17, 2009.

“The Incidence of Suicides of United States Servicemembers and Initiatives within the Department of Defense to Prevent Military Suicides” (pdf), Senate Armed Services Committee, March 18, 2009.

Book: Change of State

Worlds seem to collide as I sat in a Chevy Chase synagogue last night waiting to hear Israeli Talmudist Adin Steinsaltz and the ACLU’s Art Spitzer discuss Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.  Former Bush Administration Pentagon official Douglas Feith, of all people, sat a few rows back.  I was reading a 2006 book about information policy called “Change of State” by University of Wisconsin professor Sandra Braman.

“That looks really boring,” volunteered an unknown gentleman seated next to me in the packed hall.

In fact, Change of State is a deeply thought, deeply felt (if sometimes quite dense) account of information policy that takes the subject much more seriously than do many practitioners in the field.

“Information policy fundamentally shapes the conditions within which we undertake all other political, social, cultural, and economic activity,” the author writes.  “And it is information policy that is the legal domain through which the government wields the most important form of power in today’s world, informational power.”

A central claim of the book is that the very nature of government has been altered and transformed from the bureaucratic welfare state into what may be called the informational state, in which governments “deliberately, explicitly, and consistently control information creation, processing, flows, and use to exercise power.”

In developing her argument, the author covers a tremendous amount of interdisciplinary ground.  The bibliographical essays that accompany the text and the standard bibliography at the end are richly informative all by themselves.

Inevitably, there are errors and questionable judgments to be found.  Hacker Kevin Mitnick was sent to jail for computer fraud, not because he “publicly released a free and easy method for encryption on the Internet” (p. 131).  And on the list of information policy principles that are explicit or implicit in the U.S. Constitution, I would have included the Statement and Account clause (Article I, section 9, clause 7)  which requires that “the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.”

“Change of State: Information, Policy, and Power” by Sandra Braman was published by MIT Press.  For more information, including the Table of Contents and a sample chapter, see here.

Fired FBI Agent Says Termination Shows Bias

A lawsuit (pdf) filed on behalf of a Jewish-American FBI agent whose security clearance was revoked based on unspecified charges states that his termination was an improper expression of FBI bias against American Jews, and complains that the agent was unconstitutionally denied a right to confront and rebut the claims against him.

The case appears to have arisen in part from an earlier investigation of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel advocacy organization.  The FBI agent, named only as John Doe, says he was questioned about his contacts with AIPAC employees Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, who were charged in 2005 under the Espionage Act in a case that was later dismissed.

The new lawsuit, filed by attorney Mark S. Zaid, indicates that John Doe had faxed unclassified articles prepared by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service to AIPAC, as well as another unclassified State Department document.

“These documents were directly related to matters on which John Doe worked as an Intelligence Research Specialist and his contacts with AIPAC officials were neither inappropriate nor outside the scope of his employment with the federal government,” the lawsuit states.

“The defendants [FBI and Department of Justice] effectively punished John Doe for lawful, proper, and necessary associations with American citizens who are Jewish and/or have association with the country of Israel by revoking his clearance and terminating his employment based on his contacts in violation of his First Amendment right of association,” the complaint states.

The FBI action response indicates “an unfounded paranoia far out of proportion to the innocuous and/or professional nature of John Doe’s relationships.  Defendants have failed to offer any factual evidence indicating John Doe’s associations were illegal, suspect, dangerous, deceptive, improper, or even untoward,” Mr. Zaid wrote.

A government response was not immediately available, but will be provided at a later date.

The lawsuit has at least a couple of noteworthy aspects.  First, it is part of a recurring pattern of conflict between U.S. national security agencies and individual members of the American Jewish community over their relationship to Israel or its advocates.  After the Jonathan Pollard case, no one can say that government security concerns on this score are categorically mistaken.  But after the misconceived and aborted AIPAC prosecution, no one can say they are consistently well-founded either.

Second, the lawsuit raises a broader question about the constitutionality of security clearance procedures (in Executive Order 12968, section 5.2d, and implementing regulations) that permit revocation of a clearance on national security grounds without any explanation, any chance to respond, or any forum for review.

“By revoking John Doe’s security clearance without providing notice of the charges against him and adequate opportunity to refute such charges, the FBI and DOJ violated due process guarantees under the Fifth Amendment.  The FBI cannot summarily revoke John Doe’s security clearance when such action violates the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution,” Mr. Zaid wrote.

Awkwardly for this line of argument, however, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling (pdf) this week upholding the use of these very procedures.  Citing the influential but controversial case of Navy v. Egan, the court affirmed the Department of Energy’s revocation of the security clearance of Egyptian-born American scientist Dr. Abdel Moniem Ali El-Ganayni.

Perhaps the good news is that the security clearance system does not single out Jews and Arabs for questionable treatment.  John Dullahan, an Irish-born Army veteran and DIA intelligence officer, also had his clearance for access to classified intelligence revoked last year.  He challenged that action in another lawsuit (pdf), also filed last week by Mr. Zaid.

The Decline of the Israeli Left

A recent book written by two Israeli writers and published in translation (pdf) by the DNI Open Source Center (OSC) traces what the authors see as the decline of Israel’s political left.

“The Left died the day the Six-Day War ended,” wrote Shmuel Hasfari and Eldad Yaniv.

“Until 1967, the Left actually managed some impressive deeds — it took control of the land, ploughed, sowed, harvested, founded the state, built the army, built its industry from scratch, fought Arabs, settled the land, built the nuclear reactor, brought millions of Jews here and absorbed them, and set up kibbutzim, moshavim, and agriculture…. What happened? How come that all that remains of the Zionist Left today is an anarchistic group that harasses the Border Police every Friday near the separation fence or at checkpoints and Women in Black?”

“This is not an academic work,” wrote Hasfari and Yaniv. “There are no footnotes and there is no bibliography. It is not a complete work, either. We have written here about some of the things that bother us a lot, matters that give us no peace of mind.  We ask you not to read this in one go since that is likely to be confusing. Taste it as you would a plate of appetizers, tapas. Take a little bit. Digest it and stop to think, argue, get angry, and if you want to, curse — feel free.”

“You can also put it in the bathroom. We will not be offended. On the contrary: There are no cell phones or text messages there, and you can think. Quietly. And read.”

The OSC translation has not been approved for public release, but a copy was obtained by Secrecy News.  Republication was permitted by the authors within the text.  See “The National Left (First Draft)” by Shmuel Hasfari and Eldad Yaniv, Open Source Center, December 31, 2009.

Understanding China’s Political System, More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News include the following (all pdf).

“U.S. Periods of War,” January 7, 2010.

“Terrorist Watchlist Checks and Air Passenger Prescreening,” December 30, 2009.

“Cluster Munitions: Background and Issues for Congress,” December 22, 2009.

“Arms Sales: Congressional Review Process,” January 8, 2010.

“Desalination: Status and Federal Issues,” December 30, 2009.

“Understanding China’s Political System,” December 31, 2009.