FY2012 Defense Appropriations, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has not made publicly available include these.

Defense: FY2012 Budget Request, Authorization and Appropriations, February 13, 2012

Guam: U.S. Defense Deployments, February 13, 2012

Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues, February 13, 2012

Keeping America’s Pipelines Safe and Secure: Key Issues for Congress, February 13, 2012

Discretionary Budget Authority by Subfunction: An Overview, February 14, 2012

Federal Employees’ Retirement System: Benefits and Financing, February 14, 2012

The Role of Local Food Systems in U.S. Farm Policy, January 24, 2012

Pentagon Discloses Military Intelligence Budget Request

From a secrecy policy point of view, the Administration’s FY 2013 budget proposal that was released yesterday contained one surprise:  The Department of Defense disclosed the amount of its request for the Military Intelligence Program (MIP).  This is something that the Pentagon has never done before and indeed had refused to do.

“The Department of Defense released today the military intelligence program (MIP) requested top line budget for fiscal 2013,” the DoD said in a February 13 news release.  “The total request, which includes both the base budget and Overseas Contingency Operations appropriations, is $19.2 billion.”

This disclosure is noteworthy from several points of view, and not only because it represents a sizable drop from the recent peak MIP budget of $27 billion in FY2010.

Significantly, the Pentagon was not obliged or compelled to release this information.  In the FY2010 Intelligence Authorization Act (section 364), Congress mandated that the President “shall disclose to the public” the amount of the budget request for the National Intelligence Program (NIP).  And that NIP budget request — $52.6 billion for FY 2013 — was also disclosed yesterday by the Director of National Intelligence, for the second year in a row.

But Congress was silent on public disclosure of the MIP request, and DoD was under no legal obligation to release it.

Moreover, DoD had explicitly refused to divulge its MIP budget request as recently as two months ago.  In response to a FOIA request for release of last year’s MIP request, the Pentagon wrote on December 7, 2011 that the size of the MIP budget request “is currently and properly classified.”  (See “DoD Says Military Intel Budget Request is Classified,” Secrecy News, December 14, 2011.)

So what happened between then and now?  Something all too rare in the world of secrecy policy:  DoD classification officials reconsidered their position and changed their mind.  An impartial assessment of the matter evidently led to the conclusion that disclosure of the MIP budget request would not damage national security and therefore should not be classified.

The ongoing Fundamental Classification Guidance Review is an effort to systematically promote similar “impartial assessments” of all other aspects of national security classification.

The disclosure of the MIP budget request now goes on a short but weighty list of declassification “firsts” that have occurred in the Obama Administration, including routine publication of the NIP, MIP and aggregate intelligence budgets, disclosure of the size of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, and a handful of other revelations.

Yesterday’s news release announcing the MIP total request stated that “No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons.”  However, DoD budget materials that were released yesterday indicated that the new MIP budget request included $4.5 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, a reduction from $5.8 billion in the current fiscal year.

US-China Military Contacts, and a Lot More from CRS

New and newly updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has not made readily available to the public include the following (all pdf).

U.S.-China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress, February 10, 2012

China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress, February 8, 2012

Military Base Closure: Socioeconomic Impacts, February 7, 2012

Intelligence Authorization Legislation: Status and Challenges, February 13, 2012

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Countries: Comparative Trade and Economic Analysis, February 8, 2012

Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests, February 10, 2012

U.S. Sanctions on Burma, February 7, 2012

Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy, February 6, 2012

Navy Nuclear Aircraft Carrier (CVN) Homeporting at Mayport: Background and Issues for Congress, February 9, 2012

Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress, February 9, 2012

Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress, February 3, 2012

Iran Sanctions, February 10, 2012

Internet Governance and the Domain Name System: Issues for Congress, February 9, 2012

Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data, February 8, 2012

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress, February 7, 2012

FAS Roundup- February 13, 2012

FAS Roundup: February 13, 2012

New report on future of nuclear power, DoD inspector takes on classification oversight,  freedom of the press and much more.


  • On February 8, 2012, FAS honored Dr. Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy, and Dr. Richard A. Meserve, president of the Carnegie Institution for Science, at a dinner event in Washington, DC. Secretary Chu was recognized with the Hans Bethe Award and Dr. Meserve received the inaugural Richard L. Garwin Award for distinguished service. The evening’s Master of Ceremonies was John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Science Adviser to the President. The distinguished guests included Congressman Rush Holt, General Brent Scowcroft, Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Gregory Jaczko, NRC Commissioners Kristine Svinicki, George Apostolakis and William Ostendorff, and FAS Board Members. Stay tuned to our website next week for video of the event.
  • FAS also released a new report produced by FAS and Washington and Lee University at a briefing on Capitol Hill on February 8, 2012. The report, on the future of nuclear power in the United States, was written by a distinguished group of experts who provided insights about the safety, security, building, financing, licensing, regulating, and fueling of nuclear power plants.  Speakers at the event included authors Dr. Albert Carr Jr., Mr. Stephen Maloney, Dr. Ivan Oelrich and Ms. Sharon Squassoni. Dr. Charles Ferguson and Dr. Frank Settle, editors of the report, served as moderators of the panel.

New Report on Nuclear Power

From the Blogs

  • Detention of U.S. Persons: What is the Existing Law?: When Congress passed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, it included provisions that authorized U.S. armed forces to detain persons who are captured in the conflict with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces. However, Congress also said that those provisions did not provide any new authority to detain U.S. citizens or others who may be captured in the United States.
  • DoD Inspector General Takes on Classification Oversight: In a move that can only strengthen and improve oversight of the national security classification system, the Department of Defense Inspector General has begun a far-reaching review of Pentagon classification policy. Among other things, the Inspector General review will focus on “efforts by the Department to decrease over-classification.”
  • A Profession Nobody’s Heard Of: What does a health physicist do? Health physics is the profession that deals with radiation safety for people and the environment. Currently, there is a shortage of health physicists in the United States, and the majority of those running radiation safety programs are not trained radiation safety professionals. Dr. Y writes about what exactly a health physicist does, and their importance to the scientific community.
  • Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin Online: The Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin is a quarterly journal published by the U.S. Army to promote awareness and discussion of current topics in military intelligence.  Although unclassified, the Bulletin is not made available online by the Army. Recent volumes can be found on the FAS website.
  • Leaks, National Security, and Freedom of the Press:  A new book, “Who Watches the Watchman” by Gary Ross, explores the the phenomenon of leaks from multiple angles, including their history, their prevalence and their consequences.  Most interestingly, he considers the diverse motivations of leakers and of the reporters who solicit, receive and publish their disclosures. Some of these he finds defensible, and others not.
  • The Radium Age: A century ago, people used radium to treat diseases (such as cancer) and even consumed to help one’s overall health. Radium was also used in products such as watch dials and fishing tackle. With today’s hypersensitivity to radiation this is hard to believe – but one of the reasons for today’s hypersensitivity to radiation might actually have something to do with the profligacy of earlier decades.

Volunteer Opportunity for DC Members

  • FAS will have a booth at the 2nd Annual USA Science and Engineering Festival which will be held on April 28-29 in Washington, DC. We are looking for volunteers to staff our booth-come share your knowledge and career experiences with festival attendees! If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Melanie Stegman at [email protected].For more information on our booth and the festival, click here.     

FAS in the News

Agencies Told to Report on Decline in Secrecy

After all the speeches about greater openness have been delivered and the news releases about secrecy reform have been filed away, one may ask:  What has actually been accomplished?  How much improper secrecy has been eliminated?  Specific answers to such questions may soon be forthcoming.

The Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), which is responsible for oversight of the national security classification system, wants agencies to answer those questions when they submit their final reports on the Fundamental Classification Guidance Review in June 2012.  The Fundamental Review was mandated by President Obama’s 2009 executive order 13526 (section 1.9) in order to identify and cancel classification requirements that were obsolete or unnecessary. The Review process is the Obama Administration’s primary response to the widely acknowledged problem of overclassification.

In a memorandum to senior agency officials last month, ISOO Director John P. Fitzpatrick instructed them on how to report the results of each agency’s Fundamental Review, and asked them to explain what practical difference the Review made.

“To the greatest extent possible, the reports should be informative as to how much information that was classified is no longer classified as a result of the review,” Mr. Fitzpatrick wrote.  “The report should also provide the best estimate of how much information that would normally have been classified in the future will now not become classified,” he continued.

The message here is that the Fundamental Review was not supposed to be some merely perfunctory exercise, but was intended to advance a specific policy objective, namely a reduction in the scope of secrecy.

It may succeed, to one degree or another, or it may fail.  In either case, Mr. Fitzpatrick’s reporting requirements should generate useful clarity about the outcome.  See “Reporting Results of Fundamental Classification Guidance Reviews to ISOO,” memorandum to selected senior agency officials, January 23, 2012.

In a January 31 interim status report on the Fundamental Review, the Department of Homeland Security said it had eliminated 2 classification guides out of 22 guides that had been reviewed to date.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it had also retired two guides.

DoD Envisions “Routine” UAS Access to US Airspace

The Department of Defense currently seeks expanded access to U.S. airspace for its unmanned aerial systems (UASs), and it anticipates the routine use of military UAS in the National Airspace System (NAS) as a long-term goal, according to a 25 year roadmap for UAS development.

“The number of UAS in the DoD inventory is growing rapidly.  The increase in numbers, as well as the expanding roles of UAS, has created a strong demand for access to national and international airspace and has quickly exceeded the current airspace available for military operations,” according to DoD’s Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap, FY2011-2036, dated October 2011.

“The [desired] end state is routine NAS access comparable to manned aircraft for all DoD UAS,” the DoD Roadmap said.  “DoD’s immediate focus is gaining near-term mission-critical access while simultaneously working toward far-term routine NAS access.”

“Current UAS are built to different specifications for different purposes; therefore, showing individually that each system is safe for flight in the NAS can be complicated, time consuming, and costly,” the Roadmap stated.  “Routine access cannot happen until DoD and FAA agree to an acceptable level of safety for UAS, and the appropriate standards are developed to meet that threshold.”

Under current procedures, the Federal Aviation Administration permits a small number of DoD UAS flights outside of restricted military areas.  But the present FAA certification process “does not provide the level of airspace access necessary to accomplish the wide range of DoD UAS missions at current and projected operational tempos.  This constraint will only be exacerbated as combat operations in Southwest Asia wind down and systems are returned to U.S. locations.”

In the newly enacted FAA authorization act and the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress mandated “accelerated” integration of UASs into U.S. airspace.  (“Congress Calls for Accelerated Use of Drones in U.S.,” Secrecy News, February 3;  “Drones Over U.S. Get OK by Congress” by Shaun Waterman, Washington Times, February 7;  “Among Liberties Advocates, Outrage Over Expanded Use of Drones” by Channing Joseph, New York Times The Lede, February 7.)

“Over the next 15 years more than 23,000 UAS jobs could be created in the U.S. as the result of UAS integration into the NAS,” according to a 2010 report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a UAS industry advocacy group. “These new jobs will include positions in industry, academia, federal government agencies and the civilian/commercial UAS end-user community.”


CIA Adds Hurdles to Mandatory Review Requests

In recent years the Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) process has become an increasingly useful alternative to the Freedom of Information Act by which members of the public can challenge the classification of government records.  Remarkably, agency classification positions have been overturned with some frequency in the MDR appeals process, which is something that almost never happens in FOIA litigation.

In a dubious act of recognition of the growing effectiveness of MDR, the Central Intelligence Agency has recently imposed substantial new fees that seem calculated to discourage its use by public requesters.

Last September the CIA issued new regulations specifying that declassification reviews would now cost up to $72 per hour even if no responsive records were found or released.  There is also a minimum fee of $15 for reproduction of any document, no matter how few pages it might consist of.

“Search fees are assessable even if we find no records, or, if we find any, we determine that we cannot release them,” the CIA wrote last month in response to an MDR request from the National Security Archive.  “Consequently, we will charge you even if our search results are negative or if we cannot release any information.  Accordingly, we will need your commitment to pay applicable fees before we can proceed.”

For background and a critique of the new CIA policy, see “The CIA’s Covert Operation Against Declassification Review” by Nate Jones in the Archive’s Unredacted blog, February 10.

Future of Nuclear Energy in the United States

Will Nuclear Power in the United States See a Revival This Decade?


Background resources on nuclear energy

WASHINGTON (February 8, 2012) – In the wake of the devastating meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, many Americans are now reevaluating the costs and benefits of nuclear energy. If anything, the accident underscores that constant vigilance is needed to ensure nuclear safety. Policymakers and the public need more guidance about where nuclear power in the United States appears to be headed in light of the economic hurdles confronting construction of nuclear power plants, aging reactors, and a graying workforce, according to a report made public today by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and Washington and Lee University.

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New Report: The Future of Nuclear Power in the United States

In the wake of the devastating meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, many Americans are now reevaluating the costs and benefits of nuclear energy. If anything, the accident underscores that constant vigilance is needed to ensure nuclear safety. Policymakers and the public need more guidance about where nuclear power in the United States appears to be headed in light of the economic hurdles confronting construction of nuclear power plants, aging reactors, and a graying workforce, according to a report (PDF) by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and Washington and Lee University.

Read the report The Future of Nuclear Power in the United States (PDF).

DoD Inspector General Takes on Classification Oversight

In a move that can only strengthen and improve oversight of the national security classification system, the Department of Defense Inspector General has begun a far-reaching review of Pentagon classification policy.

Among other things, the Inspector General review will focus on “efforts by the Department to decrease over-classification.”

In response to the “Reducing Over-classification Act” enacted by Congress in 2010, the IG will “evaluate the policies, procedures, rules, regulations, or management practices that may be contributing to persistent misclassification of material.”  The Act was originally sponsored by Rep. Jane Harman and Sen. Joe Lieberman.

The IG notified the military service secretaries and DoD agency heads of its new classification oversight project in an October 26, 2011 memorandum obtained by Secrecy News.

For years, critics of secrecy policy including the Federation of American Scientists have called for a greater role for inspectors general in classification oversight, to augment the work of the Information Security Oversight Office.  IGs typically offer several advantages:  Since they are part of the executive branch, their involvement in classification policy does not raise thorny separation of powers issues.  Moreover, as resident agency employees, IG investigators are already in place, they already hold all needed security clearances, and they should already be familiar with their agencies’ programs and policies.

Best of all, they are poised to identify defective practices when they discover them.

The FAS Project on Government Secrecy commenced two decades ago with a complaint we submitted to the DoD Inspector General regarding the classification of the Timber Wind nuclear rocket program as an “unacknowledged special access program.”  In its December 16, 1992 response, the IG determined that “the decision to protect the program using special program measures was not adequately justified.”  The IG further found that certain program information was safeguarded “for reasons that were not related to national security.” The Timber Wind program did not survive.