Insider Threat Program Advances, Slowly

The Department of Defense recently demonstrated the “Continuous Evaluation” of approximately 100,000 cleared military, civilian and contractor personnel, in order to validate their eligibility for access to classified information on an ongoing basis. Continuous Evaluation (CE) refers to the automated monitoring of government and commercial databases for signs of criminal behavior, irregular financial activity, or other “triggers” that could lead to suspension of a security clearance. CE is a central feature of the emerging Insider […]

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Public Mass Shooting a Persistent Threat (CRS)

Mass killings of the sort that took place yesterday in Charleston, South Carolina are a distressingly frequent occurrence. There were 78 public mass shootings in the United States between 1983 and 2013, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. “According to CRS estimates, over the last three decades public mass shootings have claimed 547 lives and led to an additional 476 injured victims,” the report said. Of course, gun violence in America is […]

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Public Access to CRS Reports, Revisited

“Congressional Research Belongs to the Public,” declared a New York Times editorial today, and it is “absurd” that Congress would place any obstacles in the way of public access to Congressional Research Service reports, which provide impartial analyses of current policy issues. Yet such obstacles continue to exist, and most CRS reports are not publicly disclosed by Congress. A measure to require the online publication of non-confidential CRS products (H.Res. 34) was introduced in the […]

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House Adopts Intel Bill, Senate Affirms Torture Ban

The House of Representatives yesterday approved its version of the FY 2016 intelligence authorization act (HR 2596). The bill includes “several” new reporting requirements intended “to enhance Congress’ role in and understanding of the classification process,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). One of these requirements is for a report to Congress noting each occasion in the past 5 years in which non-compartmented intelligence reporting has been disseminated through a (more restrictive) compartmented channel. The bill […]

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House Intelligence Bill Would Limit PCLOB Oversight

Updated below The House Intelligence Committee inserted language in the pending intelligence authorization bill that would bar access by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) to classified information pertaining to covert action. “Nothing in the statute authorizing the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board should be construed to allow that Board to gain access to information the executive branch deems to be related to covert action,” according to the new Committee report on […]

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Reform of Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following. Stored Communications Act: Reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), May 19, 2015 United Nations Reform: Background and Issues for Congress, updated May 15, 2015 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Functions and Funding, May 15, 2015 In-Country Refugee Processing: In Brief, May 7, 2015 Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, updated June 2, 2015 Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class […]

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Nuclear Weapons Policy, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service on nuclear weapons policy and other issues of topical interest include the following. Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Background and Issues for Congress, updated June 2, 2015 (See also the 2015 State Department compliance report released June 5, and reported in the New York Times on June 6.) Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Background and Current Developments, updated June 2, 2015 Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Catalog […]

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Number of New Secrets Hit Record Low in 2014

The number of newly created national security secrets dropped to a record low level last year, but the financial costs of protecting classified information increased sharply, according to the latest data from the Information Security Oversight Office. Original classification activity — meaning the designation of new classified information — declined by 20 percent in 2014 to a historic low of 46,800 original classification decisions, ISOO said in its new annual report for Fiscal Year 2014. […]

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NASA Releases Space Nuclear Power Study

NASA has released a long-awaited Nuclear Power Assessment Study that examines the prospects for the use of nuclear power in civilian space missions over the next 20 years. The Study concludes that there is a continuing demand for radioisotope power systems, which have been used in deep space exploration for decades, but that there is no imminent requirement for a new fission reactor program. The 177-page Study, prepared for NASA by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics […]

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Some New Intelligence Budget Data Disclosed

U.S. intelligence spending remains at the frontier of national security classification and declassification policy, as some new scraps of intelligence budget information are divulged, most other information is withheld, and a simmering demand for greater disclosure persists in Congress and elsewhere. Last month the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) released heavily redacted versions of its annual budget justification books for Fiscal Year 2012 and Fiscal Year 2013. The declassified portions of the NGA budget documents reflect […]

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