Special Operations as a Technology Driver

The continuing prominence of special operations as an instrument of U.S. force projection is creating requirements for “revolutionary, game changing” new technologies and fostering the development of solutions to those requirements. Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command until last month, told the House Armed Services Committee in two newly published hearing volumes that a range of new technologies are under development by SOCOM, including laser weapons, new emergency medicine techniques, color […]

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Military Action Against the Islamic State, and More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service considers the legal underpinning of U.S. military action against the so-called Islamic State, including the sources and limits of presidential authority, and the relevance of past Authorizations for Use of Military Force. See U.S. Military Action Against the Islamic State: Answers to Frequently Asked Legal Questions, September 9, 2014. See also Considerations for Possible Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State, CRS Insights, September […]

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New Exemptions from 50 Year Declassification Approved

Most of the national security agencies in the executive branch have now been granted approval to exempt certain 50 year old classified information from automatic declassification. The national security classification system normally requires declassification of classified documents as they become 25 years old, with several specified exemptions to allow continued classification up to 50 years. Only “in extraordinary cases” may agency heads propose to exempt information from declassification when it is 50 years old, says […]

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“Ingenuity” Could Not Prevent Atom Bomb Espionage

When the internal history of the Manhattan Project was written in 1944, officials still believed — mistakenly — that the atom bomb program had evaded the threat of foreign espionage. “Espionage attempts were detected but it is felt that prompt action and intensified investigative activity in each case prevented the passing of any substantial amount of Project information,” according to a previously overlooked page from the Manhattan District History that was declassified yesterday. Although declassification […]

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Court Urged to Review State Secrets Documents

It is entirely proper for a court to conduct in camera review of documents and testimony that the government asserts are subject to the state secrets privilege, said the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the “no fly” list. The Justice Department had argued that judicial review of privileged documents was “inappropriate” and asked Judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia to reconsider his order requiring such review. (Gov’t Resists […]

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The Constitution’s Take Care Clause, and More from CRS

The so-called Take Care Clause in the U.S. Constitution (requiring that the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed….”) “would appear to stand for two, at times diametrically opposed propositions–one imposing a ‘duty’ upon the President and the other viewing the Clause as a source of Presidential ‘power’,” according to a new study from the Congressional Research Service. See The Take Care Clause and Executive Discretion in the Enforcement of Law, September […]

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Wanted: Astronomer with Top Secret Clearance

NASA’s orbiting James Webb Space Telescope will be “the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide, and studying every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.” So why does its Director need to have a Top Secret/SCI security clearance, […]

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Political Unrest in Pakistan, and More from CRS

As Congress plumbs new depths of futility and irrelevance, analysts at the Congressional Research Service continue to churn out policy-relevant studies that are informative and free of partisan embellishment. How long can it be until they are punished? The latest CRS products that Congress has withheld from online public access include the following. Pakistan Political Unrest: In Brief, September 3, 2014 The “1033 Program,” Department of Defense Support to Law Enforcement, August 28, 2014 Special […]

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The 2014 Ebola Outbreak, and More from CRS

The current outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa has infected and killed more people than all previous outbreaks combined. A new report from the Congressional Research Service provides detailed background on the spread of the disease, the weaknesses of the health care infrastructure in the affected countries, and related policy issues for congressional consideration. See The 2014 Ebola Outbreak: International and U.S. Responses, August 26, 2014. Next week, NATO leaders will hold their […]

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Gov’t Resists Court Review of State Secrets

It is “not appropriate” for a court to conduct its own independent review of evidence that the government asserts is protected by the state secrets privilege, attorneys for the government argued last week. They were objecting to an order that was issued in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the “no fly” list in the case of Gulet Mohamed v. Eric Holder. On August 6, Judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia […]

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