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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The Federal Grand Jury, and More from CRS

A Congressional Research Service report on The Federal Grand Jury, May 7, 2015, presents “a brief general description of the federal grand jury, with particular emphasis on its more controversial aspects–relationship of the prosecutor and the grand jury, the rights of grand jury witnesses, grand jury secrecy, and rights of targets of a grand jury investigation.” In Brief: Options to Help Meet a Congressional Requirement for Nuclear Weapon “Pit” Production, May 22, 2015, describes sixteen […]

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Tracking Federal Funds, and More from CRS

“Finding data on federal grants and contracts awarded to states and congressional districts, local governments, nonprofit organizations, contractors, and other eligible entities may present challenges,” a new report from the Congressional Research Service observes. The various tools that are available to help meet those challenges are cataloged and described by CRS in Tracking Federal Funds: USAspending.gov and Other Data Sources, May 13, 2015. Other noteworthy new and updated CRS reports include the following. Highly Pathogenic […]

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Air Force: Cyber Warriors Need Plenty of Rest

New guidance from the U.S. Air Force on the use of cyberspace weapons directs Air Force personnel to get a good night’s sleep prior to performing military cyberspace operations and to refrain from alcohol while on duty. “Crew rest is compulsory for any crew member prior to performing any crew duty on any cyber weapon system,” the May 5 guidance says. “Each crew member is individually responsible to ensure he or she obtains sufficient rest […]

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Average U.S. Troop Cost Nearly Doubled Since 1980

The average cost to the U.S. defense budget per individual troop member has increased sharply over the past few decades, a new analysis from the Congressional Research Service found, reflecting changes in the size and structure of the U.S. military. “Since FY1980, the cost per troop–for all expenses ranging from pay to procurement–has almost doubled in real terms from $200,000 per troop in FY1980 to $390,000 per troop in [the] FY2016 request,” the CRS report […]

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