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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ODNI: Annexes to Intelligence Bills are not “Secret Law”

A recent article in Secrecy News indicated that the classified annexes that accompany the annual intelligence authorization bills are legally binding and constitute “secret law” (A Growing Body of Secret Intelligence Law, May 4). Robert S. Litt, the General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, wrote in last week to dispute that characterization: I read your piece on secret law and the classified annex to the Intelligence Authorization bills with interest.  […]

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Army Manual Withdrawn in Plagiarism Flap

Last month, the U.S. Army issued a new doctrinal publication entitled Cultural and Situational Understanding. This month, the publication was officially withdrawn by the Army after numerous instances of plagiarism were identified throughout the document. Prof. Roberto J. Gonzalez authored a blistering critique of the publication (The US Army’s Serial Plagiarists, Counterpunch, May 1), providing one example after another of pilfered text that had been incorporated without acknowledgment or attribution to the source. “As I […]

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House Renews Ban on CRS Publication of Its Reports

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) will continue to be barred from releasing its reports to the public, the House Appropriations Committee said yesterday in its report on legislative branch appropriations for the coming year. “The bill contains language which provides that no funds in the Congressional Research Service can be used to publish or prepare material to be issued by the Library of Congress unless approved by the appropriate committees,” the House report said. Because […]

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“Controlled Unclassified Information” Is Coming

After years of preparation, the executive branch is poised to adopt a government-wide system for designating and safeguarding unclassified information that is to be withheld from public disclosure. The new system of “controlled unclassified information” (CUI) will replace the dozens of improvised control markings used by various agencies that have created confusion and impeded information sharing inside and outside of government. A proposed rule on CUI was published for public comment on May 8 in […]

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