Cultural Understanding in U.S. Army Doctrine

“Understanding culture is essential in conducting irregular warfare.” That is the opening sentence in the introduction to a new U.S. Army publication on Cultural and Situational Understanding. “Irregular warfare requires a deliberate application of an understanding of culture due to the need to understand a populated operational environment, what specifically is causing instability, the nature of the threat, and the ability to work with host-nation governments and security forces.” The new Army doctrine on cultural […]

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Domestic Drones & Privacy, and More from CRS

The anticipated deployment of thousands of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) — or drones — in American skies raises unresolved privacy concerns that have barely begun to be addressed, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service. The CRS report provides “a primer on privacy issues related to various UAS operations, both public and private, including an overview of current UAS uses, the privacy interests implicated by these operations, and various potential approaches to […]

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DoD Cut Security Clearances by 15% in Last Two Years

In a significant retrenchment of the national security bureaucracy, the Department of Defense has reduced the number of employees and contractors who hold security clearances in the past two years by more than 700,000 persons, a cut of 15% in the total security-cleared population in DoD. The previously undisclosed reductions were reported in data provided by DoD to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. This is the first documented drop in the overall […]

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H-Bomb History Published Over Government Objections

Physicist Kenneth W. Ford, who participated in the design of the hydrogen bomb in the early 1950s, has published a memoir of his experiences despite the objections of Energy Department reviewers who requested substantial redactions in the text. “Building the H Bomb: A Personal History” was released this month in softcopy by World Scientific Publishing Company. Hardcopy editions are to appear in May. The dispute between the author and the government over the book’s publication was […]

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Growing Data Collection Inspires Openness at NGA

A flood of information from the ongoing proliferation of space-based sensors and ground-based data collection devices is promoting a new era of transparency in at least one corner of the U.S. intelligence community. The “explosion” of geospatial information “makes geospatial intelligence increasingly transparent because of the huge number and diversity of commercial and open sources of information,” said Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), in a speech last month. Hundreds of small […]

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Cybersecurity Information Sharing: A Legal Morass, Says CRS

Several pending bills would promote increased sharing of cybersecurity-related information — such as threat intelligence and system vulnerabilities — in order to combat the perceived rise in the frequency and intensity of cyber attacks against private and government entities. But such information sharing is easier said than done, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service, because it involves a thicket of conflicting and perhaps incompatible laws and policy objectives. “The legal issues […]

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Petraeus Deal Cited in Sterling Leak Defense

Attorneys for former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who was found guilty on nine felony counts involving unauthorized disclosure of classified information, argued yesterday that the Sterling verdict should be set aside in view of the misdemeanor plea agreement that was recently offered to former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus for mishandling classified information. Sterling’s attorneys suggested that the disparate treatment of the two cases was attributable to improper considerations of rank and race. They noted […]

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Changes in the Arctic, and More from CRS

The policy implications of changing climatic conditions in the Arctic region, and specifically the record loss of ice cover, are explored in a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service. See Changes in the Arctic, March 17, 2015. “There are only eight nations in the world whose territory above the Arctic Circle gives them the right to claim being an Arctic nation,” said Adm. Robert Papp, Jr., the U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic, […]

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U.S. Hits the Debt Limit, and More from CRS

The U.S. Government reached the statutory debt limit today, exhausting its normal ability to borrow money. In order to meet the government’s financial obligations, the Secretary of the Treasury must now take certain extraordinary measures. A newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service provides background on federal debt policy and explains the current state of affairs.  See The Debt Limit Since 2011, March 9, 2015. Other new or newly updated CRS reports that Congress […]

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Attorney Blasts Double Standard for Punishing Leaks

The Department of Justice has adopted an unacceptable double standard in its treatment of persons accused of leaking or mishandling classified information, the attorney for imprisoned leaker Stephen Kim wrote in a letter to DoJ released yesterday. “The decision to permit General [David] Petraeus to plead guilty to a misdemeanor demonstrates more clearly than ever the profound double standard that applies when prosecuting so-called ‘leakers’ and those accused of disclosing classified information for their own […]

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