The Future of Internet Governance, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has withheld from public distribution include the following. The Future of Internet Governance: Should the U.S. Relinquish Its Authority Over ICANN?, May 5, 2015 Iran’s Foreign Policy, May 5, 2015 Money for Something: Music Licensing in the 21st Century, May 7, 2015 Current Debates over Exchange Rates: Overview and Issues for Congress, May 7, 2015 Immigration Detainers: Legal Issues, May 7, 2015 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: […]

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House Defense Bill Seeks Expedited Declassification of POW Records

The House Armed Services Committee is asking the Secretary of Defense to identify “specific inefficiencies with regard to the process for the declassification of documents” pertaining to prisoners of war and missing in action personnel, and ways to expedite the release of such documents. The directive was included in the new Committee report on the FY 2016 defense authorization act. Declassification of POW/MIA records is a niche issue of intense personal interest to some, and […]

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How DoD Spends Its Contracting Dollars, and More from CRS

The Department of Defense spends more money on contractors than all other federal agencies combined, a new report from the Congressional Research Service explains. “This report examines (1) how much money DOD obligates on contracts, (2) what DOD is buying, and (3) where that money is being spent.” See Defense Acquisitions: How and Where DOD Spends Its Contracting Dollars, April 30, 2015. Relatedly, a provision in the pending FY2016 defense authorization bill would require the […]

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A Growing Body of Secret Intelligence Law

Updated below After President Obama suggested in a 2013 speech that the CIA drone program could be transferred to the Department of Defense, Senator Dianne Feinstein inserted a classified amendment in a spending bill to discourage the move, Politico recalled in a story last month. Classified legislative language has been generated by Congress and used to shape intelligence policy each year since the congressional intelligence committees prepared the first stand-alone intelligence authorization act in 1977 (for […]

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Mandatory Minimum Sentencing, and More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service looks at the use of mandatory minimum sentencing to punish certain types of crimes, and reviews current legislation to modify that controversial practice. “A surprising number of federal crimes carry mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment,” CRS said. “That is, they are punishable by imprisonment for a term of not less than some number of years. During the 114th Congress, Members have introduced a number of related proposals. […]

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CIA Reviews “Operational Files” Exemptions from FOIA

The CIA Information Act of 1984 authorizes the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency to designate certain Agency records as “operational files.” Doing so makes them exempt not only from disclosure, but even from search and review under the Freedom of Information Act. The 1984 Act also requires the Agency to perform a “decennial review” at least every ten years in order to determine whether any of the designated operational files exemptions can be rescinded, […]

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Security-Cleared Population Declined by 12% Last Year

The number of persons holding security clearances for access to classified information decreased by more than 635,000 (or 12.3 percent) last year, according to a new report to Congress from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It was the first reported drop in the total security-cleared population since the government began systematically collecting statistics on security clearances in 2010. The majority of the reductions involved persons who had been cleared for access to […]

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Russia Images the LACROSSE Spysat

A Russian satellite tracking facility in Siberia has produced rarely-seen photographs of a U.S. intelligence satellite. The U.S. Lacrosse radar satellite was captured in images generated at Russia’s Altay Optical Laser Center, apparently between 2005 and 2010. A selection of images was compiled and analyzed by Allen Thomson. See An Album of Images of LACROSSE Radar Reconnaissance Satellites Made by a 60 cm Adaptive Optics System at the G.S. Titov Altai Optical-Laser Center. “The images […]

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Nuclear Cooperation Agreements and Nonproliferation

President Obama this week transmitted to Congress the text of a proposed agreement with the People’s Republic of China concerning cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Known as “123 agreements” based on section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act, such accords are intended to regulate international traffic in nuclear materials and technology. The agreements generally provide for physical safeguards on subject materials, require consent for transfers of materials or technology to third countries, […]

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Cybersecurity and Information Sharing, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following. Cybersecurity and Information Sharing: Comparison of H.R. 1560 and H.R. 1731, April 20, 2015 FY2016 Appropriations for the Department of Justice (DOJ), April 15, 2015 Domestic Human Trafficking Legislation in the 114th Congress, April 16, 2015 Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): Frequently Asked Questions, April 20, 2015 Mountaintop Mining: Background on Current Controversies, April 20, 2015 FEMA’s Public Assistance Grant Program: Background and Considerations […]

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