DNI Issues Directive on “Critical Information”

The Director of National Intelligence last week issued a new directive on “critical information,” also denominated “CRITIC,” which refers to national security information of the utmost urgency. “Critical information is information concerning possible threats to U.S. national security that are so significant that they require the immediate attention of the President and the National Security Council,” the directive explains. “Critical information includes the decisions, intentions, or actions of foreign governments, organizations, or individuals that could […]

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Perspectives on the SSCI Torture Report, and More from CRS

New reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has not made publicly available include the following. Perspectives on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) “Torture Report” and Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: In Brief, February 10, 2015 U.S. Sanctions on Russia: Economic Implications, February 4, 2015 Alien Removals and Returns: Overview and Trends, February 3, 2015 A Guide to Describing the Income Distribution, February 5, 2015 The Measles: Background and Federal Role in Vaccine Policy, […]

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Classified and Public: B-53 Bomb Yield Declassified

The explosive yield of the B-53 thermonuclear bomb, once the highest-yield nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal, was 9 Megatons. “Effective 20 November, 2014, the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy jointly declassified the fact that the yield of the B53/W53 Y1 was 9 megatons,” according to a notice posted on a DoD website last week. This is less of a breakthrough in declassification policy than might be supposed, since the 9 Megaton […]

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Military Terms and Symbols

The U.S. Army has updated and doubled the size of its lexicon of military terminology. This is a fluid and rapidly evolving field. In fact, “changes to terminology occur more frequently than traditional publication media can be updated.” The new Army publication extends beyond words to the use of symbols, including “hand drawn and computer-generated military symbols for situation maps, overlays, and annotated aerial photographs for all types of military operations.” Though intended primarily for […]

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Court to Weigh Judicial Approval of “No Fly” Cases

In a pending lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the “no fly” list, in which the government has asserted the state secrets privilege, a federal court signaled that it would consider requiring judicial approval of “no fly” determinations involving U.S. citizens. Judge Anthony J. Trenga, who presides over the case Gulet Mohamed v. Eric Holder in the Eastern District of Virginia, set a hearing on February 24 to allow the government to supplement its argument that […]

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A Profile of the 114th Congress, and More from CRS

The membership of the new Congress has set several new demographic records, according to a survey by the Congressional Research Service. “One hundred eight women (a record number) serve in the 114th Congress: 88 in the House, including four Delegates, and 20 in the Senate. There are 46 African American Members of the House and two in the Senate. This House number includes two Delegates. There are 38 Hispanic or Latino Members (a record number) […]

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Security-Cleared Population Drops by 10%

The number of people who hold security clearances for access to classified information has been reduced by ten percent, the White House said in budget request documents released this week. “The Administration achieved its objective to reduce the total number of security-cleared individuals by 10 percent,” according to the White House/OMB budget request (at p. 51). The security-cleared population has grown steadily for several years, with 5.1 million people eligible for classified access, according to […]

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Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing, and More from CRS

New and updated products from the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News include the following. U.S.-EU Cooperation on Ukraine and Russia, CRS Insights, January 23, 2015 Who’s Your Mommy/Daddy? Citizenship Policy Evolves with Medical Technology, CRS Legal Sidebar, January 27, 2015 U.S. Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing: Industry Trends, Global Competition, Federal Support, January 27, 2015 Information Warfare: Cyberattacks on Sony, CRS Insights, January 30, 2015 Biennial Budgeting: Options, Issues, and Previous Congressional Action, February 2, […]

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88 Days to Kandahar: The CIA in Afghanistan

Following the 9/11 attacks, the Central Intelligence Agency was tasked to lead the campaign against Al Qaeda and its Taliban hosts in Afghanistan. There were some initial successes, as the Taliban was driven from its strongholds and a new Afghan government rose to power. Yet the process was often chaotic, confused and haphazard. “Operating at full throttle, constantly improvising, we seldom had occasion to stop and consider what we were doing, or how.” That sentence […]

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Govt Backtracks on Classifying Afghanistan Data

Updated (twice) below U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have partially rescinded their effort to classify previously public oversight information concerning the status of coalition operations in that country after the move drew sharp criticism. The sudden reversal was reported in the New York Times (U.S. Declassifies Some Information on Afghan Forces by Matthew Rosenberg, February 2). In a report issued last week, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) had called the classification action […]

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