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 […]

Read More

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.  […]

Read More

Army Manual Withdrawn in Plagiarism Flap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 This month, the publication was officially withdrawn by the Army after numerous instances of plagiarism were identified throughout the document.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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

“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 […]

Read More

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: […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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. […]

Read More