Data and Goliath: Confronting the Surveillance Society

Within a remarkably short period of time– less than two decades– all of us have become immersed in a sea of electronic data collection. Our purchases, communications, Internet searches, and even our movements all generate collectible traces that can be recorded, packaged, and sold or exploited. Before we have had a chance to collectively think about what this phenomenal growth in data production and collection means, and to decide what to do about it, it […]

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Afghanistan Contracting Flawed, DoD IG Says (FOUO)

The Government of Afghanistan is not equipped to manage contracts and “as a result, future direct assistance funds are vulnerable to increased fraud and abuse,” the Department of Defense Inspector General said in a report last month. The IG report was marked “For Official Use Only” and was not publicly released. See The Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s Controls Over the Contract Management Process for U.S. Direct Assistance Need Improvement, DoD Inspector General, February […]

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FOIA Reform Legislation, and More from CRS

Two companion bills pending in the House and Senate would amend the Freedom of Information Act “for the purpose of increasing public access,” a new analysis of the legislation from the Congressional Research Service explains. Among other things, “both the House and Senate legislation would establish a statutory ‘presumption of openness,’ whereby information may only be withheld if it harms an interest protected by a statutory exemption or if disclosure is prohibited by law.” While […]

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Making Government Accountability Work

The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly recognize a “public right to know.” But without reliable public access to government information, many features of constitutional government would not make sense. Citizens would not be able to evaluate the performance of their elected officials. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press would be impoverished. Americans’ ability to hold their government accountable for its actions would be neutered. The conditions that make government accountability possible and meaningful […]

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Refugee Admissions and Resettlement, and More from CRS

Newly updated publications from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has withheld from online public distribution include the following. Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy, February 18, 2015 U.S. Tsunami Program: A Brief Overview, February 20, 2015 Legislation to Facilitate Cybersecurity Information Sharing: Economic Analysis, February 23, 2015 Domestic Human Trafficking Legislation in the 114th Congress, February 23, 2015 Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, February 24, 2015 Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons, […]

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Adapting to Climate Change, and More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service describes government agency plans to anticipate and adapt to the effects of climate change, as required by a 2013 executive order.   The first step is a vulnerability assessment. For the Department of Defense, climate change may have “potential impacts on geopolitics and national security interests that could result in [new] military operations, risks to existing military infrastructure, and hindrances to readiness and the ability to execute […]

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Battle of the Bands: Army Music Doctrine

Updated below The U.S. Army issued new doctrine this month on the role of music in military operations. “The mission of Army music is to provide music supporting unified land operations and instill in our forces the will to fight and win, foster the support of our citizens, and promote America’s interests at home and abroad,” the Army doctrine states. “Army music stands ready to provide flexible, relevant, and targeted music support where civilian entertainers […]

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CRS on DoD Procurement Programs

Newly updated reports from the Congressional Research Service on various Department of Defense procurement programs and related issues include the following. Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, February 24, 2015 The Army’s Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV): Background and Issues for Congress, February 25, 2015 Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) and Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC): Background and Issues for Congress, February 24, 2015 Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: […]

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Another State Secrets Case Ends in Dismissal

Last week, a federal court dismissed a lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency after the government asserted the state secrets privilege and argued that the case could not be litigated without jeopardizing national security. Former CIA officer Jacob E. Abilt (a pseudonym) had charged the Agency with employment discrimination, improper retaliation and wrongful termination. In December, CIA Director John Brennan invoked the state secrets privilege to block the lawsuit. “The facts of Mr. Abilt’s employment […]

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JASON on the Physics of Nuclear Weapons

Despite the extensive data obtained through the conduct of more than 1000 nuclear explosive tests, there is still much that is unknown or imperfectly understood about the science of nuclear weapons. A newly disclosed report prepared in 2011 by the JASON science advisory panel assessed efforts by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to “develop improved understanding of the underlying physics of the materials and components in nuclear weapons.” The study was released in redacted […]

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