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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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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