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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New DNI Guidance on Polygraph Testing Against Leaks

Updated below Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper issued guidance this month on polygraph testing for screening of intelligence community personnel. His instructions give particular emphasis to the use of the polygraph for combating unauthorized disclosures of classified information. Counterintelligence scope polygraph examinations “shall cover the topics of espionage, sabotage, terrorism, unauthorized disclosure or removal of classified information (including to the media), unauthorized or unreported foreign contacts, and deliberate damage to or misuse of […]

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Leaks Damaged U.S. Intelligence, Official Says

Unauthorized disclosures of classified information by Edward Snowden have damaged U.S. intelligence capabilities, National Counterterrorism Center director Nicholas J. Rasmussen told Congress last week. “Due to the Snowden leaks and other disclosures, terrorists also have a great understanding of how we seek to conduct surveillance including our methods, our tactics and the scope and scale of our efforts. They’ve altered the ways in which they communicate and this has led to a decrease in collection,” Mr. Rasmussen […]

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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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