A Look Behind President Clinton’s Veto of an Anti-Leak Bill

In 2000, both houses of Congress passed legislation that would have made any leak of classified information a felony. The provision, contained in the FY2001 intelligence authorization act, was designed “to ensure the prosecution of all unauthorized disclosures of classified information.” said Sen. Richard Shelby, the primary sponsor of the provision, at the time. While some unauthorized disclosures of classified information were already prohibited by statute (including the Espionage Act), others have not been specifically […]

Read More

Wanted: A Chef with a Top Secret Clearance

A secure U.S. government facility in Herndon, Virginia needs a master chef who holds or who can obtain a Top Secret security clearance. The job opening was announced by Sodexo, the international food service company. “Sodexo’s Government Services Division is seeking a strong Executive Chef to manage all the culinary operations at a high profile government dining account in Northern Virginia. The successful candidate must be able to obtain a TS/SCI clearance,” the announcement said. […]

Read More

Secrecy System Shows New Signs of Contraction

In 2012, the number of newly created national security secrets (or “original classification decisions”) dropped by a startling 42% from the year before, according to the Information Security Oversight Office. It was the largest annual drop ever reported by ISOO, yielding the lowest annual production of new secrets since such numbers began to be collected in 1979. (Secrecy System Shows Signs of Contraction, Secrecy News, June 25, 2013). Now it seems that this 2012 decline […]

Read More

The Evolution of the Senate Arms Control Observer Group

In March 2013, the Senate voted down an amendment offered by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) to cut $700,000 from their budget that was set-aside for the National Security Working Group (NSWG). What many did not realize at the time was that this relatively small and obscure proposed cut would have eliminated one of the last traces of the bipartisan Congressional approach to debating arms control. The NSWG first began as the Arms Control Observer Group, which helped to build support for arms control in the Senate. In recent years, there have been calls from both Democrats and Republicans to revive the Observer Group, but very little analysis of the role it played. Its history illustrates the stark contrast in the Senate’s attitude and approach to arms control issues during the mid- to late 1980s compared with the divide that exists today between the two parties.   The Arms Control Observer […]

Read More

A Scenario for Jihadist Nuclear Revenge

The Greatest Threat The weapon was ready, a simple fission device similar to the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. It had been finally assembled in a rented storage space on the outskirts of Las Vegas. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had spent years quietly contemplating while meticulously planning this diabolical, logistically challenging mission. Among other things, the plot necessitated recruiting and directing a number of operatives, some technically skilled, located in several countries. All were individuals devoted to his cause and committed to the Jihadist goal of detonating a nuclear bomb in an American city. He chose Las Vegas because the city epitomized western decadence. The bomb’s essential component – 140 pounds of highly enriched uranium (HEU) – had been stolen or secretly purchased, bit-by-bit, mostly from Pakistan, but also from India, North Korea, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. It took years to collect, hide and safeguard all the necessary HEU in northwest Pakistan. From […]

Read More

FAS Roundup: May 12, 2014

Russian ICBM modernization, ODNI requires pre-publication review of all public information and more. From the Blogs JASON Views Challenges of Electronic Health Data: The ongoing transition to electronic storage of individual health information was examined in a newly released study from the JASON scientific advisory panel. The JASON study addresses the tension between personal health information, which is “sensitive and therefore must be carefully safeguarded,” and aggregated population health data, which are “a highly valuable, and largely untapped, resource […]

Read More

Russian ICBM Force Modernization: Arms Control Please!

By Hans M. Kristensen In our Nuclear Notebook on Russian nuclear forces from March this year, Robert S. Norris and I described the significant upgrade that’s underway in Russia’s force of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Over the next decade, all Soviet-era ICBMs will be retired and replaced with a smaller force consisting of mainly five variants of one missile: the SS-27. After more than a decade-and-a-half of introduction, the number of SS-27s now makes […]

Read More

FAS Roundup: May 5, 2014

U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile number declassified, ODNI seeks to obscure CIA role in human intelligence and more. From the Blogs Using Classification to Curb Secrecy: When government employees believe that classified information in their possession is improperly classified, they “are encouraged and expected” to challenge its classification status, according to President Obama’s executive order 13526 (section 1.8). And sometimes they do. In FY 2012, there were 402 classification challenges filed by government employees. Such classification challenges have the potential to […]

Read More

US Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Number Declassified: Only 309 Warheads Cut By Obama Administration

By Hans M. Kristensen After a transparency hiatus of four years, the Obama administration has declassified the size of its nuclear weapons stockpile: 4,804 warheads as of September 2013. The new stockpile size is 309 warheads fewer than the 5,113 warheads that the administration in 2010 reported were in the stockpile as of September 2009. The new number of 4,804 warheads is 154 warheads more than Norris and I have in our latest Nuclear Notebook, […]

Read More