Govt Rebuts Criticism of State Secrets Privilege

Last week government attorneys submitted 28 documents concerning “watchlisting” procedures to a federal court for in camera review that they said should be protected from disclosure under the state secrets privilege.  The documents had been sought by the plaintiff in Gulet Mohamed v. Eric Holder, a case challenging the constitutionality of the “no fly” list. The government had previously argued that it was “not appropriate” for a court to perform its own review of such […]

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Inspectors General with Guns, and More from CRS

Offices of Inspector General (OIGs) are generally known for performing investigations of executive branch agencies in order to combat waste, fraud and abuse. But many IGs also have a law enforcement function, and many of their employees are armed. The most recent data available (from 2008) indicate that 33 Offices of Inspector General had a total of 3,501 agents who were authorized to carry firearms, according to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service. […]

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FAS Roundup: September 22, 2014

From the Blogs Energy Dept to Review Classification Standards for Clarity: The Department of Energy will review its classification standards to improve clarity and eliminate ambiguities, the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration told FAS in a letter of response to the case of James Doyle. Doyle is a political scientist who worked at Los Alamos and published an article on nuclear weapons policy that was initially cleared for publication, but then was said to […]

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State Secrets Privilege Used Improperly, Court is Told

When the government intervened in a private lawsuit to assert the state secrets privilege and to seek dismissal of the entire proceeding (Secrecy News, September 15), it acted improperly and misused the state secrets privilege, the attorney for the plaintiff in the case told the Court yesterday. “The Government has improperly invoked the state secrets privilege, deprived Plaintiffs of the opportunity to test the Government’s claims through the adversarial process, and limited the Court’s opportunity […]

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Verification Requirements for a Nuclear Agreement with Iran

One of the main questions for U.S. government policymakers is what monitoring and verification measures and tools will be required by the United States, its allies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful. FAS convened an independent task force to examine the technical and policy requirements to adequately verify a comprehensive or other sustained nuclear agreement with Iran. The report outlines nine recommendations for a successful monitoring and verification agreement with Iran.

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Private Lawsuit Jeopardizes State Secrets, US Says

The U.S. Government asserted the state secrets privilege last week in a private lawsuit to which the government is not a party and moved for dismissal of the case. Greek businessman Victor Restis had filed a lawsuit last year against the private advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), alleging that the group had falsely and maliciously accused Restis of engaging in illict commerce with Iran. UANI, whose advisory board includes numerous former government officials, […]

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President’s Message: The Nuclear Guns of August

“One constant among the elements of 1914—as of any era—was the disposition of everyone on all sides not to prepare for the harder alternative, not to act upon what they suspected to be true,” wrote Barbara Tuchman in The Guns of August.1)Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August (New York: Dell, 1962). Today, the United States and other nuclear-armed states are not addressing the harder alternative of whether nuclear weapons provide for real security. The harder alternative, I argue,  is to work toward elimination of these weapons at the same time as the security concerns of all states are being met. If leaders of states feel insecure, those with nuclear arms will insist on maintaining or even modernizing these weapons, and many of those without nuclear arms will insist on having nuclear deterrence commitments from nuclear-armed states. Therefore, security concerns must be addressed as a leading priority if there is to […]

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UAVs: An (unexploited) Seller’s Market

Today, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or “drones”), are an ever-present entity in both political discourse and the skies above countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. Unmanned aerial vehicles can be used for a wide variety of missions. While intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and target acquisition are missions that frequently fall under the purview of basic UAVs, more advanced drones can be used for specialized tasks such as laser targeting, cargo transportation, and precision strike missions. Over 50 countries possess the ability to produce their own UAVs, and those that cannot do so are able to receive UAVs from exporters around the world.1)Drone Wars UK. “Mapping Drone Proliferation: UAVs in 76 Countries.” Global Research. Centre for Research on Globalization, 18 Sept. 2012. Web. 27 June 2014. The most valued UAVs in the export market are those capable of long range flight or armed operations, as these platforms are significantly more difficult […]

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The Fallacy of Proven and Adaptable Defenses

It is currently U.S. policy to deploy missile defenses that are “proven, cost-effective, and adaptable.”1)White House Office of the Press Secretary, “Fact Sheet on U.S. Missile Defense Policy,” September 17, 2009. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/FACT-SHEET-US-Missile-Defense-Policy-A-Phased-Adaptive-Approach-for-Missile-Defense-in-Europe/ As outlined in the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review, proven means “extensive testing and assessment,” or “fly before you buy.”2)Department of Defense, “Ballistic Missile Defense Review,” (January 2010): vi, 11. http://www.defense.gov/bmdr/docs/BMDR%20as%20of%2026JAN10%200630_for%20web.pdfAdaptive means that defenses can respond to unexpected threats by being rapidly relocated or “surged to a region,” and by being easily integrated into existing defensive architectures.3)Ibid, 27 While “extensive testing” in the field is an important step towards proven defenses, this article argues that it is insufficient for truly proven—that is, trustworthy—defenses. Defenses against nuclear weapons face a very high burden of proof because a single bomb is utterly devastating. But even if defenses achieve this level of trustworthiness in one context, this article argues that they cannot immediately be […]

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FAS Roundup: July 21, 2014

House amendment to cut NSC budget, nuclear risks and more.  From the Blogs DNI Issues New Policy on Leak Damage Assessments: The Director of National Intelligence has issued new guidance on assessing damage resulting from the unauthorized disclosure of classified intelligence information to ensure that the damage assessments “are produced in an efficient, timely, consistent and collaborative manner.” Leak damage assessments should be used iteratively and the lessons learned from them should be applied “to strengthen the protection of […]

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