Energy Policy and National Security: The Need for a Nonpartisan Plan

As I write this president’s message, the U.S. election has just resulted in a resounding victory for the Republican Party, which will have control of both the Senate and House of Representatives when the new Congress convenes in January. While some may despair that these results portend an even more divided federal government with a Democratic president and a Republican Congress, I choose to view this event as an opportunity in disguise in regards to the important and urgent issue of U.S. energy policy. President Barack Obama has staked a major part of his presidential legacy on combating climate change. He has felt stymied by the inability to convince Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to mandate substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, his administration has leveraged the power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to craft rules that will, in effect, force the closure of many of the biggest […]

Read More

A Looming Crisis of Confidence in Japan’s Nuclear Intentions

Nearly two years into Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s second stint at governing Japan, his tenure has been characterized by three primary themes. The first two themes include his major legislative priorities: enabling Japan’s economic revival and bringing Japan closer to the status of a “normal” country that takes on a greater share of its own security needs. Both of these priorities are largely celebrated in the United States, which longs to see Japan become a more able and active partner in the region.  A third theme has not been well received in Washington: the prime minister’s apparent efforts to whitewash Japan’s wartime past.  Through personal expressions of admiration for convicted war-criminals, an official reinvestigation of past apologies for war-time atrocities, and appointments of hardline nationalists to prominent posts (such as the NHK board of governors), the prime minister’s actions have raised the spectre among wary neighbors of a Japanese return […]

Read More

The CTBT: At the Intersection of Science and Politics

Recent high-level meetings in Washington, D.C., the United Nations, California and Utah about the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) might lead one to believe that finally action might be taken towards ratification of the treaty. At the meeting in New York, foreign ministers and senior officials from 90 countries met on September 29 to acclaim the treaty and its value—both scientific and political. “This treaty isn’t just a feel-good exercise. It’s in all of our national security interests, and it’s verifiable,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. “In fact, its verification regime is one of the great accomplishments of the modern world.” 1)U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, “Remarks At The Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Ministerial,” United Nations, Sept. 26, 2014, http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2014/09/232219.htm In Washington, key U.S. officials—Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, NNSA Director Frank Klotz, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary […]

Read More

State Secrets Claim Challenged in Defamation Lawsuit

The U.S. Government overreached by intervening in a private defamation lawsuit to assert the state secrets privilege without providing a public explanation or even identifying which agency was asserting the privilege, the plaintiff in that lawsuit yesterday. That argument was bolstered by an amicus brief from civil liberties organizations concerning the proper use of the privilege and the alternatives to dismissal of the case. The issue arose after Greek businessman Victor Restis filed the lawsuit […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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. […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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.

Read More

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, […]

Read More