Who was Willy Higinbotham?

Editor’s note: The following is a compilation of letters by Dr. William Higinbotham, a nuclear physicist who worked on the first nuclear bomb and served as the first chairman of FAS. His daughter, Julie Schletter, assembled these accounts of Higinbotham’s distinguished career.   Thank you for this opportunity to share with you my father’s firsthand accounts of the inception of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).  After my father died in November 1994, I inherited a truly intimidating treasure of letters, correspondence and most importantly a nearly complete manuscript (mostly on floppy disks) of his unpublished memoirs.  Over the last couple of decades, I have read widely and deeply, collected resources, transcribed and sorted through this material and am planning to publish a personal history of Willy in the near future. Having studied this man from a more distant perspective, I am sure about certain things.  Willy was at his […]

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The False Hope of Nuclear Forensics? Assessing the Timeliness of Forensics Intelligence

Nuclear forensics is playing an increasing role in the conceptualization of U.S. deterrence strategy, formally integrated into policy in the 2006 National Strategy on Combatting Terrorism (NSCT). This policy linked terrorist groups and state sponsors in terms of retaliation, and called for the development of “rapid identification of the source and perpetrator of an attack,” through the bolstering of attribution via forensics capabilities.1)National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, September 2006, pg. 5: Available at http://www.cfr.org/counterterrorism/national-strategy-combating-terrorism-2006/p11389 2)Ibid. pg. 15. This indirect deterrence between terrorist groups and state sponsors was strengthened during the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit when nuclear forensics expanded into the international realm and was included in the short list of priorities for bolstering state and international capacity. However, while governments and the international community have continued to invest in capabilities and databases for tracking and characterizing the elemental signatures of nuclear material, the question persists as to the ability of nuclear forensics […]

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Air Force: Cyber Warriors Need Plenty of Rest

New guidance from the U.S. Air Force on the use of cyberspace weapons directs Air Force personnel to get a good night’s sleep prior to performing military cyberspace operations and to refrain from alcohol while on duty. “Crew rest is compulsory for any crew member prior to performing any crew duty on any cyber weapon system,” the May 5 guidance says. “Each crew member is individually responsible to ensure he or she obtains sufficient rest […]

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Average U.S. Troop Cost Nearly Doubled Since 1980

The average cost to the U.S. defense budget per individual troop member has increased sharply over the past few decades, a new analysis from the Congressional Research Service found, reflecting changes in the size and structure of the U.S. military. “Since FY1980, the cost per troop–for all expenses ranging from pay to procurement–has almost doubled in real terms from $200,000 per troop in FY1980 to $390,000 per troop in [the] FY2016 request,” the CRS report […]

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ODNI: Annexes to Intelligence Bills are not “Secret Law”

A recent article in Secrecy News indicated that the classified annexes that accompany the annual intelligence authorization bills are legally binding and constitute “secret law” (A Growing Body of Secret Intelligence Law, May 4). Robert S. Litt, the General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, wrote in last week to dispute that characterization: I read your piece on secret law and the classified annex to the Intelligence Authorization bills with interest.  […]

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Army Manual Withdrawn in Plagiarism Flap

Last month, the U.S. Army issued a new doctrinal publication entitled Cultural and Situational Understanding. This month, the publication was officially withdrawn by the Army after numerous instances of plagiarism were identified throughout the document. Prof. Roberto J. Gonzalez authored a blistering critique of the publication (The US Army’s Serial Plagiarists, Counterpunch, May 1), providing one example after another of pilfered text that had been incorporated without acknowledgment or attribution to the source. “As I […]

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House Renews Ban on CRS Publication of Its Reports

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) will continue to be barred from releasing its reports to the public, the House Appropriations Committee said yesterday in its report on legislative branch appropriations for the coming year. “The bill contains language which provides that no funds in the Congressional Research Service can be used to publish or prepare material to be issued by the Library of Congress unless approved by the appropriate committees,” the House report said. Because […]

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Pentagon Report: China Deploys MIRV Missile

By Hans M. Kristensen The biggest surprise in the Pentagon’s latest annual report on Chinese military power is the claim that China’s ICBM force now includes the “multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV)-equipped Mod 3 (DF-5).” This is (to my knowledge) the first time the US Intelligence Community has made a public claim that China has fielded a MIRVed missile system. If so, China joins the club of four other nuclear-armed states that have deployed MIRV […]

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“Controlled Unclassified Information” Is Coming

After years of preparation, the executive branch is poised to adopt a government-wide system for designating and safeguarding unclassified information that is to be withheld from public disclosure. The new system of “controlled unclassified information” (CUI) will replace the dozens of improvised control markings used by various agencies that have created confusion and impeded information sharing inside and outside of government. A proposed rule on CUI was published for public comment on May 8 in […]

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The Future of Internet Governance, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has withheld from public distribution include the following. The Future of Internet Governance: Should the U.S. Relinquish Its Authority Over ICANN?, May 5, 2015 Iran’s Foreign Policy, May 5, 2015 Money for Something: Music Licensing in the 21st Century, May 7, 2015 Current Debates over Exchange Rates: Overview and Issues for Congress, May 7, 2015 Immigration Detainers: Legal Issues, May 7, 2015 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: […]

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