DoD Cut Security Clearances by 15% in Last Two Years

In a significant retrenchment of the national security bureaucracy, the Department of Defense has reduced the number of employees and contractors who hold security clearances in the past two years by more than 700,000 persons, a cut of 15% in the total security-cleared population in DoD. The previously undisclosed reductions were reported in data provided by DoD to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. This is the first documented drop in the overall […]

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Growing Data Collection Inspires Openness at NGA

A flood of information from the ongoing proliferation of space-based sensors and ground-based data collection devices is promoting a new era of transparency in at least one corner of the U.S. intelligence community. The “explosion” of geospatial information “makes geospatial intelligence increasingly transparent because of the huge number and diversity of commercial and open sources of information,” said Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), in a speech last month. Hundreds of small […]

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Petraeus Deal Cited in Sterling Leak Defense

Attorneys for former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who was found guilty on nine felony counts involving unauthorized disclosure of classified information, argued yesterday that the Sterling verdict should be set aside in view of the misdemeanor plea agreement that was recently offered to former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus for mishandling classified information. Sterling’s attorneys suggested that the disparate treatment of the two cases was attributable to improper considerations of rank and race. They noted […]

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Naval Nuclear Propulsion: Assessing Benefits and Risks

The United States and other countries with nuclear navies have benefited from having nuclear-powered warships. But do the continued benefits depend on indefinite use of highly enriched uranium (HEU)—which can be made into nuclear weapons—as naval nuclear fuel? With budgetary constraints bearing down on the U.S. Department of Defense, the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program is finding it difficult to address many competing needs including upgrading aging training facilities, handling spent nuclear fuel, and designing the next generation submarines to replace the Virginia-class attack submarines. FAS convened an independent, nonpartisan task force of experts from the national security, nuclear engineer, nonproliferation and nuclear security fields to examine effective ways to monitor and safeguard HEU and LEU in the naval sector, and consider alternatives to HEU for naval propulsion so as to improve nuclear security and nonproliferation. The results of the year-long task force study are compiled in the report, Naval Nuclear Propulsion: […]

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U.S. Hits the Debt Limit, and More from CRS

The U.S. Government reached the statutory debt limit today, exhausting its normal ability to borrow money. In order to meet the government’s financial obligations, the Secretary of the Treasury must now take certain extraordinary measures. A newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service provides background on federal debt policy and explains the current state of affairs.  See The Debt Limit Since 2011, March 9, 2015. Other new or newly updated CRS reports that Congress […]

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Attorney Blasts Double Standard for Punishing Leaks

The Department of Justice has adopted an unacceptable double standard in its treatment of persons accused of leaking or mishandling classified information, the attorney for imprisoned leaker Stephen Kim wrote in a letter to DoJ released yesterday. “The decision to permit General [David] Petraeus to plead guilty to a misdemeanor demonstrates more clearly than ever the profound double standard that applies when prosecuting so-called ‘leakers’ and those accused of disclosing classified information for their own […]

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Briefing and Report Release: Naval Nuclear Reactors and Use of Highly Enriched Uranium

Friday, March 20, 2015 11:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Russell Senate Office Building, Room 385 Washington, DC The United States and other countries with nuclear navies have benefited from having nuclear-powered warships. But do the continued benefits depend on indefinite use of highly enriched uranium (HEU)—which can be made into nuclear weapons—as naval nuclear fuel? Can low enriched uranium, which cannot power nuclear weapons, provide alternative fuels that meet the performance requirements of the United States Navy? What are the federal defense budgetary considerations? Is it possible to monitor and safeguard nuclear material for naval propulsion? A panel of experts who will discuss their research on these and related issues. At this event, we will release the report of an independent task force convened by FAS, Naval Nuclear Propulsion: Assessing Benefits and Risks. Schedule: 11:45 a.m.- Luncheon and Registration (Kindly request that you be seated by 12:05 p.m.) 12:05 p.m.- Opening Remarks: Major Findings […]

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Data and Goliath: Confronting the Surveillance Society

Within a remarkably short period of time– less than two decades– all of us have become immersed in a sea of electronic data collection. Our purchases, communications, Internet searches, and even our movements all generate collectible traces that can be recorded, packaged, and sold or exploited. Before we have had a chance to collectively think about what this phenomenal growth in data production and collection means, and to decide what to do about it, it […]

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Afghanistan Contracting Flawed, DoD IG Says (FOUO)

The Government of Afghanistan is not equipped to manage contracts and “as a result, future direct assistance funds are vulnerable to increased fraud and abuse,” the Department of Defense Inspector General said in a report last month. The IG report was marked “For Official Use Only” and was not publicly released. See The Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s Controls Over the Contract Management Process for U.S. Direct Assistance Need Improvement, DoD Inspector General, February […]

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FOIA Reform Legislation, and More from CRS

Two companion bills pending in the House and Senate would amend the Freedom of Information Act “for the purpose of increasing public access,” a new analysis of the legislation from the Congressional Research Service explains. Among other things, “both the House and Senate legislation would establish a statutory ‘presumption of openness,’ whereby information may only be withheld if it harms an interest protected by a statutory exemption or if disclosure is prohibited by law.” While […]

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