Special Operations Beyond War and Peace

“Power and influence are now diffusing to a range of actors, both state and non-state, who have not traditionally wielded it,” said Gen. Joseph L. Votel, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), last month. Under these circumstances, “Traditional approaches to deterrence are increasingly inadequate,” he said. “Adversaries [seek] to maximize their coercive influence while limiting their risk of serious retribution. They are becoming adept at avoiding crossing thresholds that would clearly justify the use […]

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Islamic State Financing, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have been withheld from public distribution include the following. Islamic State Financing and U.S. Policy Approaches, April 10, 2015 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force: Issues Concerning Its Continued Application, April 14, 2015 The War Powers Resolution: Concepts and Practice, April 3, 2015 Iran: Efforts to Achieve a Nuclear Accord, April 9, 2015 Science and Technology Issues in the 114th Congress, April 7, […]

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No Fly List: Govt Offers New Redress Procedures

Updated below The government will no longer refuse to confirm or deny that persons who are prevented from boarding commercial aircraft have been placed on the “No Fly List,” and such persons will have new opportunities to challenge the denial of boarding, the Department of Justice announced yesterday in a court filing. Until now, the Government refused to acknowledge whether or not an individual traveler had been placed on the No Fly List and, if […]

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National Archives Tackles Email Management

Overwhelmed by the challenge of trying to sort, identify and preserve historically valuable government email, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has devised what it calls the Capstone approach to email management. Under Capstone, government email would be categorized for retention or disposal based on the title or position of the email sender, rather than the contents of the email message. Those officials responsible for agency policy and mission performance would have their emails […]

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Justice Dept Updates its FOIA Regulations

The Department of Justice last week published newly updated regulations on implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, with several notable changes made in response to public comments. Fifteen sets of comments were submitted by individual members of the public or public interest organizations after the Department released its draft FOIA regulations in 2011. In a lengthy Federal Register notice on April 3, the Department addressed all of the comments, and actually adopted a number […]

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Intelligence Oversight in the 113th Congress

During the last two years, the U.S. intelligence community has faced momentous challenges and experienced extraordinary upheaval, including the Snowden disclosures beginning in June 2013 and the release of a redacted summary of the Senate report on CIA interrogation practices last year. Those episodes and others are reflected in a new report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence describing its oversight activities in the 113th Congress from January 2013 to January 2015. Highlights of […]

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Two New Judges Appointed to FISA Court

The Chief Justice of the United States has named two new judges to the eleven-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the Court announced last week. Chief Justice Roberts designated Judge James P. Jones of the Western District of Virginia and Judge Thomas B. Russell of the Western District of Kentucky to serve on the FISC beginning May 19, 2015. Judge Jones and Judge Russell were both nominated to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton. […]

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DHS Seeks Increase in Domestic HUMINT Collection

The Department of Homeland Security aims to increase its domestic human intelligence collection activity this year, the Department recently told Congress. In a question for the record from a September 2014 congressional hearing, Rep. Paul C. Broun (R-GA) asked:  “Do we currently have enough human intelligence capacity–both here in the homeland and overseas–to counter the threats posed by state and non-state actors alike?” The Department replied, in a response published in the full hearing volume […]

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New START Treaty Count: Russia Dips Below US Again

By Hans M. Kristensen Russian deployed strategic warheads counted by the New START Treaty once again slipped below the U.S. force level, according to the latest fact sheet released by the State Department. The so-called aggregate numbers show that Russia as of March 1, 2015 deployed 1,582 warheads on 515 strategic launchers. The U.S. count was 1,597 warheads on 785 launchers. Back in September 2014, the Russian warhead count for the first time in the […]

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Domestic Drones & Privacy, and More from CRS

The anticipated deployment of thousands of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) — or drones — in American skies raises unresolved privacy concerns that have barely begun to be addressed, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service. The CRS report provides “a primer on privacy issues related to various UAS operations, both public and private, including an overview of current UAS uses, the privacy interests implicated by these operations, and various potential approaches to […]

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