SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2008, Issue No. 40
April 22, 2008

Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

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NATIONAL SECURITY AND THE PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION

"The 2008-2009 election marks the first presidential transition in the post-9/11 era, and is of concern to many national security observers," a new report from the Congressional Research Service says.

"While changes in administration during U.S. involvement in national security related activities are not unique to the 2008-2009 election, many observers suggest that the current security climate and recent acts of terrorism by individuals wishing to influence national elections and change foreign policies portend a time of increased risk to the current presidential transition period."

"This report discusses historical national-security related presidential transition activities, provides a representative sampling of national security issues the next administration may encounter, and offers considerations and options relevant to each of the five phases of the presidential transition period."

See "2008-2009 Presidential Transition: National Security Considerations and Options," April 21, 2008:

Meanwhile, "A growing community of interest, including Members of Congress, senior officials in the executive branch, and think-tank analysts, is calling for a reexamination of how well the U.S. government, including both the executive branch and Congress, is organized to apply all instruments of national power to national security activities," according to another new CRS report.

"The organizations and procedures used today to formulate strategy, support presidential decision-making, plan and execute missions, and budget for those activities are based on a framework established just after World War II."

"The 'outdated bureaucratic superstructure' of the 20th century is an inadequate basis for protecting the nation from 21st century security challenges, critics contend, and the system itself, or alternatively, some of its key components, requires revision."

The new CRS report is intended "to help frame the emerging debates by taking note of the leading advocates for change, highlighting identified shortcomings in key elements of the current system, and describing categories of emerging proposals for change."

See "Organizing the U.S. Government for National Security: Overview of the Interagency Reform Debates," April 18, 2008:

The Congressional Research Service, acting at the direction of Congress, does not make its publications directly available to the public.


A PRIMER ON SCIENCE POLICY, AND MORE FROM CRS

The basic structures and procedures of science and technology policymaking are presented in detail in a new report from the Congressional Research Service. See "Science and Technology Policymaking: A Primer," April 18, 2008:

Other noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily available online include the following.

"Information Security and Data Breach Notification Safeguards," updated April 3, 2008:

"Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Current Structure and Alternatives," updated April 1, 2008:

"Data Mining and Homeland Security: An Overview," updated April 3, 2008:

"Security Implications of Taiwan's Presidential Election of March 2008," April 4, 2008:


NATIONAL SECURITY LETTERS AND SECRET LAW

The implications of the expanded use of "national security letters" by the FBI and other agencies to compel disclosure of business record information will be explored in a hearing tomorrow before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

For an introduction to the subject see "National Security Letters in Foreign Intelligence Investigations: Legal Background and Recent Amendments," Congressional Research Service, updated March 28, 2008:

Next week on April 30, Sen. Russ Feingold will chair a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on "Secret Law and the Threat to Democratic and Accountable Government":

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Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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