SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2012, Issue No. 29
March 30, 2012

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

THE PIVOT TO THE PACIFIC, AND MORE FROM CRS

The growing emphasis on Asia as a focus of U.S. national security planning, known as the "pivot to the Pacific," is discussed in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

"Underlying the 'pivot' is a conviction that the center of gravity for U.S. foreign policy, national security, and economic interests is being realigned and shifting towards Asia, and that U.S. strategy and priorities need to be adjusted accordingly," the CRS report says. "For many observers, it is imperative that the United States give more emphasis to the Asia-Pacific. Indeed, for years, many countries in the region have encouraged the United States to step up its activity to provide a balance to China's rising influence."

"There are a number of risks to the 'pivot,' however. In an era of constrained U.S. defense resources, an increased U.S. military emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region might result in a reduction in U.S. military capacity in other parts of the world. Another budgetary consideration is that plans to restructure U.S. military deployments in Asia and minimize cuts in the Navy may run up against more restrictive funding constraints than plans yet assume."

"Additionally," the report says, "the perception among many that the 'rebalancing' is targeted against China could strengthen the hand of Chinese hard-liners. Such an impression could also potentially make it more difficult for the United States to gain China's cooperation on a range of issues. Additionally, the prominence the Obama Administration has given to the initiative has raised the costs to the United States if it or successor administrations fail to follow through on public pledges made, particularly in the military realm."

Congress is fully entitled to review the emerging policy, which is predicated on congressional action and cooperation, the CRS report said.

"Given that one purpose of the 'pivot' or 'rebalancing' toward the Asia-Pacific is to deepen U.S. credibility in the region at a time of fiscal constraint, Congress's oversight and appropriations roles, as well as its approval authority over free trade agreements, will help determine to what extent the Administration's plans are implemented and how various trade-offs are managed."

A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News. See "Pivot to the Pacific? The Obama Administration's 'Rebalancing' Toward Asia," March 28, 2012:

Other new and updated CRS reports that Congress has declined to make directly available to the public include the following.

Burma's April Parliamentary By-Elections, March 28, 2012:

Guam: U.S. Defense Deployments, March 29, 2012:

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations, March 26, 2012:


NEW POLICY ON MITIGATING RISKS OF BIO RESEARCH

Certain types of life science research involving "high consequence pathogens and toxins" would be subject to new review and risk mitigation procedures which might include classification of the research or termination of the funding, according to a U.S. government policy issued yesterday by the National Institutes of Health.

The policy applies to research involving 15 specified biological agents and toxins which "pose the greatest risks of deliberate misuse with most significant potential for mass casualties or devastating effects to the economy, critical infrastructure or public confidence."

Research that increases the lethality or transmissibility of the agent or toxin, or otherwise enhances its harmful consequences, will be subject to the new review procedures.

Based on the outcome of the review, a risk mitigation plan may be developed. If less restrictive measures were deemed inadequate, the new policy would allow for national security classification of the research or termination of government funding.

See "United States Government Policy for Oversight of Life Sciences Dual Use Research of Concern," March 29, 2012:

See also "U.S. Requires New Dual-Use Biological Research Reviews" by David Malakoff, Science Insider, March 29:

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

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