Author: Katie Colten

FAS Roundup: March 26, 2012

2012 Nuclear Security Summit,secret drone technology, nuclear limbo and much more. 2012 Nuclear Security Summit Listen to the new edition of the FAS podcast series, "A Conversation With An Expert,"  featuring FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson. In this podcast, Dr. Ferguson discusses the goals of the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, securing fissile materials, and nuclear terrorism. Visit our 2012 Nuclear Security Summit policy page on our website which highlights FAS work and resources on nuclear security, fissile materials and much more. FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson examines the national and international efforts to control and secure radioactive materials, and offers suggestions on how to reduce the risk of radiological terrorism in a new paper published by the US-Korea Institute at SAIS. 

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FAS Roundup: March 19, 2012

Preparing for the aftermath of a nuclear terrorist attack, uncertain future of nuclear power, examination of efforts to secure radioactive materials and much more.   From the Blogs Admin May Appeal Order to Release Classified Document: Two weeks ago, Judge Richard W. Roberts issued an extraordinary ruling that a secret government document was not properly classified and must therefore be released under the Freedom of Information Act. Steven Aftergood writes that question is whether the government will accept the ruling and abide by it, or challenge it. In 1976, NSA was Tasked to Help Secure Private Communications: Going back as far as the Ford Administration, the National Security Agency was directed to help secure non-governmental communications networks against intrusion and interception by foreign — or domestic — entities, according to a recently declassified presidential directive released in September 2011. The directive prefigures an ongoing controversy over the proper role, and the actual extent, of National Security Agency involvement in securing public communications. Income Inequality and Economic Mobility, and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as U.S. foreign aid to Israel, Europe's energy security and income inequality in the United States. Solar Flares: Last week, Earth was hit by one of the biggest solar storms in decades. Dr. Y investigates what exactly happens during a solar storm, and the effects it can have on the Earth and its inhabitants on the ScienceWonk blog.

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FAS Roundup- March 11, 2012

Lessons learned from Fukushima, future of nuclear power, Russia's nuclear forces and much more. Fukushima: One Year Later Listen to the new edition of the FAS podcast series, "A Conversation With An Expert,"  featuring FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson. In this podcast, Dr. Ferguson discusses the lessons learned from Fukushima, safety of U.S. nuclear plants, future of nuclear power use, and Japan's new energy policy post- Fukushima. FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson is the executive producer and featured in the Council on Foreign Relations nuclear energy multimedia guide, which explores the past, present and future of nuclear power. Fukushima- A Year Later: March 11 marks the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan, setting into motion the events that culminated in multiple reactor meltdowns. Dr. Y reflects on a few lessons we have learned as a result of this accident on the ScienceWonk blog. FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson presented at a conference hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to examine the impact of the Fukushima accident. Dr. Ferguson spoke about the potential implications for the use of nuclear power post Fukushima and implications for safety, education, economics and waste disposal. You can view the slides from his presentation here. Japan's Nuclear Dilemma:  In a new interview with Toni Johnson of the Council on Foreign Relations, FAS President Charles Ferguson spoke about Japan's future energy program and states that Japan's economy is taking a huge hit due to loss of significant power generation and high imported energy costs. Yet, Japan is not open to renewable energy as an alternative. Post-Fukushima, should Japan use nuclear power?

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FAS Roundup- March 5, 2012

FAS Roundup: March 5, 2012 Syria and WMD, Chinese ICBMs spotted, DoD responds to nuclear targeting questions, why sanctions on Iran won't work and much more.   From the Blogs DoD Responds to Questions on Nuclear Targeting: Are U.S. nuclear forces on hair trigger alert? Not exactly, a Department of Defense official told Congress. “Although it is true that portions of the U.S. nuclear triad are capable of rapid execution upon authorization from the President, a robust system of safeguards and procedures are in place to prevent the accidental or unauthorized launch of a U.S. nuclear weapon,” said James N. Miller, Jr., Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Chinese Mobile ICBMs Seen in Central China: Hans Kristensen writes that recent satellite images show that China is setting up launch units for its newest road-mobile Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) in central China. Several launchers of the new DF-31/31A appeared at two sites in the eastern part of the Qinghai province in June 2011; which is part of China’s slow modernization of its small (compared with Russia and the United States) nuclear arsenal. Court Says Agency Classification Decision is Not "Logical": DC District Judge Richard W. Roberts did an astonishing thing that federal courts almost never do: He probed into the decision to classify a government document and concluded that it was not well-founded, in an opinion that was published this week. He ordered the agency to release the document under the Freedom of Information Act.

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Questions about Nuclear Power?

Note:  The new report published by the Federation of American Scientists and Washington and Lee University, The Future of Nuclear Power in the United States, is available online here. Nuclear power is all over the news today, yet there remains many unanswered questions regarding this power source.  A new article written by Dr. Frank Settle and Dr. Charles D. Ferguson, (editors of the recently published report, The Future of Nuclear Power in the United States), examines questions such as how nuclear power differs from other sources of electricity and future expansion of the nuclear power industry in the United States.

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FAS Roundup- February 27, 2012

FAS Roundup: February 27, 2012 Status of China's nuclear forces, strides in DoD classification reform, photos and video from FAS Awards Ceremony and much more.   From the Blogs Pentagon Defends Record on Secrecy Reform: The Department of Defense has done a better job of complying with changes in national security classification policy than it has gotten credit for, Pentagon officials told a Senate Committee.  The number of classification guides that are up to date has increased from 30% to over 70%, the officials said, and a new four-volume information security guide that has been under development since 2009 is in final coordination. Media Orgs File Amicus Brief in Sterling Leak Case: Dozens of major news media organizations joined together to defend the notion of a reporter’s privilege to protect the identity of a confidential against compulsory disclosure. The brief is an emphatic chorus of support for James Risen (the New York Times reporter who has been subpoenaed to testify in the case of Jeffrey Sterling, the former CIA officer who is accused of leaking classified information to Mr. Risen), and it offers a clear statement that the public interest in free press is at stake in this case. One thing it does not do, however, is simplify the matter for the appeals court or help to devise some kind of resolution of the conflict between the parties. Chinese Nuclear Modernization-Smaller and Later: Last week, Congress received its annual threat assessment from the U.S. intelligence community. Hans Kristensen writes that China’s nuclear arsenal is at a size that makes comparison with U.S. nuclear force level meaningless – even at the lowest level feared by the critics. The threat assessment showed that China’s nuclear force modernization has been slower than predicted during the Bush administration. DoD Reports "Impressive Strides" in Updating Classification: Steven Aftergood writes that the Department of Defense says it has cancelled more than 300 of its 1800 classification guides as a result of the ongoing Fundamental Classification Guidance Review (mandated by President Obama's 2009 executive order to identify and eliminate inappropriate classification requirements).  The defunct guides can no longer be used to authorize the classification of national security information.

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FAS Roundup- February 20, 2012

FAS Roundup: February 20, 2012 Pentagon discloses military intelligence budget request, potential cuts in U.S. nuclear forces by Obama administration, question of reporter privilege and much more.  From the Blogs Pentagon Basic Research Said to Need "More Transparency": The Department of Defense basic research program has many strengths as well as some serious weaknesses, according to a new report from the Defense Science Board (DSB) obtained by Secrecy News. But, DoD needs to open up and to improve its information management practices. Nuclear Studies and Republican Disarmers: A recent report that the Obama administration is considering deep cuts in U.S. nuclear forces has Congressional Republicans up in arms. Right-wing institutions have criticized the administration for preparing reckless unilateral cuts that jeopardize U.S. security. Hans Kristensen writes that as it turns out, Republican presidents have been the biggest nuclear reducers in the post-Cold War era. Reporter's Privilege at Issue in Sterling Leak Case: The question of whether a reporter is entitled to protect confidential sources has emerged as a central issue in the pending pre-trial appeal in prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling, the former CIA officer who is accused of leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen.

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FAS Roundup- February 13, 2012

FAS Roundup: February 13, 2012 New report on future of nuclear power, DoD inspector takes on classification oversight,  freedom of the press and much more.

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FAS Roundup- February 6, 2012

FAS Roundup: February 6, 2012 Congress calls for accelerated use of drones, update on radioactive tissue boxes, federal agencies likely to miss 2013 declassification deadline and much more. From the Blogs Raven Rock and Continuity of Government: A newly revised U.S. Air Force directive on continuity of operations under emergency circumstances refers matter-of-factly to Raven Rock Mountain Complex, a largely restricted U.S. government facility in Pennsylvania. Also known as Site R, Raven Rock has been operational since 1953 for purposes of emergency communications, disaster relocation and recovery.  But most operations at the facility have been classified, and the facility itself was rarely mentioned in official publications during most of the past half century. Congress Calls for Accelerated Use of Drones in U.S: A House-Senate conference report this week called on the Administration to accelerate the use of civilian unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or “drones,” in U.S. airspace. Steven Aftergood writes that the pending authorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration directs the Secretary of Transportation to develop within nine months “a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.” Radioactive Tissue Boxes Redux:  Dr. Y updates readers on the radioactive tissue boxes which were sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, and shares a few issues of concern as a result of this incident. An Overview of Special Operations Forces, and More from CRS: Over the past decade, the number of U.S. special operations forces (SOF) personnel has nearly doubled, while budgets for special operations have nearly tripled, and overseas deployments have quadrupled, according to a newly updated report from CRS. Secrecy News has also obtained new CRS reports on U.S. investments in the Middle East and immigration-related detention. Agencies are Likely to Miss 2013  Declassification Deadline: Over two years ago, President Obama set December 31, 2013 as the deadline to complete the declassification processing of a backlog of more than 400 million pages of classified historical records that were over 25 years old.  But judging from the limited progress to date, it now seems highly unlikely that the President’s directive will be fulfilled.

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FAS Roundup- January 30, 2012

FAS Roundup: January 30, 2012 New developments in radiation treatment and diagnosis, no cuts in nuclear forces in defense budget, domestic use of drones, new leak case against CIA officer and much more. From the Blogs Domestic Use of Drones is Well Underway: The use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) within the United States is certain to increase in the years to come, as a new Army policy has recently made clear. But, the use of unmanned aircraft or drones within U.S. airspace has already advanced to a degree that is not widely recognized. Budget Blunder: "No Cuts" in Nuclear Forces: “There are no cuts made in the nuclear force in this budget.” That clear statement was made on January 26, 2012 by deputy defense secretary Ashton Carter during the Pentagon’s briefing on the defense budget request for Fiscal Year 2013. Hans Kristensen writes that this statement is disappointing for anyone who had hopes that the administration’s promises about “concrete steps” to reduce the number and role of nuclear weapons and to “put an end to Cold War thinking” would actually be reflected in the new defense budget. Presidential Signing Statements and More from CRS:  Secrecy News has obtained new CRS reports on topics such as veterans benefits, Iran sanctions and the FBI and terrorism investigations. A Small Death in Tehran: The recent death of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, the 32 year-old deputy director of one of Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities, brings the total of assassinations to five among what was a small group of people to begin with. There are two aspects to this act – the morality of such assassinations and their efficacy, which Dr. Y examines on the ScienceWonk blog. New Leak Case Relies on 1982 Law on Intelligence Identities: Former CIA officer John Kiriakou became the latest person to be charged under the Espionage Act with unauthorized disclosures of classified information. But unlike the previous defendants, Mr. Kiriakou was also charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act for allegedly disclosing the identity of a covert intelligence officer to a journalist. Steven Aftergood analyzes the history of this Act and the case against Mr. Kiriakou. New Doctrine on Intelligence Support to Military Operations:  Secrecy News has obtained an updated doctrine produced by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on intelligence support to military operations.  The new doctrine reflects changes in intelligence organizations, roles and missions. New Developments in Radiation Diagnosis and Treatment: For the last several years the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism has given us all a good scare and one of our responses has been to throw a lot of money into improving our ability to respond medically to such an attack. Dr. Y writes about a few strategies for diagnosis and treatment. DoD Support to Foreign Disaster Relief:  Secrecy News has obtained a new guide prepared by the Department of Defense for military personnel who are engaged in foreign disaster relief operations, an endeavor which arises with some frequency. Court Says Review of Security Clearance Dispute is "Prohibited": A government agency’s decision to revoke an employee’s security clearance cannot be reviewed by a federal court even if the decision is based on ethnic discrimination or religious prejudice or other unconstitutional grounds, a court said last week.

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