Author: Katie Colten

FAS Roundup- January 23, 2012

FAS Roundup: January 23, 2012 India's rejection of nuclear weapons for warfighting, future of nuclear power, reclassificiation of nuclear weapons information  and much more.   From the Blogs Dept of Energy Wants to Reclassify Some Info as "Restricted Data":  Steven Aftergood writes that the Department of Energy has asked Congress to amend the Atomic Energy Act to allow certain nuclear weapons information that has been removed from the “Restricted Data” classification category to be restored to that category. In a letter to Congress requesting the proposed amendment, Energy Secretary Steven Chu suggested that the current arrangement leaves some nuclear weapons design information inadequately protected. Indian Army Chief- Nukes Not for Warfighting:  On January 15, 2012, General V.K Singh said that India's nuclear weapons “are not for warfighting.” Hans Kristensen writes that the rejection of nuclear warfighting ideas is a welcoming development in the debate over the role of nuclear weapons in South Asia. Foreign Military Assistance and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained new CRS reports on chemical facility security, nuclear power plant design, and U.S. military detainee policy. Whither Nuclear Power?: In the aftermath of the Fukushima accident, Germany and Switzerland have put a halt to their nuclear power programs, America’s nuclear renaissance has slowed, and Japan is trying to figure out how to substitute alternative energy sources for nuclear power.  Dr. Y writes on the ScienceWonk Blog that it is understandable that the world might feel an aversion to nuclear power at the moment, but it is no more dangerous than any other form of energy. Army Foresees Expanded Use of Drones in U.S. Airspace: The Army issued a new directive last week to govern the growing use of unmanned aircraft systems or “drones” within the United States for training missions and for “domestic operations.” Much of the Army’s UAS activity will be devoted to UAS operator training conducted at or near military facilities. But beyond such training activities, the military also envisions a role for UAS in unspecified “domestic operations” in civilian airspace. Radioactive Tissues?: On January 12, 2012, Bed, Bath, & Beyond announced that it had received a shipment of steel tissue holders (manufactured in India) that were contaminated with radioactive cobalt-60. Dr. Y agrees that the tissue boxes are radioactive, but the question is whether or not they are sufficiently radioactive to cause health problems. Testimony of Reporter Sought in Sterling Leak Case: In a brief filed in the case against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling (who is accused of leaking classified information), prosecutors told the U.S. Court of Appeals that New York Times reporter James Risen should be compelled to testify at Mr. Sterling’s trial and to reveal whether it was Mr. Sterling who leaked information to him about a CIA program to disrupt Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

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FAS Roundup- January 9, 2011

FAS Roundup: January 9, 2012 New defense strategy, U.S. Army communications security, the collision course between Iran and the U.S., new CRS reports and much more.     From the Blogs Army Red Teams Test Communications Security: Steven Aftergood writes about the newly revised Army regulation which prescribes the use of “red teams” that are assigned to try and penetrate the security of military communications, as if they were hackers or opposition forces. A New Defense Strategy: A New Nuclear Strategy?: The Obama administration presented a new defense strategy that it says is needed to realign U.S. military forces and doctrine with the reductions in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the new fiscal constraints created by the financial crisis. Hans Kristensen writes that it is important that the commitment in the new defense strategy to maintaining a nuclear deterrent does not overshadow the equally important commitment to reducing the size and role of nuclear forces. JASON on Producing Tritium for Fusion Reactors: If nuclear fusion were ever to become a practical method of generating electrical energy, there would be a continuing requirement to produce significant quantities of tritium for fusion reactor fuel. The JASON scientific advisory panel was asked by the DOE to assess the feasibility of large scale tritium production; the findings were presented in a new report obtained by Secrecy News. Director of National Intelligence Cuts Jobs and Secrets in 2011: Steven Aftergood writes that with the reduction in the workforce at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), there has also been a decline in the level of ODNI classification activity, which dropped by 17.3% from the year before. The Big Picture: Keeping Radiation Risks in Perspective: A dentist in the UK was sued for taking panoramic x-rays of some of his patients. Nobody claimed to have been injured, but some patients were concerned about being put at needless risk. Are we so focused on radiation safety and radiological risk reduction that we have lost sight of the larger picture? Periods of War, and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained new CRS reports on topics such as key issues of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, super PACS, and growing income inequality. Note: The next issue of Secrecy News will be published the week of January 16, 2012.

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FAS Roundup- December 26, 2011

FAS Roundup: December 26, 2011 New CRS reports, letter to President Obama regarding Iran, U.S. electric power grid vulnerability to severe weather  and much more.   From the Blogs Congress Approves 2012 Intelligence Authorization: Steven Aftergood writes that before the House and Senate passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, there was a conspicuous absence of public debate on any issue of intelligence policy. No dissenting views were expressed.  Nor was there any discussion of or insight into current intelligence controversies. U.S. Arms Sales and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained new CRS reports regarding arms sales and Pakistan.  JASON on Severe Space Weather and the Electric Grid: The U.S. electric power grid is vulnerable to damage from severe electromagnetic solar storms and remedial measures should be taken to reduce that vulnerability, a new study from the JASON scientific advisory panel concluded. Libya and War Powers: Steven Aftergood writes that the U.S. government acknowledges that U.S. military forces were involved in “armed conflict” this year in Libya, but it does not acknowledge that they were engaged in “hostilities.”

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FAS Roundup- December 19, 2011

FAS Roundup: December 19, 2011 Military intel budget classified, new ScienceWonk blog, CIA to process Open Source Works FOIA request, 7th Session of BWC and much more.  From the Blogs DoD Says Military Intel Budget Request is Classified: Steven Aftergood writes that a Freedom of Information Act request for the amount of money that the Pentagon requested for the Military Intelligence Program (MIP) in FY2012 has been denied. The amount- around $25 billion- is classified and will not be disclosed. Congress Authorizes Offensive Military Action in Cyberspace: Congress has given the U.S. military a green light to conduct offensive military activities in cyberspace. The blanket authorization for offensive cyber operations is conditional on compliance with the law of armed conflict, and the War Powers Resolution, which mandated congressional consultation in decisions to go to war. CIA Will Process Request on Open Source Works: Steven Aftergood writes that in an abrupt reversal, the Central Intelligence Agency said that it will process a Freedom of Information Act request for documents pertaining to the establishment of Open Source Works, the CIA’s in-house open source intelligence organization.

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Nuclear Terrorism

Charles P. Blair, Director of the Terrorism Analysis Project, presented at the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC) Nuclear Security D.C. Policy Series on…

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FAS Roundup- December 12, 2011

FAS Roundup: December 12, 2011 Status of China's nuclear arsenal, new START data, tracking of cell phones and vehicles by law enforcement and more. From the Blogs Tracking Cell Phones and Vehicles- The Legal Context:  Secrecy News has obtained a new CRS report which explores the ongoing legal debates over the tracking of private cell phones and vehicles by law enforcement agencies. No, China Does Not Have 3,000 Nuclear Weapons: Only the Chinese government knows how many nuclear weapons China has. As in most other nuclear weapon states, the number is a closely held secret. A recent example of how not to make an estimate is the study recently published by the Asia Arms Control Project at Georgetown University. The study (China’s Underground Great Wall: Challenge for Nuclear Arms Control) suggests that China may have as many as 3,000 nuclear weapons. Although we don’t know exactly how many nuclear weapons China has, we are pretty sure that it doesn’t have 3,000. In fact, the Georgetown University estimate appears to be off by an order of magnitude. Legislative Secrecy Declines, But Endures: Congress is the most transparent and publicly accessible branch of government, and yet there are many aspects of the legislative process that are opaque and off-limits to public awareness. Secrecy News obtained a recently released CRS report which discusses the transparency of the U.S. Congress. US Releases Full New START Data: Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, writes that the recent release of U.S. aggregate data under New START by the State Department is a good development as it increases transparency of U.S. nuclear forces, and restores the practice under the previous START treaty of disclosing such information to the public. Now, the pressure is on Russia to publish its New START data as well. When Does Public Disclosure Make Secrecy Moot?: The U.S. State Department insists that the publication of many thousands of classified diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks does not alter their classification status. In a FOIA lawsuit by the ACLU for 23 of the cables, the State Department released redacted versions of  11 cables; they withheld the other 12 cables, despite them being available online. CRS Loses Several Senior Staffers: The Congressional Research Service gained a new Director this week, but it has recently lost several of its most experienced and accomplished analysts. Steven Aftergood writes that with the departure of senior staff, CRS is also experiencing deeper changes that will leave it with diminished capacity to provide original analysis and insight to Congress and other would-be consumers.

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FAS Roundup- December 5, 2011

FAS Roundup: December 5, 2011 Dormant civil liberties oversight board, podcast highlighting Iran's nuclear program, new CRS reports and more.  From the Blogs Civil Liberties Oversight Board Still Dormant: The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight board was supposed to provide independent oversight of U.S. counterterrorism policies. But, it remains dormant as its members have not been named or confirmed. In the 1950s, Dr. Mary Jean Scott Silk joined the Federation of American Scientists. She worked at Brookhaven National Laboratories from 1952 to 1958 and graduated from John Hopkins University with a doctorate in nuclear physics in 1958. In a Q+A with Dr. Scott Silk on the FAS in a Nutshell Blog, she discusses her involvement with FAS in its early years, her work at Brookhaven and future nuclear threats.  New CRS Reports: The history, missions and operations of the nine U.S. military combatant commands (COCOMs) are detailed in a new report from the Congressional Research Service. Additionally, Secrecy News has obtained new  reports regarding the expanding role of women in combat, secret sessions of Congress, and legislation to authorize and require military detention of suspected terrorists. New Intelligence Directive on Congressional Notification: Steven Aftergood writes that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has issued a new Intelligence Community Directive on “Congressional Notification” that generally encourages “a presumption of notification” to Congress regarding significant intelligence activities.

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