Author: Katie Colten

FAS Roundup: July 9, 2012

Second thoughts in Congress about drones, new CRS reports and much more.   From the Blogs Air Force Policy on Congressional Relations: Steven Aftergood writes that the U.S. Air Force says its policy is to provide information to Congress as needed, but with preference given to members of the Armed Services Committees over other Committees, and to the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committees over other members. This information was released as part of a newly revised Air Force Instruction. Financial Costs of Classification Soar: At a time when “leaks” are said to be running rampant, the government is spending more money than ever before to protect classified information. The estimated cost of securing classified information in government increased last year by at least 12% to a record high level of $11.36 billion. An additional $1.2 billion was spent to protect classified information held by industry contractors. One factor in the rising costs may be the continued growth of the secrecy system.  While some essential security costs are fixed and independent of classification activity, the failure to rein in classification and especially over-classification is a likely contributor to marginal cost growth. Covert Action is Prominent in Carter Admin History: Covert action was a particularly prominent feature of U.S. foreign policy during the Jimmy Carter Administration, according to a report last month from the State Department Historical Advisory Committee. Covert action or other intelligence activities are said to figure in at least half of the volumes that will constitute the official record of the Carter Administration’s foreign affairs. Prosecutors Dispute Claims of Selective Anti- Leak Prosecution: Last month, former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who is accused of unlawfully disclosing classified information to two reporters, said in pre-trial motions that he had been wrongly and unfairly singled out for prosecution, particularly since he had criticized the U.S. practice of waterboarding. This week, prosecutors unsurprisingly rejected such claims while affirming that they intend to vigorously pursue their case against Mr. Kiriakou. The new government filing presents a series of legal arguments against the defense motions for dismissal, explaining why prosecutors believe the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and the Espionage Act statutes under which Mr. Kiriakou is charged are sufficiently clear and specific to be constitutional. The DNI as Security Executive Agent: The anti-leak procedures announced last week by the Director of National Intelligence apply specifically to intelligence community employees.  But the DNI is also responsible more broadly for security policies that affect almost everyone who holds a security clearance for access to classified information, whether or not it pertains to intelligence, as well as other government employees who are candidates for “sensitive positions.”

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FAS Roundup: July 2, 2012

FAS in Jordan, UN Centres of Excellence, nuclear deterrence and much more. From the Blogs Centres of Excellence: The United Nations recently issued a press release stating that the  international body is creating eight “Centres of Excellence” around the world to “help countries mitigate the risks related to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) material, notably by promoting coherent national and regional policies that allowed them to better share information and best practices.” In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y discusses ideas and recommendations to make these centers successful. U.S.-Yemen International Science Partnership Project in Jordan: The FAS International Science Partnership (ISP) pilot project hosted a workshop in Amman, Jordan at the Middle East Scientific Institute for Security (MESIS). A team of engineers from the U.S. met with their counterparts from Yemen to collaborate on projects that addressed both countries' interests in ensuring access to a safe and reliable supply of water and energy. Current projections show that the water situation in Yemen, already stressed, will become dire in the near future. Other daunting challenges lurk in providing reliable access to electricity, especially for those in remote regions. The U.S. has challenges of its own in balancing water-intensive energy and agricultural needs with the imperative of meeting private consumption demands and protecting the environment. Furthermore, regional, seasonal, annual, and even intra-decade variability in water supply makes water management enormously complicated– too complicated for any country to “solve” permanently.

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FAS Roundup: June 25, 2012

FAS issue brief and podcast on sanctions in Iran and North Korea, new CRS reports and much more. Sanctions and Nonproliferation in Iran and North Korea This week, FAS released a new issue brief, "Sanctions and Nonproliferation in North Korea and Iran," co-authored by Mr. Daniel Wertz, Program Officer at the National Committee on North Korea, and Dr. Ali Vaez, former Director of the Iran Project at FAS, which offers a comparative analysis of U.S. policy towards Iran and North Korea. Sanctions have played a major role in U.S. efforts for the denuclearization in Iran and North Korea. U.S. policymakers have had to find a balance between concerns over proliferation and other undesirable policies; between taking coercive action and considering humanitarian needs; and between taking immediate unilateral measures and seeking to build coalitions for a multilateral approach. You can read the report here. In a new edition of the FAS podcast series, "A Conversation with an Expert," co-author Daniel Wertz discusses the similarities and differences in sanctions against North Korea and Iran,  the relationship between U.S. and UN sanctions, and China's role as a trading partner with both countries. To listen to the podcast, click here.

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Can Nuclear Compete?

On Tuesday, June 19, 2012, I spoke on a panel at the United States Nuclear Infrastructure Council’s summit on new nuclear energy outlook and opportunities in Washington, DC. I spoke…

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FAS Roundup: June 18, 2012

Potential drone sites, leaks of classified information, new CRS reports and much more. From the Blogs Not All Leaks of Classified Information Violate the Law: A resolution introduced by Sen. John McCain and twenty Republican colleagues calling for appointment of a special counsel to investigate recent leaks stated flatly that “the unauthorized disclosure of classified information is a felony under Federal law.” Steven Aftergood writes that while some unauthorized disclosures of classified information are indeed contrary to law, it is not the case that all such disclosures violate the law.  In fact, there is no law that categorically prohibits the release of classified information. Pentagon Lists 110 Potential Drone Sites: The Department of Defense has identified 110 sites in the U.S. that could serve as bases for military unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones. The actual or potential drone bases are located in 39 of the 50 states, from Fort McClellan in Alabama to Camp Guernsey in Wyoming, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico. Nuclear Explosives: In the 1950s and 1970s there was a big push to find a way to use nuclear explosives peacefully-in high explosives in road construction, mining, and even some aspects of industry. In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y examines the history of nuclear explosive use for industry.

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FAS Roundup: June 11, 2012

From the Blogs Bill to Strengthen Whistleblower Protections Advances: Last week the House Oversight Committee reported out the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, a bill that is intended to increase protections for government employees and contractors who “blow the whistle” and disclose illegal or improper government activity.  Steven Aftergood writes that among other things, the bill would require intelligence agency heads to advise employees on how to make lawful disclosures of classified information without retribution. Senate: Drones Need to Operate "Freely and Routinely" in U.S.: The integration of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) needs to be expedited, the Senate Armed Services Committee said in its report on the FY2013 defense authorization bill last week. “While progress has been made in the last 5 years, the pace of development must be accelerated; greater cross-agency collaboration and resource sharing will contribute to that objective,” the Committee said. A provision of the bill would encourage greater collaboration on drone integration among the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, and NASA. The Bangladesh Biosafety and Biosecurity Association: Taking Action to Promote and Foster Local Biosecurity and Biosafety Initiatives and Training: The Virtual Biosecurity Center, a project spear-headed by FAS, published an editorial by Dr. Asadulghani on the Bangladesh Biosafety and Biosecurity Association (BBBA), which was initiated in August 2011 to foster best and sustainable biosafety and biosecurity practices in Bangladesh considering the current situation of ongoing infectious disease outbreaks and increasing demands for research and diagnostics of these disease-causing agents in Bangladesh.

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FAS Roundup: June 4, 2012

Congress will allow Energy Department to reclassify nuke info, new biosecurity podcast and much more. From the Blogs Congress Will Allow Energy Department to Reclassify Nuke Info: Steven Aftergood writes that Congress is poised to amend the Atomic Energy Act to allow certain nuclear weapons-related information that is classified as Formerly Restricted Data (FRD) to be restored to the Restricted Data (RD) category. FRD and RD are both classified under the Atomic Energy Act, but FRD generally pertains to the utilization of nuclear weapons, whereas RD mostly deals with nuclear weapons design information. Declassification of the Historical Backlog: The total number of pages of government records that were reviewed for declassification last year, as well as the number that were actually declassified, declined slightly from the year before, according to the 2011 annual report from the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) that was published on May 29, 2012. Hot Tuna: In 2011, after the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, there was significant concern regarding the spread of radioactive material. A paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is the first to suggest that Pacific bluefin tuna transported Fukushima-derived radionuclides across the entire North Pacific Ocean. Move to Declassify FISA Court Rulings Yields No Results: An initiative that was started two years ago to declassify significant rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court regarding domestic intelligence surveillance has produced no declassified records, a Justice Department official confirmed last week. In response to complaints about the rise of “secret law,” the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence established a new process in 2010 to declassify opinions of the FISA Courts (including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as well as the FIS Court of Review) that contained “important rulings of law.”

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FAS Podcast: Biological Weapons and the Virtual Biosecurity Center

Anthrax. Smallpox. Plague. We are familiar with these potential weapons of mass destruction, but how do they differ from other WMDs? In a new edition of the FAS podcast series, "A Conversation with an Expert," Ms. Kelsey Gregg, Manager of the Biosecurity Program and Virtual Biosecurity Center discusses biological weapons and how they differ from other types of weapons.

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FAS Roundup: May 29, 2012

Investigation into leak of Israel-Iran information, NATO's nuclear Groundhog Day, new CRS reports and much more.   From the Blogs Restrictions on WikiLeaks Documents Challenged in Court: Steven Aftergood writes that the publication of leaked classified documents by WikiLeaks continues to confound government officials and to generate some unusual legal tangles. Last month, attorneys for a Guantanamo prisoner asked a federal court to nullify the restrictions that the government has imposed on access to and dissemination of the leaked records, so that the prisoner can prepare a response to the disclosures contained in them. Hundreds of files pertaining to prisoners at Guantanamo have been posted online by WikiLeaks. NATO's Nuclear Groundhog Day?: Does NATO have a hard time waking up from its nuclear past? It would seem so. Hans Kristensen writes that the NATO alliance reaffirmed the nuclear status quo in Europe by ordering the deployment of nearly 200 U.S. non-strategic nuclear bombs in Europe that were left behind by arms reductions two decades ago. Army Updates Oversight of "Sensitive Information": In a directive issued last week, Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh established a new Army Special Programs Directorate (ASPD) to administer and oversee special access programs and other “sensitive activities” conducted by the Army. The new Directorate is the successor organization to the former Technology Management Office, which performed many of the same functions. House Votes to Require Leak Investigation on Israel-Iran Info: Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted an amendment to require the Attorney General to conduct a criminal investigation into “leaks of sensitive information involving the military, intelligence, and operational capabilities of the United States and Israel.” Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who sponsored the amendment to the FY2013 defense authorization act, cited stories based on leaks concerning a potential Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities that were published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Foreign Policy.

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