Steven Aftergood

Recent Activity from Steven Aftergood

The Changing US Role in the World

By its actions and its refusals to act, the Trump Administration is changing the profile of the United States in global affairs. Whether demonstrating disdain for longtime allies, disrupting diplomatic relationships and international agreements, or cultivating ties with authoritarian figures in Russia and elsewhere, President Trump seems to be radically altering the character and meaning […]

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Number of New Secrets in 2016 At New Low

Last year executive branch agencies created the fewest new national security secrets ever reported, according to an annual report published today by the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). The number of new secrets — or “original classification decisions” — was 39,240 in 2016, an all-time low. The previous low of 46,800 was set in 2014. […]

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Some New DoD Directives and Instructions

Noteworthy new directives and instructions issued by the Department of Defense, of interest to some, include the following. DoD Space Enterprise Governance and Principal DoD Space Advisor (PDSA), DOD Directive 5100.96, June 9, 2017 Global Health Engagement (GHE) Activities, DOD Instruction 2000.30, July 12, 2017 Assessment of Significant Long-Term Health Risks from Past Environmental Exposures […]

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OLC Nominee: Every Member of Congress Can Do Oversight

The nominee to lead the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel acknowledged that all members of Congress have the authority to conduct oversight of the executive branch, and that agencies have a responsibility to accommodate requests by members for information needed to perform their oversight function. That might seem like a statement of the obvious. […]

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NSA Records Languish at National Archives for Now

Last year, the National Archives (NARA) acquired a large number of historically valuable National Security Agency records. But they remain inaccessible to researchers, at least for the time being. David Langbart of NARA described the situation at a closed meeting of the State Department Historical Advisory Committee late last year. According to recently published minutes […]

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A Guide to Parliamentary Information Online

Parliaments around the world have moved online, placing legislative information and other resources on public-facing websites. Fifty countries’ parliamentary websites — of differing degrees of depth and sophistication — were surveyed in a new publication from the Law Library of Congress. “While the information on the parliamentary websites is primarily in the national language of […]

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Sharing Intelligence with Non-Intel Agencies

Executive branch agencies that are not part of the US Intelligence Community (IC) can still get access to classified intelligence and to IC information technology systems under certain conditions. But they must follow procedures that were spelled out last month in new policy guidance from Director of National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats. In a nutshell, […]

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Can States Uphold Paris Accord?, & More from CRS

Some American cities and states are committing to pursue the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change despite President Trump’s repudiation of that policy. But a new brief from the Congressional Research Service said the US Constitution may limit the ability of states to formally adopt such a course. In particular, the Constitution appears […]

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The Darkening Web

Cyberspace has increasingly become an arena of national self-assertion and international conflict instead of the transnational global commons it once seemed to be. Preserving the vision and the possibility of a free internet is an urgent task. That is the basic thrust of a new book called The Darkening Web: The War for Cyberspace by […]

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Army Issues New Counter-WMD Doctrine

Countering weapons of mass destruction is “an enduring mission of the U.S. Armed forces,” the US Army said last week in a new doctrinal publication. Counter-WMD operations are defined as actions taken “against actors of concern to curtail the research, development, possession, proliferation, use, and effects of WMD, related expertise, materials, technologies, and means of […]

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