Steven Aftergood

Recent Activity from Steven Aftergood

Crisis of Credibility in Secrecy Policy

Obsolete secrecy procedures and growing political abuse have left the national security classification system in a state of disarray and dysfunction. Most government agencies “still rely on antiquated information security management practices,” according to a new annual report from the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). “These practices have not kept pace with the volume of […]

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PIDB Urges Modernization of Classification System

How can the national security classification and declassification system be fixed? That depends on how one defines the problem that needs fixing. To the authors of a new report from the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB), the outstanding problem is the difficulty of managing the expanding volume of classified information and declassifying a growing backlog of records. “There is […]

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Protecting Privacy in the 2020 Census

In 2018 the Census Bureau discovered that results of the 2010 census could be processed and matched with external sources in such a way as to reveal confidential personal information, in violation of the law. “This had not been thought to be feasible owing to the large amount of data and computation involved,” a new report from […]

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Protecting Against Rogue Drones

The threat to public safety from unmanned aerial systems (drones) is not just foreseeable — it already exists in the form of numerous near-collisions with manned aircraft, a new report from the Congressional Research Service observes. “Between 2016 and 2019, airline pilots reported, on average, more than 100 drone sightings per month to FAA, and social […]

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COVID-19 Highlights Need for Public Intelligence

Hobbled by secrecy and timidity, the U.S. intelligence community has been conspicuously absent from efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the most serious national and global security challenge of our time. The silence of intelligence today represents a departure from the straightforward approach of then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats who offered the clearest public […]

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The Military Role in Combating COVID-19

There is a bewildering amount of official guidance on the role of the military in circumstances such as the current pandemic. But the practical impact of that guidance, whatever it may be, is unclear. Like the proverbial war plan that cannot survive first contact with the enemy, Pentagon doctrine on infectious disease seems to have been […]

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SkyGuardian Drone Takes Flight Over Southwest US

General Atomics’ SkyGuardian drone, a non-weaponized variant of the military’s MQ-9 Reaper, last week completed a test flight through civil airspace from Palmdale, California to Yuma, Arizona, the company announced. The April 3 flight demonstration, sponsored by NASA, marks a further step in the planned integration of drones into the National Airspace System. General Atomics said […]

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The Urgency of Military History

The task of the military historian differs from that of the academic historian because military history has an operational dimension. It is supposed to help inform current military operations with the lessons and the perspectives of the past. “The historian must always bear in mind that the whole purpose of the history office is to […]

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