Steven Aftergood

Recent Activity from Steven Aftergood

Was Obama Administration the Most Transparent or the Least?

“After early promises to be the most transparent administration in history, the Obama administration turned out to be one of the most secretive,” wrote Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan last year. Speaking at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center last month, former ACLU litigator Jameel Jaffer didn’t go quite that far. He acknowledged that Obama had taken […]

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Contracting Adversary Aircraft, and More from CRS

The US Air Force and Navy might choose to train their fighter pilots in simulations using enemy aircraft that are flown by contractors, the Congressional Research Service said in a new brief. “Particularly in the case of the Air Force, which has increasingly publicized a shortage of pilots, using contractors to provide adversary air may […]

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Cybersecurity Resources, and More from CRS

A compilation of online documents and databases related to cybersecurity is presented by the Congressional Research Service in Cybersecurity: Cybercrime and National Security Authoritative Reports and Resources, November 14, 2017. Other new and updated publications from CRS include the following. A Primer on U.S. Immigration Policy, November 14, 2017 Defense Primer: Department of Defense Maintenance […]

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Invention Secrecy Activity Rises Slightly

A total of 5,784 patent applications remained subject to invention secrecy orders at the end of Fiscal Year 17, according to new data provided by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The secrecy orders, issued under the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951, restrict disclosure of patent applications considered to be “detrimental to national security” if […]

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Against Naive Transparency

“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” Louis Brandeis famously wrote a century ago in praise of publicity. But in fact there are many better disinfectants, such as iodine and alcohol. And in excess, sunlight itself can induce sunburn or even skin cancer. Likewise, by analogy, “transparency” as a political virtue is rife […]

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Remembering Jeff Richelson

We were sad to learn that intelligence historian Jeffrey T. Richelson passed away last weekend. Richelson was one of a small number of pioneers of a new genre of public interest research focused on national security and intelligence. He advanced the boundaries of public knowledge and understanding of the far-flung national security apparatus through his […]

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President’s Power to Use Nuclear Weapons, & More from CRS

The President’s authority to use nuclear weapons¬†— which is the subject of a congressional hearing today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee¬†— was addressed in several recent publications of the Congressional Research Service. A new CRS Legal Sidebar addresses the unresolved question: Can Congress Limit the President’s Power to Launch Nuclear Weapons? A detailed new […]

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Some “Acting” Officials Will Soon Lose Authority

Some government officials who are serving on an “acting” basis because a permanent replacement has not yet been named will lose their ability to function this month when their legal authority is nullified under the terms of the Vacancies Act. In the Trump Administration there are hundreds of government agency positions requiring Senate confirmation that […]

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Protected Status for Many Refugees Set to Expire

Updated below US law provides temporary protected status (TPS) for certain foreign nationals in the United States who are fleeing armed conflict, natural disaster or other extreme circumstances in their native country. But many refugees who have been granted such temporary status may soon have it revoked. “The United States currently provides TPS to approximately […]

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