Steven Aftergood

Recent Activity from Steven Aftergood

Legality of Presidential Disclosures, Continued

“There is no basis” for suggesting that President Trump’s disclosure of classified intelligence to Russian officials was illegal, wrote Morton Halperin this week. To the contrary, “senior U.S. government officials in conversations with foreign officials decide on a daily basis to provide them with information that is properly classified and that will remain classified,” wrote […]

Read More

Latest Nuclear Weapon Declassifications

The fact that a particular nuclear weapon has (or does not have) a “dial-a-yield capability” enabling the selection of a desired explosive yield was declassified earlier this year, in a joint decision of the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. Last year, the Department of Energy also declassified the thickness of the “getter […]

Read More

Science & Tech Issues in Congress, & More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following. Science and Technology Issues in the 115th Congress, updated May 23, 2017 U.S.-South Korea Relations, updated May 23, 2017 Australia, CRS In Focus, May 12, 2017 The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), updated May 24, 2017 Paid Family Leave in the United […]

Read More

Bethe, Oppenheimer and Teller: Their Accomplishments

In 1959, physicists Hans Bethe, J. Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller were candidates to receive the Enrico Fermi Award for contributions to the development of atomic energy. In a newly discovered letter written in June 1959, Los Alamos physicist Norris Bradbury provided his evaluation of the achievements of each of the three eminent scientists. His […]

Read More

More Troops for Afghanistan?, and More from CRS

The possibility that more U.S. troops will be deployed to Afghanistan, a move that is reportedly under consideration by the Trump Administration, was critically examined by the Congressional Research Service in a new report. One source of uncertainty concerns the shifting U.S. strategy in the region. “Since the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan, the United States […]

Read More

Legality of the Trump Disclosures, Revisited

When President Trump disclosed classified intelligence information to Russian officials last week, did he commit a crime? Considering that the President is the author of the national security classification system, and that he is empowered to determine who gets access to classified information, it seems obvious that the answer is No. His action might have […]

Read More

Obstruction of Justice, & More from CRS

A 2014 report on obstruction of justice prepared by the Congressional Research Service was highlighted on the CRS congressional intranet this week, apparently in response to news stories and congressional interest in the topic. See Obstruction of Justice: an Overview of Some of the Federal Statutes that Prohibit Interference with Judicial, Executive, or Legislative Activities, […]

Read More

An Authorized Disclosure of Classified Information

Updated below President Trump’s disclosure of classified intelligence information to Russian officials, reported by the Washington Post, may have been reckless, damaging and irresponsible. But it was not a crime. Disclosures of classified information are not categorically prohibited by law. Even intelligence sources and methods are only required to be protected under the National Security […]

Read More

Special Counsels, FBI Director Removal, & More from CRS

In order to appoint a special counsel to investigate potential criminal activity in the executive branch, the Congressional Research Service explained last week, the Attorney General (or his deputy) “must determine that a criminal investigation is warranted; that the normal process of investigation or prosecution would present a conflict of interest for DOJ or other […]

Read More

Garwin on Strategic Security Challenges to the US

There are at least four major “strategic security challenges” that could place the United States at risk within the next decade, physicist Richard L. Garwin told the National Academy of Sciences earlier this month. “The greatest threat, based on expected value of damage, is cyberattack,” he said. Other challenges arise from the actions of North […]

Read More