Steven Aftergood

Recent Activity from Steven Aftergood

Transparency vs. Good Government

It is usually taken for granted that transparency is a prerequisite to good government. The idea seems obvious. “Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing,” said President Obama in 2009. “Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” But in practice, that is not always […]

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Managing the Department of Defense: An Overview

More than 2.8 million U.S. military and civilian defense personnel were deployed in more than 150 countries around the world last year. No one person can fully comprehend the workings of the Department of Defense. It is a massively complicated bureaucratic construct composed not only of the military services (Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps), […]

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“National Technical Means” Leaves the Lexicon

The venerable term “national technical means” which has long been used to refer to U.S. intelligence satellites and related capabilities is quietly dropping out of official usage. The official DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms still included “NTM” (for “national or multinational technical means of verification”) on the list of acronyms in its May […]

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Combating Malicious Cyber Acts, Penny by Penny

Updated below The Department of the Treasury blocked one transaction by a foreign person or entity who was engaged in malicious cyber activities earlier this year, using the national emergency powers that are available pursuant to a 2015 executive order. But the value of the intercepted transaction was only $0.04, the Department said in a […]

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Wyden Bill Requires Declassification, No Exceptions

A bill introduced by Senator Ron Wyden would require the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence to declassify “any and all information” regarding actions by the government of Saudi Arabia to assist Saudi nationals who are accused of crimes in the United States to flee the country. As Senator Wyden explained last week, the […]

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Leakers May Be Worse Than Spies, Gov’t Says

One might presume that foreign spies do more damage to national security than those who leak classified information to the press. But the opposite could be true, government attorneys told a court this week, because the leaked information is circulated more widely. “While spies typically pass classified national defense information to a specific foreign government, leakers, […]

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Falling Space Reactors: Assessing the Risk

A new NASA report examines various scenarios in which nuclear reactors that are used to power spacecraft could accidentally reenter the Earth’s atmosphere. “There are a number of types of reentry events that can potentially occur with missions containing fission reactors. Each type of reentry event can produce a variety of possible adverse environments for the […]

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Impeachment Investigations: Law and Process (CRS)

The procedures that govern congressional impeachment investigations are largely left to the discretion of the House and, in the case of a trial, to the discretion of the Senate. A new publication from the Congressional Research Service summarizes the options. It “also describes some of the ways in which an impeachment investigation, as compared to a more […]

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Defending Democracy in Ukraine

Persons who threaten democracy in Ukraine also represent a threat to the United States, according to a 2014 executive order issued by President Obama following Russia’s invasion and seizure of the Crimean region. In fact, the resulting threat to US national security and foreign policy is so severe as to constitute a “national emergency,” said Executive Order […]

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Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protections (CRS)

Noteworthy new and updated publications from the Congressional Research Service include the following. Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protections: In Brief, updated September 23, 2019 U.S.-Iran Tensions and Implications for U.S. Policy, updated September 23, 2019 U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress, updated September 23, 2019 U.N. Peacekeeping Operations in Africa, September 23, […]

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