FAS Roundup: June 11, 2012

By June 11, 2012

From the Blogs

  • Bill to Strengthen Whistleblower Protections Advances: Last week the House Oversight Committee reported out the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, a bill that is intended to increase protections for government employees and contractors who “blow the whistle” and disclose illegal or improper government activity.  Steven Aftergood writes that among other things, the bill would require intelligence agency heads to advise employees on how to make lawful disclosures of classified information without retribution.
  • Senate: Drones Need to Operate “Freely and Routinely” in U.S.: The integration of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) needs to be expedited, the Senate Armed Services Committee said in its report on the FY2013 defense authorization bill last week. “While progress has been made in the last 5 years, the pace of development must be accelerated; greater cross-agency collaboration and resource sharing will contribute to that objective,” the Committee said. A provision of the bill would encourage greater collaboration on drone integration among the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, and NASA.

  • The Leak Wars: “The Department of Justice has not taken the initiative to prosecute leaks of national security secrets,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on June 7. Steven Aftergood writes that considering that the Justice Department in the Obama Administration has initiated an unprecedented number of leak prosecutions, Rep. Smith has it exactly wrong. His remark illustrates the rampant confusion and the growing antagonism that surrounds the topic of leaks of classified information.
  • Second Batch of New START Data Released: The U.S. State Department released the full (unclassified) aggregate data for U.S. strategic nuclear forces as counted under the New START treaty. The data shows only very modest reductions of deployed strategic nuclear weapons over the past six months.
  • McCain Promotes Offensive Cyber Capabilities: The U.S. military is placing too much emphasis on defense against cyber attacks when it should be developing offensive cyber capabilities, according to Sen. John McCain. “”I am very concerned that our strategy is too reliant on defensive measures in cyber space, and believe we need to develop the capability to go on the offense as well,” Sen. McCain wrote in remarks appended to the Senate Armed Services Committee report on the FY 2013 defense authorization bill.
  • Radiation Safety in a Post-Cancer World: What would radiation safety look like in a world where cancer is only a nuisance? Most of radiation safety falls into the category of regulatory compliance, and the majority of our regulations either directly or indirectly are aimed at minimizing the chance that a person will develop a radiogenic cancer.
  • Leibowitz Leak Case Said to be Unrelated to Israeli Embassy: Shamai Leibowitz was the first person in the Obama Administration to be charged under the Espionage Act with leaking classified information to the press. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a jail term that he completed last year. Leibowitz, an Israel-American who has been a vocal, even radical critic of Israeli government policies, was employed as a contract linguist and translator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  He was charged with disclosing secret documents concerning “communication intelligence activities of the United States.”



  • “A Queen for a Queen”: In a new article published in Foreign Policy, Dr. Yousaf Butt, scientific consultant to FAS, writes that if the West wants to stop Iran’s enrichment of uranium, it must get serious about scaling back sanctions.



  • Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences: FAS partnered with the Atomic Heritage Foundation and the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University to host the event, “Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences on June 5, 2012. The program focused on the life and legacy of nuclear physicist Joseph Rotblat and his dedication to world peace and reducing the threat of nuclear weapons. For a recap of the event, click here.
  • Use of Satellite Imagery to Monitor Nuclear Forces: On Thursday, June 7, FAS hosted a conference on the use of commercial satellite imagery and GIS technology  to monitor nuclear forces and proliferators around the world. Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project at FAS, Matthew McKinzie, Senior Scientist with the Nuclear Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council and Tamara Patton, Graduate Research Assistant at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Geneva were the conference speakers. To view the presentation slides, click here.
  • Revolution in Nuclear Detection Affairs: FAS hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 regarding revolutions in nuclear detection affairs. Dr. Huban Gowadia, Deputy Director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office at the Department of Homeland Security spoke about the challenges and efforts in nuclear detection tools. To view the presentation slides and recap of the event, click here. 


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