FAS Roundup: March 18, 2013

By March 18, 2013

Bradley Manning takes responsibility, possible changes to security questionnaire, risk and public health and much more.

From the Blogs

Bradley Manning Takes Responsibility: At an open hearing on February 28, Pfc. Bradley Manning said that he was responsible for providing U.S. government documents to the WikiLeaks website, including a large collection of U.S. State Department cables, a video of a brutal U.S. Army helicopter attack in Baghdad, and other records. A redacted copy of the statement was released by Manning’s lawyer on March 11.

Deterring Leaks Through Polygraph Testing: Steven Aftergood writes that last summer, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper directed agencies that perform polygraph tests to include a “pre-test dialogue” about the need to prevent leaks of classified information as part of the polygraph interview process. In a July 2012 memorandum to agencies, he said that the CIA’s polygraph program exemplified what he had in mind. The July 2012 memo was released last week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

When Can a Court Reject an Agency Classification Claim?: Last year, DC District Judge Richard W. Roberts ordered the U.S. Trade Representative to disclose a classified document to a FOIA requester because, he said, the classification of the document was not properly supported.  That ruling in Center for International Environmental Law v. Office of the U.S. Trade Representative was a startling judicial rebuff to executive classification authority of a sort that had not been seen in many years, and the government quickly appealed. In oral arguments in the DC District Appeals Court last month, government attorneys all but declared that a court has no power to overrule an executive branch classification decision.

How Much Risk is OK?: If there was a radiological emergency, would the  government have the authority to detain people who are contaminated or to decontaminate them against their wishes, if there was a risk to public health? In a new post on the ScienceWonk Blog, Dr. Y addresses the factors and risk involved if this scenario should occur.

OPM Mulls Changes to Security Questionnaire: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has invited the public to comment on proposed changes to Standard Form (SF) 86, the questionnaire that must be filled out by all persons who are seeking a security clearance for access to classified information. Critics have argued that the SF-86 is hopelessly out of date and should be abandoned in favor of a more streamlined process.

Judge Collyer Named to Intelligence Surveillance Court: Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the D.C. District Court was appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to a seven year term on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Court provides a measure of judicial oversight over surveillance activities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as amended.

Leaks: Why the Government Condemns and Condones Them: Steven Aftergood writes about a new  study by David Pozen of Columbia Law School which examines government’s responses to leaks of classified information. The starting point for his examination is the “dramatic disconnect between the way our laws and our leaders condemn leaking in the abstract and the way they condone it in practice.”

China and WMD Proliferation: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as cybersecurity, U.S. Navy Programs, FOIA in the new Congress and U.S. immigration policy.

Feds Add New Espionage Act Charge Against Linguist: Last fall, Navy contract linguist James Hitselberger was charged under the Espionage Act with two counts of unlawful retention of national defense information after several classified documents were allegedly found in his possession. Two weeks ago, in a superseding indictment, prosecutors added a third charge of unlawful retention under the Espionage Act, along with three other counts of unauthorized removal of a public record.

Sunshine Week

Sunshine Week, an annual effort sponsored by journalism advocacy and civil society organizations to promote values of open government, freedom of information, and public participation was held from March 10-16.

Steven Aftergood, Director of the Government Secrecy Project, spoke at numerous events in DC including a panel on open government in the Obama administration regarding national security and secrecy (video available here) sponsored by the Center for Effective Government and the Electronic Privacy Information Center on March 12.

Aftergood also moderated a panel on the future of classification reform hosted by the Brennan Center for Justice on March 14.


Event: Taking on Nuclear Deterrance

On Tuesday, April 9, 2013, Dr. Martin Hellman, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University and Advisor to the FAS Nuclear Security Program, will speak at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Manufacturing Research Center on “The Wisdom of Foolishness: Taking on Nuclear Deterrence”.

The event is co-sponsored by the Daisy Alliance, Georgia Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Center for International Strategy, Technology & Policy, Nuclear & Radiological Engineering Program and the General Ray Davis Memorial Fund.

More information on the event available here.

Click here to RSVP.


FAS in the News

Categories: FAS Roundup