FAS Roundup: August 5, 2013

By August 5, 2013

U.S. and Iran relations, publishing secrets, missile defense, and much more.


The Making of an Iraq Sequel in Iran: In a new op-ed published in The Hill, Special Projects Director Mr. Mark Jansson writes that with the election of moderate Hassan Rouhani to Iran’s presidency, there is an opportunity for the U.S. to lay the groundwork for compromise instead of paving the way for conflict, as the House passed another round of harsh sanctions against Iran, ignoring advice from experts that imposing additional sanctions at this time could undermine the ongoing nuclear talks.

The Waste of Missile Defense: In a letter to the editor published in the New York Times, Adjunct Senior Fellow Dr. Yousaf Butt writes that wasting limited defense money on flawed missile defense system only hurts U.S. national security. Butt writes that what we do need is defense against clandestine delivery of nuclear weapons.

From the Blogs

Court Eases Prosecutors’ Burden of Proof in Leak Cases: In a new interpretation of the Espionage Act, a federal judge made it easier for prosecutors in leak cases to meet their burden of proof, while reducing protections for accused leakers. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the prosecution in the pending case of former State Department contractor Stephen Kim need not show that the information he allegedly leaked could damage U.S. national security or benefit a foreign power, even potentially.

Publishing Secrets is a Crime, OLC Said in 1942: According to a recently disclosed Office of Legal Council (OFC) opinion from World War II, newspapers can be held criminally liable for publishing secret information. A reporter who writes a story based on defense secrets could be found to have violated the Espionage Act for revealing secret information, as could his editor and publisher. Under the authority of the Attorney General, the Office of Legal Counsel provides authoritative legal advice to the President and to executive branch agencies. The 1942 OLC opinion has no binding legal force, and it does not necessarily represent executive branch views today. But it fills in a gap in the legal genealogy of leak prosecutions.  It also highlights the latent possibility under the Espionage Act of criminalizing not just leaks but also news reports based on them.

Keeping it Clean: How can “cleanliness” can be applied to concepts like warfare and nuclear weapons testing? For example, the main reason for moving nuclear weapons underground is because it is a “cleaner” way to test, absent the major environmental impact of atmospheric testing. In a new post on the Science Wonk Blog, Dr. Y investigates how sanitizing nuclear weapons testing has taken from the new and nascent nuclear states the ability to truly understand what these weapons can do.

DNI Issues New Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement: Last month, the Director of the National Intelligence issued issued a revised Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement, also known as Standard Form 312 or SF 312.  It is a binding legal agreement that must be signed by each of the nearly 5 million people who are cleared for access to classified information. The revised SF312 includes some language that did not appear in previous versions of the form. Steven Aftergood writes that what is perhaps more significant is the fact that for the first time the new Nondisclosure Agreement was issued by the Director of National Intelligence rather than the Information Security Oversight Office, as in the past.

Did Justice Roberts Reshape the FISA Court?: There have been 71 federal judges who have served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review from 1979 until the present. Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, appointments to the Court are made by the Chief Justice of the United States. An analysis of the Court’s membership by the New York Times found that during the tenure of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., a higher number of Republican judges had been appointed than in the past — 10 of the current 11 members, compared to 66% under previous Chief Justices.

Marine Corps Commandant Accused of Improper Classification: Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos exercised “unlawful command influence” in an attempt to punish Marines who allegedly urinated on enemy corpses in Afghanistan in 2011, attorneys for the Marine defendants said.  And then Gen. Amos improperly classified information in an effort to conceal his own misconduct. In 2012, a Marine Corps official  warned that the classification action was a mistake that could backfire against the Marine Corps if it ever became public.

Military Sexual Assault and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as U.S.-China military contacts, military sexual assault, and an overview on the financial status of the U.S. postal system.

FAS in the News

Aug 3: MSNBC“US Secrets-And Lies- Unravel In NSA Leak”

Aug 3: New York Times“A Washington Riddle: What Is ‘Top Secret?'”

Aug 3: Huffington Post“Bradley Manning Sentencing Testimony Suggests WikiLeaks Not Responsible For Any Deaths”

Aug 3: Daily Telegraph“Bradley Manning: After Conviction, Argument Rages How Much Damage Was Done”

Aug 2: Christian Science Monitor“Too Many Classified Papers At Pentagon? Time For A Secrecy Audit”

Aug 2: USA Today“Will Rising Tide Of Opposition Force Change NSA Tactics?”

Aug 1: Washington Post“Not Every Leak Is Tantamount To Treason”

Aug 1: Washington Times“Spies Are Spooked By The Rise Of Hackers In A Wired World, Fear No Secret Is Safe”

Jul 31: The National Interest“The Nuclear Iran Promotion Act”

Jul 31: Washington Times“GAO To Review ‘Classification Inflation’ At  Pentagon”

Jul 31: Associated Press“Bradley Manning-Wikileaks Case Turns To Sentencing”

Jul 31: Reuters“Manning Damage Has Fallen Well Short Of Worst U.S. Fears”

Jul 31: Voice of America“More N. Korean Long-Range Rocket Launches Expected ‘Soon'”

Jul 31: Press TV“US Missile Defense System, Waste Of $250 Billion Investment”

Jul 30: Slate“A Moderate Verdict”

Jul 30: NPR“Bradley Manning Acquitted Of Most Serious Charge”

Jul 30: McClatchy Newspapers“For Congress, ‘It’s Classified’ Is New Equivalent Of ‘None Of Your Business'”

Jul 30: New York Times“Manning Is Acquitted Of ‘Aiding The Enemy'”

Jul 30: Christian Science Monitor“Not Just Bradley Manning: His Case Spurs Broader Crackdown On Leaks”

Categories: FAS Roundup