FAS Roundup: February 10, 2014

New FISA Court members, nuclear winter, Fermi Awards and more.

From the Blogs

McCain Proposes New Select Committee on NSA Leaks: Last week, Senator John McCain introduced a resolution to establish a new Senate Select Committee to investigate the unauthorized disclosures of classified information on NSA collection programs and implications for U.S. policy. The McCain resolution is framed broadly and touches on many issues besides leaks, including intelligence policy, congressional oversight, the role of contractors, the constitutionality of current intelligence programs, and more.

Saving Money and Saving the World: The United States is struggling with budget problems, along with personnel issues by U.S. Air Force personnel who monitor nuclear missiles. In a guest post on the Strategic Security Blog, Alan Robock and Owen Brian Toon write that one way to save money and make the world a safer place is to get rid of our nuclear weapons. Robock and Toon write that nuclear weapons are not just bigger bombs – they can produce an environmental disaster.

The Fermi Awards: A Celebration of Outstanding Science and Scientists: On February 3, two outstanding scientists, Dr. Allen Bard and Dr. Andrew Sessler, received the Enrico Fermi Award in Washington, DC. Dr. Sessler has been a longstanding member of the Federation of American Scientists and served as the Chairman of FAS during part of the 1980s. The Fermi Award is one of the most prestigious awards bestowed by the U.S. government for outstanding scientific work. Dr. Sessler joins a long list of FAS leaders and prominent members who have received the Fermi Award including Richard Garwin, Freeman Dyson and Hans Bethe.

Iran: Authority to Lift Sanctions and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as Iran sanctions, U.S. relations with Yemen, security issues at the Sochi Winter Olympics and the National Defense Authorization Act for FY12 and beyond. 

In Closing: FAS would like to thank Dr. Y for his service and blogging over the past two years. Dr. Y has decided to step away from the blog due to personal and professional reasons. In his final post, he urges readers to take a skeptical look at the science that underlies claims or stories based on science.

Leahy Laws Bar Military Aid to Human Rights Violators: By law, the United States is not supposed to provide certain forms of military assistance to foreign security forces that have committed gross violations of human rights. The underlying laws, which were introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy in the 1990s and which are known as the Leahy laws, are described in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

FISA Court Appointments and Potential Reforms: On February 7, Chief Justice Roberts announced two new appointments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Secrecy News provides a listing of the current membership of the FISA Courts, along with disclosing a new CRS report on potential changes to the court.

FAS in the News

Feb 7: Washington Post“Ex-State Dept. Adviser Pleads Guilty In Leak To Fox News”

Feb 7: McClatchy News“Seattle Judge Will Join Super-Secret Spy Court”

Feb 7: Politico“Chief Justice John Roberts Names 2 New FISA Court Judges”

Feb 7: The Hill“Spy Courts Get Two New Judges”

Feb 7: The Guardian“CIA Confirms Agency Obliged To Follow Federal Surveillance Law” 

Feb 6: Politico“How John Podesta Is Changing Obama’s White House”

Feb 1: The Hill“NSA Nominee Unknown To Privacy Advocates”

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