FAS Roundup: March 31, 2014

By March 31, 2014

Hard to access declassified satellite images, Nuclear Security Summit, Air Force scandal and more.

From the Blogs

Intelligence Whistleblower Law Has Been Used Infrequently: Per a recently released report from the Inspector General of ODNI from 2009, the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA) has rarely been relied upon by intelligence agency whistleblowers. From 1999 to 2009, intelligence agency Offices of Inspector General (OIGs) said that only ten whistleblower complaints had been filed.

Security-Cleared Population Rises to 5.1 Million: The number of Americans who have been investigated and deemed eligible for access to classified information rose last year to a total of 5,150,379 as of October 2013. It was the fourth consecutive year of growth in the security-cleared population. Of the 5.1 million persons who were found eligible for access to classified information, 60% had access in fact.

US-Vietnam Nuclear Cooperation and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as current U.S. policy in Ukraine, U.S.-Vietnam Nuclear Cooperation Agreement and major U.S. arms sales to Pakistan since 2001.

Did CIA Violate the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause?: The CIA may have violated the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution by performing an unauthorized search of Senate Intelligence Committee computers according to analysis by the Congressional Research Service. The Speech or Debate clause (in Article I, Section 6, Clause 1 of the Constitution) generally immunizes members of Congress from liability for actions performed in the course of their legislative duties. But it also provides privileged protection for congressional documents against compulsory or involuntary disclosure. CIA may have unconstitutionally violated that privilege.

Missing the Open Source Center/ World News Connection: At the end of 2013, the CIA decided to terminate public access to its translations of foreign news reports by the Open Source Center and available to the public by NTIS World News Connection via paid subscription since 1974. An effort to reverse the CIA move and to restore public access is beginning to take shape, but the prospects for success are uncertain.

Newly Declassified Intelligence Satellite Imagery is Hard to Access:The declassification of historical intelligence satellite imagery has helped scientists and other researchers since President Clinton signed executive order 12951. But last year’s declassification of imagery from the KH-9 HEXAGON intelligence satellite will be slower to generate any such revolutionary impact because the newly declassified images are so hard to access and to use. Steven Aftergood writes that the archival burden on the National Archives and Records Administration is growing faster than the available resources. The task of curating the nation’s documentary heritage appears to be escalating out of control.

U.S. Air Force Nuclear Missile Investigation

Mr. Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, participated in a press call hosted by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation on March 24 to discuss the Air Force’s review of nuclear missile forces in the wake of claims of cheating and low morale among those who monitor the arsenals.

Listen to the call here. 

Presentation Slides: 2014 Nuclear Security Summit and Verification Capabilities

FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson and Senior Fellow for Nonproliferation Law and Policy Mr. Chris Bidwell spoke at the Radiological and Nuclear Detection Symposium hosted by VIP GlobalNet LLC on March 25-26, 2014 at the Mason Inn at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.

Dr. Ferguson’s presentation was on the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit that was held this week in the Netherlands. Ferguson discussed progress with securing dangerous nuclear materials (such as hundreds of tons of HEU that have been downblended to LEU and research and isotope production reactors that have been shut down) and remaining international challenges to securing fissile materials.

Mr. Bidwell spoke about the recent Defense Science Board (DSB) report from January 2014 on monitoring and verification and how they will be used with Iran in the wake of the deal with the P5+1.

Presentation slides are available here.


Conference: Faith Communities on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

Soka Gakkai International-USA, the Federation of American Scientists, Abolition 2000, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Pax Christi International, Pax Christi USA and Women’s Action for New Directions invite you to a one-day conference examining the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and means for collaboration between the faith and advocacy communities on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, DC. The event will be held from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm.

Leaders from faith-based organizations, advocacy groups and government will come together to examine topics such as how faith views nuclear weapons, areas for partnership and U.S. nuclear policy.

The conference is free but advanced registration is required.

To RSVP and for conference agenda, click here. 

Essay Contest: How Should Humanity Steer the Future?                             

The Foundational Questions Institute, the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation and Scientific American are holding an essay contest related to safeguarding the future from nuclear risks and climate change. The topic is how should humanity steer the future and how to make the world better while avoiding potential catastrophes.

Possible topics or sub-questions include, but are not limited to:

  • What is the best state that humanity can realistically achieve?
  • What is your plan for getting us there? Who implements this plan?
  • What technology (construed broadly to include practices and techniques) does your plan rely on? What are the risks of those technologies? How can those risks be mitigated?

Submissions will be accepted until April 18, 2014. For more information and guidelines click here.

FAS in the News

Mar 28: Foreign Policy“Did Obama Order A New Cyber Attack?”

Mar 26: Global Security Newswire“U.S. Tactical Nuclear Arms Mission Could Shift Among NATO Jets”

Mar 26: Huffington Post“Casting Sunlight On Secret Government And Its Contractors”

Mar 22: The Boston Globe“Annexing Crimea”

Categories: FAS Roundup, NATO, Secrecy