FAS Roundup: July 21, 2014

House amendment to cut NSC budget, nuclear risks and more. 

From the Blogs

DNI Issues New Policy on Leak Damage Assessments: The Director of National Intelligence has issued new guidance on assessing damage resulting from the unauthorized disclosure of classified intelligence information to ensure that the damage assessments “are produced in an efficient, timely, consistent and collaborative manner.” Leak damage assessments should be used iteratively and the lessons learned from them should be applied “to strengthen the protection of classified national intelligence and prevent future unauthorized disclosures or compromises.”

Virtual Biosecurity Center Update: The VBC is up and running again, featuring news articles and op-eds related to biotechnology, biological threats and science policy. The VBC is located at www.virtualbiosecuritycenter.org.

Wanted: A Chef with a Top Secret Clearance: A secure U.S. government facility in Herndon, Virginia needs a master chef who holds or who can obtain a Top Secret security clearance. The job opening was announced by Sodexo, the international food service company. Steven Aftergood writes that the requirement for a chef with a Top Secret clearance exemplifies a significant policy problem, namely the use of the security clearance process as an employee screening tool.

What are Acceptable Nuclear Risks?: Dr. Martin Hellman, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Nuclear Risks, takes a look at the the ‘acceptable’ probability of an accidental nuclear explosion in the wake of a 1957 Sandia Report, “Acceptable Premature Probabilities for Nuclear Weapons,” which addressed this question.

Senate Bill Requires Report on “All” NSA Bulk Collection: The National Security Agency would be required to prepare an unclassified report on “all NSA bulk collection activities,” the Senate Appropriations Committee directed in its report on the Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations bill, published on July 17. The Committee told the NSA to prepare a report “describing all NSA bulk collection activities, including when such activities began, the cost of such activities, what types of records have been collected in the past, what types of records are currently being collected, and any plans for future bulk collection.” Such a report would be expected to clarify whether NSA bulk collection extends beyond the acknowledged telephone metadata program in Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act.

House Amendment Would Cut NSC Budget by a Third: On July 15, the House approved an amendment to cut the budget for the National Security Council (NSC) by one third in response to NSC moves to block congressional access to information. In total, the FY2015 NSC budget will be reduced by $4.2 million.

New USAF Bomber Already Under Development and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as the development of the Air Force’s Long Range Strike Bomber, theCounterterrorism Partnership Fund and the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

FAS in the News