FAS Roundup: September 15, 2014

By September 15, 2014

From the Blogs

New Exemptions from 50 Year Declassification Approved: Most of the national security agencies in the executive branch have now been granted approval to exempt certain 50 year old classified information from automatic declassification. The national security classification system normally requires declassification of classified documents as they become 25 years old, with several specified exemptions to allow continued classification up to 50 years.

“Ingenuity” Could Not Prevent Atom Bomb Espionage: When the internal history of the Manhattan Project was written in 1944, officials still believed — mistakenly — that the atom bomb program had evaded the threat of foreign espionage. Although the official history was declassified in July 2014, a single page was inadvertently withheld and recently released. The page presents a flattering view of Manhattan Project counterintelligence efforts, but in reality the skill and ingenuity was inadequate and not up to task, as the Project was penetrated by a number of Soviet intelligence agents and sympathizers.

Wanted: Astronomer with Top Secret Clearance: NASA is looking for a director for its Webb Space Telescope project who possesses a Top Secret/SCI security clearance. The telescope will be “the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide, and studying every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.”

Military Action Against the Islamic State and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as military action against the Islamic State, the Constitution’s Take Care Clause, U.S. policy in Libya and political unrest in Pakistan. 

Special Operations as a Technology Driver: The continuing prominence of special operations as an instrument of U.S. force projection is creating requirements for “revolutionary, game changing” new technologies and fostering the development of solutions to those requirements. Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command until last month, told the House Armed Services Committee in two newly published hearing volumes that a range of new technologies are under development by SOCOM, including laser weapons, new emergency medicine techniques, color night vision, and more.

Court Urged to Review State Secrets Documents: It is entirely proper for a court to conduct in camera review of documents and testimony that the government asserts are subject to the state secrets privilege, said the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the “no fly” list. The Justice Department had argued that judicial review of privileged documents was “inappropriate” and asked Judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia to reconsider his order requiring such review.

Call for Submissions: Public Interest Report Articles

FAS welcomes article submissions for future issues of the PIR; if interested please submit a one paragraph abstract regarding scientific and policy issues of concern related to catastrophic threats including biological and nuclear weapons, homeland security and natural disasters. Abstract should be no more than 500 words and feature relevant content; please include biography with submission. The submission deadline for the Fall 2014 issue is September 19, 2014. Please submit abstract via email to pir@fas.org.

If selected, authors will be asked to submit an article on the chosen topic (less than 3,000 words) for publication in future issue.

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Categories: FAS Roundup