FAS Roundup: October 13, 2015

By October 14, 2015

Stay Tuned…

…For a special Summer/Fall edition of the Public Interest Report, FAS’s online, quarterly science and security journal featuring articles by members of the FAS network on issues related to foreign policy and national security. The PIR will be published and available for viewing on fas.org this Thursday, October 15th.

FAS’ Iran Task Force recommendations on implementing the Iran deal (JCPOA) now subject of bi- partisan Congressional legislation

This summer the Federation of American Scientists Iran Verification Task Force, led by FAS Senior Fellow Chris Bidwell, issued a report on Six Achievable Steps for Implementing an Effective Verification Regime for a Nuclear Agreement with Iran. One of the Recommendations (#4), called for the establishment of a Joint Executive Congressional Working Group (JECWG) to be established in order to create sustained channels of communication and transparency between the two branches of government on the issue of Iran-U.S. relations, with a particular focus on nuclear issues. The goal was to ensure long-term focus on monitoring and verification issues associated with the JCPOA after the deal is implemented. A bi-partisan group of Congresspersons has now endorsed the idea by sponsoring a bill to create such a Working Group largely modeled on the Task Force’s recommendation. To read more see: http://connolly.house.gov/news/connolly-seeks-to-create-helsinkistyle-commission-for-the-jcpoa/

From the Blogs

US Drops Below New START Warhead Limit For The First Time: The number of U.S. strategic warheads counted as “deployed” under the New START Treaty has dropped below the treaty’s limit of 1,550 warheads for the first time since the treaty entered into force in February 2011 – a reduction of 263 warheads over four and a half years. Russia, by contrast, has increased its deployed warheads and now has more strategic warheads counted as deployed under the treaty than in 2011 – up 111 warheads.

Intelligence Lessons from the 2009 Fort Hood Shooting: In 2010, then-Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair convened a panel to review the November 2009 Fort Hood shooting committed by Army Maj. Nidal Hasan and the Christmas Day bombing attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab aboard Northwest Flight 253. A redacted version of the resulting panel report was finally declassified and released this week. See Report to the Director of National Intelligence on the Fort Hood and Northwest Flight 253 Incidents, Intelligence Community Review Panel, 15 April 2010.  The panel was led by former Acting DCI John E. McLaughlin.

Exceptions to the “No Comment” Rule on Nuclear Weapons: In response to public inquiries about the location of nuclear weapons, Department of Defense officials are normally supposed to respond: “It is U.S. policy to neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of nuclear weapons at any general or specific location.” Remarkably, “This response must be provided even when such location is thought to be known or obvious,” according to a DoD directive that was issued this week. But there are exceptions to the rule, noted in the directive.

Tolman Reports on Declassification Now Online: This week the Department of Energy posted the first declassification guidance for nuclear weapons-related information, known as the Tolman Committee reports, prepared in 1945-46. The Tolman reports were an early and influential effort to conceptualize the role of declassification of atomic energy information and the procedures for implementing it. Though the reports themselves were declassified in the 1970s, they have not been readily available online until now.

DoD Security-Cleared Population Drops Again: The number of people in the Department of Defense holding security clearances for access to classified information declined by 100,000 in the first six months of FY2015. There are now 3.8 million DoD employees and contractors with security clearances, down from 3.9 million earlier in the year, and a steep 17.4% drop from 4.6 million two years ago.

Haranguing in the Supreme Court, and More from CRS: If protesters are arrested for disrupting the proceedings of the U.S. Supreme Court through angry speech, is that a violation of their First Amendment rights? The question was analyzed by the Congressional Research Service. See Haranguing in the CourtCRS Legal Sidebar, October 6, 2015.

The Red Web: Russia and the Internet: The Internet in Russia is a battleground between activists who would use it as a tool of political and cultural freedom and government officials who see it as a powerful instrument of political control, write investigative journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan in their new book The Red Web. For now, the government appears to be winning the battle.

Vetoes of Defense Authorization Bills, and More from CRS: If President Obama vetoes the pending FY2016 defense authorization bill, “it would mark the fifth time since 1961, when Congress enacted the first annual defense authorization bill, that a president has vetoed that measure,” according to the Congressional Research Service. See Presidential Vetoes of Annual Defense Authorization BillsCRS Insight, October 1, 2015.

FAS in the News

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