Personal Debt and National Security

Last June the Department of Defense denied an application for security clearance for access to classified information because the applicant had “delinquent debts totaling about $24,000.” In May, a defense contractor was denied a security clearance based on delinquent debts totaling $87,517. In fact, excessive personal debt is among the most commonly cited reasons for denying or revoking access to […]

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Senator’s Challenge to War Powers Secrecy Blocked

Last January the Trump Administration formally notified Congress under the War Powers Act of a US drone strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. But unlike all known prior War Powers Act notifications, the report on the Soleimani killing was classified in its entirety. (Previous reports sometimes included a classified annex together with the unclassified notification.) […]

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US Army Views North Korean Military Tactics

North Korea’s military “uses tactics based on former Soviet or current Russian doctrine, Chinese developments, lessons learned, and observation of recent military actions,” according to a new US Army manual on the subject. “While North Korea maintains large amounts of military equipment, much of it is outdated making it quantitatively superior to most armies but […]

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Navy Lab’s Future Is At Risk, Report Warns

Updated below The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) boasts an amazing record of achievement but its future is in jeopardy, according to a newly disclosed report of the Naval Research Advisory Committee that was suppressed by the Navy. NRL is widely recognized as a world class research institution that has made transformational discoveries in many scientific fields from space science […]

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Hollywood and the Bomb

Among the lesser known consequences of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75 years ago was that it triggered a race between Hollywood movie studios MGM and Paramount to bring the story of the atomic bomb — or at least some commercialized version of it — to the American public as a major motion picture. […]

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With Care, Research Labs Can Reopen, JASONs Say

University research laboratories that have been shuttered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic can safely reopen if they adopt measures needed to reduce vulnerability to the disease, according to a new report from the JASON science advisory panel. “A ramp up will take months and requires careful adherence to rules and processes,” the report said. “Researchers […]

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Trends in US Military Deaths, and More from CRS

Of the 17,645 deaths of U.S. military personnel in all countries since 2006, a full 24% of them were “self-inflicted,” according to updated data from the Department of Defense as reported by the Congressional Research Service. “Self-inflicted” here means suicide as well as death due to alcohol or substance abuse. See Trends in Active-Duty Military Deaths […]

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Crisis of Credibility in Secrecy Policy

Obsolete secrecy procedures and growing political abuse have left the national security classification system in a state of disarray and dysfunction. Most government agencies “still rely on antiquated information security management practices,” according to a new annual report from the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). “These practices have not kept pace with the volume of […]

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PIDB Urges Modernization of Classification System

How can the national security classification and declassification system be fixed? That depends on how one defines the problem that needs fixing. To the authors of a new report from the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB), the outstanding problem is the difficulty of managing the expanding volume of classified information and declassifying a growing backlog of records. “There is […]

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