Legality of the Trump Disclosures, Revisited

When President Trump disclosed classified intelligence information to Russian officials last week, did he commit a crime? Considering that the President is the author of the national security classification system, and that he is empowered to determine who gets access to classified information, it seems obvious that the answer is No. His action might have […]

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Obstruction of Justice, & More from CRS

A 2014 report on obstruction of justice prepared by the Congressional Research Service was highlighted on the CRS congressional intranet this week, apparently in response to news stories and congressional interest in the topic. See Obstruction of Justice: an Overview of Some of the Federal Statutes that Prohibit Interference with Judicial, Executive, or Legislative Activities, […]

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An Authorized Disclosure of Classified Information

Updated below President Trump’s disclosure of classified intelligence information to Russian officials, reported by the Washington Post, may have been reckless, damaging and irresponsible. But it was not a crime. Disclosures of classified information are not categorically prohibited by law. Even intelligence sources and methods are only required to be protected under the National Security […]

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Special Counsels, FBI Director Removal, & More from CRS

In order to appoint a special counsel to investigate potential criminal activity in the executive branch, the Congressional Research Service explained last week, the Attorney General (or his deputy) “must determine that a criminal investigation is warranted; that the normal process of investigation or prosecution would present a conflict of interest for DOJ or other […]

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Garwin on Strategic Security Challenges to the US

There are at least four major “strategic security challenges” that could place the United States at risk within the next decade, physicist Richard L. Garwin told the National Academy of Sciences earlier this month. “The greatest threat, based on expected value of damage, is cyberattack,” he said. Other challenges arise from the actions of North […]

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Visual Recognition of Aircraft Still Needed

The ability to recognize and identify aircraft on sight remains a skill that soldiers need to acquire even in a highly automated military, according to the U.S. Army. “Soldiers must be knowledgeable in the identification of all types of aerial platforms ranging from fixed, tilt, and rotary wing aircraft and unmanned aircraft, in order to […]

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Government Shutdowns, & More from CRS

When Congress and the President fail to agree on government appropriations and previous funding expires, the result can be a massively disruptive shutdown of the federal government. This occurred most recently in October 2013, and lasted for 16 days. “Government shutdowns have necessitated furloughs of several hundred thousand federal employees, required cessation or reduction of […]

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Number of FOIA Requests Reaches Record High

Federal government agencies received more Freedom of Information Act requests last year than ever before, the Justice Department reported last week, reflecting a steadily growing demand for access to government information. Nearly 790,000 FOIA requests were received in FY 2016, an increase of more than 10% from the year before. The majority of requests were […]

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Notes on Los Alamos, 1953

A previously unpublished account of life in the Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory in the early 1950s describes a community determined to achieve, and to present, a semblance of conventional suburban life. It was circulated last month by Los Alamos historian Roger A. Meade. “In 1954 an unknown author drafted a report, reprinted below, describing […]

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