Joint Chiefs Urge “Due Diligence” in Targeting the Enemy

The proper selection and validation of enemy targets in war is a critical function for military planners and intelligence analysts. Errors can result in horrific civilian casualties and may also be strategically counterproductive. “In extreme cases, failure to exercise due diligence in target development can result in outcomes that have negative strategic repercussions for the […]

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Congress May Overturn Some Agency Rules, & More from CRS

“With a change of presidential administrations taking place in January, some in Congress are paying renewed attention to a parliamentary mechanism that might enable the new Congress and the new President to overturn agency final rules of the Obama Administration issued after late-May 2016,” a newly updated brief from the Congressional Research Service explains. “The […]

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Transparency Will Need a Reboot in the Trump Era

The future of transparency in the Trump Administration is uncertain. It will ultimately be determined in practice as the new Administration embarks on its programs, determines its priorities, appoints its personnel, engages with Congress and confronts the public. On his first full day in office, President Obama famously pledged to conduct the most transparent Administration […]

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Intelligence Community Spending, & More from CRS

In a deeply fractured political environment, the work of the Congressional Research Service may be even more valuable than ever. Non-partisan to a fault, CRS provides the same policy analysis to Republicans and Democrats, to problem-solvers and to nihilists. CRS reports can therefore help to establish a common framework for debate, and a shared vocabulary […]

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Patents Granted to Two Formerly Secret Inventions

Two patent applications that had been subject to “secrecy orders” under the Invention Secrecy Act for years or decades were finally granted patents and publicly disclosed in 2016. “Only two patents have been granted so far on cases in which the secrecy order was rescinded in FY16,” the US Patent and Trademark Office said this […]

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“Contingent Election” of the President, & More from CRS

What would happen if no candidate for President of the United States won a majority of electoral votes? The Congressional Research Service explains: “In these circumstances, the 12th Amendment . . . provides that the House of Representatives would elect the President, and the Senate would elect the Vice President, in a procedure known as […]

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FOIA Exemption for CIA “Operational Files” at Issue

Last March, the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency seeking a copy of “all pornographic material” collected during the May 2011 military operation that killed Osama bin Laden. In opposition, CIA argued that “responsive records, if any, would be contained in operational files,” and […]

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Challenges to Election Law, & More from CRS

“Numerous” legal challenges to state election laws have been filed during the last few weeks and months, a new report from the Congressional Research Service found, generating new judicial interpretations of those laws. “For example, there have been recent court rulings affecting the laws regulating early voting, voter photo identification (ID) requirements, registration procedures, straight-party […]

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A Thousand Advisory Committees, and More from CRS

As of last year, there were 1,009 federal advisory committees comprised of 72,220 members who provided advice to the government at a cost of more than $367 million. The operations of these federal advisory committees — which may also include commissions, councils, task forces, or working groups — are examined in a newly updated report […]

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