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 “Only two patents have been granted so far on cases in which the secrecy order was rescinded in FY16,” the US Patent and Trademark Office said this […]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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CIA Releases Draft History of Bay of Pigs

The Central Intelligence Agency yesterday released a long-sought draft of the fifth volume of its internal history of the 1961 invasion of the Bay of Pigs. The release was among the first tangible results of this year’s amendments to the Freedom of Information Act, which imposed a 25 year limit on the exemption for “deliberative” […]

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Invention Secrecy Increased in 2016

There were 5,680 invention secrecy orders in effect at the end of Fiscal Year 2016. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reported that 121 new secrecy orders were issued in 2016, but also that 20 existing orders were rescinded, for a net increase of 101 over the year before. The latest figures were released under […]

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Intelligence Spending Increased in 2016

The amount of money appropriated for U.S. intelligence increased in 2016 by about 5 percent to a total of $70.7 billion, up from $66.8 billion the year before. The total includes FY 2016 appropriations for both the National Intelligence Program (NIP) and the Military Intelligence Program (MIP), which were officially disclosed on October 28, as […]

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CIA Will Place Its CREST Database Online

The Central Intelligence Agency said this week that it will post its database of declassified CIA documents online, making them broadly accessible to all interested users. The database, known as CREST (for CIA Records Search Tool), contains more than 11 million pages of historical Agency records that have already been declassified and approved for public […]

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