FAS Roundup – November 12, 2018

Government war spending since 9/11 exceeds $5.9 trillion

Steven Aftergood spoke at a briefing for Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss the Watson Institute at Brown University’s latest report. Aftergood discussed what contributed to a lack of government transparency and, ultimately, the public’s understanding of post-9/11 war costs. 

📄 You can view the report’s official press release here.

Next HASC Chair Sees Need for Greater DoD Transparency

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), the likely chair of the House Armed Services Committee in the next Congress, told colleagues that enhancing national security transparency is among his top oversight priorities. 

Defense Primers, and More from CRS
New and updated CRS reports include: Defense Primer: Geography, Strategy, and U.S. Force DesignThe DOD’s JEDI Cloud ProgramGlobal Trends in HIV/AIDS, and more. 

Steven Aftergood publishes analysis and new/updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports in the FAS Secrecy News blog. To subscribe to the FAS Secrecy News mailing list, click here.

Pence drops key US demand for Trump-Kim summit
Adam Mount told CNN: “Every time the [U.S.] issues and then abandons an unrealistic demand, it loses some credibility and momentum.” 

An X reveals a Diamond: locating Israeli Patriot batteries using radar interference
Matt Korda presents his findings on the FAS Strategic Security blog of his efforts to geolocate Israeli Patriot batteries using an imagery-adjustment technique that revealed other Middle Eastern batteries. 

 

Finland and Norway tell its pilots to prepare for flight without GPS
Hans Kristensen was quoted by Business Insider: “If your offensive military capabilities rely on GPS, guess what the adversary will try to do?.” 

Jenifer Mackby spoke about the Biological Weapons Convention in the Middle East and North Africa for an arms control training course for diplomats at the Geneva Center for Security Policy in Amman.

FAS Roundup – November 5, 2018

NNSA Plan Shows Nuclear Warhead Cost Increases and Expanded Production
Hans Kristensen writes for the FAS Strategic Security blog: It is “essential” that the Trump administration and Congress proactively update U.S. nuclear modernization programs to account for the “significant fiscal risks” associated. 

U.S. needs tactical shift in North Korea talks
Adam Mount for Axios: “Seeking achievable limits in exchange for real incentives is the last chance to limit North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.” 

North Korea Cancels Nuclear Talks With Pompeo
Mount told The Wall Street Journal: Negotiations between the United States and North Korea are collapsing “slowly but surely.” 

Classified Anti-Terrorist Ops Raise Oversight Questions

Last February, the Secretary of Defense initiated three new classified anti-terrorist operations intended “to degrade al Qaeda and ISIS-affiliated terrorists in the Middle East and specific regions of Africa.” 

 

Presidential Disability and the 25th Amendment

Under the 25th amendment to the Constitution, a U.S. President could be declared “disabled” and removed from office against his will by the Vice President acting together with a majority of the Cabinet. CRS details. 

Steven Aftergood publishes analysis and new/updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports in the FAS Secrecy News blog. To subscribe to the FAS Secrecy News mailing list, click here.

Jenifer Mackby was a panelist at the Arab Institute for Security Studies’ Amman Security Colloquium in Jordan. Mackby will present on the Biological Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty from November 10-11.

FAS Roundup – October 29, 2018

New: Assessing India’s nuclear arsenal, strategy

The FAS Nuclear Information Project’s Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda release the 2018 FAS Nuclear Notebook on Indian nuclear forces (published by The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists). 

🗃 Past issues are available at fas.org.

Victor Marchetti, 88, Dies; Book Was First to Be Censored by C.I.A.

Steven Aftergood told The New York Times: “Marchetti was at the vanguard of what has been called the literature of disillusion.” 

 

Pentagon Wants to Predict Anti-Trump Protests with Social Media Surveillance

Aftergood told Motherboard: Seemingly a function of the Department of Homeland Security, DOD has a role in maintaining civil control. 

Invention Secrecy Hits Recent High

Last year the number of patent applications that were subject to a “secrecy order” under the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951 was the highest that it has been in more than two decades. 

U.S. Curtails Asylum for Refugees Fleeing Gang Violence

In the recent past, refugees who were fleeing gang or domestic violence in their home countries were able to present a claim for asylum in the United States on that basis. 

Steven Aftergood publishes analysis and new/updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports in the FAS Secrecy News blog. To subscribe to the FAS Secrecy News mailing list, click here.

FAS Roundup – October 29, 2018

New: Assessing India’s nuclear arsenal, strategy
The FAS Nuclear Information Project’s Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda release the 2018 FAS Nuclear Notebook on Indian nuclear forces (published by The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists). 

🗃 Past issues are available at fas.org.

Victor Marchetti, 88, Dies; Book Was First to Be Censored by C.I.A.
Steven Aftergood told The New York Times: “Marchetti was at the vanguard of what has been called the literature of disillusion.” 

Pentagon Wants to Predict Anti-Trump Protests with Social Media Surveillance
Aftergood told Motherboard: Seemingly a function of the Department of Homeland Security, DOD has a role in maintaining civil control. 

Invention Secrecy Hits Recent High

Last year the number of patent applications that were subject to a “secrecy order” under the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951 was the highest that it has been in more than two decades. 

U.S. Curtails Asylum for Refugees Fleeing Gang Violence
In the recent past, refugees who were fleeing gang or domestic violence in their home countries were able to present a claim for asylum in the United States on that basis. 

Steven Aftergood publishes analysis and new/updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports in the FAS Secrecy News blog. To subscribe to the FAS Secrecy News mailing list, click here.

FAS Roundup – October 22, 2018

Op-ed: Synthetic biology and the new culture of responsibility
FAS President Dr. Ali Nouri and Shahram Seyedin-Noor co-authored an op-ed for synthetic biology hub SynBioBeta, discussing why industry and policymakers need to work together to mitigate dual-use biotechnology risks. 

Hans Kristensen spoke to ABC News Australia to discuss President Trump’s announcement that the United States plans to withdraw from the INF Treaty, an arms control agreement with Russia, stating that the Trump administration is becoming the “treaty killer administration.”

 

(AUDIO) President Trump Says U.S. Will Leave Arms Control Treaty With Russia
Kristensen told NPR: U.S. withdrawal from INF Treaty with Russia could allow for a “new arms race” between the United States and Russia. 

Putin Deepens Confusion About Russian Nuclear Policy
Abigail Stowe-ThurstonMatt Korda, and Kristensen wrote for Russia Matters: Ambiguous U.S./Russian intentions forcing “dangerous assumptions.” 

Nuclear Stockpile Declassification Sought

The Federation of American Scientists asked the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense to declassify and disclose the current size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, as they have done in past years. 

“Taking” Marine Mammals for National Defense
The U.S. Navy this month updated its regulations on the use of marine mammals — such as whales, dolphins, and seals — for national defense purposes. The Navy policy on marine mammals follows a 1987 statute. 

Arms Sales: Congressional Review, and More from CRS
New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include: Arms Sales: Congressional Review ProcessCongress Considers Possible Responses to the Killing of a Saudi Journalist, and more. 

Steven Aftergood publishes analysis and new/updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports in the FAS Secrecy News blog. To subscribe to the FAS Secrecy News mailing list, click here.

In the latest episode of Above The Fray, FAS President Dr. Ali Nouri’s video podcast, he and journalist Bob Gibson discuss gerrymandering — and how to stop it. You can view all past episodes of here.

The FAS-FBI Bioagents Education cards were on display at the iGEM 2018 Giant Jamboree, a bioengineering conference in Boston, Massachusetts. You can download the FAS-FBI Bioagents Education app on iOS and Android for free — right now!

 

FAS Roundup – October 15, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT
Emerging Disruptive Technologies and Their Potential Threat to Strategic Stability and National Security

Christopher Bidwell and Bruce MacDonald‘s latest report details several emerging technologies that may pose national security risks, including artificial intelligence, hypersonics, and other emerging technologies.

Read Now

New satellite images suggest military buildup in Russia’s strategic Baltic enclave
Building off Hans Kristensen‘s June 2018 report, CNN published a new report on Russia’s nuclear upgrades in the Kaliningrad region featured on the Situation Room, citing FAS’ Kristensen. 

 

Russia hits a snag in developing a hypersonic weapon – after Putin said it was already in production

Kristensen was quoted by CNBC: Russia has “been flight-testing this system for a long time.” 

This is exactly how a nuclear war would kill you

Kristensen’s global nuclear arsenal data was cited in a piece by Vox on the process, risks, and nuances of nuclear war

Former FBI agent gets four years in prison for leaking classified documents

Steven Aftergood told The Post: “There’s an enduring tension between government secrecy and a free press […] tipping in favor of law enforcement.” 

DOE Declassifies Declassification of Downblending Move

The Department of Energy has declassified the decision to classify its intention to make 25 metric tons of Highly Enriched Uranium available for downblending into Low Enriched Uranium for tritium production use. 

Democracy in Decline?

Democracy as a political system has not advanced around the world in the past decade and by some measures it has actually declined, a new report from the Congressional Research Service observes. 

 

Steven Aftergood publishes analysis and new/updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports in the FAS Secrecy News blog. To subscribe to the FAS Secrecy News mailing list, click here.

Ankit Panda spoke at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research’s (UNIDIR) side event on nuclear risk reduction in Northeast Asia on October 16 at the UN headquarters in New York City.

FAS Roundup – October 8, 2018

FAS and FBI launch bioagents education app
Jointly developed by the Federation of American Scientists and Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bioagents Education app concisely details nearly 50 biological agents that are important to biological research but could also misused as biological weapons.

Adam Mount appeared on CNN’s Situation Room to discuss North Korea’s recent agreement to allow inspectors to examine its Punggye-ri nuclear test site — which was apparently dismantled in May 2018 — calling it a largely “cosmetic step.”

 

What Did Mike Pompeo Get From Kim Jong-un? Four Takeaways
Mount told The Times: “Inspecting the nuclear test site is a strong sign Pyongyang wants to continue talks” — but is not a “major” step. 

Pompeo, Kim agree to hold 2nd summit with Trump as soon as possible
Mount told The Post: “Allowing inspectors at Punggye-ri would be an important test of [DPRK] willingness to subject its facilities to verification.” 

Ankit Panda was the key speaker at the Korea Society’s discussion titled “Nukes, Missiles, and Ways to Talk.” Panda discussed Mike Pompeo’s recent trip to North Korea, denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, and U.S.-DPRK diplomacy.

Hans Kristensen writes for the FAS Strategic Security blog: “The latest New START treaty aggregate numbers […] show a slight increase in U.S. deployed strategic forces and a slight decrease in Russian deployed strategic forces over the past six months.” 

The Navy’s Terrible Accident Record Is Now Hidden From Public View

Steven Aftergood told The Atlantic:

“There is no security reason for limiting public access to statistical summaries of safety mishaps.” 

Aircraft Interdiction Nets Colombian Cocaine

With the support of U.S. intelligence, the Colombian Air Force last year engaged dozens of aircraft suspected of illicit drug trafficking, leading to the seizure of 4.4 metric tons of cocaine. 

Accounting Board Okays Deceptive Budget Practices
Government agencies may remove or omit budget information from their public financial statements and present expenditures as being associated with another budget line item to protect classified information. 

Steven Aftergood publishes analysis and new/updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports in the FAS Secrecy News blog. To subscribe to the FAS Secrecy News mailing list, click here.

Thomas Steitz (1940–2018)
Dr. Thomas Steitz, 1989 Nobel Laureate in chemistry and member of the FAS Board of Sponsors, died on Tuesday. He was 78. Read about the life and accomplishments of Dr. Steitz in his obituary. 

 

FAS joins Future Congress initiative
The Federation of American Scientists joins the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Medium, Union of Concerned Scientists, and over 35 other organizations and 30 individual scholars to work for a more informed Congress on science and technology issues. 

Remembering Steve Garfinkel
Steve Garfinkel, former director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), passed away on September 24. Appointed by President Carter in 1980, Mr. Garfinkel served as the second ISOO director until 2002. 

Government Contractor Accountability, & More from CRS

Noteworthy new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following — and more:

Steven Aftergood publishes analysis and new/updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports in the FAS Secrecy News blog. To subscribe to the FAS Secrecy News mailing list, click here.

US Nato envoy’s threat to Russia: stop developing missile or we’ll ‘take it out’
Hans Kristensen told The Guardian: Hutchinson’s comments are going to feed into the “paranoia of Russian planners.” Clarification is needed. 

Leon Lederman (1922–2018)
Leon Lederman, 1988 Nobel Laureate in physics and member of the FAS Board of Sponsors, died early Wednesday. He was 96. Read about the life and accomplishments of Dr. Lederman in his obituary. 

FAS Roundup – September 24, 2018

After FAS-backed petition, NSF seeks public comment on artificial intelligence policy
The National Science Foundation’s decision comes after a petition by EPIC, AAAS, ACM, IEEE, and the Federation of American Scientists, and nearly 100 experts, including FAS President Ali Nouri, calling for public input in the White House Select Committee’s work on AI. 

Backlog of Security Clearance Investigations Declines
After years of cumulative and seemingly irreversible growth, the backlog of pending security clearance investigations declined in the last three months in response to new policy guidance. 

Overruling Constitutional Precedents
A new report from the Congressional Research Service examines how and why the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn one of its own rulings interpreting the Constitution. 

Intelligence Support to Diplomatic Facilities Abroad
The role of U.S. intelligence agencies in helping to protect U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel abroad is highlighted in a recently revised Intelligence Community Directive. 

Steven Aftergood publishes analysis and new/updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports in the FAS Secrecy News blog. To subscribe to the FAS Secrecy News mailing list, click here.

A Productive Fifth Inter-Korean Summit, But Denuclearization Remains Distant
Ankit Panda writes for The Diplomat: Progress toward inter-Korean peace should be welcomed, but denuclearization is another thing entirely. 

FAS Roundup – September 17, 2018

Locomotive Idling: CRS Comes Online
In Secrecy NewsSteven Aftergood welcomed the launch of a new public portal for Congressional Research Service reports, though noted it is incomplete. For continued release of missing reports, subscribe free to FAS’ Secrecy News mailing list. 

Trump’s document dump leaves national security experts fuming

Steven Aftergood told the Washington Examiner: Classification has become a “political battleground” instead of focused on national security. 

Air Force prototypes new air-launched nuclear-armed cruise missile

Hans Kristensen told Kris Osborn: Stealthy LSRO-equipped bombers would be the “perfect surprise attack weapon” from an adversary’s perspective. 

Jenifer Mackby (FAS Senior Fellow for International Security) spoke at the University of Manitoba’s second annual conference on Nuclear Non-Proliferation, discussing the 2020 NPT Review Conference and the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).