Security Clearances and Presidential Authority

“Security clearances are not mandated for the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, or other constitutional officers,” a recentCongressional Research Service report explains. “The criteria for election or appointment to these positions are specified in the U.S. Constitution, and except by constitutional amendment, no additional criteria (e.g., holding a security clearance) may […]

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Garwin to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

The celebrated and accomplished individuals selected by President Obama to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — include figures such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill and Melinda Gates, Robert Redford, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jordan– and Richard L. Garwin. As noted by a November 16 White House news release, “Richard Garwin […]

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 “Only two patents have been granted so far on cases in which the secrecy order was rescinded in FY16,” the US Patent and Trademark Office said this […]

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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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On the Use of Presidential Policy Directives

On October 14, President Obama signed Presidential Policy Directive 43 on the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba. Aside from the substance of the directive on the future of US-Cuba relations, PPD-43 has several incidental features of interest. First, it is a public document. “The policy directive was notable because it was […]

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JASON on BMD Midcourse Discrimination (2010)

A comprehensive defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles remains difficult — and perhaps impossible — for several reasons, including the difficulty of achieving “midcourse discrimination” to identify weaponized payloads in a cloud of debris or decoys. A newly released summary of a classified 2010 report on the subject prepared by the JASON scientific advisory panel explains […]

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A Burst of New Presidential Directives

On July 26, President Obama issued Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 41 on United States Cyber Incident Coordination. Aside from the intrinsic interest of this document, it signifies an unexplained burst in the production of Presidential Policy Directives since the public release of PPD 30 in June 2015. Instead of the previous average of around 5 […]

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Seeking Verifiable Destruction of Nuclear Warheads

A longstanding conundrum surrounding efforts to negotiate reductions in nuclear arsenals is how to verify the physical destruction of nuclear warheads to the satisfaction of an opposing party without disclosing classified weapons design information. Now some potential new solutions to this challenge are emerging. Based on tests that were conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission […]

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Congress Passes FOIA Improvement Act

The House of Representatives yesterday approved the Freedom of Information Act Improvement Act, which had previously been adopted by the Senate. If signed by President Obama, as expected, it will strengthen several provisions of the FOIA and should enhance disclosure of government records. The bill “reaffirms the public’s right to know and puts in place […]

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Intelligence Budgets on a Downward Slope

Intelligence community budgets appear set to continue on the modest downward slope of the last several years. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said yesterday that it was requesting $53.5 billion for the National Intelligence Program (NIP) in FY 2017, a slight reduction from the $53.9 billion that was requested for the NIP […]

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