White House Directive Spawns Confusion

Updated below Four months after President Trump issued his National Security Presidential Memorandum 5 on US policy towards Cuba and ordered it to be published in the Federal Register, that has still not been accomplished. The Memorandum, posted on the White House web site on June 16, states that “The Secretary of State is hereby […]

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State Dept Slow to Follow White House Order

When President Trump issued a National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) on US policy towards Cuba on June 16, he included a provision ordering that it be published in the Federal Register: “The Secretary of State is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.” Now, more than two months later, the […]

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Still No Classified Trump Presidential Directives

After nearly six months in office, President Trump has not yet issued a classified presidential directive on national security. On June 16, Trump issued an unclassified National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) on US policy towards Cuba, reversing or limiting some of the steps towards normalization of relations with that country that were undertaken by the […]

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Intelligence Budget Requests for FY2018 Published

The Trump Administration requested $57.7 billion for the National Intelligence Program in Fiscal Year 2018, up from a requested $54.9 billion in FY 2017. The Administration requested $20.7 billion dollars for the Military Intelligence Program in FY 2018, up from a requested $18.5 billion in FY 2017. (The amounts actually appropriated in FY 2017 have […]

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Latest Nuclear Weapon Declassifications

The fact that a particular nuclear weapon has (or does not have) a “dial-a-yield capability” enabling the selection of a desired explosive yield was declassified earlier this year, in a joint decision of the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy. Last year, the Department of Energy also declassified the thickness of the “getter […]

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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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“Risk Avoidance” Leads to Over-Classification

When government officials consider whether to classify national security information, they should not aim for perfect security, according to new guidance from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Instead, classifiers should seek to limit unnecessary vulnerabilities, while keeping broader mission objectives in view. “A Risk Avoidance strategy — eliminating risk entirely — is […]

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An Introduction to Defense Policy

Most people are not going to read a book-length study of nuclear weapons command and control, and they shouldn’t have to. But those who need a quick sketch — whether they are reporters, students, or regular citizens — can now find a concise, two-page introduction to the topic from the Congressional Research Service. See Defense […]

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Spy Satellite Agency: Winter is Here

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has modified its classification policies in favor of heightened secrecy, withholding budget records that were previously considered releasable and redesignating certain unclassified budget information as classified. NRO is the U.S. intelligence agency that builds and operates the nation’s intelligence satellites. Since 2006, and for most of the past decade, the […]

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