from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2015, Issue No. 74
November 4, 2015

Secrecy News Blog:


What are the constitutional limits on police use of force? What remedies are available when those limits are exceeded? And in light of recent episodes of police violence, how might the limits and the remedies be modified?

Those questions are addressed in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

"By the very nature of their job, law enforcement officers are tasked with using physical force to restrain individuals and protect themselves and others from harm," the CRS report states. "Police officers must stop and seize violent suspects, serve search warrants in hostile environments, and maintain the peace and safety of the communities in which they serve."

Yet "recent law enforcement-related deaths... have prompted a call for legal accountability against the officers involved in these killings, but also, more broadly, for systemic police reform on both the federal and state level."

A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News. See Police Use of Force: Rules, Remedies, and Reforms, October 30, 2015:

Other new and newly updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Is Violent Crime in the United States Increasing?, October 29, 2015:

Apportioning Seats in the U.S. House of Representatives Using the 2013 Estimated Citizen Population, updated October 30, 2015:

The Iran Hostages: Efforts to Obtain Compensation, updated November 2, 2015:

Aiding Israel after the Iran Nuclear Deal: Issues for Congress, CRS Insight, October 30, 2015:

Designation of Global 'Too Big To Fail' Firms, CRS Insight, October 29, 2015:

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB): Frequently Asked Questions, October 30, 2015:

Cargo Preferences for U.S.-Flag Shipping, October 29, 2015:

The EU-U.S. Safe Harbor Agreement on Personal Data Privacy: In Brief, October 29, 2015:

The Legal Process to Reschedule Marijuana, CRS Legal Sidebar, November 2, 2015:

Government Speech, Religious Displays, and Finding Balance in the First Amendment, CRS Legal Sidebar, October 30, 2015:

Impeachment and Removal, October 29, 2015:


There were 5,579 invention secrecy orders in effect at the end of fiscal year 2015. This was an increase from 5,520 the year before and is the highest number of such secrecy orders in more than a decade.

Under the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951, secrecy orders may be imposed on patent applications when a government agency finds that granting the patent and publishing it would be "detrimental" to national security.

Most of the current invention secrecy orders were renewals of orders granted in past years. According to statistics released under the Freedom of Information Act by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, there were 95 new secrecy orders imposed last year, while 36 prior orders were rescinded. More information on the newly rescinded orders is forthcoming.

Of the 95 new orders, 15 were so-called "John Doe" secrecy orders, meaning that they were imposed on private inventors in cases where the government had no property claim on the invention. The prohibition on disclosure in such cases therefore raises potential First Amendment issues.


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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