FAS Roundup - March 19, 2012
Preparing for the aftermath of a nuclear terrorist attack, uncertain future of nuclear power, examination of efforts to secure radioactive materials and much more.
From the Blogs
- Admin May Appeal Order to Release Classified Document: Two weeks ago, Judge Richard W. Roberts issued an extraordinary ruling that a secret government document was not properly classified and must therefore be released under the Freedom of Information Act. Steven Aftergood writes that question is whether the government will accept the ruling and abide by it, or challenge it.
- In 1976, NSA was Tasked to Help Secure Private Communications: Going back as far as the Ford Administration, the National Security Agency was directed to help secure non-governmental communications networks against intrusion and interception by foreign — or domestic — entities, according to a recently declassified presidential directive released in September 2011. The directive prefigures an ongoing controversy over the proper role, and the actual extent, of National Security Agency involvement in securing public communications.
- Income Inequality and Economic Mobility, and More from CRS: Secrecy News has obtained recently released CRS reports on topics such as U.S. foreign aid to Israel, Europe's energy security and income inequality in the United States.
- Solar Flares: Last week, Earth was hit by one of the biggest solar storms in decades. Dr. Y investigates what exactly happens during a solar storm, and the effects it can have on the Earth and its inhabitants on the ScienceWonk blog.
- "Leak"- A New Look at Watergate's Deep Throat: Steven Aftergood writes about a new book by Max Holland, "Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat," which investigates the nature of Deep Throat's agenda. What drove FBI official Mark Felt to disclose sensitive investigative information about the Watergate burglary and the ensuing coverup to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post? What were his motivations and what was he hoping to accomplish?
- Preparing for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism: What would happen if a 10 kiloton nuclear explosive were detonated in downtown Washington, DC at the intersection of 16th and K Streets NW? That question is posed by a recent study obtained by Secrecy News which was performed for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It assesses the impact of a nuclear terrorism incident in the nation’s capital and seeks to derive the appropriate lessons for emergency response planning purposes.
- Make Nuclear Power More Efficient and Cost Competitive with Natural Gas: In a post on The Burn Blog (curated by the University of Texas at Austin), FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson responds to Dr. Dale Klein's recent blog post in which he argues that new nuclear facilities will not be built while natural gas is cheap and plentiful. Dr. Ferguson responds that we need to make nuclear power plants more efficient in order to compete with natural gas plants. One way to do this is for the government to continue to fund research and developments of new technologies in the nuclear industry.
- Author of Unauthorized CIA Book Gave Proceeds to Charity: After former CIA officer Ishmael Jones wrote a book about the CIA without gaining prior approval from the Agency, the government sought and won a judicial ruling that Jones had acted in violation of his CIA secrecy agreement, and that he could be held liable for the breach. Steven Aftergood writes that the governments efforts to seize control of the financial profits from the book have been curbed, as the author has donated the proceeds to charity.
- What's the Risk Associated with Citizen Scientists?: The Virtual Biosecurity Center, a project spear-headed by FAS, published an editorial by Dr. Todd Kuiken who argues that the risk of the amateur do-it-yourself (DIY) or citizen science movement is little to none when it comes to biosecurity or the risk of taking a federally funded project involving H5N1 and turning it into a bio-weapon.
- Scientist Nozette Called Brilliant, Greedy Traitor: Scientist Stewart Nozette, who pleaded guilty to attempted espionage after offering to sell classified information to an undercover FBI agent who posed as an Israeli intelligence officer, will be sentenced this month to a likely term of 156 months incarceration.
- Nuclear Power's Uncertain Future: In an article published in The National Interest, FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson writes that if nuclear power cannot compete economically with natural gas, and with an aging fleet of reactors, the United States is likely to have very few operating nuclear power plants by mid- century.
- Ensuring the Security of Radioactive Sources: National and Global Responsibilities: In a new paper published by the US-Korea Institute at SAIS, FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson examines the national and international efforts to control and secure radioactive materials, and offers suggestions on how to reduce the risk of radiological terrorism.
FAS in the News
- Mar 16: BBC News, "North Korea's Missile Programme"
- Mar 15: Huffington Post, "Meet the Bangor 5"
- Mar 14: Gizmodo, "Here's What Happens When Our Nation's Capital is Nuked"
- Mar 14: Fast Company, "Video Games Are Tomorrow's Answer to Executive Training"
- Mar 13: National Post, "Syria a Chemical Weapon 'Power Keg Ready to Explode,' Experts Fear"
- Mar 13: Boston Globe, "Nationa