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Category Archives: Congress

Pseudo-Classification of Executive Branch Documents

Pseudo-Classification of Executive Branch Documents: Problems with the Transportation Security Administration’s Use of the Sensitive Security Information Designation, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. May 29, 2014. “Under the Air Transportation Security Act of 1974, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) created a category of sensitive but unclassified information, frequently referred to as “Sensitive Security Information” (SSI), andContinue Reading

Policy bubbles: What factors drive their birth, maturity and death?

“A policy bubble is a policy overreaction that is reinforced by positive feedback over a relatively long period of time. Policy bubbles impose social costs without producing offsetting benefits. Moshe Maor explores this phenomenon and explains how it may mature as a result of over-optimism and overconfidence among policymakers and the general public, or as a result of human herding and emotional contagion. Policy scholars and practitioners claim that the Eurozone has been, and stillContinue Reading

Security Clearances: Tax Debts Owed by DOD Employees and Contractors

SECURITY CLEARANCES: Tax Debts Owed by DOD Employees and Contractors, GAO-14-686R: Published: Jul 28, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 28, 2014. “In summary, GAO found that about 83,000 Department of Defense (DOD) employees and contractors who held or were determined eligible for secret, top secret, or sensitive compartmented information (SCI) clearances, or related interim clearances, had unpaid federal taxContinue Reading

Cramming on Wireless Phone Bills: A Review of Consumer Protection Practices and Gaps

News release - Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller, IV, Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, August 1, 2014 “Today’s hearing is about a practice known as “cramming,” where consumers get charged on their phone bills for goods and services they never agreed to purchase. The companies that put these bogus charges on phone bills know that consumers don’tContinue Reading

CIA IG Report Confirms Searches of Senate Computers

Feinstein Statement on CIA IG Report, Washington -  Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement: “I was briefed Tuesday by CIA Inspector General David Buckley on the results of an IG investigation [summary only available at this time]. The investigation confirmed what I said on the Senate floor in March – CIA personnel inappropriatelyContinue Reading

Israel: Background and U.S. Relations

CRS – Israel: Background and U.S. Relations. Jim Zanotti, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs. July 22, 2014 “Periodic violence between Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip—including the Islamist group Hamas—and Israel’s military became a larger conflict on July 6-7, 2014. Israel began a ground operation in Gaza on July 17 with the stated objective of destroying tunnels usedContinue Reading

Comparison of House & Senate Versions of the USA FREEDOM Act – CDT

“Today Senator Patrick Leahy introduced a new version of the USA FREEDOM Act. The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) supports the Senate version of the USA FREEDOM Act and urges Congress to pass the bill quickly without weakening it. This bill addresses many issues identified by CDT as problematic in the House version of the bill, and includes many key changesContinue Reading

National Taxpayer Advocate FY 2015 Objectives – Report

“To date, fiscal year (FY) 2014 has been an active year for the IRS. In addition to accepting the National Taxpayer Advocate’s proposal to adopt a Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR), the IRS ran a generally successful filing season (although taxpayer services were sub-optimal largely due to staffing limitations), instituted a more equitable approach toContinue Reading

Free Exercise of Religion by Closely Held Corporations – CRS

Free Exercise of Religion by Closely Held Corporations: Implications of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. Cynthia Brougher, Legislative Attorney. July 23, 2014 “One of the ongoing controversies related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been the scope of exemption from certain health care coverage requirements, including the contraceptive coverage requirement. Though closely divided, the U.S. Supreme Court’sContinue Reading

Why “Can’t Make Ends Meet” Trumps “Poverty”

Moyers & company: “This week, the Center for Community Change (CCC) released new research that details the way low-income Americans think and talk about living on the edge. It found that the language being used by policymakers and others to describe them is turning off the very people it is supposed to help. The project surveyed over 1,700Continue Reading

Obama Drone Order Fails to Safeguard Privacy

EPIC – “According to reports, President Obama is set to issue an executive order on drone privacy. The order would call for the development of voluntary best practices for the commercial use of drones. Senator Markey and Representative Welch immediately responded to the reports with a letter to the President urging “strong, enforceable rules – not voluntary bestContinue Reading

EFF Publishes New Whitepaper on the Broken Penalty System

EFF – “Today, the House Judiciary Committee [held] a hearing on “remedies” in copyright law—that is, the penalties, injunctions, and other means of challenging and penalizing alleged infringement. This is hugely important: fixing copyright’s remedy provisions (like excessive, unpredictable monetary penalties and government seizures of domain names) is key to ensuring that copyright does its job—helpingContinue Reading