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Category Archives: Defense

Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Background and Selected Options for Further Reform

EveryCRSReport.com – Congressional Oversight of Intelligence: Background and Selected Options for Further Reform, December 4, 2018: “Prior to the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) in 1976 and 1977, respectively, Congress did not take much interest in conducting oversight of the Intelligence Community (IC). The Subcommittees on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the congressional Armed Services Committees had nominal oversight responsibility, though Congress generally trusted that IC could more or less regulate itself, conduct activities that complied with the law, were ethical, and shared a common understanding of national security priorities. Media reports in the 1970s of the CIA’s domestic surveillance of Americans opposed to the war in Vietnam, in addition to the agency’s activities relating to national elections in Chile, prompted Congress to change its approach. In 1975, Congress established two select committees to investigate intelligence activities, chaired by Senator Frank Church in the Senate (the “Church Committee”), and Representative Otis Pike in the House (the “Pike Committee”). Following their creation, the Church and Pike committees’ hearings revealed the possible extent of the abuse of authority by the IC and the potential need for permanent committee oversight focused solely on the IC and intelligence activities. SSCI and HPSCI oversight contributed substantially to Congress’s work to legislate improvements to intelligence organization, programs, and processes and it enabled a more structured, routine relationship with intelligence agencies. On occasion this has resulted in Congress advocating on behalf of intelligence reform legislation that many agree has generally improved IC organization and performance. At other times, congressional oversight has been perceived as less helpful, delving into the details of programs and activities…

An oft-cited observation of the Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (i.e., the 9-11 Commission) that congressional oversight of intelligence is “dysfunctional” continues to overshadow discussion of whether Congress has done enough. Does congressional oversight enable the IC to be more effective, better funded and organized, or does it burden agencies by the sheer volume of detailed inquiries into intelligence programs and related activities? A central question for Congress is: Could additional changes to the rules governing congressional oversight of intelligence enable Congress to more effectively fund programs, influence policy, and legislate improvements in intelligence standards, organization and process that would make the country safer?..”

Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and the Use of Force by States

Deeks, Ashley and Lubell, Noam and Murray, Daragh, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and the Use of Force by States (November 16, 2018). 10 Journal of National Security Law & Policy (2019, Forthcoming); Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2018-63. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3285879 “Big data technology and machine learning techniques play a… Continue Reading

CRS Defense Primers

Via Secrecy News:  “Several short introductions to basic aspects of U.S. military policy have recently been updated by the Congressional Research Service. Intended for congressional consumers, they may also be useful to others.” Defense Primer: Organization of U.S. Ground Forces, CRS In Focus, updated November 16, 2018 Defense Primer: Special Operations Forces, CRS In Focus,… Continue Reading

Report – US Has Spent Six Trillion Dollars on Wars That Killed Half a Million People Since 9/11

Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, November 14, 2018 – “Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States government has spent and obligated more than $5.9 trillion on wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other places around the world, according to the Costs of War Project. Written by Boston University Professor… Continue Reading

The Pentagon’s Getting More Secretive and It’s Hurting National Security

Defense One: “At a time of rampant executive branch corruption and large increases in defense spending, Americans are rightly concerned about the need for governmental transparency. People deserve to know how their money is being used, and what life-or-death decisions the Pentagon bureaucracy is making in their names. As President Trump asks for more defense… Continue Reading

Report – American military advantage eroded

Providing for the Common Defense – The Assessments and Recommendations of the National Defense Strategy Commission November 13, 2018 / By: National Defense Strategy Commission. “The final report of the National Defense Strategy Commission is a compilation of the assessments of the National Defense Strategy and recommendations based on its analysis related not just to… Continue Reading

The British Army is carrying out a massive test of military robots and drones

The Future is Now…Technology Review – “The British Army is testing out over 70 new technologies, including unmanned vehicles and surveillance drones, in a four-week experiment on one of its biggest training grounds. What sort of stuff? The department isn’t giving out specifics but said the focus will be on “surveillance, long-range, and precision targeting,… Continue Reading

Deep Fakes: A Looming Challenge for Privacy, Democracy, and National Security

Chesney, Robert and Citron, Danielle Keats, Deep Fakes: A Looming Challenge for Privacy, Democracy, and National Security (July 14, 2018). 107 California Law Review (2019, Forthcoming); U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 692; U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-21. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3213954 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3213954 “Harmful lies are nothing… Continue Reading

DOD Just Beginning to Grapple with Scale of Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities

FCW.com: GAO hacks DOD weapons systems, calls out weak cyber Weapon Systems Cybersecurity: DOD Just Beginning to Grapple with Scale of Vulnerabilities. GAO-19-128: Published: Oct 9, 2018. Publicly Released: Oct 9, 2018. “DOD’s weapons are more computerized and networked than ever before, so it’s no surprise that there are more opportunities for attacks. Yet until… Continue Reading

Trump’s International Ratings Remain Low, Especially Among Key Allies

Most still want U.S. as top global power, but see China on the rise – “America’s global image plummeted following the election of President Donald Trump, amid widespread opposition to his administration’s policies and a widely shared lack of confidence in his leadership. Now, as the second anniversary of Trump’s election approaches, a new 25-nation… Continue Reading

Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2018

Lott, John R., Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2018 (August 14, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3233904 “Despite the expectations of many after the 2016 elections, the number of concealed handgun permits has increased for the second year in a row. In 2018, the number of concealed handgun permits soared to now over… Continue Reading

CRS – Gun Control: 3D-Printed AR-15 Lower Receivers

Gun Control: 3D-Printed AR-15 Lower Receivers August 22, 2018. IN10957 “The possibility that criminals could use three dimensional-printing (3D-printing) technology to produce “untraceable” firearms, including AR-15s, is an issue of growing concern for some lawmakers. It overlaps in part with the issue of 3D-printed “undetectable” firearms discussed in a previous Insight (CRS Insight IN10953, Gun… Continue Reading