FAS Roundup- February 6, 2012

FAS Roundup: February 6, 2012


Congress calls for accelerated use of drones, update on radioactive tissue boxes, federal agencies likely to miss 2013 declassification deadline and much more.

From the Blogs

  • Raven Rock and Continuity of Government: A newly revised U.S. Air Force directive on continuity of operations under emergency circumstances refers matter-of-factly to Raven Rock Mountain Complex, a largely restricted U.S. government facility in Pennsylvania. Also known as Site R, Raven Rock has been operational since 1953 for purposes of emergency communications, disaster relocation and recovery.  But most operations at the facility have been classified, and the facility itself was rarely mentioned in official publications during most of the past half century.
  • Congress Calls for Accelerated Use of Drones in U.S: A House-Senate conference report this week called on the Administration to accelerate the use of civilian unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or “drones,” in U.S. airspace. Steven Aftergood writes that the pending authorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration directs the Secretary of Transportation to develop within nine months “a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.”
  • Radioactive Tissue Boxes Redux:  Dr. Y updates readers on the radioactive tissue boxes which were sold at Bed Bath & Beyond, and shares a few issues of concern as a result of this incident.
  • Agencies are Likely to Miss 2013  Declassification Deadline: Over two years ago, President Obama set December 31, 2013 as the deadline to complete the declassification processing of a backlog of more than 400 million pages of classified historical records that were over 25 years old.  But judging from the limited progress to date, it now seems highly unlikely that the President’s directive will be fulfilled.

  • Specter of a “Hollow Force” Called Into Question:  Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and other officials have warned that if U.S. military spending is cut significantly, the unacceptable result would be a “a hollow force incapable of sustaining the missions it is assigned.” But a new critique from the Congressional Research Service suggests that the use of the term “hollow force” is inappropriate and unwarranted.
  • Pathological Junk Cargo Cult Voodoo and Just Plain Bad Science:  The term “junk science” has been used  in the political arena in regards to issues and debates- in that each side tries to bolster its arguments with scientific “theory” while attacking the others’ science as being junk. Dr. Y investigates the history and uses of this term on the ScienceWonk blog.
  • Some Historical Intelligence Satellite Imagery Declassified:  A handful of historical intelligence satellite images were declassified last month to coincide with a new display of the GAMBIT and HEXAGON spy satellites at the National Air Force Museum. These satellites were formally declassified last September on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the National Reconnaissance Office. At that time, the NRO released voluminous documentation on the development of those satellites.  But the associated imagery, which is held by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, was not  released.  Now a small number of satellite images have been made public. Steven Aftergood writes that the newly disclosed images are not originals, but are embedded in “posters” published by the NRO, and as such, researchers will not be able to conduct detailed analysis.

Volunteer Opportunity for DC Members

  • FAS will have a booth at the 2nd Annual USA Science and Engineering Festival which will be held on April 28-29 in Washington, DC. We are looking for volunteers to staff our booth-come share your knowledge and career experiences with festival attendees! If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Melanie Stegman at mstegman@fas.org.For more information on our booth and the festival, click here.    

FAS in the News

 

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