Posts from October, 2010

Federal Conspiracy Law, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service that have not been made readily to the public include the following (all pdf).

“North Korea: Legislative Basis for U.S. Economic Sanctions,” September 29, 2010.

“China’s Sovereign Wealth Fund: Developments and Policy Implications,” September 23, 2010.

“Defense: FY2011 Authorization and Appropriations,” September 17, 2010.

“Federal Conspiracy Law: A Brief Overview,” April 30, 2010.

Slow Progress, Setbacks Seen in Afghanistan, Pakistan

A White House report to Congress (pdf) last week assessed “both positive and negative trends in the implementation of our Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy.”

The report described the progress — or lack thereof — made this year towards achieving eight specified objectives. Those objectives include enhancing stability and civilian control in Pakistan, improving Pakistan’s counterinsurgency capabilities, and reversing the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, among others. (The disruption of terrorist networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan was addressed in an undisclosed classified annex.)

The report was quite candid in its judgments. “Afghan anti-corruption efforts continue to be weak.” The security situation in Pakistan is “tenuous.” The Pakistani military has demonstrated an “inability” to maintain control of areas it seized from insurgents. During the second quarter of this year, “the Pakistan military continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or al-Qa’ida forces in North Waziristan. This is as much a political choice as it is a reflection of an under-resourced military prioritizing its targets.”

Paradoxically, there is something encouraging about the new report since it indicates that U.S. government officials are not actively deluding themselves or deceiving others about the difficult realities of the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The White House report to Congress was first reported in the Wall Street Journal (“U.S. Slams Pakistani Efforts on Militants” by Adam Entous and Siobhan Gorman, October 6) but the document itself was not made readily available to the public. A copy is now posted on the Federation of American Scientists website here.

Army Seeks Increased Awareness of Subversion, Leaks

A U.S. Army regulation (pdf) issued yesterday requires Army personnel to report any incident on a newly expanded list of possible indications of “espionage, international terrorism, sabotage, subversion” as well as “leaks to the media.”

“The Army is a prime target for foreign intelligence and international terrorist elements… from within and OCONUS [outside the continental United States],” the regulation states. “The Army also faces threats from persons on the inside… who may compromise the ability of the organization to accomplish its mission through espionage, acts of terrorism, support to international terrorist organizations, or unauthorized release or disclosure of classified or sensitive information.”

The regulation presents an extensive description of suspicious behaviors that are reportable to authorities, including “attempts to expand access to classified information by repeatedly volunteering for assignments or duties beyond the normal scope of responsibilities.”

It also provides guidance on how to respond to the discovery of a clandestine surveillance device (“do not disturb the device”) or an approach by a foreign intelligence officer (“remain noncommittal, neither refusing nor agreeing to cooperate”;  also, “do not, under any circumstances, conduct your own investigation”).

The regulation includes tables listing behavior that may be exhibited by a person engaged in espionage, indicators of insider threats of terrorism, and signs of extremist activity that may pose a threat to U.S. military facilities or operations. See “Threat Awareness and Reporting Program,” U.S. Army Regulation 381-12, October 4, 2010.  (The prior edition of this regulation, formerly titled “Subversion and Espionage Directed Against the U.S. Army (SAEDA)” and dated January 15, 1993, is available here.)

Operation Dark Heart: The Aftermath

The Pentagon’s heavy-handed attempt to censor the new Afghanistan war memoir “Operation Dark Heart” by Anthony Shaffer has predictably turned a volume of narrow, specialized interest into a mainstream bestseller.

It has also focused attention on just what information the government was seeking to conceal, and why.  For a review of the material that was blacked out in the second edition of the book, see “Censored book masks sensitive operations” by Sean D. Naylor, Army Times, October 4.  A side-by-side view of the book’s Index, in censored and uncensored formats, is here (pdf).

The Helium-3 Shortage, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following (all pdf).

“The Helium-3 Shortage: Supply, Demand, and Options for Congress,” September 21, 2010.

“China’s Steel Industry and Its Impact on the United States: Issues for Congress,” September 21, 2010.

“Authority of State and Local Police to Enforce Federal Immigration Law,” September 17, 2010.

“Statutory Damage Awards in Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Cases Involving Copyrighted Sound Recordings: Recent Legal Developments,” September 16, 2010.