Joint Statement by the DOJ and the ODNI on the Declassification of the Resumption of Collection Under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act


Yesterday, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued an Opinion and Primary Order approving the government’s application to renew the Section 215 bulk telephony program.

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Document: Report to Congress on Virginia-Class Submarine Procurement


The following is the June 12, 2015 Congressional Research Service, Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress.

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UK’s Cameron vows ‘full-spectrum response’ after Tunisia beach attack (+video)


The number of Britons killed in a massacre at a resort Friday could climb as high as 30. The gunman, who was killed, posted support for Islamic State on Facebook page.

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Aegis Ambivalence: Navy, Hill Grapple Over Missile Defense Mission


Navy cruiser Lake Erie launches SM-3 IB missile 575519537757ad8b1368733557

WASHINGTON: Sometimes success is its own punishment. Shooting down ballistic missiles is one of the Navy’s most high-tech, high-profile capabilities — and it’s one of the most popular with Congress as well. But as demand for missile defense increases at what the Chief of Naval Operations has called an “unsustainable” pace, it’s an ever-greater burden

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Swedish Commander Says Russian Military Jets Fired Flares at Swedish Planes


Sweden’s top military commander says Russian fighter pilots are behaving in an increasingly aggressive manner in northern Europe, flying dangerously close to Swedish Air Force jets and in some cases even releasing flares at them.

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Why the Obama Administration Changed Its Hostage Policy


ASPEN, Colo.—After years of complaints about the federal government’s handling of cases involving Americans held hostage abroad, the Obama administration moved last week to overhaul its approach. That, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said on Monday, represented an acknowledgement by the administration that “we made mistakes; we weren’t doing as good a job as we could’ve.”

Families of hostages were largely left to their own devices, contacting various government agencies and receiving contradictory guidance and conflicting information. Rhodes spoke of “families who said, ‘I didn’t know who to call.’” This, he said, “made an already confusing and heartbreaking situation more difficult.”

Rhodes, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is organized by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, reviewed the three-part plan to improve the administration’s response. The first step stems from an understanding that, for many government officials, “if something is not their expressed mission, it does not get the focus it demands.” So the government is creating new posts and units dedicated to bringing hostages home. The second is a recognition that the people talking to the families weren’t actually trained, or equipped, to fulfill that role; the administration will appoint dedicated liaisons who are. And the third is a public clarification of an informal policy; the government won’t pay ransoms to terrorists, but neither will it prosecute families that do.

The new policies were announced last Wednesday, the same day that The New Yorker published Lawrence Wright’s searing account of the ordeal endured by the families of Kayla Mueller, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, Theo Padnos, and James Foley. Four of the five were held hostage by ISIS in Syria. “The families,” Wright wrote, “had largely lost faith in their government.”

David Bradley, the owner of Atlantic Media, which publishes The Atlantic, is at the center of Wright’s account. Bradley had previously helped secure Foley’s release from detention by the Qaddafi regime in Libya, and volunteered to coordinate the families’ efforts to free the five captives.

“We made changes,” said Rhodes. “Frankly, a lot of that benefited from David Bradley and the group of people he had working on these cases. David helped the families present to us their concerns in a way that was very useful.” Listening to their stories shifted the administration’s approach. “Everything we did grew out of those engagements with the families,” Rhodes added. “Hopefully we can get better.”

This article was originally published at http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/06/obama-hostage-policy/397283/


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World War III: Neither Imminent nor Impossible


Christopher Coker, The Improbable War: China, The United States and the Logic of Great Power Conflict (Oxford University Press, 2015).   Today, war between the…

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US Lifts Hold On Military Aid To Bahrain


US Lifts Hold On Military Aid To Bahrain After Crackdown

       
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MQ-1B lost over Syria was shot down


A U.S. Air Force MQ-1B went down over the Syrian town of Latakia on Mar. 17, the service now admits that the UAV was shot down.

MQ-1 Predator
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It was not clear whether Syrian government forces or ISIL brought down the aircraft.

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How to Stop States from ‘Weaponizing’ Nuclear Programs


Mark Hibbs

Global Governance,

he NPT doesn’t expressly ban states from doing the math and science and engineering needed to ‘weaponize’ nuclear material into an explosive device.” This needs to change.

Long before a final Iran nuclear agreement was on the horizon, plans have been afoot to generalize the hoped-for results of diplomacy far beyond the borders of the Islamic Republic. If these ideas bear fruit, after an Iran deal happens, most of the world’s nations will commit not to do things that are critical for building nuclear arms.

Of the 185 non-nuclear weapons state parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), nearly all countries with significant nuclear infrastructure have concluded safeguards agreements permitting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify that they are not producing or diverting plutonium and uranium for weapons. But the NPT doesn’t expressly ban states from doing the math and science and engineering needed to “weaponize” nuclear material into an explosive device.

The IAEA’s Iran dossier suggests that for many years, scientists guided by Iran’s military worked on nuclear weapons development. Because a diplomatic settlement of the crisis must reduce Iran’s nuclear threat to be credible, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) negotiating with Iran want Iran to divulge what it knows about weapons-making, giving the IAEA and the powers a better baseline to monitor Iran’s NPT peaceful-use commitment.  

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