from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2010, Issue No. 90
November 10, 2010

Secrecy News Blog:


"Prompt global strike" refers to the possibility of destroying a target anywhere on Earth within minutes or hours using bombers, cruise missiles or ballistic missiles armed with conventional warheads. The prompt global strike mission and its various implications were examined in a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

Some argue that a conventional global strike capability could permit reduced U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons without diminishing deterrence. Others say that it would be destabilizing, especially since conventionally-armed ballistic missiles in flight would be indistinguishable from nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, and could therefore be easily misinterpreted as a nuclear strike.

Under the terms of the New START Treaty between Russia and the U.S., which is awaiting Senate consideration, conventionally-armed ballistic missiles would be permitted, despite initial opposition from Russia during negotiations. However, such missiles would still be counted along with nuclear-armed missiles under the Treaty's limits on deployed delivery systems.

All of these issues and more were carefully sorted out by CRS analyst Amy F. Woolf in "Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues," October 25, 2010:

The Congressional Research Service does not permit direct public access to its publications.


The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that led to the signing of the SALT I Treaty in 1972 were documented in exhaustive detail in the latest volume of the official State Department publication Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS).

The new FRUS volume, which is more than 1000 pages long, covers internal deliberations over U.S. arms control policy and strategy in the Nixon Administration, and the development, refinement, negotiation and ultimate approval of the SALT I Treaty.

"You cannot put large missiles into small holes," said Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev "very irritably," according to the transcript of a May 23, 1972 discussion on possible modification of existing missile silos. "It is more complicated than that," responded national security advisor Henry Kissinger.

Declassification review of this FRUS volume began in 2004 and was completed in 2010. It resulted in the withholding of 1 document in full, excisions of a paragraph or more in 9 documents, and excisions of less than a paragraph in 60 documents, as noted in the Preface.


"More and more prosecutions" under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act may be expected, said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer last month. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is intended to prevent and punish bribery of foreign officials by U.S. firms. "The executive branch appears to have increased oversight of suspected American businesses for alleged violations," according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service, noting that "there have been a number of settlements and indictments in 2010" involving violations of the Act. See "Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA): Congressional Interest and Executive Enforcement," October 21, 2010:

Another new CRS report uncovers the history of the mostly forgotten Joint Congressional Committee on Reduction of Non-Essential Expenditures, which was in existence from 1941-1974. Its purpose was to generate recommendations for the elimination of non-essential federal spending. Interest in the Committee has been revived because of the possibility that it could serve as a model for restraining federal spending today. But that possibility seems faint, since there is no evidence that the Committee had any tangible effect. "CRS research did not uncover instances [of spending cuts] that could be specifically attributed to a recommendation of the joint committee or documentation that attributed a specific cut in spending to a joint committee recommendation." See "History of the Joint Committee on Reduction of Non-Essential Federal Expenditures (1941-1974), with Observations on Oversight Today," October 26, 2010:

CRS updated its recent report on "Criminal Prohibitions on the Publication of Classified Defense Information" on October 18, 2010 to correct some minor factual errors and to make various editorial changes.

Copies of these reports were obtained by Secrecy News.


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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