from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2012, Issue No. 55
June 8, 2012

Secrecy News Blog:


The integration of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) needs to be expedited, the Senate Armed Services Committee said in its report on the FY2013 defense authorization bill last week.

"While progress has been made in the last 5 years, the pace of development must be accelerated; greater cross-agency collaboration and resource sharing will contribute to that objective," the Committee said.

A provision of the bill would encourage greater collaboration on drone integration among the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, and NASA.

"Large number of UASs now deployed overseas may be returned to the United States as the conflict in Afghanistan and operations elsewhere wind down in coming years, and new UASs are under development."

"Without the ability to operate freely and routinely in the NAS, UAS development and training-- and ultimately operational capabilities-- will be severely impacted," the Committee report said.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday approved an amendment to the 2013 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill that would prohibit DHS from acquiring or flying drones that have weapons onboard.

"None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the purchase, operation, or maintenance of armed unmanned aerial vehicles," says the provision sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ).

This prohibition, which is limited to DHS, is likely to be of no practical significance. "Has there ever been any plan to buy armed drones by Homeland Security?" asked Rep. Norm Dicks on the House floor yesterday. "No," replied Rep. Robert Aderholt.

Also yesterday, Rep. Scott Austin (R-GA) introduced a bill (HR 5925) "to protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles commonly called drones."


The U.S. military is placing too much emphasis on defense against cyber attacks when it should be developing offensive cyber capabilities, according to Sen. John McCain.

""I am very concerned that our strategy is too reliant on defensive measures in cyber space, and believe we need to develop the capability to go on the offense as well," Sen. McCain wrote in remarks appended to the Senate Armed Services Committee report on the FY 2013 defense authorization bill.

"I believe that cyber warfare will be the key battlefield of the 21st century, and I am concerned about our ability to fight and win in this new domain.

"I authored a provision in the bill that requires the commander of U.S. Cyber Command to provide a strategy for the development and deployment of offensive cyber capabilities."

"This provision to craft a comprehensive strategy should spur U.S. Cyber Command to develop this offensive capability effectively and at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer," Sen. McCain wrote.


"The Department of Justice has not taken the initiative to prosecute leaks of national security secrets," said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) at a House Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday.

Considering that the Justice Department in the Obama Administration has initiated an unprecedented number of leak prosecutions, Rep. Smith had it exactly wrong. But his remark illustrates the rampant confusion and the growing antagonism that surrounds the topic of leaks of classified information.

For some of the latest coverage, see:

"The 'Leak' Wars" by Josh Gerstein, Politico, June 8:

"Toobin: Obama has been 'very tough' on leakers" by Ashley Hayes, CNN, June 7:

"U.S. Attacks, Online and From the Air, Fuel Secrecy Debate" by Scott Shane, New York Times, June 7:


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

The Secrecy News blog is at:

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, go to:


OR email your request to

Secrecy News is archived at:

SUPPORT the FAS Project on Government Secrecy with a donation here: