from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2017, Issue No. 23
March 28, 2017

Secrecy News Blog:


The US Air Force should practice an information policy of "maximum disclosure, minimum delay," says a newly revised Air Force directive. See Air Force Instruction 35-107, Public Web and Social Communication, 15 March 2017:

"The free flow of information between the government and the public is essential to a democratic society. It is also essential that the government minimize the federal paperwork burden on the public, minimize the cost of its information activities and maximize the usefulness of government information," the Instruction said.

Information that is classified, inaccurate, or obscene is not to be posted. But Air Force websites should maintain online reading rooms for information "that has been requested via FOIA or could be requested via FOIA."

Furthermore, "the Air Force views personal Web sites and weblogs positively, and it respects the right of Airmen to use them as a medium of self-expression."

By itself, the new policy does not mean that the Air Force is now practicing maximum disclosure or that it will necessarily do so in the future. The policy is not self-enforcing.

Still, it represents an official statement of Air Force values, and it therefore provides a point of leverage that can be used by anyone, in the service or among the public, who would seek to uphold those values in practice.

The new version of the Instruction contrasts with the previous version of AFI 35-107 that was released in 2009 and that took a notably less upbeat and more restrictive approach to public disclosure of Air Force information.


Sometimes eating bugs may be the right thing to do.

"When food is limited and insects are available, they can become a valuable food source."

That bit of practical wisdom comes from a new US Air Force Handbook on Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) Operations that was published this week.

However, "Caterpillars with hairs should be avoided. If eaten, the hairs may become lodged in the throat causing irritation or infection."

More promisingly, "The praying mantis. . . contains 58 percent protein, 12 percent fat, three percent ash, vitamin B complex, and vitamin A. The insect's outer skeleton is an interesting compound of sugar and amino acids."

The Air Force Handbook addresses the needs of an Air Force individual who has been captured or otherwise isolated by accident or operational mishap. Whatever his or her mission may have been before, the new mission immediately becomes to "return to friendly control without giving aid or comfort to the enemy, to return early and in good physical and mental condition."

The 652-page Handbook provides detailed guidance on how, with good fortune, that might be accomplished.

The military SERE program became somewhat notorious in recent years because early post-9/11 CIA interrogation techniques such as water-boarding were derived in part from SERE training. The new Air Force SERE Handbook makes only passing reference to torture and interrogation and does not mention water-boarding.


Former President Barack Obama "is gearing up to throw himself into the wonky and highly partisan issue of redistricting, with the goal of reversing the electoral declines Democrats experienced under his watch," the Washington Post and other news outlets reported this week.

The legal framework governing redistricting is discussed in a new report from the Congressional Research Service. See Congressional Redistricting Law: Background and Recent Court Rulings, March 23, 2017:

Other new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

Pipeline Security: Recent Attacks, CRS Insight, updated March 21, 2017:

A Shift in the International Security Environment: Potential Implications for Defense--Issues for Congress, updated March 23, 2017:

State and Local "Sanctuary" Policies Limiting Participation in Immigration Enforcement, March 23, 2017:

Stafford Act Assistance and Acts of Terrorism, March 22, 2017:

The Financial Action Task Force: An Overview, updated March 23, 2017:

Issues with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, March 24, 2017:

Commercial Truck Safety: Overview, March 21, 2017:

Collective Bargaining and the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute: Selected Legal Issues, March 21, 2017:

An Overview of Accreditation of Higher Education in the United States, updated March 23, 2017:

Budget Actions in 2017, March 22, 2017:

Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations, updated March 24, 2017:

Navy Virginia (SSN-774) Class Attack Submarine Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress, updated March 22, 2017:

Navy Columbia Class (Ohio Replacement) Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN[X]) Program: Background and Issues for Congress, updated March 22, 2017:


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: