from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2017, Issue No. 67
September 18, 2017

Secrecy News Blog:


Last month, a resolution (H.Res. 496) was introduced in the House of Representatives to "condemn and censure" President Trump for "his inadequate response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia." No action has been taken on the resolution, which was sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler and 77 Democratic colleagues.

The history of such resolutions of censure was reviewed last week by the Congressional Research Service.

On only four occasions has a censure resolution ever been passed by the House or Senate, CRS found, though numerous attempts have been made since 1800 when the House proposed to charge President John Adams with interfering in judicial proceedings. All of the last three presidents prior to Trump have been targets of censure resolutions that were not adopted.

See Resolutions Censuring the President: History and Context, 1st-114th Congresses, CRS Insight, September 14, 2017:

And see, relatedly: Congressional Consideration of Resolutions to "Censure" Executive Branch Officials, CRS Insight, September 14, 2017:

* * *

The ranks of qualified US Air Force pilots are being depleted due in part to increasing demand for commercial airline pilots, another new CRS publication reported. "According to current Air Force statistics, the service is 1,947 pilots short of its authorized strength," CRS said. See U.S. Air Force Pilot Shortage, CRS Insight, September 11, 2017:

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

Military Sexual Assault: A Framework for Congressional Oversight, September 12, 2017:

Unauthorized Childhood Arrivals: Legislative Options, CRS Insight, September 14, 2017:

Social Security: The Trust Funds, updated September 12, 2017:

Social Security: What Would Happen If the Trust Funds Ran Out?, updated September 12, 2017:

NASA Appropriations and Authorizations: A Fact Sheet, updated September 11, 2017:

Taylor Force Act: Palestinian Terrorism-Related Payments and U.S. Aid, CRS Insight, September 12, 2017:

CRISPR Gene Editing Research in Embryos Generates Scientific and Ethics Debate, CRS Insight, September 12, 2017:

Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, updated September 14, 2017:


Government oversight can take diverse forms even among Western democracies.

A new report from the Law Library of Congress surveys the mechanisms of parliamentary oversight of the executive branch in Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

In Sweden, for example, "Any member of the public may ask the JO [Justitieombudsman, or parliamentary ombudsman] to investigate a breach of law committed by an agency or employee. The complaint must be made in writing and cannot be anonymous."

The Law Library report does not provide comparative analysis, but simply presents a descriptive summary of each nation's government oversight practices, with links to additional resources. Any policy conclusions to be drawn are left to the reader.

See Parliamentary Oversight of the Executive Branch, Law Library of Congress, August 2017:


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

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