from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2018, Issue No. 55
September 6, 2018
Secrecy News Blog: https://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/
REVIVING THE ROLE OF CRS IN CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT
The Congressional Research Service once played a prominent role in supporting oversight by congressional committees. Although that support has diminished sharply in recent years, it could conceivably be restored in a new Congress, writes former CRS analyst Kevin R. Kosar in a new paper.
In the past, CRS "closely assisted Congress in a myriad of major oversight efforts, including the Watergate investigation, the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, and the Iran-Contra affair."
But over time, Kosar writes, "CRS' role in oversight declined due to various factors, most of which were out of its control. Congress changed. Congressional committees, particularly in the House of Representatives, lost capacity, and hyper-partisanism turned much oversight into political point-scoring rather than an exercise in governing that required expert assistance."
See "The Atrophying of the Congressional Research Service's Role in Supporting Committee Oversight" by Kevin R. Kosar, Wayne Law Review, vol. 64:149, 2018.
"CRS does not have to passively accept this fate," said Kosar by email. His paper suggested various steps CRS could take to foster greater appreciation among committee leaders for the independent expertise CRS could provide.
CRS's "raison d'etre is to educate Congress, and it can engage its oversight and appropriations committees in a dialogue about the value of analysis and in-depth research. It can raise the issue of more extended oversight engagements and explain why they are valuable to Congress."
"It is good for Congress, good for CRS staff, and good for the public to have nonpartisan experts more frequently and more deeply engaged in oversight," he wrote.
Meanwhile, new and updated publications from CRS include the following.
Defense Primer: Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Contracts, CRS In Focus, September 4, 2018:
Federal Role in U.S. Campaigns and Elections: An Overview, September 4, 2018:
Securities Regulation and Initial Coin Offerings: A Legal Primer, updated August 31, 2018:
The "Flores Settlement" and Alien Families Apprehended at the U.S. Border: Frequently Asked Questions, updated August 28, 2018:
Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations, updated August 31, 2018:
Cuba: U.S. Policy in the 115th Congress, updated September 1, 2018:
U.N. Report Recommends Burmese Military Leaders Be Investigated and Prosecuted for Possible Genocide, CRS In Focus, September 4, 2018:
India: Religious Freedom Issues, updated August 30, 2018:
The Made in China 2025 Initiative: Economic Implications for the United States, CRS In Focus, updated August 29, 2018:
Questioning Judicial Nominees: Legal Limitations and Practice, updated August 30, 2018:
ARMY NEEDS INTELLIGENCE TO FACE "PEER THREATS"
U.S. Army operations increasingly depend on intelligence to help confront adversaries who are themselves highly competent, the Army said this week in a newly updated publication on military intelligence.
Future operations "will occur in complex operational environments against capable peer threats, who most likely will start from positions of relative advantage. U.S. forces will require effective intelligence to prevail during these operations." See Intelligence, Army Doctrine Publication 2-0, September 4, 2018.
The quality of U.S. military intelligence is not something that can be taken for granted, the Army document said.
"Despite a thorough understanding of intelligence fundamentals and a proficient staff, an effective intelligence effort is not assured. Large-scale combat operations are characterized by complexity, chaos, fear, violence, fatigue, and uncertainty. The fluid and chaotic nature of large-scale combat operations causes the greatest degree of fog, friction, and stress on the intelligence warfighting function," the document said.
"Intelligence is never perfect, information collection is never easy, and a single collection capability is never persistent and accurate enough to provide all of the answers."
The Army document provides a conceptual framework for integrating intelligence into Army operations. It updates a prior version from 2012 which did not admit the existence of "peer" adversaries and did not mention the word "cyberspace."
Some other recent U.S. military doctrine publications include the following.
Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, updated August 2018:
Foreign Internal Defense, Joint Publication 3-22, August 17, 2018:
Integrated DoD Intelligence Priorities, Directive-Type Memorandum (DTM) 15-004, September 3, 2015, Incorporating Change 2, Effective September 4, 2018:
Aircraft and ICBM Nuclear Operations, Air Force Instruction 13-520, 22 August 2018:
Implementation of, and Compliance with, Arms Control Agreements, SecNav Instruction 5710.23D, August 28, 2018:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.
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