from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2018, Issue No. 66
November 5, 2018

Secrecy News Blog:


Last February, the Secretary of Defense initiated three new classified anti-terrorist operations intended "to degrade al Qaeda and ISIS-affiliated terrorists in the Middle East and specific regions of Africa."

A glimpse of the new operations was provided in the latest quarterly report on the U.S. anti-ISIS campaign, from the Inspectors General of the Department of Defense, Department of State, and US Agency for International Development.

The three classified programs are known as Operation Yukon Journey, the Northwest Africa Counterterrorism overseas contingency operation, and the East Africa Counterterrorism overseas contingency operation.

Detailed oversight of these programs is effectively led by the DoD Office of Inspector General rather than by Congress.

"To report on these new contingency operations, the DoD OIG submitted a list of questions to the DoD about topics related to the operations, including the objectives of the operations, the metrics used to measure progress, the costs of the operations, the number of U.S. personnel involved, and the reason why the operations were declared overseas contingency operations," the joint IG report said.

DoD provided classified responses to some of the questions, which were provided to Congress.

But "The DoD did not answer the question as to why it was necessary to designate these existing counterterrorism campaigns as overseas contingency operations or what benefits were conveyed with the overseas contingency operation designation."

Overseas contingency operations are funded as "emergency" operations that are not subject to normal procedural requirements or budget limitations.

"The DoD informed the DoD OIG that the new contingency operations are classified to safeguard U.S. forces' freedom of movement, provide a layer of force protection, and protect tactics, techniques, and procedures. However," the IG report noted, "it is typical to classify such tactical information in any operation even when the overall location of an operation is publicly acknowledged."

"We will continue to seek answers to these questions," the IG report said.


Under the 25th amendment to the Constitution, a U.S. President could be declared "disabled" and removed from office against his will by the Vice President acting together with a majority of the Cabinet.

A new report from the Congressional Research Service details the background and provisions of the amendment.

Proponents of the 25th amendment insisted that it was "not intended to facilitate the removal of an unpopular or failed President," and that safeguards were in place to prevent abuse.

While Presidents have voluntarily and temporarily declared themselves disabled on three occasions -- in 1985, 2002 and 2007 -- the provisions for involuntary removal from office have never been implemented. See Presidential Disability Under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Constitutional Provisions and Perspectives for Congress, November 5, 2018:

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

The Citizenship Clause and "Birthright Citizenship": A Brief Legal Overview, CRS Legal Sidebar, November 1, 2018:

Internships, Fellowships, and Other Work Experience Opportunities in the Federal Government, updated November 1, 2018:

U.S. Trade Policy Functions: Who Does What?, CRS In Focus, November 1, 2018:

U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians, updated November 2, 2018:

The 2020 Decennial Census: Overview and Issues, CRS In Focus, October 31, 2018:

Implementation of Treasury's New Customer Due Diligence Rule: A Step Toward Beneficial Ownership Transparency?, CRS In Focus, October 31, 2018:

U.S. Ground Forces Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) and Artificial Intelligence (AI): Considerations for Congress, November 1, 2018:


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: