Tuesday, February 28, 2006

U.S. Coast Guard Memo on Port Security

As has been discussed in the media (see an article in today's Washington Post) the sale of operations at six U.S. ports to United Arab Emirates owned Dubai Ports World is undergoing review. The reviewing agency that conducted the initial review is the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. They have a variety of documents on the Dubai Ports World transaction, such as a history of the initial review. FindLaw has a copy of a U.S. Coast Guard memo discussing intelligence gaps that they felt were not meet.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

While House report on Katrina response

The White House report on the federal government's flawed response to Hurricane Katrina was released today by Frances Fragos Townsend, the homeland security adviser to President Bush. Citing too much reliance on the insufficient resources and poor management of the Department of Homeland Security, the report calls for the Departments of Defense, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Health and Human Services to assume greater roles in responding to terrorist attacks and natural disasters. http://www.whitehouse.gov/reports/katrina-lessons-learned/

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Government classifying documents

As reported in the New York Times article, "U.S. Reclassifies Many Documents in Secret Review," some government agencies have been searching documents sent to the National Archives and reclassifying previously publicly available material. The independent group, National Security Archive, has been monitoring this reclassification and has put some of the withdrawn documents up on their web site. If you are interested in declassified government documents, check out our subject guide, which has links to many freely available sources. We also subscribe to two databases that contain declassified documents, the Declassified Documents Reference Service and the Digital National Security Archive, these databases are only accessible to people affiliated with CU-Boulder.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Peacekeeping: Cost Comparison of Actual UN and Hypothetical U.S. Operations in Haiti

The Government Accountability Office, at the request of Congress, conducts research on how the government spends taxpayer dollars. They just released an report comparing how much it would cost the U.S. versus the UN to run a peacekeeping mission in Haiti. The full 32-page report shows that it would cost the U.S. almost twice as much as the UN to run the current mission in Haiti. For a quick overview of the report, see the 1-page summary.

Monday, February 20, 2006

First orbit of the earth

On February 20, 1962 (44 years ago today) John H. Glenn, Jr. became the first man to orbit the earth. Want to read the in-flight communication between Glenn and Mission Control in Florida? The National Archives has digitized this document at the Our Documents web site, which contains 100 milestone documents in American history. If you want to learn more about the early space program, check out Mercury: America's First Space Program on the NASA web site.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

UN report on Guantanamo Bay detention center

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights released a report today urging the United States to shut down it's detention center at Guantanamo Bay. They issued a 54-page report, in their summary they state:
"that the persons held at Guantanamo Bay are entitled to challenge the legality of their detention before a judicial body and to obtain release if detention is found to lack a proper legal basis. The continuing detention of all persons held at Guantanamo Bay amounts to arbitrary detention, they state, adding that -- where criminal proceedings are initiated against a detainee -- the executive branch of the United States Government operates as judge, prosecutor and defence counsel in violation of various guarantees of the right to a fair trial."
Scott McCellan, White House Press Secretary, responded to the report today in his press briefing. He focused on the United Nations decision not to go to Guantanamo Bay, with two responses: 1st response and 2nd response.

The Internet in China

The Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the House International Relations Committee held a hearing on the Internet in China yesterday. Major Internet companies such as Yahoo, Microsoft and Google defended the compromises they made to advance their business interests because of China's censorship policies. The Subcommittee has made available the written statements of the witnesses, as well as a webcast video of the hearing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff

As we mentioned in last Friday's post, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is testifying today before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. If you want to read the prepared statements, you can at: http://hsgac.senate.gov/index.cfm?Fuseaction=Hearings.Detail&HearingID=322. To watch the hearing you can go to CSPAN's Hurricane Aftermath page, although the video will not be available online until 6pm CST.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Katrina Response

As reported in the media today (read or listen to NPR's coverage online) the House's report investigating the government's response to Katrina is to be released Wednesday. The minority Democrat's have already released their response to the report, which can be found on Rep. Charlie Melancon's (D-LA) web site. When the majority report of the committee is available we will post it to this blog.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Ex-FEMA director Michael Brown testifies on Katrina response

Former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs today. Brown alleged that he notified top Department of Homeland Security officials about the levee breaches in New Orleans the day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Also testifiying before the committee today were Patrick L. Rhode, Former FEMA Acting Deputy Director and Chief of Staff; Robert B. Stephan, Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection, Department of Homeland Security and Matthew Broderick, Director for Operations Coordination, Department of Homeland Security. The committee has archived the hearing for viewing. Next Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff will testify before the committee.

"Trial of Saddam Hussein" web site

The Law Library of Congress has released a new web site, the Trial of Saddam Hussein, through which the Library will monitor, analyze and report legal developments related to the relevant trials. Included on the web site is information on the tribunal and the legal process, as well as a bibliography of reference materials.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Rocky Flats

In 2000 the U.S. government formed a compensation program to "provide for timely, uniform, and adequate compensation of covered employees and, where applicable, survivors of such employees, suffering from illnesses incurred by such employees in the performance of duty for the Department of Energy (DOE) and certain of its contractors and subcontractors." The Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health is in charge of administering this program. At a recent meeting this board discussed how the matrix determining who is affected by radiation at Rocky Flats might be effected by the S. Cohen & Associates report. This report discusses the site profile and some deficiencies therein, such as a failure to account for higher exposures to parts of body not near dosimeters and incorrect calculations used to determine the amount of plutonium lodged in the lungs.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Gonzales challenged on domestic spying

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was on the hot seat yesterday, when he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on whether President Bush went too far when he authorized the National Security Agency's surveillance operations. Read his testimony on the Committee's web-site. You can also view the webcast of the hearing on the same page.

Budget of the United States '07 revealed

The President's budget plan for next year arrived on Capitol Hill yesterday. The $2.77 trillion budget forecasts a record $423 billion deficit. While defense gets a 6.9% increase, 141 mostly domestic programs will be slashed or killed for savings of almost $15 billion. You can find the Budget of the United States - Fiscal Year '07 on the GPO access website: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy07/index.html

Monday, February 06, 2006

Wiretap Deja Vu

The National Security Archive has just posted an electronic briefing book, Electronic Surveillance: From the Cold War to Al-Qaeda. Included are historic documents from the Church Committee investigations of intelligence abuses, National Security Agency documents underlining the limits imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and the Fourth Amendment on surveilling U.S. persons, and two studies by the Office of Technology Assessment on the challenges of electronic surveillance and civil liberties in a digital age. Also made available are secret Justice Department reports from June 1976 and March 1977 on the potential criminal liability of the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency for several secret investigations. The Archive's posting was compiled by senior fellow, Dr. Jeffrey Richelson. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB178/index.htm

Friday, February 03, 2006

Quadrennial Defense Review Report

Every four years the Department of Defense releases the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which is required by 10 U.S.C. 118. This code requires the secretary of defense to" conduct a comprehensive examination ... of the national defense strategy, force structure, force modernization plans, infrastructure, budget plan, and other elements of the defense program and policies of the United States with a view toward determining and expressing the defense strategy of the United States and establishing a defense program for the next 20 years." This is the first QDR conducted in during a time or war, for quick information from the Department of Defense check out the QDR web site. This site links to the QDR from 2001 and 1997, as well as other related items, such as the National Defense Strategy.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Hurricane Katrina

Comptroller General David M. Walker of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a statement yesterday on the government's preparedness and response to Hurricane Katrina. It is critical of the government's response, for an analysis of the report, check out the the Washington Post article "Administration faulted on Katrina" (may require free registration). To see what the White House says go to: http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/hurricane/. To see what the Department of Homeland Security says go to: http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/katrina.htm.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

State of the Union address

Seal of the President of the United States
Last night George W. Bush gave his fifth State of the Union address. If you would rather watch it, you can watch using Windows Media or Real Media. Want to see the Democrat's response? C-SPAN has it on video, as does the Washington Post. The C-SPAN site even has the State of the Union addresses all the way back to Harry S. Truman's address in 1945, given the day after Franklin Delano Roosevelt was laid to rest.