Steven Aftergood: New from CRS

Steven Aftergood

Steven Aftergood

China’s Currency Policy: An Analysis of the Economic Issues, July 22, 2013

International Illegal Trade in Wildlife: Threats and U.S. Policy, July 23, 2013

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Natural Resource Damage Assessment Under the Oil Pollution Act, July 24, 2013

Analysis of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), July 22, 2013

Proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP): In Brief, July 23, 2013

Hague Convention Treaty on Recovery of International Child Support and H.R. 1896, July 15, 2013

Kazakhstan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests, July 22, 2013

CRS Reports (Index)

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Jul 25

Steven Aftergood: CRS on Transparency

Steven Aftergood


President Obama’s declared goal of making his “the most transparent Administration in history” generated successive waves of enthusiasm, perplexity, frustration, and mockery as public expectations of increased openness and accountability were lifted sky high and then — often, not always — thwarted.

Every Administration including this one presides over the release of more government information than did its predecessors, if only because more information is created with the passage of time and there is more that can be released.  But President Obama seemed to promise more than this.  What was it?

Part of the problem is definitional.

“Although there are laws that affect access to government information, there is no single definition for what constitutes transparency– nor is there an agreed upon way to measure it,” observes a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

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Nov 13

Steven Aftergood: CRS on Poverty and on Intelligence

Steven Aftergood


“In 2011, 46.2 million people were counted as poor in the United States, the same number as in 2010 and the largest number of persons counted as poor in the measure’s 53-year recorded history,” according to a timely new report from the Congressional Research Service.  See Poverty in the United States: 2011, September 13, 2012.

Other new and newly updated CRS reports that have not been made publicly available include the following.

Intelligence Authorization Legislation: Status and Challenges, updated September 18, 2012

Latin America and the Caribbean: Fact Sheet on Leaders and Elections, updated September 17, 2012

Phi Beta Iota:  The juxtaposition of a report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on poverty in America – a hot issue being kept under wraps at this time – with a report on the intelligence authorization bill by two experienced analysts new to the account (Richard Best finally retired and Al Cumin is on assigment elsewhere), is encouraging.  In the latter instance, Richard F. Grimmett (CRS International Security analyst) and Rebecca S. Lange (an Air Force Fellow) demonstrate intelligence with integrity in tackling the militarization of intelligence and the excessive focus of intelligence on defense targets to the exclusion of all others (Whole of Government).

See Also:

Graphic: Intelligence Requirements Definition for the 21st Century

2008 Rebalancing the Instruments of National Power–Army Strategy Conference of 2008 Notes, Summary, & Article

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Sep 19

Reference: CRS on Reducing the Budget Deficit

April 22, 2011 – R41778

The budget deficit (the difference between outlays and revenues) each year from 2009 to 2011 has been the highest ever in dollar terms and significantly higher as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) than in any other year since World War II. The budget is not projected to be on a sustainable path under current policy, in the sense that it would cause the federal debt to continuously grow more quickly than GDP. While there has been no difficulty financing the deficit to date, at some point, investors could refuse to continue to finance deficits that they believed were unsustainable. As one example of the policy changes that would return the budget to a sustainable path, CRS estimates that to stabilize debt as a share of GDP at its 2011 level would require budget deficits averaging no more than 2.5% to 3% of GDP over the next 10 years. In dollar terms, this would amount to a deficit of about $400 billion in 2012, rising to about $550 billion in 2015. Under a current policy baseline, the deficit would decline from more than 9% of GDP in 2011 to 5% of GDP in 2014, and rise to 6% of …

Phi Beta Iota:  What many do not know is that CRS — as good as its people are — is constrained by corrupt Congressional mandates on what its operating assumptions will be.  The sucking chest wound in this report is the assumption that US GDP will continue to grow.  Our crude lay estimate is that it will collapse in 2013-2014 and there will be a decade-long slump during which localized resilience endeavors and alternative forms of monetary exchange will go completely off the financial charts.

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Feb 22

Reference: Smart Nation Act (Simplified) 2011

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Original Online (.doc 1 page)

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Aug 17

Reference: Federal Support for Academic Research

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Full Text Online (PDF, Secrecy News)

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Aug 4

Reference: American War and Military Casualty Lists & Statistics

Berto Jongman Recommends...

Phi Beta Iota: The below reference is of human interest, but lacks context.  Three major follow-on studies are needed, if someone can find a Member of Congress willing to ask for them:

1.  Actual number of amputations including number of limbs per person amputated.

2.  Suicides both while in service and post separation or retirement.

3.  Follow-On Gulf War Syndrome and other self-inflicted bio-chemical-radiological wounds and conditions sustained in relation to depleted uranium and other toxic by-products associated with conventional munitions.

There is another point that CRS needs to look into, this one most ably emphasized by MG Robert Scales, as documented the Notes of his 27 September 2010 presentation at the Brookings Institute:

His focus is on the reality that 4% of the “total force,” the engaged infantry, bear 80-81% of the total casualties, but receive less than 1% of the over-all acquisitions and training budget.  He calls this, rather memorably, a “cosmic incongruity.”

Full Source Online (30 Pages)

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Dec 19

Reference: The Fraud-Based US Economy

Chuck Spinney Recommends...

The attached blog,  ”Failing to Prosecute Wall Street Fraud Is Extending Our Economic Problems,”

is a cut-and-paste accumulation of a variety of outlooks. Most are  based on analyses or accumulated wisdom, but some appear based on hunches, ideologies, etc.  Taken together, however, they paint a horrifying picture of the American political economy and our prospects for the future.  Moreover, that picture does not change materially if you throw half of the pastings away.  While the implications of fraud, per se, are clear, the horrifying picture of what is happening emerges when one tries to generalize on the description.

The anonymous guest author is telling us, in effect, that the neural network of our political-economy — i.e., the information system that provides the wherewithal for implicit and explicit homeostatic guidance and control – - has become so corrupted by fraud and disinformation that a pervasive atmosphere of confusion, menace, fear, mistrust, and alienation is breaking down the system into non-co-operative activities, thereby creating a kind of paralysis of will that, left unchecked, will prolong and deepen our economic crisis. <

One psychologist insightfully likened the situation to trauma and post traumatic stress disorder on a national scale.

Any student of Colonel Boyd’s theory [1] of competition and conflict (Patterns of Conflict) and his idea of the OODA loop will immediately recognize the symptoms of confusion, menace, fear, mistrust, and alienation, expressed below.  These are the emergent properties of decision cycles, or Observation – Orientation – Decision – Action (OODA) Loops, that have been folded back inside themselves and have become focused inward and are disconnected from their environments, but connected to some kind of internal dynamic that feeds on itself. Of course, Boyd was discussing military strategy and the art of winning by wrecking his adversary’s OODA loops to undermine his adversary’s organic cohesion, while preventing his adversary from doing the same thing to him.

Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to dismiss his ideas as applying only to the art of war.  That is because Boyd’s aim was to describe in a generalized sense how the human mind works in any conflict involving a clash of independent wills, what the mind’s  strengths and weaknesses are, and how these strengths and weaknesses play out in the competition that is the essence of life.

So, it should not be surprising that many politicians, businessmen, and scholars  have recognized that Boyd’s general ideas can be tailored to any kind of competition or game (just google “OODA loop”) and have sought gain by exploiting these ideas against others.  Most people, however, instinctively evolve  similar if less well defined ideas, because if Boyd’s synthesis of the OODA loop is correct, these dynamics are innate in the evolved wiring of left and right hemispheres of our brains [2], and therefore will exhibit their outward manifestations in repetitive patterns in conflicts over time — which brings back to the tapestry of confusion, menace, fear, mistrust, and alienation and the counter weights that are necessary to overcome them.

Viewed through the lens of Boyd’s theory of competition and conflict, the attached blog clarifies one question about the players in the economic game in particular: The information assembled below clearly shows who is the hoser and who is the hosee.

One final point, history has shown that once an nation’s political-economic OODA loops become infected by the virus of corrupted information it is very very hard to clean it out.  The hosing will continue unless ruthless action roots it out, otherwise, we will experience continued disintegration ending in a sudden collapse, like what happened to Rome on a grand time scale or to France’s Third Republic [3] on a more tangible time scale.

With this background in mind, now read the attached blog and draw you own conclusions about what is needed to re-oreint the corrupted political-economic OODA loops that are leading America to ruin.

[1] A short bio of  Boyd and his theories as well as the briefing slides he used to explain his theories can be found in the Boyd folder here.  Robert Coram’s excellent biography of Boyd and his theories can be found here.

[2] See, for example, my analysis of how Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton and John McCain here.

[3]  William L. Shirer’s Collapse of the Third Republic, is a case study in how the dry rot of inward focus in the 1930s set France up for its sudden collapse in during the German invasion of May 1940.  His description of how the flow information among the military and political leaders became corrupted during the invasion is a microcosm of how inwardly focused OODA loops, lubricate by menace, mistrust, and fear result inevitably in the breakdown of cohesion, paralysis, chaos, and collapse.


ATTACHED BELOW THE LINE IN FULL for Information Availability Assurance Into the Future

Failing to Prosecute Wall Street Fraud Is Extending Our Economic Problems

Posted By Guest Author On December 15, 2010 @ 8:30 am In Think Tank

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Dec 16

Reference: CRS 2010 Intelligence Issues for Congress


29 Pages Online

Tip of the Hat to Gary Price at LinkedIn.

Phi Beta Iota: This is of passing interest as an overview of what people are thinking about at the shallowest possible level in relation to the Wall Street/Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex (MICC).

STRIKE ONE: The document still does not understand that overt Human Intelligence (HUMINT) is 90% of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), or that OSINT is a discipline in its own right as well as an interactive element of any properly-managed classified discipline (none are).

STRIKE TWO: The document fails to represent the near-total failure of the US Intelligence Community to meet the needs of all consumers below the level of President, and does not appear to recognize the sharp negative assessments of General Tony Tiny (4% “at best”) or General Mike Flynn (“irrelevant”).

STRIKE THREE: The document fails to present Congress with the deeply documented alternatives to unilateral top-down very expensive technical-collection driven secret intelligence, and it especially fails to outline the immediate possibilities of the Open Source Agency (OSA) as called for in the 9-11 Commission Report on pages 23 and 423 (but under diplomatic auspices), or the integrated elements of that agency, the Strategy Center advocated by General Tony Zinni and the Multinational Decision Support Centre proposed by comprehensive architect Robert Steele.

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Dec 1

References: Frog Loves FAS & CRS

We have always held the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), and its prime mover Steve Aftergood, in the highest esteem.  As we have been building this new site for the public, we have noticed others stealing from FAS and relabeling materials downloaded from FAS as their own.  This is unethical and disqualifies any site so doing from being considered a public service.

Our policy is to always link to persistent URLs offered by others.  We only create safety copies when there is a high probability the existing URL will not be persistent.  Below is a Valentine from Frog to FAS (and to CRS, which may one day grow up to be a public service, not just a shallow pond for Members to dip their toes into diluted substance).  Frog links to the FAS CRS master page.

Frog Loves FAS-CRS

Frog Loves FAS-CRS

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Aug 7