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A Relevant Risk Approach to Mental Health Inquiries in Question 21 of the Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86)

April 24, 2015 Comments off

A Relevant Risk Approach to Mental Health Inquiries in Question 21 of the Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

Background
Individuals vetted by the government for initial or continuing eligibility to access classified information must fill out a personnel security questionnaire as part of a screening process designed to identify those who are not likely to be trustworthy, reliable , or loyal to the United States. Question 21 in the Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF – 86) asks applicants if they have consulted with a mental health professional in the last 7 years , with certain groups exempted . This approach identifies too many individuals for investigative follow – up who do not have a mental health condition that pose s an unacceptable risk , and likely misses other at – risk individuals . Disagreements over the goal, effectiveness , and adverse consequences ( e.g., stigmatizing the use of mental health services ) associated with this question have resulted in previous Question 21 wording changes but have not significantly resolved concerns.

Highlights
A proposed “r elevant r isk ” approach to Question 21 — focusing only on standardized clinical conditions that could pose a security risk as well as mental health related hospitalizations — would not represent an obstacle to mental health care for the vast majority of personnel and would be consistent with Department of Defense ( DoD ) policy to foster a culture of support with respect to mental he alth. This approach would reduce the costs associated with unnecessary Q uestion 21 follow – up investigative work, as well as much of the stigma – related adverse consequences associated with the current Q uestion 21. At the same time , the “relevant risk” appro ach would identify more effectively the small number of individuals with mental health conditions that may pose security risks. In addition, t his report evaluates the benefits for both security and clinical care for having separate professionals conduct se curity fitness evaluations vice individuals’ mental health treatment.

Carter Unveils New DoD Cyber Strategy in Silicon Valley

April 24, 2015 Comments off

Carter Unveils New DoD Cyber Strategy in Silicon Valley
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

Defense Secretary Ash Carter today unveiled the Defense Department’s second cyber strategy to guide the development of DoD’s cyber forces and to strengthen its cyber defenses and its posture on cyber deterrence.

Carter discussed the new strategy — an update to the original strategy released in 2011 — before an audience at Stanford University on the first day of a two-day trip to Silicon Valley in California.

Deterrence is a key part of the new cyber strategy, which describes the department’s contributions to a broader national set of capabilities to deter adversaries from conducting cyberattacks, according to a fact sheet about the strategy.

The department assumes that the totality of U.S. actions — including declaratory policy, substantial indications and warning capabilities, defensive posture, response procedures and resilient U.S. networks and systems –- will deter cyberattacks on U.S. interests, the fact sheet added.

CRS — Military Service Records and Unit Histories: A Guide to Locating Sources (February 27, 2015)

April 23, 2015 Comments off

Military Service Records and Unit Histories: A Guide to Locating Sources (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This guide provides information on locating military unit histories and individual service records of discharged, retired, and deceased military personnel. It includes contact information for military history centers, websites for additional sources of research, and a bibliography of other publications.

This report will be updated as needed.

CRS — State Sponsors of Acts of International Terrorism–Legislative Parameters: In Brief (February 27, 2015)

April 23, 2015 Comments off

State Sponsors of Acts of International Terrorism–Legislative Parameters: In Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria are identified by the U.S. government as countries with governments that support acts of international terrorism. As the 114th Congress is sworn in and begins its first session, U.S. foreign policy and national security policies toward Cuba, Iran, and North Korea are in a state of close scrutiny, with an eye to easing sanctions, including removing Cuba and Iran from the terrorist lists, and with an eye to returning North Korea to the same lists. While it is the President’s authority to designate, and remove from designation, terrorist states, Congress is likely to weigh in as the reviews proceed.

This brief report provides information on legislation that authorizes the designation of any foreign government as a state sponsor of acts of international terrorism. It addresses the statutes and how they each define acts of international terrorism; establish a list to limit or prohibit aid or trade; provide for systematic removal of a foreign government from a list, including timeline and reporting requirements; authorize the President to waive restrictions on a listed foreign government; and provide (or do not provide) Congress with a means to block a delisting. It closes with a summary of delisting in the past.

CRS — U.S. Periods of War and Dates of Current Conflicts (February 27, 2015)

April 23, 2015 Comments off

U.S. Periods of War and Dates of Current Conflicts (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Many wars or conflicts in U.S. history have federally designated “periods of war,” dates marking their beginning and ending. These dates are important for qualification for certain veterans’ pension or disability benefits. Confusion can occur because beginning and ending dates for “periods of war” in many nonofficial sources are often different from those given in treaties and other official sources of information, and armistice dates can be confused with termination dates. This report lists the beginning and ending dates for “periods of war” found in Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It also lists and differentiates other beginning dates given in declarations of war, as well as termination of hostilities dates and armistice and ending dates given in proclamations, laws, or treaties. The dates for the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are included along with the official end date for Operation New Dawn in Iraq on December 15, 2011, and Operation Enduring Freedom on Afghanistan on December 28, 2014. This report will be updated when events warrant. For additional information, see the following: CRS Report RL31133, Declarations of War and Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Historical Background and Legal Implications, by Jennifer K. Elsea and Matthew C. Weed, and CRS Report R42738, Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2015, by Barbara Salazar Torreon.

CRS — Membership of the 114th Congress: A Profile (March 31, 2015)

April 21, 2015 Comments off

Membership of the 114th Congress: A Profile (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report presents a profile of the membership of the 114th Congress (2015-2016). Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age, occupation, education, length of congressional service, religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity, foreign births, and military service.

CRS — The No Fly List: Procedural Due Process and Hurdles to Litigation (April 2, 2015)

April 15, 2015 Comments off

The No Fly List: Procedural Due Process and Hurdles to Litigation (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In order to protect national security, the government maintains various terrorist watchlists, including the “No Fly” list, which contains the names of individuals to be denied boarding on commercial airline flights. Travelers on the No Fly list are not permitted to board an American airline or any flight on a foreign air carrier that lands or departs from U.S. territory or flies over U.S. airspace. Some persons have claimed that their alleged placement on the list was the result of an erroneous determination by the government that they posed a national security threat. In some cases, it has been reported that persons have been prevented from boarding an aircraft because they were mistakenly believed to be on the No Fly list, sometimes on account of having a name similar to another person who was actually on the list. As a result, various legal challenges to placement on the list have been brought in court.

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