Government Accountability Office, “Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Use in the National Airspace and the Role of the Department of Homeland Security,” July 19, 2012.
GAO’s ongoing work has identified several UAS issues that, although not new, are emerging as areas of further consideration in light of greater access to the national airspace. These include concerns about privacy relating to the collection and use of surveillance data. Currently, no federal agency has specific statutory responsibility to regulate privacy matters relating to UAS. Another emerging issue is the use of model aircraft (aircraft flown for hobby or recreation) in the national airspace. FAA is generally prohibited from developing any rule or regulation for model aircraft. The Federal Bureau of Investigation report of a plot to use a model aircraft filled with plastic explosives to attack the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol in September 2011has highlighted the potential for model aircraft to be used for unintended purposes. An additional emerging issue is interruption of the command and control of UAS operations through the jamming and spoofing of the Global Positioning System between the UAS and ground control station.
Craig Whitlock and Julia Tate, “U.S. Increases Planned Aid to Yemen in Fight Against al-Qaeda,” Washington Post, July 19, 2012.
In the aftermath of Saleh’s resignation in February and an easing of the country’s political crisis, the Obama administration notified Congress last month that it intends to resume military aid to Yemen. The aid is restricted for use by Yemen’s counterterrorism forces, which are locked in a struggle with an al-Qaeda affiliate that has also targeted the United States.
In June, the Pentagon told lawmakers that it would give $75 million worth of small arms, ammunition, vehicles, hand-launched surveillance drones and other equipment to Yemen’s Interior Ministry.
New documents show that the military aid will be more extensive. Earlier this month, the Pentagon notified Congress that it would give Yemen an additional $37 million for its U.S.-trained special-operations units. Included in that package are two small troop-transport aircraft, 100 night-vision devices, five small “raiding” boats for commandos as well as more small arms and ammunition.
(3PA: For how much (overt) security assistance the United States gave Yemen before the fall of President Saleh, read this GAO report. And for how little the United States got in return from $327 million in aid, click here.)
Conor Friedersdorf, “Flawed Analysis of Drone Strike Data is Misleading Americans,” The Atlantic, July 18, 2012.
(3PA: Read the response from TBIJ.)
Hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Subject, “The Future of Homeland Security: Evolving and Emerging Threats,” July 11, 2012
GENERAL HAYDEN: Let me give you a bit of a dilemma. Some of the things we’re doing—and let me use targeted killings against al-Qaida as an example, because that’s—a lot of that has been declassified—so much of that is in the public domain that right now this witness, with my experience, I am unclear what of my personal knowledge of this activity I can or cannot discuss publicly. That’s how muddled this has become. And I think, to a first order, just clarity so that folks understand what’s on the one side and what’s on the other in terms of public discussion. That would be the first order.
Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), “Final Forensic Audit Report of Iraq Reconstruction Funds,” July 13, 2012.
The precise amount lost to fraud and waste can never be known, but SIGIR believes it is significant. As of June 30, 2012, SIGIR audit reports had questioned $635.8 million in costs, and SIGIR Investigations, working with other agencies, had resulted in $176.84 million in fines, forfeitures, and other monetary results.
Brendan McGarry, “Outsourcing Adds 2,806 Contractors to War Toll,” Bloomberg Government, July 12, 2012.
Government contractors led by L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. had almost half as many fatalities as U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade, government insurance records show.
The BGOV Barometer shows that workers’ survivors or employers have filed at least 2,806 insurance claims for deaths in those countries and Kuwait since Sept. 1, 2001, according to Labor Department data compiled by Bloomberg. By comparison, 6,526 U.S. service members have been killed.
(3PA: This is an important news story. As I noted previously, the Pentagon does not track contractor deaths. According to the GAO in September, “Although all [State Department, USAID, and DOD] are required to track the number of personnel killed or wounded while working on contracts and assistance instruments in Iraq or Afghanistan, DOD still does not have a system that reliably tracks killed and wounded contractor personnel.” Puzzling, since last weekend a Pentagon spokesperson knew exactly how many dogs have died in Iraq or Afghanistan: twenty-nine.)
Laurel E. Miller, Jeffrey Martini, F. Stephen Larrabee, Democratization in the Arab World: Prospects and Lessons from Around the Globe, July 2012.
Brian T. Haggerty, “Safe Havens in Syria: Missions and Requirements for an Air Campaign,” Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, July 2012.
Paul B. Stares, “Intervention in Syria: Three Things to Know,” Council on Foreign Relations, July 19, 2012.