Saturday, October 31, 2009

Terrific Read on North Korea....



Friday, October 30, 2009

Keeping An Eye On Intelligence .....

From Secrecy News...


In a move that will strengthen internal executive branch oversight of intelligence, President Obama this week said that a White House intelligence oversight board will be required to alert the Attorney General whenever it learns of "intelligence activities that involve possible violations of Federal criminal laws." A similar requirement for the board to notify the Attorney General had been canceled by President Bush in February 2008. President Obama reversed that step in his executive order 13516 on the authorities of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) and the Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB).

The new Obama order also restores to the PIAB and the IOB some of the other teeth that the Bush Administration had removed. The order states that the Director of National Intelligence and others "shall provide such information and assistance as the PIAB and the IOB determine is needed to perform their functions." The Bush order had only spoken of "such information and assistance as the PIAB and the IOB may need to perform functions under this order." So the new order (like the prior Clinton order) helpfully specifies that the PIAB and the IOB are the ones who will "determine" what they need--not the DNI or anyone else.

The Obama order does not restore the Clinton-era requirement that all intelligence agencies heads report quarterly to the IOB. Instead, as in the Bush order, the DNI is to report to the Board at least twice a year.

The Obama order states that the PIAB membership should be comprised of individuals "who are not full-time employees of the Federal Government." Previously, they had to be "not employed by the Federal Government" at all. The basis for this change is unclear.

Strengthening internal oversight of intelligence activities is among the easiest of changes to Bush Administration intelligence policy that the Obama Administration could be expected to make. The action does not entail any increase in public disclosure or congressional reporting concerning intelligence activities, not does it infringe on executive authority in any way.

On October 28, President Obama announced the appointment of former Senators Chuck Hagel and David Boren to the PIAB, which had been vacant until then.

"We are off to a good start with this meeting by welcoming the press, which past advisory boards have rarely done," the President said. "That's a reflection of my administration's commitment to transparency and open government, even, when appropriate, on matters of national security and intelligence." But judging from a published transcript, no matters of substance were discussed and no questions from the press were taken at the meeting.


Friday, October 16, 2009

The President PROPOSES....

...but the Congress disposes:

From :

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Hold Your Breath
President Barack Obama is getting a raft of grief for his failure to deliver on a number of his campaign promises, including his pledge to end the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military. But what all these critics always miss is that the president can't change the law that forces gays in uniform to cover-up their sexuality. Only Congress can....More


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Secrets Plus....

From Secrecy News:


Counterinsurgency refers to "comprehensive civilian and military efforts taken to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and address its core grievances," a new publication from the Joint Chiefs of Staff explains. See Joint Publication 3-24 on "Counterinsurgency Operations" (pdf), 249 pages, October 5, 2009. (JP 3-24 is not to be confused with the celebrated December 2006 Army Field Manual 3-24 on "Counterinsurgency" [pdf].)

Former Bush White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan wrote a book last year in which he faulted the Bush Administration for a lack of candor in connection with the war in Iraq, mishandling of classified information in the Scooter Libby case, and other defects. A contentious House Judiciary Committee hearing on the matter was held on June 20, 2008, the record of which has just been published (pdf), with an August 2009 response from Mr. McClellan.

The Czech Republic's Security Information Service (BIS) has published its 2008 annual report (pdf).

Trinidad and Tobago signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty last week becoming the 182nd nation to have signed the treaty, which would prohibit all nuclear explosive tests.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Big Batch of Books & Some films.....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:


Urban Waite's THE TERROR OF LIVING, involving a drug deal gone wrong and an unstoppable hired killer, pitched as a young Cormac McCarthy, and DEAD IF I DON'T, to Judy Clain at Little, Brown, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Nat Sobel at Sobel Weber Associates (US).

Helen Grant's THE VANISHING OF KATHARINA LINDEN, a tale of abduction, murder, gossip and childhood imagination, and THE GLASS DEMON, to Kate Miciak at Bantam Dell, for publication in August 2010, by Camilla Bolton at Darley Anderson (US).

David Rocklin's THE LUMINIST, set in colonial Ceylon amidst brewing political unrest and loosely based on the famed Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, in which a young Ceylonese man and the British wife of a colonial governor bond over their mutual fascination with the burgeoning art of photography, a sweeping historical tale about colonialism, art, war and family; pitched as in the spirit of Daniel Mason's The Piano Tuner, to Kate Sage at Hawthorne Books, by Melissa Chinchillo and Christy Fletcher at Fletcher & Company (NA).
Italian and Hebrew rights previously to Neri Pozza and Kinneret.
UK and translation:


Erin Brockovich's novel about a woman who uncovers corporate and environmental crimes, to Roger Cooper at Vanguard Press, in a two-book deal, for publication in Fall 2010, by Mel Berger at William Morris Endeavor (NA).


Cara Hoffman's SO MUCH PRETTY, in which a young woman's disappearance from a rural New York town exposes the community's failure to acknowledge a murderer in their midst, ensnaring another local girl in a sickening web as a reporter looking for her "big-picture" story scrambles to reveal the truth before it's too late, to Sarah Knight at Shaye Areheart Books, for publication in 2011, by Rebecca Friedman at Sterling Lord Literistic (world).

Author of CITY OF LIGHT, Lauren Belfer's A FIERCE RADIANCE, both a love story and thriller set against the secret race to develop the arsenal of "weapons of life" -- now known as antibiotics -- that illuminates the struggle of one family to cohere amid the passions, betrayals, and triumphs of World War II, from the streets of Manhattan to the battlefields of North Africa, to Claire Wachtel and Jonathan Burnham at Harper, for publication in June 2010, by Lisa Bankoff at ICM (NA and translation).

Adam Foulds's THE QUICKENING MAZE, a Man-Booker shortlisted historical novel about genius and madness, revolving around nature poet John Clare and the young Alfred Tennyson who happened to stay at the same lunatic asylum in the mid-nineteenth century, and Foulds's Costa Prize winning prose poem, THE BROKEN WORD, about the Mau Mau uprising, to Josh Kendall at Viking, by Zoe Pagnamenta at the Zoe Pagnamenta Agency, on behalf of Anna Webber at United Agents (for the novel) and Jane Kirby at Cape/RH UK (for the poem).



BIRTH author Tina Cassidy's JACKIE AFTER O, writing how in one year, an American icon lost her husband, saved a landmark, and found herself, to Carrie Kania and Claire Wachtel for It Books, by Richard Abate at 3 Arts Entertainment (World).


Associate professor of history and public policy at the Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University Jeffrey Engel's WHEN THE WORLD SEEMED NEW: American Foreign Policy in the Age of George H. W. Bush, examining the foreign policy of George H.W. Bush's presidency, during one of history's great turning points: the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and the Persian Gulf War; based on interviews with the principals, and access to new documents including the heretofore classified Brent Scowcroft Papers, to Bruce Nichols at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, by Andrew Wylie (NA).

British historian and author of ENGLAND'S MISTRESS and BECOMING QUEEN, Kate Williams's MISTRESS OF EMPIRES: Napoleon's Josephine, a biography of Josephine Bonaparte, throwing new light on her childhood in Martinique, her imprisonment following the French Revolution and her years as a kept mistress and courtesan before her marriage to and long love affair with Napoleon, to Susanna Porter at Ballantine, by Zoe Pagnamenta at the Zoe Pagnamenta Agency, on behalf of Simon Trewin, and to Paul Sidey at Hutchinson, by Simon Trewin at United Agents.


Billy Joel's memoir, written with Fred Schruers, to David Hirshey at Harper, sold a while ago but just becoming public, by Amanda Urban at ICM.

PhD in English and Creative Writing from Binghamton University, Margaux Fragoso's TIGER, TIGER, about the author's disturbing relationship with a much older man that began at a city pool in New Jersey when she was seven and lasted until his suicide when she was twenty-two, showing vividly how a pedophile enchants his victim and binds her to him in what the publisher calls, in its own troubling way, the saddest love story you will ever hear, to Courtney Hodell at Farrar, Straus, in a pre-empt, for publication in winter 2011, by Terra Chalberg at the Susan Golomb Agency (world).

"Saturday Night Live" veteran Jim Breuer's memoir, about his unique career choices, family, fame and life in general, to Patrick Mulligan of Gotham, in a pre-empt, to Peter McGuigan of Foundry Literary + Media.

Glen Finland's NEXT STOP, about the summer the author and her 21-year-old autistic son spent riding the Washington, DC metro system together with the hope of him being able to go solo and be the first step towards his independence, to Amy Einhorn at Amy Einhorn Books, in a pre-empt, by Richard Abate at 3 Arts Entertainment (world).

Dr. Randy Christensen's ASK ME WHY I HURT, an inspiring memoir about his ten years of heroic medical outreach to homeless adolescents in Phoenix, AZ, to Diane Salvatore at Broadway with Lorraine Glennon editing, at auction, by Richard Pine and Nathaniel Jacks at Inkwell Management (world).


Bestselling author of THE WORLD WITHOUT US Alan Weisman's COUNTDOWN, a provocative investigation into the future of humanity on the planet, following John Parsley to Little, Brown, by Nicholas Ellison at Nicholas Ellison (world English).

Andrew Blum's TUBES: A Physical Journey to our Virtual World, a narrative tour of the back-of-house of our digital lives, bringing readers to a vast hidden corner of our everyday world, the physical infrastructure of the Internet, and describing the story of its development, how it works, and the fascinating characters who run it, to Matt Weiland at Ecco, at auction, by Zoe Pagnamenta at the Zoe Pagnamenta Agency (NA).


Richard Schickel's CLINT EASTWOOD: A Retrospective, aiming for a definitive look at the film icon, featuring rare images from the Warner Bros. archive, to Michael Fragnito at Sterling, for publication in April 2010, by Colin Webb at Palazzo Editions (world English).
French rights to Flammarion; German to Edel; Finnish to Otava.


Leading researcher Diana Reiss's MINDING DOLPHINS: A Scientist's Journey Inside the Minds of Dolphins and Whales, and My Mission to Save Them, a tour of dolphin and whale intelligence, combining stories of Humphrey the humpback whale and her many dolphin companions, with Reiss's activism to save dolphins and whales from wholesale slaughter, to Bruce Nichols at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for publication in Fall 2011, by John Brockman at Brockman (NA).