January 5, 2012 in Featured
The rich have gotten richer, thanks to the stock market and the Bush tax cuts, a recent report has found. Growth in income from capital gains and dividends has widened the divide between the wealthy and the poor in recent years, according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. It supplanted wage inequality as the primary driver of the growing income gap, which helped spur the Occupy Wall Street movement last fall.
December 2, 2011 in Congressional Research Service
Both House and Senate bills competing to become the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 contain a subtitle addressing issues related to detainees at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and more broadly, hostilities against Al Qaeda and other entities. At the heart of both bills’ detainee provisions appears to be an effort to confirm or, as some observers view it, expand the detention authority that Congress implicitly granted the President via the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF, P.L. 107-40) in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
June 9, 2011 in Congressional Research Service
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI, the Bureau) is the lead federal law enforcement agency charged with counterterrorism investigations. Since the September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks, the FBI has implemented a series of reforms intended to transform itself from a largely reactive law enforcement agency focused on investigations of criminal activity into a more proactive, agile, flexible, and intelligence-driven agency that can prevent acts of terrorism.
May 20, 2011 in Congressional Research Service
Direct Overt U.S. Aid and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2012, prepared for the Congressional Research Service by K. Alan Kronstadt, Specialist in South Asian Affairs.
May 16, 2011 in Congressional Research Service
The federal government loses both individual and corporate income tax revenue from the shifting of profits and income into low-tax countries, often referred to as tax havens. The revenue losses from this tax avoidance and evasion are difficult to estimate, but some have suggested that the annual cost of offshore tax abuses may be around $100 billion per year. International tax avoidance can arise from large multinational corporations who shift profits into low-tax foreign subsidiaries or wealthy individual investors who set up secret bank accounts in tax haven countries.
February 27, 2011 in Congressional Research Service
After experiencing serious unrest during the late 1990s, Bahrain undertook several steps to enhance the inclusion of the Shiite majority in governance. However, protests erupting following the uprising that overthrew Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011, demonstrate that Shiite grievances over the distribution of power and economic opportunities remain unsatisfied. The new unrest comes four months after smaller protests against the efforts by the Sunni-led government’s efforts to maintain its tight grip on power in the October 23, 2010, parliamentary election. That election, no matter the outcome, would not have unseated the ruling Al Khalifa family from power, but the Shiite population was hoping that winning a majority in the elected lower house could give it greater authority with which to challenge the ruling family. In advance of the elections, the government launched a wave of arrests intended to try to discredit
some of the hard-line Shiite leadership as tools of Iran.
February 4, 2011 in Congressional Research Service
In Mexico, the violence generated by drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) in recent years has been, according to some, unprecedented. In 2006, Mexico’s newly elected President Felipe Calderón launched an aggressive campaign—an initiative that has defined his administration— against the DTOs that has been met with a violent response from the DTOs. Government enforcement efforts have had successes in removing some of the key leaders in all of the seven major DTOs. However, these efforts have led to violent succession struggles within the DTOs themselves. In July 2010, the Mexican government announced that more than 28,000 people had been killed in drug trafficking-related violence since December 2006, when President Calderón came to office.
September 17, 2010 in Congressional Research Service
This report is prepared annually to provide Congress with official, unclassified, quantitative data on conventional arms transfers to developing nations by the United States and foreign countries for the preceding eight calendar years for use in its policy oversight functions. All agreement and delivery data in this report for the United States are government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) transactions. Similar data are provided on worldwide conventional arms transfers by all suppliers, but the principal focus is the level of arms transfers by major weapons suppliers to nations in the developing world.
May 25, 2010 in Congressional Research Service, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan is a small and poor country in Central Asia that gained independence in 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union (see Figure A-1). It has developed a notable but fragile civil society. Progress in democratization has been set back by problematic elections (one of which helped precipitate a coup in 2005 that brought Kurmanbek Bakiyev to power), contention over constitutions, and corruption. The April 2010 coup appears to have been triggered by popular discontent over rising utility prices and government repression. After two days of popular unrest in the capital of Bishkek and other cities, opposition politicians ousted the Bakiyev administration on April 8 and declared an interim government pending a new presidential election in six months. Roza Otunbayeva, a former foreign minister and ambassador to the United States, was declared the acting prime minister.
May 25, 2010 in Congressional Research Service
Drug trafficking is viewed as a primary threat to citizen security and U.S. interests in Latin America and the Caribbean despite decades of anti-drug efforts by the United States and partner governments. The production and trafficking of popular illicit drugs—cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and methamphetamine—generates a multi-billion dollar black market in which Latin American criminal and terrorist organizations thrive. These groups challenge state authority in source and transit countries where governments are often fragile and easily corrupted. Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) largely control the U.S. illicit drug market and have been identified by the U.S. Department of Justice as the “greatest organized crime threat to the United States.” Drug trafficking-related crime and violence in the region has escalated in recent years, raising the drug issue to the forefront of U.S. foreign policy concerns.
April 24, 2010 in Congressional Research Service
An emergency preparedness and response program provides resources and support to individuals and communities that might be affected by a broad range of disruptive incidents. These incidents may be caused by natural phenomena such as severe weather, fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, or disease outbreaks. Incidents might result from human activity as well, and could include accidents, criminal acts, terrorism, or other attacks. Concerns have been raised whether current preparedness and response policies and capacities are sufficient.
April 24, 2010 in Congressional Research Service
Interruptions of congressional operations by incidents such as episodic computer virus infections, or the anthrax contamination that took place during autumn 2001, have demonstrated the importance of congressional continuity of operations (COOP) planning. COOP planning refers to the internal effort of an organization to assure that the capability exists to continue essential functions in response to a comprehensive array of potential operational interruptions. For Congress, COOP planning is related to a second level of preparedness, continuity of government (COG) planning. Congressional COG planning focuses on ensuring that Congress is able to carry out its legislative responsibilities under Article I of the Constitution.
March 26, 2010 in Congressional Research Service
Since the 1990s, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has pursued the issues of bribery and tax havens, resulting in changes to certain U.S. laws. In addition, the OECD, under the direction of its member countries, spearheaded an international agreement to outlaw crimes of bribery, and it continues to coordinate efforts aimed at reducing the occurrence of money laundering, corruption, and tax havens.
March 9, 2010 in Congressional Research Service
During the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union both deployed thousands of “nonstrategic” nuclear weapons that were intended to be used in support of troops in the field during a conflict. These included nuclear mines; artillery; short, medium, and long-range ballistic missiles; cruise missiles; and gravity bombs. In contrast with the longer-range “strategic” nuclear weapons, these weapons had a lower profile in policy debates and arms control negotiations. At the end of the 1980s, before the demise of the Soviet Union, each nation still had thousands of these weapons deployed with their troops in the field, aboard naval vessels, and on aircraft. In 1991, both the United States and Soviet Union announced that they would withdraw most and eliminate many of their nonstrategic nuclear weapons.
February 19, 2010 in Congressional Research Service
The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) was established in 2004 to ensure that information from any source about potential terrorist acts against the U.S. could be made available to analysts and that appropriate responses could be planned. Investigations of the 9/11 attacks had demonstrated that information possessed by different agencies had not been shared and thus that disparate indications of the looming threat had not been connected and warning had not been provided. As a component of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the NCTC is composed of analysts with backgrounds in many government agencies and has access to various agency databases.
February 13, 2010 in Congressional Research Service
Al Qaeda (AQ) has evolved into a significantly different terrorist organization than the one that perpetrated the September 11, 2001, attacks. At the time, Al Qaeda was composed mostly of a core cadre of veterans of the Afghan insurgency against the Soviets, with a centralized leadership structure, made up mostly of Egyptians. Most of the organization’s plots either emanated from the top or were approved by the leadership. Some analysts describe pre-9/11 Al Qaeda as akin to a corporation, with Osama Bin Laden acting as an agile Chief Executive Officer issuing orders and soliciting ideas from subordinates.
December 31, 2009 in Congressional Research Service
Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress enacted the USA PATRIOT Act, in part, to “provid[e] enhanced investigative tools” to “assist in the prevention of future terrorist activities and the preliminary acts and crimes which further such activities.” To that end, the Act eased restrictions on the government’s ability to collect information regarding people’s activities and conversations, both in domestic criminal investigations and in the realms of foreign intelligence gathering and national security.
December 30, 2009 in Congressional Research Service
Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. From 1976-2004, Israel was the largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, having been supplanted by Iraq. Since 1985, the United States has provided nearly $3 billion in grants annually to Israel.
November 13, 2009 in Congressional Research Service
This report presents various governmental and nongovernmental estimates of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces fatalities. The Iraq government is releasing increasingly regular data on these deaths. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) releases the monthly pattern of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces deaths, and it regularly updates total U.S. military deaths and wounded statistics from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), as reflected in CRS Report RS21578, Iraq: U.S. Casualties, by Susan G. Chesser. Because the estimates contained in this report are based on varying time periods and have been created using differing methodologies, readers should exercise caution when using them and should look to them as guideposts rather than as statements of fact.
October 8, 2009 in Congressional Research Service
The United States and the European Union (EU) economic relationship is the largest in the world—and it is growing. The modern U.S.-European economic relationship has evolved since World War II, broadening as the six-member European Community expanded into the present 27-member European Union. The ties have also become more complex and interdependent, covering
a growing number and type of trade and financial activities.
October 1, 2009 in Congressional Research Service
Statements from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and other Department of Defense (DOD) officials suggest that the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) that is currently in progress may lead to an increased emphasis in future U.S. defense budgets on capabilities for conducting irregular warfare (IW) operations, such as counterinsurgency operations. In addition, counterterrorism (CT) operations have received an increased emphasis since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
October 1, 2009 in Congressional Research Service
During the Cold War, the U.S. nuclear arsenal contained many types of delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons. The longer range systems, which included long-range missiles based on U.S. territory, long-range missiles based on submarines, and heavy bombers that could threaten Soviet targets from their bases in the United States, are known as strategic nuclear delivery vehicles.
August 18, 2009 in Congressional Research Service
In 2002, President Bush signed a new Unified Command Plan (UCP) establishing United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM) to provide command and control of the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) homeland defense efforts and to coordinate military support to civil authorities.
August 18, 2009 in Congressional Research Service
A flu pandemic is a worldwide epidemic of an influenza virus. As such, the United States’ response to a flu pandemic would have both international and domestic components. Additionally, the domestic response effort would include contributions from every governmental level (local, state, tribal, and federal), non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.
August 1, 2009 in Congressional Research Service
A primary mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS, Department) is to “prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism, and minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery from terrorist attacks that do occur in the United States.” Since its inception in 2003, DHS has had an intelligence component to support this mission and has been a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC).