Reports & Papers

38 Items

Donald Trump and Anthony Fauci

AP/Alex Brandon

Paper - Centre for International Governance Innovation

US Intelligence, the Coronavirus and the Age of Globalized Challenges

| Aug. 24, 2020

This essay makes three arguments. First, the US government will need to establish a coronavirus commission, similar to the 9/11 commission, to determine why, since April 2020, the United States has suffered more coronavirus fatalities than any other country in the world. Second, the COVID-19 pandemic represents a watershed for what will be a major national security theme this century: biological threats, both from naturally occurring pathogens and from synthesized biology. Third, intelligence about globalized challenges, such as pandemics, needs to be dramatically reconceptualized, stripping away outmoded levels of secrecy.

In this April 22, 2020 photo, Gerard Bakulikira, right, and captain Tim Daghelet, left, both wear a Romware COVID Radius digital bracelet, which flashes red when people are too close to each other and creates a log of contacts. 

AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

Paper

Considerations for Digital Contact Tracing Tools for COVID-19 Mitigation: Recommendations for Stakeholders and Policymakers

Many are looking to digital contact tracing to assist reopening efforts, especially in light of reports that the U.S. could expect as many as 100,000 more deaths due to the virus by this Fall. This report focuses on how the U.S. might consider various proposed solutions.

We believe there are real benefits, challenges, and even potential harms in using digital solutions in the fight against COVID-19, but we must also acknowledge that the promise of any technology and associated systems to assist manual contact tracing efforts is largely hypothetical in the United States. There is not one catch-all answer; the truth is that technology is not a panacea, but it may be able to assist official efforts at an unprecedented time. However, no technological solution can succeed without two specific factors: public trust and buy-in, and rapid, widespread testing for everyone living in the U.S. To achieve the first, a number of factors must be addressed by officials in the states looking to implement digital solutions, and by technology developers.
 

Russian National Guard soldiers operate a surveillance drone in Losiny Ostrov national park in northeastern Moscow, Sunday, May 3, 2020.

Sergey Vedyashkin, MTI via AP

Paper

Public Policy Roles for Drones During the COVID-19 Crisis

| June 2020

As business leaders and public officials plan their response, they struggle to identify the proper role for emerging technologies. One of these is drones, a technology that got its start in military and security programs but over the last decade has increasingly been repurposed for civilian and commercial uses.

A worker updates a database tracking hospital bed occupancy, data which feeds the city’s public app showing which hospitals in Mexico’s hard-hit capital still have space to accept COVID-19 patients, in the C5 emergency operations center in Mexico City, Friday, May 15, 2020.

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

Paper

If there was ever a time for data science, this is it.

    Author:
  • John Wigle
| May 2020

It is said that operations research was a decisive factor contributing to the allied victory in World War II. General Doolittle expressed his appreciation for operations analysts, the data scientists of his time, saying they made “substantial contributions toward the success of the Eighth Air Force.” General Carl Spaatz expressed his appreciation for his data scientists during the war, describing them as essential, and prophetically stated, “[w]e all hope that no similar national crisis will arise in the future...  [i]f that time ever comes we shall call upon you again as we called on you before.”  I believe that time of national crisis has arrived.

Advocacy groups display a thousand signs that read #GetUsPPE, along images of health care workers, in a call for personal protective equipment for frontline health workers during the coronavirus outbreak, on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, Friday, April 17, 2020, in Washington.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Paper

Coronavirus as a Strategic Challenge: Has Washington Misdiagnosed the Problem?

| April 2020

With reservations about venturing into territory outside our normal wheelhouse, and in full certainty that some of what we write here will in retrospect turn out to have been wrong, a team of researchers at the Belfer Center and I have been collecting all the data we have been able to find about coronavirus, analyzing it to the best of our ability, and debating competing answers to the fundamental questions about the challenge this novel virus poses to our nation.

What follows is our current first-approximation of a work in progress. We are posting at this point in the hope of stimulating a wider debate that will include a much larger number of analysts beyond public health professionals and epidemiologists—including in particular intelligence officers, financial wizards, historians, and others.

A representative image of a digital "map"

Adobe Stock

Report

Reconceptualizing Cyber Power

Our intention is to provide the best possible understanding of cyber power capabilities to inform public debate. The Belfer approach proposes eight objectives that countries pursue using cyber means; provides a list of capabilities required to achieve those objectives that demonstrates the breadth of sources of cyber power; and compares countries based on their capability to achieve those objectives. Our work builds on existing cyber indices such as the Economist Intelligence Unit and Booz Allen Hamilton’s 2011 Cyber Power Ranking, by, for example, including a policy dimension and recognizing that cyber capabilities enhance military strength.

From left, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Gen. Robert Ashley, with (not pictured) FBI Director Christopher Wray, National Security Agency Director Gen. Paul Nakasone and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The U.S. Intelligence Enterprise and the Role of Privatizing Intelligence

    Author:
  • Sunny Jiten Singh
| September 2019

The purpose of the paper is not to suggest that outsourcing has no place in the role of government; to the contrary, the paper argues the elements of these two spheres have morphed into this modern strand of DNA which cannot be undone but to the point, DNA functions within the confines of the right environment as should outsourcing under straightforward regulation. The privatization of intelligence cannot be allowed to function in a vacuum and inadequate oversight must be called out to avoid further exploitation by industry.

The nuclear archive warehouse outside Tehran (Satellite image via Google).

Satellite image via Google

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The Iran Nuclear Archive: Impressions and Implications

In mid-January, a team of scholars from the Belfer Center’s Intelligence and Managing the Atom Projects traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel to examine samples of, and receive briefings on, an archive of documents related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The large cache includes some 55,000 pages of documents and a further 55,000 files on CDs that included photos and videos. A clandestine Israeli intelligence operation spirited the materials out of Iran in early 2018.

The documents that the Belfer group were shown confirm that senior Iranian officials had decided in the late 1990s to actually manufacture nuclear weapons and carry out an underground nuclear test; that Iran’s program to do so made more technical progress than had previously been understood; and that Iran had help from quite a number of foreign scientists, and access to several foreign nuclear weapon designs. The archive also leaves open a wide range of questions, including what plan, if any, Iran has had with respect to nuclear weapons in the nearly 16 years since Iran’s government ordered a halt to most of the program in late 2003. 

This brief report summarizes the group’s conclusions about what the archive reveals about Iran’s program and questions that remain open.

Job One for Space Force

NASA

Report - Cyber Security Project, Belfer Center

Job One for Space Force: Space Asset Cybersecurity

| July 12, 2018

When we think about critical infrastructure, the first assets that come to mind include the electric grid, water networks and transportation systems. Further unpacking the definition of critical infrastructure, we consider industries such as agriculture, defense or the financial sector. However, we rarely think about where the underlying systems that enable technology functionality across these sectors physically reside, who developed the technology, and who can access and manage that technology.

Paper - Cyber Security Project, Belfer Center

A Legislator's Guide to Reauthorizing Section 702

    Author:
  • Anne Boustead
| Aug. 20, 2017

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008, a powerful surveillance tool that allows U.S. government agencies to spy on foreign persons to collect counter-terrorism intelligence, will expire on December 31, 2017 without Congressional reauthorization. This paper has two goals: to concisely describe how agencies obtain information under Section 702, and to provide guidance to legislators and their staffers by examining the core issues they will confront as they consider reauthorizing this legislation.