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Congressional Oversight (open access)

Congressional Oversight

Congressional oversight of policy implementation and administration, which has occurred throughout the U.S. government experience under the Constitution, takes a variety of forms and utilizes various techniques. These range from specialized investigations by select committees to annual appropriations hearings, and from informal communications between Members or congressional staff and executive personnel to the use of extra congressional mechanisms, such as offices of inspector general and study commissions. Oversight, moreover, is supported by a variety of authorities—the Constitution, public law, and chamber and committee rules—and is an integral part of the system of checks and balances between the legislature and the executive
Date: January 3, 2006
Creator: Kaiser, Frederick M.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Intelligence Issues for Congress (open access)

Intelligence Issues for Congress

To address the challenges facing the U.S. Intelligence Community in the 21st Century, Congressional and executive branch initiatives have sought to improve coordination among the different agencies and to encourage better analysis. In December 2004, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (P.L. 108-458) was signed, providing for a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) with substantial authorities to manage the national intelligence effort. The legislation calls for a separate Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Date: January 11, 2006
Creator: Best, Richard A., Jr.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues (open access)

Military Retirement: Major Legislative Issues

Report on the military retirement system, including benefits, disability, budget, costs, cash bonuses, and more.
Date: January 3, 2006
Creator: Henning, Charles A.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Lebanon (open access)

Lebanon

The United States and Lebanon continue to enjoy good relations. Prominent current issues between the United States and Lebanon include progress toward a Lebanon-Israel a peace treaty, U.S. aid to Lebanon, and Lebanon’s capacity to stop Hizballah militia attacks on Israel. The United States supports Lebanon’s independence and favored the end of Israeli and Syrian occupation of parts of Lebanon. Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon on May 23, 2000, and Syria completed withdrawing its forces on April 26, 2005.
Date: January 19, 2006
Creator: Prados, Alfred B.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral Issues (open access)

Syria: U.S. Relations and Bilateral Issues

Syria, governed by President Hafiz al-Asad from 1970 until his death in June 2000, is a prominent player in the Middle East scene. Within the region, a number of borders disputes, problems of resource allocation, and political rivalries have caused frequent tensions between Syria and its neighbors. In particular, the Syrian Golan Heights territory, which Israel has occupied since 1967, has been one of the most intractable issues in the Arab-Israeli dispute.
Date: January 19, 2006
Creator: Prados, Alfred B.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Russia (open access)

Russia

Vladimir Putin won reelection as Russian President in March 2004, in an exercise in “managed democracy” in which he took 71% of the vote and faced no serious competition. The pro-Putin Unified Russia party similarly swept the parliamentary election in December 2003 and controls more than two-thirds of the seats in the Duma. Also in March, Putin replaced long-serving Premier Kasyanov with a little-known bureaucrat, Mikhail Fradkov, indicating Putin’s intent to take the reins of the government even more completely into his own hands.
Date: January 6, 2006
Creator: Goldman, Stuart D.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Space Stations (open access)

Space Stations

congress continues to debate NASA’s International Space Station (ISS), a permanently occupied facility in Earth orbit where astronauts live and conduct research. Congress appropriated approximately $35 billion for the program from FY1985-2005. The initial FY2006 ISS request was $2.180 billion: $1.857 billion for construction and operations and $324 million for research to be conducted by ISS crews. In a July budget the amendment, NASA transferred $168 million for ISS Crew/Cargo Services to another part of the NASA budget and reduced the ISS request commensurately. The FY2006 appropriations act that includes NASA (P.L. 109- 108) cut $80 million from the originally submitted budget, and NASA now plans to spend $306 million, instead of $324 million, on ISS research in FY2006.
Date: January 4, 2006
Creator: Smith, Marcia S.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Medal of Honor Recipients: 1979-2005 (open access)

Medal of Honor Recipients: 1979-2005

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest award for military valor. Since its inception in 1863, 3,461 Medals of Honor have been awarded to a total of 3,442 individuals (there have been 19 double recipients). In 1979, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee issued the committee print, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863- 1978, which lists recipients and provides the full text of the citations describing the actions that resulted in the awarding of the Medal. This report describes and discusses changes to the list of recipients of the Medal since the release of the committee print. For further information, see CRS Report 95-519, Medal of Honor: History and Issues, by David F. Burrelli. This report will be updated as new recipients are named.
Date: January 12, 2006
Creator: Gomez-Granger, Julissa
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Iraq: Oil-for-Food Program, Illicit Trade, and Investigations (open access)

Iraq: Oil-for-Food Program, Illicit Trade, and Investigations

The “oil-for-food” program (OFFP) was the centerpiece of a long-standing U.N. Security Council effort to alleviate human suffering in Iraq while maintaining key elements of the 1991 Gulf war-related sanctions regime. In order to ensure that Iraq remained contained and that only humanitarian needs were served by the program, the program imposed controls on Iraqi oil exports and humanitarian imports. All Iraqi oil revenues legally earned under the program were held in a U.N.-controlled escrow account and were not accessible to the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Date: January 9, 2006
Creator: Katzman, Kenneth & Blanchard, Christopher M.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990 (open access)

Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990

This report, updated as warranted, discusses U.S. security assistance to Taiwan, or the Republic of China (ROC), including policy issues for Congress and legislation. The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8, has governed U.S. arms sales to Taiwan since 1979 when the United States recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) instead of the ROC. Two other relevant parts of the “one China” policy are the August 17, 1982, U.S.-PRC Joint Communique and the “Six Assurances” made to Taiwan. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have been significant. In addition, the United States has expanded military ties with Taiwan after the PRC’s missile firings in 1995-1996. However, there is no defense treaty or alliance with Taiwan.
Date: January 18, 2006
Creator: Kan, Shirley A.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Kosovo and U.S. Policy (open access)

Kosovo and U.S. Policy

In 1998 and 1999, the United States and its NATO allies attempted to put an end to escalating violence between ethnic Albanian guerrillas and Yugoslav/Serb forces in Yugoslavia’s Kosovo province. These efforts culminated in a 78-day NATO bombing campaign (Operation Allied Force) against Serbia from March until June 1999, when then-Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic agreed to withdraw his forces from the province. Since then, Kosovo has been governed by a combination of the U.N. and local Kosovar governing structures. The U.N. Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), under the terms of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, retains ultimate political authority in the province. A NATO-led peacekeeping force, KFOR, is charged with providing a secure environment. In May 2001, UNMIK issued a “Constitutional Framework” for Kosovo that provided for an elected provisional legislature and government with limited powers but did not address Kosovo’s final status.
Date: January 9, 2006
Creator: Woehrel, Steven & Kim, Julie
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Digital Television: An Overview (open access)

Digital Television: An Overview

Digital television (DTV) is a new television service representing the most significant development in television technology since the advent of color television in the 1950s. DTV can provide sharper pictures, a wider screen, CD-quality sound, better color rendition, and other new services currently being developed. A successful deployment of DTV requires: the development by content providers of compelling digital programming; the delivery of digital signals to consumers by broadcast television stations, as well as cable and satellite television systems; and the widespread purchase and adoption by consumers of digital television equipment. A key issue in the Congressional debate over the digital transition has been addressing the millions of American over-the-air households whose existing analog televisions will require converter boxes in order to receive digital signals when the analog signal is turned off.
Date: January 6, 2006
Creator: Kruger, Lennard G.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Iraq: U.S. Regime Change Efforts and Post-Saddam Governance (open access)

Iraq: U.S. Regime Change Efforts and Post-Saddam Governance

Operation Iraqi Freedom succeeded in overthrowing Saddam Hussein, but Iraq remains violent and unstable because of Sunni Arab resentment and a related insurgency, as well as increasing sectarian violence. According to its November 30, 2005, “Strategy for Victory,” the Bush Administration indicates that U.S. forces will remain in Iraq until the country is able to provide for its own security and does not serve as a host for radical Islamic terrorists. This report discusses the background of the issue and examines several security challenges, response, and other policy options for the U.S.
Date: January 13, 2006
Creator: Katzman, Kenneth
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Chemical Facility Security (open access)

Chemical Facility Security

Facilities handling large amounts of potentially hazardous chemical (i.e., chemical facilities) might be of interest to terrorists, either as targets for direct attacks meant to release chemicals into the community or as a source of chemicals for use elsewhere. For any individual facility, the risk is very small, but the risks may be increasing -- with potentially severe consequences for human health and the environment. Congress might choose to rely on existing efforts in the public and private sectors to improve chemical site security over time. Alternatively, Congress could expand existing environmental planning requirements for chemical facilities to require consideration of terrorism. Congress might also enact legislation to reduce risks, either by "hardening" defenses against terrorists or by requiring industries to consider use of safer chemicals, procedures, or processes.
Date: January 12, 2006
Creator: Schierow, Linda-Jo
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues (open access)

China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues

Congress has long been concerned about whether U.S. policy advances the national interest in reducing the role of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missiles that could deliver them. China has taken some steps to mollify U.S. concerns about its role in weapons proliferation. Skeptics question whether China's cooperation in weapons nonproliferation has warranted President Bush's pursuit of stronger bilateral ties. This report discusses the national security problem of China's role in weapons proliferation and issues related to the U.S. policy response, including legislation, since the mid-1990s.
Date: January 5, 2006
Creator: Kan, Shirley A.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Iraq: Recent Developments in Reconstruction Assistance (open access)

Iraq: Recent Developments in Reconstruction Assistance

Following years of authoritarian rule and economic sanctions, the United States and the international community agreed in the spring of 2003 that efforts should be made to introduce economic reform and democratic government to post-war Iraq. More recently, the Bush Administration has asserted a “victory” strategy composed of eight objectives, five of which are to: transition Iraq to security self-reliance, help Iraqis form a national compact for democratic government, help Iraq build government capacity and provide essential services, help Iraq strengthen its economy, and help Iraq strengthen the rule of law and promote civil rights. To meet these ends, a large-scale reconstruction assistance program has been undertaken by the United States in Iraq. This report describes recent developments in this assistance effort.
Date: January 4, 2006
Creator: Tarnoff, Curt
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Energy: Useful Facts and Numbers (open access)

Energy: Useful Facts and Numbers

Energy supplies and prices are a major economic factor in the United States, and energy markets are volatile and unpredictable. For both these reasons, energy policy is of frequent interest to the Congress. This report presents a statistical view of the supply and consumption of various forms of energy. After an introductory overview of aggregate energy consumption, the report presents detailed analysis of trends and statistics regarding specific energy sources: oil, electricity, natural gas, and coal. A section on trends in energy efficiency is also presented.
Date: January 10, 2006
Creator: Glover, Carol & Behrens, Carl E.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses (open access)

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

The Bush Administration has pursued several avenues to attempt to contain or end the potential threat posed by Iran, at times pursuing limited engagement directly or through allies, and at other times leaning toward pursuing efforts to change Iran’s regime. Over the past two years, the Administration has focused primarily on blunting Iran’s nuclear program by backing diplomatic efforts by European nations and Russia to negotiate permanent curbs on it. International concerns on nuclear issues and other strategic issues have been heightened by the accession of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hardliner, as president. He advocates a return to many of the original principles of the Islamic revolution as set down by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Some advocate military action against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, but others believe that continued diplomacy, combined with offers of economic rewards or threats of international sanctions is the only viable option. Still, others believe that only an outright replacement of Iran’s regime would diminish the threat posed by Iran to U.S. interests.
Date: January 20, 2006
Creator: Katzman, Kenneth
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Post-War Iraq: Foreign Contributions to Training, Peacekeeping, and Reconstruction (open access)

Post-War Iraq: Foreign Contributions to Training, Peacekeeping, and Reconstruction

"This report tracks important changes in financial and personnel pledges from foreign governments [to the reconstruction and stabilization of Iraq]" (p. 1).
Date: January 13, 2006
Creator: Sharp, Jeremy M. & Blanchard, Christopher M.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Navy Attack Submarine Force-Level Goal and Procurement Rate: Background and Issues for Congress (open access)

Navy Attack Submarine Force-Level Goal and Procurement Rate: Background and Issues for Congress

The Navy is currently procuring one Virginia (SSN-774) class attack nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) per year. Each submarine currently costs about $2.4 billion. The FY2007-FY2011 Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) to be submitted in February 2006 reportedly will propose maintaining the one-per-year procurement rate through FY2011, and then increasing the rate to two per year in FY2012.
Date: January 18, 2006
Creator: O'Rourke, Ronald
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Venezuela: Political Conditions and U.S. Policy (open access)

Venezuela: Political Conditions and U.S. Policy

Under the populist rule of President Hugo Chávez, first elected in 1998, Venezuela has undergone enormous political changes, with a new constitution, a new the unicameral legislature, and even a new name for the country, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Although Chávez remained widely popular until mid-2001, his popularity eroded considerably after that, amid concerns that he was imposing a leftist agenda. In April 2002, massive opposition protests led to the ouster of Chávez from power for a brief period, but the military restored him to power after an interim the government resorted to such hardline measures as dismantling the National Assembly and suspending the Constitution.
Date: January 17, 2006
Creator: Sullivan, Mark P.
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Homeland Security Department: FY2006 Appropriations (open access)

Homeland Security Department: FY2006 Appropriations

This report is a guide to one of the regular appropriations bills that Congress considers each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Homeland Security. It summarizes the status of the bill, its scope, major issues, funding levels, and related congressional activity, and is updated as events warrant. The reports lists the key CRS staff relevant to the issues covered and related CRS products.
Date: January 24, 2006
Creator: Lake, Jennifer E. & Nuñez-Neto, Blas
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
U.S. Assistance to the Former Soviet Union (open access)

U.S. Assistance to the Former Soviet Union

Since 1992, the United States has provided more than $26 billion in assistance to the 12 states of the former Soviet Union (FSU). It continues to provide nearly $2 billion annually. This report describes the broad framework of U.S. assistance programs and policies in the region and then focuses on the FREEDOM Support Act (FSA) account under the foreign operations budget which, encompassing all U.S. objectives in the region, has often been the means by which Congress has expressed its views and sought to influence policy.
Date: January 12, 2006
Creator: Tarnoff, Curt
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library
Defense: FY2006 Authorization and Appropriations (open access)

Defense: FY2006 Authorization and Appropriations

This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress considers each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Defense. It summarizes the status of the bill, its scope, major issues, funding levels, and related congressional activity, and is updated as events warrant. The report lists the key CRS staff relevant to the issues covered and related CRS products.
Date: January 20, 2006
Creator: Daggett, Stephen
Object Type: Report
System: The UNT Digital Library