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Scope Note

A brief introduction to the various FAS News Archives

The FAS website archives news reports, analysis and primary documentation on a variety of global security issues, dating back to the early 1990s. This resource provides both current awareness on major current events, as well as background information of a historical nature. For current awareness purposes, our coverage is substantially more complete and detailed than newspapers such as The New York Times or The Washington Post. Our maintenance of news reports and related materials dating back to 1990 provides an archival research tool in many respects superior to the Times, which archives only selected articles, or the Post, which charges pay-per-view fees for articles more than two weeks old. While we do not archive reports from these or other copyright protected sources, and thus cannot provide access to specific articles, we have found that in practice the primary and secondary sources in our archives provide a fair rehearsal of the day's news.

The primary focus of our news archives are the country files, which include news reports, analysis, and primary documentation, as well as news sources, for some three dozen countries. The selection of countries, as well as included material, is focused on "special weapons" -- nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and missiles and anti-missile systems. While providing reasonably complete coverage on these topic, country files also provide expanded political and economic background coverage on countries of particular importance, such as Russia or China, as well as "high-risk" crisis countries such as Taiwan or the Koreas. This would include elections and other major domestic political developments, as well as economic developments with significant regime change or transformation potential, such as financial markets in Russia, or the food situation in North Korea.

In more than a few cases, a complete appreciation of a particular security situation requires reference to more than one country file, such as both India and Pakistan, or both China and Taiwan, or both North and South Korea. Our general rule of thumb, which is difficult to implement with meticulous consistency, is that news reports about a country are in that country's newsfile, along with official statements from the government of that country, news reports on such statements, as well as reports on bilateral issues which are filed from that country. The exception is US Government statements and associated secondary reports, which are filed in the subject country.

The Intelligence Resource Program news archive provides additional, complementary global security coverage, focused on security developments affecting countries not covered in the country files, as well as developments associated with clandestine and semi-clandestine activities by official intelligence agencies, and unofficial armed struggle liberation movements, terrorist organizations, and major organized criminal enterprises such as substance distribution networks. Much of the coverage in this archive is devoted to major armed struggles around the world, which frequently involve either domestic clandestine armed struggle movements, or clandestine military support by other countries.

Consequently, information about Russian nuclear weapons would be found under Russia, and most announcments of appointments to senior US Government agency positions will be found under USA news. However, reports concerning terrorism or peripheral wars in Russia will be found in the Intelligence Resource Program news archive, as will news of the comings and goings of US intelligence agency officials.

Although the bulk of our news resources are found in these two archives, more highly focused news resources are also found in a variety of other locations around our website. News reports concerning specific weapons systems are found on the page that profiles that system, just as reports on current and past US military operations or specific arms control agreements or negotiations are found on the associated resource page.

The frequency with which these news resources are updated depends on the volume and urgency of the news itself. High profile topics, such as current operations by US military forces, are typically updated on a daily basis, and may exceptionally be updated several times during the course of the day as events warrant. Less urgent items such as background reports are typically updated on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on the press of higher priority coverage. The careful and inquisitive reader will note that some resources may go for many months without updates, which normally reflects as much the absence of relevant news as the laziness or inattentiveness of our staff.


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