Special Counsel and Security Related "Whistleblower" Protection Issues, United States Office

In 1989, the United States Congress passed the Whistleblower Protection Act, which provided protections for federal employees who reported wrongdoing, including theft and fraud, in the workplace. Since that time, several high-profile cases have involved personnel claiming protection through the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), established by that Act.

Special Operations Command, United States

Special operations forces (SOFs) are elite units of the United States military services that are used for purposes that include counterterrorism, asymmetric warfare, forward reconnaissance, and preparation for landing by airborne and conventional troops in a combat zone. Though some such units have existed since World War II, the formal organization of special operations did not emerge until much later, culminating in the establishment of the U.S.

Special Relationship: Technology Sharing Between the Intelligence Agencies of the United States and United Kingdom

During World War II, the intelligence services of the United States and the United Kingdom worked together in their efforts against the Axis powers, particularly in Europe, and formalized the collaboration with agreements in 1943 and 1946. Only in the postwar era did the United States emerge as the dominant partner, and even then, many of the most important technological advances in intelligence came from Britain.


Spectroscopy is the measurement of the absorption, scattering, or emission of electromagnetic radiation by atoms or molecules. Absorption is the transfer of electromagnetic energy from a source to an atom or molecule.


A spore is a hard casing that contains the genetic material of those bacteria and other microorganisms that are able to form the structure.

SR-71 Blackbird

The SR-71, a black, high-altitude airborne reconnaissance platform that flew at trisonic speed, gave the United States the ability to photograph military sites in hostile countries as well as the opportunity to confirm interpretations of satellite photographs from 1968 until 1990. Photographs taken from SR-71s helped end the siege of Khe Sanh in Vietnam in 1968, preserved the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) with the Soviet Union by monitoring troop movements in Cuba in 1979, and confirmed that Iran had acquired Silk Worm missiles from China for possible use against oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz in 1987.

START I Treaty

The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, now known as START I, was one of the key weapons agreements forged during the détente period of the late Cold War era. Negotiations for strategic weapon reductions of the United States and Soviet Union arsenals began in 1982, when both nations sought a lessening of Cold War tensions.


An SS-19 strategic missile warhead is loaded into a silo at a site near Saratov, Russia, in 1999. After languishung in the Russian parliament for almost seven years, the START II arms control treaty was finally ratified by Russia in 2000.


The Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, Ministry of State Security, was the primary intelligence and security agency of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), or East Germany, during the Cold War. The Stasi, as the organization was most commonly known, maintained a comprehensive network of informants, agents, and military-trained secret police.

Stealth Technology

Stealth technology, also termed "low-observable" technology, is a set of techniques that render military vehicles, mostly aircraft, hard to observe.


Steganography (from the Greek for "covered writing") is the secret transmission of a message. It is distinct from encryption, because the goal of encryption is to make a message difficult to read while the goal of steganography is to make a message altogether invisible.

Strategic Defense Initiative and National Missile Defense

Since the advent of ballistic missiles at the end of World War II, the United States has considered several anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems designed to defend against attack by intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or, more recently, by shorter-range ballistic missiles. The Strategic Defense Initiative program and its successor, National Missile Defense (NMD), are the two most ambitious ABM schemes proposed to date.

Strategic Petroleum Reserve, United States

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), located in the United States and operated by the Department of Energy (DOE), is the largest emergency supply system of oil in the world. To enhance national security, in a Presidential Order signed November 13, 2001, President George W.

Sudan, Intelligence and Security

Due to its role with connection to the international war on terrorism, Sudan has much greater importance in the realm of intelligence and security than do most nations of Africa's interior. Though it harbored al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from 1991 to 1996, Sudan in 2001 became an unlikely ally of the United States in its efforts against Islamist terrorists.

Suez Canal

As the longest canal in the world without locks, the Suez Canal links the Mediterranean and Red seas across the Isthmus of Suez. Although Eygpt's ancient rulers devised a means of connecting the Nile River to the Red Sea, it was only in modern times that French engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps developed a workable design for the 101-mile (163-km) canal, which opened in 1869.


A supercomputer is a powerful computer that possesses the capacity to store and process far more information than is possible using a conventional personal computer.

Surgeon General and Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense, United States Office

Among its many responsibilities, the Office of the United States Surgeon General serves as a clearinghouse for information on what is known as "medical NBC"—that is, the biomedical effects of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons and agents. Through the World Wide Web, the Surgeon General's office keeps physicians, as well as the general public, informed of dangers associated with anthrax, weapons of mass destruction, and other threats that became a part of public discourse after the terrorist attacks of September, 2001 and the subsequent war on terror.

Sweden, Intelligence and Security

Sweden established its national intelligence services in 1937, in response to escalating political and military tensions in Europe and the rise of Nazi Germany. While the Swedish military had maintained a unit of trained espionage and counterespionage agents since the early nineteenth century, the nation lacked a modern and specialized intelligence force.

Switzerland, Intelligence and Security

Switzerland has a long tradition of neutrality, abstaining from active participation in World Wars I and II. This policy of neutrality extended to abstaining from membership in international organizations and prohibiting the sharing of some intelligence information with foreign nations.

Syria, Intelligence and Security

Syria has four intelligence agencies, which together helped President Hafez al-Assad maintain strict control of the nation from 1970 to 2000, and assisted the transition of power to his son Bashar after the elder Assad died. Despite the country's reputation as a police state and an exporter of terrorism within the Middle East, Syrian opposition to Iraq and to Islamist groups has often placed it in temporary alignment with United States policies.


Tabun (or "GA") is one of a group of synthetic chemicals that were developed in Germany during the 1930s and 1940s (Tabun was developed in 1936). The original intent of these compounds, including tabun, was to control insects.

Taiwan, Intelligence and Security

For the first four decades after its establishment by ousted Chinese President Chiang Kai-shek in the 1940s, the Republic of China (ROC) or Taiwan was a virtual one-party state ruled by Chiang's Guomindang or KMT. Although its system was capitalist and nominally democratic, the country's people had little freedom of dissent.


A Taser is a type of gun. It is similar in appearance to a conventional gun, having a handle, squeezable trigger, and a blunt barrel.

Technical Intelligence

Technical intelligence, or TECHINT, is intelligence relating to the technical abilities of an enemy. It does not fall under just one of the four major branches of intelligence; rather, TECHINT includes elements of imagery, measurement and signatures, and signals intelligence (IMINT, MASINT, and SIGINT, respectively).

Technology Transfer Center (NTTC), Emergency Response Technology Program

The National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC) is a research facility on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia. It was established by Congress in 1989, with a mandate to increase the effectiveness of U.S.


Telemetry, from the Greek tele (far) and metron (measure), is the collection of data using automated sensors that transmit their results to a central monitoring point. A telemetric sensor may be stationary (e.g., fixed on the sea floor) or aboard a mobile platform (e.g., airplane, spacecraft, missile, submarine).

Telephone Caller Identification (Caller ID)

Caller identification, or caller ID, permits the receiver of a call to identify the caller's location. Available since the early 1990s, it has enhanced the sense of privacy enjoyed by persons in their homes, and has also greatly reduced the number of prank calls, as well as calls made with threatening or criminal intent.

Telephone Recording Laws

In the United States, each state has its own laws regarding the recording of phone calls, while recording of interstate calls is governed by federal law, most notably the Federal Wiretapping Act. In some cases, taping is legal with the consent of both parties, but the laws can be complex and open to arcane interpretations.

Telephone Recording System

A telephone recording system can be as simple as a handheld phone receiver with an analogue (non-computerized, non-digital) recorder. In such a situation, the act of recording is hard to hide.

Telephone Scrambler

A telephone scrambler encrypts phone conversations, keeping unauthorized users from tapping into or monitor calls with any success. Scrambling involves the encryption of data, using unique codes that render it possible only for authorized personnel to unscramble transmissions.