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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Friday, February 15, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Yes: Senate Republicans took an unprecedented step yesterday in preventing the invocation of cloture on their former colleague Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be the Secretary of Defense. Here’s The Hill, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. That’s not the only nominee who’s getting delayed; there’s also four-star Army General Lloyd Austin, the White House’s pick to run CENTCOM.  Senators have stalled Austin’s confirmation, while demanding more details about the U.S. draw-down in Afghanistan, Carlo Munoz of The Hill says.

Drone-alia: the FAA this week requested proposals from states interested in establishing experimental test ranges for unmanned aerial systems (“UAS”).  The timing is interesting.  §332(c) of the 2012 FAA authorization bill requires the FAA to establish, within 180 days of the law’s passage, a program ”to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system at 6 test ranges”; and to operationalize any projects at those test ranges no less than 180 days after that project’s establishment.  But the bill literally does not obligate the FAA to name its test locations by a date certain.  Thus, in this September 2012 letter, FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta argued that the agency had established a program in accordance with the authorization bill’s timeline.  (In this way, he also appeared to challenge claims that the FAA, in not yet naming its test locations, had missed a deadline).  So is the agency on time or running behind, test site-wise?  Here’s the AP story about the FAA’s announcement this week. (On that point, Wells  authored a Brookings paper about the UAS provisions in the FAA reauthorization–take a look.)

Thom Shanker in the Times points out a significant hurdle for the U.S. military, as it prepares for its 2014 Afghanistan draw-down deadline: removing all of the military equipment.

More and more local jurisdictions are taking a stand against the use of UAS in their airspace; thus, it was only a matter of time before members of Congress did the same. Representatives Ted Poe and Zoe Lofgren offered a bill requiring a warrant prior to using a drone in criminal cases. Here’s Keith Laing of The Hill on their bill.

So the cybersecurity executive order is available. How well-timed, then, is this GAO report suggesting that roles in cybersecurity policy need better definition and more effective implementation? GovInfoSecurity noted the report’s release on the Feast of St. Valentine’s.  Strengthening cyber policy certainly won’t run counter to popular opinion.  A survey by Tenable Network Security found that 92% of Americans believe public utilities are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Here’s a Mashable story on the survey’s results.

Mark Clayton of the Christian Science Monitor reports on experts’ dissatisfaction with the executive order—the latter say it does not go far enough. At Bloomberg‘s View, an editorial argues to the contrary, insisting that the President’s order took sensible steps.  The piece translates Obama’s cyber-flavored remarks at the State of the Union as follows:

What he meant, but was perhaps too polite to say, was that in light of the ineptitude and cowardice Congress has shown on this matter, year after year, an executive order is probably the best we can hope for right now. As recent cyberattacks on the Federal Reserve, the Department of Energy, half a dozen major banks and a slew of media companies make clear, however, it won’t be adequate for very long.

Score: Europol has taken down what the Times Raphael Minder calls “one of the most efficient cybercrime organizations.”

Now that Rep. Mike Rogers has confirmed that he plans to reintroduce his cybersecurity information-sharing bill, privacy advocates are circling the wagons. Jennifer Martinez and Brandon Sasso of The Hill report on the plans. Meanwhile, PCMag takes a look at Rogers’ bill—you likely know it as CISPA—and compares the bill with the executive order.

DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have signed a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) that creates cross-agency working groups to collaborate on cybersecurity issues. Here’s the MOU.

For more interesting law and security-related articles, follow us on Twitter and check out the Lawfare News Feed, visit the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law’s Security Law Brief, Syracuse’s Institute for National Security & Counterterrorism’s newsroll, and Fordham Law’s Center on National Security’s Morning Brief and Cyber Brief. Email Raffaela Wakeman and Ritika Singh noteworthy articles to include, visit the Lawfare Events Calendar for upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings at the Lawfare Job Board.