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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Monday, April 15, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Guantanamo detainees’ hunger strike took a violent turn over the weekend, with prison guards using force in order to subdue the detainees. There are many stories, including Peter Finn’s at the Washington Post, Charlie Savage’s at the New York Times,  Kevin Bogardus’s at The Hill, and Bill Chappell’s at NPR. Alan summarized the details earlier. Earlier this morning, Ben noted an op-ed in the Times, penned by GTMO detainee Samir Najir al Hasan Moqbel and regarding the hunger strike ongoing at the detention facility.

Meanwhile, the New York Times’s Public Editor Margaret Sullivan responds to reader commentary on, among other things, the newspaper’s national security terminology.  Sullivan says she spoke to Times reporter Scott Shane about the Times’s use of more neutral-sounding words like “targeted killing,” “harsh interrogation techniques,” and “detainee”—as opposed to, say, “assassination,” “torture,” and “prisoner.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and Bush administration lawyer John Yoo wrote this Wall Street Journal op-ed.  They oppose U.S. approval of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty.  It violates the 2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms, they say, and could lead to stricter domestic gun control:

But the new treaty also demands domestic regulation of “small arms and light weapons.” The treaty’s Article 5 requires nations to “establish and maintain a national control system,” including a “national control list.” Article 10 requires signatories “to regulate brokering” of conventional arms. The treaty offers no guarantee for individual rights, but instead only declares it is “mindful” of the “legitimate trade and lawful ownership” of arms for”recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities.” Not a word about the right to possess guns for a broader individual right of self-defense.

In a Politico op-ed, Mike Decesare, co-President of computer security firm MacAfee, makes the case for congressional action on cybersecurity.  He proposes four particular actions, each meant to spur private sector cyber-vigilance:

1. Establishing cybersecurity as a national priority with funding for research and development, scholarships, competitions and other incentives to create a new generation of cybersecurity career professionals.

2. Tax incentives to encourage businesses to invest in cyberdefense, including accelerated depreciation schedules or tax credits for adopting proven security technologies.

3. Liability protections for companies that share information about malicious network intrusions with the government. Right now, liability fears can suppress timely sharing of vital threat data.

4. Insurance reforms: Government could kick-start the insurance market by backing the development of cybersecurity insurance programs.

MacAfee has also just joined the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, a collaboration between the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the state of Maryland, and Maryland’s Montgomery County. The Herald Online has the story.

Forrester Consulting released the results of a poll of companies with 500 or more employees.  Over half of respondents said that, when budgeting for cybersecurity technology, the companies do not account for the bottom-line impact of electronic attempts to steal the companies’  intellectual property.  The Wall Street Journal reports on Forrester’s major conclusions.

And 200 IBM executives are heading to Washington to lobby members of Congress to vote in favor of the House Intelligence Committee’s cybersecurity bill, CISPA.  It heads to the floor this week. Jennifer Martinez of The Hill reports.

Wired tells us that the U.S. and China will form a working group to collaborate on cybersecurity.

Kaspersky Labs says it has identified a Chinese hacking ring that’s been active since 2009, and targeting the online gaming industry.  According to this Sydney Morning Herald story, the Chinese group attempted to steal proprietary software code and in-game currency that could be converted into real money. Victims include gaming outfits from South Korea, Germany, the United States, Japan, China, Russia, Peru, Brazil and Belarus.

Apropos of money, The Economist has two analyses of Bitcoin, the online “currency.” First, the English newspaper believes that Bitcoin will make a lasting impression on the financial industry, even if its value tanks. SecondThe Economist also doesn’t want financial regulators asserting control over Bitcoin or other online currencies.

Taking witness intimidation online, hackers posted, to the website of the Al Mustaqbal newspaper, the names of individuals set to testify at the U.N. Special Tribunal for Lebanon.  (Until then, the witnesses’ names had been kept secret.)  Marlise Simons’ New York Times story provides more details on an apparent effort to derail the U.N. legal proceeding, which arises from the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Diplomatic ping pong continued between Russia and the United States over the weekend. Late last week, the United States named the first contingent of Russians—18 people in total—sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that bans travel to the U.S. by, and freezes assets of, officials linked to human rights violations in Russia. Russia countered by barring 18 Americans from entering the Motherland. Who needs to cancel their plane tickets to Moscow, you ask? Among others, Bush administration attorney John Yoo, Cheney adviser David Addington, two former GTMO commanders, and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The New York Times got the word from Yoo on how it feels to be blocked: “Darn…There goes my judo match with Putin.”  Joby Warrick and Will Englund explain the Magnitsky Act in the Washington Post. The AP also reports on Russia’s announcement.

The United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime released its Opium Risk Assessment for Afghanistan today. The results are not great: opium production is on track to surpass 2007′s record level of land cultivation. The Journal and the Times both have dispatches on the U.N. agency’s report.

Bird Flu Watch 2.0 continues, with a new strain making inroads, over the weekend, in the densely populated and tourist-heavy city of Beijing.  The Times describes what seems to be the first of two Beijing cases to date; the Wall Street Journal reports on the second of the pair.  The latter paper also tells us that, as of yesterday, there were 60 reported cases in China.

A U.S. drone strike in northwestern Pakistan has allegedly killed five people, reports NBC News.

The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock details the friendship blooming between the U.S. and Niger.  This development comes as the U.S. expands its counterterrorism efforts in Africa.

The Economist reviews New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti’s new book, The Way of the Knife. 

Google CEO Eric Schmidt made headlines over the weekend when he exprsesed skepticism about domestic UAV technology.  These are Schmidt’s words, quoted in the Guardian:

“I’m not going to pass judgment on whether armies should exist, but I would prefer to not spread and democratise the ability to fight war to every single human being.

“It’s got to be regulated. You just can’t imagine that British people would allow this sort of thing, and I can’t imagine American people would allow this sort of thing. It’s one thing for governments, who have some legitimacy in what they’re doing, but have other people doing it … It’s not going to happen.”

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.

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