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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Friday, June 14, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Ritika has withdrawn to an undisclosed location for a few weeks of well-deserved R&R. You’re stuck with me for a while.

First, to non-Edward Snowden/NSA stories:

The United States has concluded that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons on rebel forces, prompting the Obama administration to commit direct U.S. military support to the anti-Assad forces—-although what that support might look like exactly remains to be seen. Here are stories from the Washington Post, NPR, and The Hill, and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes’ statement.

Last night there was a flurry of House activity on the 2014 NDAA. A host of amendments were adopted on the floor, and the bill may be passed in the House today, says Pete Kasperowicz. We’ll have more on the amendments later today.

From two at the Arab American Institute comes this op-ed in The Hill arguing in favor of a revision to the AUMF.

Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz discussed his new cybersecurity council before the House Energy and Commerce Department this week, reports Ben Geman in The Hill . Read SecEn Moniz’s testimony here.

Wednesday’s exchange between Senator Ron Johnson and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey caught Mark Thompson’s eye over at Time’s Battleland Blog. Thompson notes the distrust with which members seemed to view the military leader:

The latest example took place Wednesday before the Senate Budget Committee, generally not viewed as a center of national-security thinking. Nonetheless, if every senator sees herself or himself as a President, he or she also can pretend to be chair(wo)man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It’s the way that the lawmakers went after Army General Martin Dempsey, who actually holds that job, that is disconcerting. There’s a clear sense they don’t believe him, that he’s hiding something, somewhere.

As Ben noted this morning, a CIA paramilitary officer is suing his employer. Time’s Jeff Stein reports on the complaint as well.

The AP breaks this surprising story: a Ukranian-born man who’s been in the U.S. since 1949 lied to the United States about being a top commander of a Nazi SS-led unit during World War II. The story explains how the DOJ uses such information to deport suspected war criminals; the man could be prosecuted in Poland, or in Germany if there’s enough “initial suspicion” of his role in war crimes.

The Times’s Joseph Goldstein explores the growing effort by local law enforcement agencies to build DNA databases—ones operating outside of state and federal regulations.

OK, back to Edward Snowden Watch 2013. Keith Bradsher writes in the New York Times on the Chinese media’s reaction to Snowden’s comments about U.S. surveillance in China. On the minds of our intelligence community leaders is this question: what if the leaker has other classified documents? That’s the focus of Greg Miller and Sari Horwitz’s Washington Post story.

According to Danny Yadron and Evan Perez of the Wall Street Journal, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless do not—yet—fork over data to the NSA pursuant to court order. The authors say the two companies are foreign-owned, unlike Verizon Business Network Services, the subject of the recently-leaked FISC order and a U.S. subsidiary considered a separate from Verizon’s wireless network.

Brookings guest scholar Richard Lempert wrote this piece, on the Brookings blog, about the PRISM program and privacy.

The Times’s Claire Cain Miller describes Yahoo’s 2008 failed challenge to the FISC order, which resulted in its joining the PRISM program.

And this weekend’s “Five Myths” feature in the Post’s Outlook section, penned by GWU law’s Daniel Solove, goes to the heart of the battle between privacy and national security.

The United Kingdom has asked airlines around the world to not allow Edward Snowden on their planes. Read Reuters and the Daily Mail for the details. Meanwhile, the director of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor Law Yuk-kai authored this op-ed in the Times explaining why that place might not be the best locale for Snowden.

Two Siobhans (Hughes and Gorman) at the Wall Street Journal report on remarks by the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee. These followed a 3-hour, classified hearing with NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander. We can guess what they talked about.

Michael Gerson dedicates his Washington Post column today a critique of hard core conservatives. They are going “too far” in their criticism of the NSA, Gerson says:

It is one thing to oppose the policies of the administration; it is another to call for resistance against a “regime” and a “police state.” It is the difference between skepticism about government and hatred for government. And it raises the question: How is it even possible to love such an Amerika?

This distinction between opposition and resistance is illustrated in attitudes toward the leaker Edward Snowden. If our country is being run by a regime, then those who expose its machinations are heroes, as some on the right have called Snowden. If the U.S. government is a fallible institution doing its best to protect citizens from terrorist violence, then a libertarian loner who reveals classified material (including U.S. cyberwarfare plans) and bolts for a communist country might be viewed in a different light.

Bloomberg’s editorial today speaks in favor of Senator Jeff Merkley’s proposal to declassify some opinions of FISA courts. Senator Merkley, in the meantime, queried General Keith Alexander on the wisdom of the idea. Alexander seemingly surprised the Oregon Senator, when he spoke in favor of it. There’s video over at the Huffington Post.

Meanwhile, Senator Dianne Feinstein is working on a legislative proposal that would limit the access that federal contractors have to highly classified information. Carlo Munoz covers this over at The Hill.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wants Snowden to be prosecuted, and is preparing a fact sheet outlining the differences between surveillance under the Bush and Obama administrations. So writes Mike Lillis at The Hill.

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 blog, 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.