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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 1:25 PM

NBC News obtained a National Security Agency memo that reveals that a civilian employee of the NSA gave one Edward Snowden his login information and password, which Snowden then used to access classified information. The employee was stripped of his security clearance, and has resigned. Two other people, one a member of the U.S. military and the other an NSA contractor, have been implicated as unwitting accomplices in the internal investigation at NSA.

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, NSA’s 215 program received its latest legal challenge—this time from a class action lawsuit led by the conservative action group, FreedomWorks, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and just-defeated Virginia gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli. The Christian Science Monitor has the story, as does the New York Times. And in an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, Dana Milbank writes about accusations that Cuccinelli stole the work of lawyer Bruce Fein before pushing him off the suit.

The Hill reports on FISA court documents that have just been made public. The documents include the FISC’s order renewing the 215 metadata collection program, and requests and approval for changes to the program. Wells describes them here.

Meanwhile, there was another successful attack on American forces in Afghanistan yesterday. According to the New York Times, two individuals wearing Afghan army uniforms suddenly turned and fired on coalition forces, killing two American soldiers. Although assessments of the incident are ongoing, some officials are concerned that such incidents will increase as the Western withdrawal grows more imminent.

As we mentioned on Tuesday, 65 Afghan detainees have been released from Parwan over the vociferous objections of American diplomats. The BBC has more on the story. It seems like American evidence linking many of the released prisoners to attacks against coalition and Afghan forces, as well as civilians, was largely ignored.

Speaking of released prisoners, the Times has a story about the effects recent breakouts from Iraqi prisons are having on the Iraqi and Syrian insurgencies. These hundreds of escaped fighters inspire and help fuel the Sunni jihad, and have taken on a number of senior leadership positions.

In a surprising and potentially critical development, the Syrian opposition presented the Assad regime with a 24 point plan that includes no mention of Assad or his ouster. Nevertheless, the regime’s representatives continue to resist any discussion of political transition.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Iran’s economic windfall from the nuclear talks is far greater than White House officials said it would be. After years of contraction, the IMF reports that the Iranian economy is growing at 1-2 percent.

As Paul noted, today’s Journal covers the EU’s move to globalize internet governance and curb US dominance. The initiative’s supporters have tied its necessity directly to disclosures about American surveillance programs.

Steptoe Cyberblog has its sixth Cyberlaw podcast online. Stewart Baker, Michael Vatis, and Jason Weinstein discuss Target’s HVAC-related breach, possible CFAA amendments and the latest NSA material.

In Forbes, Andy Greenberg profiles Endgame, a cyber security contractor, and its CEO Nate Fick, and discusses the company’s shift from offense to defense.

The UAE will use drones for “citizen services,” like delivering ID cards, reports Al Jazeera.

The Benghazi attacks look like they might go the way of the Osama bin Laden raid: To Hollywood. The rights to an e-book about the account have been purchased, The Hill informs us.

And, an affiliate of the Caucasus Emirate, an Islamist insurgent group in Russia, has sent a bombastic appeal to its supporters about the Sochi Winter Olympics—it’s Today’s Moment of Zen.

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