Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Thursday, January 2, 2014, 1:34 PM

Greetings, 2014.

On New Year's Eve, Eastern District of New York Judge Edward Korman handed down his ruling in an important border search case. He dismissed a lawsuit brought by a victim of a laptop border search and civil liberties groups. The key quote from the memorandum opinion: "searches at our borders without probable cause and without a warrant are nonetheless ‘reasonable.’"

Earlier this week, Afghanistan rejected as "baseless" the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that predicts a degradation in Afghanistan, should a U.S-Afghan pact emerge without providing for an international military presence post-2014. Here's Hamid Shalizi in the Washington Post.

Matthew Rosenberg has a lengthy piece over at the Times about the ongoing tension over the Afghan government's plan to release hundreds of prisoners held at Bagram.  The U.S. previously handed the prisoners over to Afghan custody.

Other detainee-related stories: Julian Barnes writes in the Wall Street Journal about the advances made to close Guantanamo this year. Carol Rosenberg has a piece along similar lines, at the Miami Herald.

There have been a number of high-profile, violent attacks all over the world in the last few days. There was a second bombing in Volgograd, Russia within 24 hours of the first. President Vladimir Putin condemned the bombings, visited the  attack sites, and promised increased security at the upcoming Winter Olympics. At least 34 people have died as a result of the attacks.

A blast in Prague on New Year's Day killed the Palestinian Ambassador to the Czech Republic; an attacker set the front door of China's San Francisco consulate on fire.

What's this? House Speaker John Boehner is signaling that he may support effort to reform the U.S. immigration system? Michael Shear and Ashley Parker get into it at the Times.

Recall Lynne Stewart, who was convicted of illegally smuggling messages between her client Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheik, and his followers in Egypt several years ago. Stewart was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, and recently learned she has less than 18 months to live; thus she had ought early release under a Bureau of Prisons program for inmates who are terminally ill. The government supported this, and a federal judge ordered "compassionate release" on New Year's Eve, reports Ben Weiser of the Times.

The Lebanese military have detained the leader of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a militant Sunni group connected to Al Qaeda. Here's Anne Barnard in the Times.

And in the Central African Republic, the U.S. support operation is winding down, says Carlo Munoz of The Hill.

An excerpt from Peter Singer's and Allan Friedman's forthcoming book, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know, appears in Slate today. The title is fairly self-explanatory: "What can (real) pirates teach us about cybersecurity?"

Back to our regularly-scheduled Post-Snowden news and commentary. The New Yorker collects what it sees as the eleven most important documents regarding the telephony metadata program.

The New York Times editorial today calls Edward Snowden a whistleblower, and voices support for a plea bargain or clemency to get him back in the States.

The ACLU filed a FOIA suit in federal court in New York to obtain information about the government's interpretation of surveillance authority under Executive Order 12333.

And Apple is denying that it worked with NSA to locate a work-around its iPhone's security.  There's coverage in Der Spiegel.

CISCO, it seems, is looking into another Der Spiegel revelation: that NSA infiltrated its networks. Here's The Hill.

The Economist flags commentary at Boing Boing on still another scoop from Der Spiegel: NSA's Tailored Access Operations group activities.

Recently made public: the DoJ's response to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court indicating that it will not object to a court ruling that it must publish those portions of the FISC Opinion interpreting Section 215.

Surveillance of a different kind: the International Monitoring System, which was designed to help enforce the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.  It listens for and measures seismic activity or low-frequency sound waves. There is  a great piece by Joby Warrick in the Post about this important international effort.

Everyone's on the bitcoin kick these days. Here are some snippets.  Timothy Lee of the Post argues that the virtual currency might fix credit card security problems. Along those same lines, at Forbes, Erica Morphy ponders whether bitcoin would be more protective of identity than credit cards. Stephen Mihm says bitcoin is more akin to a dinosaur than the next big thing---that's in Bloomberg. Also, a  man running against long-time Senator John Cornyn is now accepting bitcoins; see Business Insider for more.I

It's a bit of a tangent, but relevant nevertheless: Erik Wemple contemplates whether the media is as transparent as the government is in the Washington Post.

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