Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 2:00 PM

The Boston attacks lead the news.   The New York Times and the Washington Post report on the Tsarnaev brothers' online activities and non-links to foreign terrorist cells, respectively.   At the same time, Senate Intelligence Committee members voiced concern about agencies'  information sharing capabilities, according to this story by the Times's Eric Schmitt and Julia Preston.   And Salam Al-Marayati, President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, condemns the Boston attacks in this Post op-ed.   Extremists like the Tsarnaevs, he writes, have dragged Muslims' names "through the mud."

The Wall Street Journal says the Boston attacks prompted Canadian police to speed up their own efforts to counter a plot to bomb trains traveling between Toronto and New York City.  Canadian authorities swiftly arrested two suspects, and charged them with conspiracy.

And Canada has accused Iranian elements of Al Qaeda of playing a role in the averted train attack.  That put Iran's Foreign Ministry on the defensive.  The latter denies any such role, decries Canada's hostility towards Iran, and insists that Iran is itself the "biggest victim of terrorism." The Times's Alan Cowell has more details in his story.

Prosecutors dropped charges against Kevin Curtis, the man who they believed was responsible for mailing ricin-laden envelopes to President Obama, Senator Wicker, and a Mississippi judge. Here are Robbie Brown of the Times and Lenny Bernstein and Kimberly Kindy of the Washington Post.

On to cyber matters: our latest and most visible cyberattack victim is the AP.  A group called the Syrian Electronic Army gained access to the news organization's Twitter account; a tweet from the account then falsely reported explosions at the White House and injuries to President Obama.  This caused the Dow to drop by over 150 points, but market activity returned to normal levels after the White House disavowed the message as erroneous. Nicole Perlroth and Michael Shear of the New York Times provide a play-by-play, and The Hill says the FBI is on the case.   For what it's worth, Twitter has now released a two-step authentication process, which allegedly will increase account security. How long will it take for the hackers to find a work-around?

The House Republican Conference has released its Interim Progress Report on the Benghazi attack. They've reached three "determinations" thus far:

  • Reductions of security levels prior to the attacks in Benghazi were approved at the highest levels of the State Department, up to and including Secretary Clinton. This  fact contradicts her testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on January 23, 2013.
  • In the days following the attacks, White House and senior State Department officials altered accurate talking points drafted by the Intelligence Community in order to protect the State Department.
  • Contrary to Administration rhetoric, the talking points were not edited to protect classified information. Concern for classified information is never mentioned in email traffic among senior Administration officials.

The Hill's Jeremy Herb and Carlo Munoz provide more details on the report, which apparently contradicts the conclusions of an independent review board.

Today's New York Times Room For Debate queries experts on whether NATO is no longer useful.

Adam Nossiter writes in the Times about Anasaru, an offshoot of Nigerian Islamist terrorist organization Boko Haram. So why the divorce?  Apparently, Boko Haram has been "too reckless" in killing Nigerians, but Ansaru wants to focus its campaign on kidnapping and killing foreigners instead.

Australia's police have arrested the leader of LulzSec, the group that hacked the CIA's website back in 2011. Here's Matt Siegel in the Times. And Verizon has come out with its annual report on data breaches. Nicole Perlroth of the Times summarizes the company's analysis, which is also available here.

Bird Flu Watch 2.0 in China continues. According to the latest Chinese government reports, at least 108 confirmed cases exist and 22 people have died. It also appears the virus is spreading in a sustained way among the Chinese. Here's Agence France-Presse with that cheery news.  And Laurie Burkitt writes in the Wall Street Journal that the virus has spread outside of the Chinese mainland.

There's been ample coverage of yesterday's Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on drones. Have a look at these two pieces, one by Charlie Savage, in the Times, and another by Spencer Ackerman, over at Wired. In case you didn't hear, drone critic and marathon filibusterer Senator Rand Paul said this to Fox News: "if there's a killer on the loose in a neighborhood, I'm not against drones being used to search them out, heat-seeking devices being used, I'm all for law enforcement, I'm just not for surveillance when there's not probably cause that a crime's been committed." Real Clear Politics has the transcript of the Republican''s remarks.  Despite their seeming inconsistency with his past anti-drone screeds, Kevin Cirilli of Politico explains that the Senator is no flip-flopper.

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.