Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 2:36 PM

William P. Barr (former Attorney General), Jamie S. Gorelick (former Deputy AG), and Kenneth L. Wainstein (former Assistant AG for National Security) have this Times op-ed on the AP subpoena controversy. They write:

While neither we nor the critics know the circumstances behind the prosecutors’ decision to issue this subpoena, we do know from the government’s public disclosures that the prosecutors were right to investigate this leak vigorously. The leak — which resulted in a May 2012 article by The A.P. about the disruption of a Yemen-based terrorist plot to bomb an airliner — significantly damaged our national security. . . .

The leak of such sensitive source information not only denies us an invaluable insight into our adversaries’ plans and operations. It is also devastating to our overall ability to thwart terrorist threats, because it discourages our allies from working and sharing intelligence with us and deters would-be sources from providing intelligence about our adversaries. Unless we can demonstrate the willingness and ability to stop this kind of leak, those critical intelligence resources may be lost to us.

An odd move from Guatemala's highest court: it invalidated proceedings from April 19th onward, in the trial of Efrain Rios Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity.  That period includes Montt's recent conviction for both crimes---which the court's ruling effectively overturned.  As this BBC report  explains, the decision has its roots in an April 18 walkout by Montt's defense counsel. Elisabeth Malkin of the New York Times also has a story.

Ryan Fogle, a U.S. diplomat and alleged CIA officer, is not the only American to be expelled from Mother Russia in recent weeks.  Also getting the boot is Tom Firestone, former legal adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and now senior counsel at Baker McKenzie's office there. The New York Times says  Firestone was approached about becoming an informant for the FSB, Russia's domestic security service, but declined.  That, it seems, prompted Russian officials to declare Firestone persona non grata.   Robert Beckhusen of Wired  analyzes the Firestone story here.

The Washington Post editorial board thinks l'affaire Fogle was a frame job:

The way Mr. Fogle’s arrest was turned into a public spectacle suggests it was a setup by the Russian security service. Over the weekend, a Russian news agency, quoting an FSB officer, identified by name the CIA station chief in Moscow, a breach of long-standing protocol.

The Times's Thom Shanker profiles the outgoing deputy commander of Special Operations forces in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc.  The latter trains Afghan villagers to defend themselves against insurgents. Bolduc's program is blessed by senior Afghan government officials; boasts the participation of more than 22,000 villagers in 55 village districts; and, according to Special Operations HQ, has a lower attrition rate than the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.  Still, for all these successes, Bolduc's initiative is not controversy-free, as Shanker notes.

It's official: the Pentagon has taken control of some drone operations, particularly those in Yemen.  According to this Reuters story, operations in Pakistan still will be run by the CIA, in order to maintain their covert status and ensure deniability for the U.S. and Pakistan.

Over at CFR, Micah Zenko excerpts the transcript from last week's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the AUMF.

Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's embattled ex-president, was granted bail on Monday.  But he's still under house arrest, and three different cases against him continue to move forward, according to Salman Masood and Ismail Khan of the Times.

With the latest round of Benghazi hearings done, the State Department is focused on implementing the Accountability Review Board's security recommendations. Read Eric Schmitt's piece in the Times. And the Post's Anne Gearan covered SecState Kerry's remarks yesterday, about new restrictions on diplomats' activities while posted in dangerous locales.  He said that, in order to perform their duties, foreign service officers must work "outdoors," sometimes even beyond security barriers.

A 2010 Chinese cyberattack on Google sought information about U.S. surveillance targets, who were then believed to be Chinese intelligence operatives. Ellen Nakashima has more on the story in the Washington Post.

The Times's Nicole Perlroth dives into the investigation into the Syrian Electronic Army's recent cyberattacks.

And the GSA has taken the next step in setting standard cybersecurity contract requirements, as mandated by President Obama's cybersecurity executive order. Here's the agency's request for information in the Federal Register.

A weekend Washington Post editorial called for cybersecurity legislation. It concluded:

To protect what we hold dear — from mobile apps to mutual funds — it is vital that the United States erect better defenses. Congress stalled in the last session over legislation that would improve cooperation between the private sector, which controls most of the networks, and the government, which could help defend those networks. An unreasonable business allergy to regulation was the main obstacle. The need for legislation is more urgent than ever.

Speaking of cyber, GTMO has turned off its WiFi and blocked access to social networking sites, as a result of a threat by Anonymous.  The notorious hacking outfit apparently has deployed its technical prowess in a show of solidarity with the detainees. Here's the BBC story.

GTMO detainee and hunger striker Shaker Aamer has launched a Twitter campaign---or, at least, UK human rights group Reprieve has launched one on Aamer's behalf.  Spencer Ackerman at Wired says that Aamer's Twitter proxies are asking supporters to call the U.S. embassy and demand action on GTMO.

Congressman Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington State, has sent this letter to the White House.  Smith therein repeats his call to close GTMO---among other things by transferring cleared people, and prosecuting eligible detainees in federal courts or military commissions.

Brazilian police arrested one Hamzi Ahmad Barakat, a suspected member of Hezbollah and U.S.-designated global terrorist. This Times story has more.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, UBL's son-in-law, stands charged with conspiring to kill Americans.  He seeks the help of defense lawyer Stanley Cohen, who has deep experience in terrorism cases but who also faces some legal troubles of his own.  It turns out Cohen is under federal investigation; Judge Lewis Kaplan said this might compromise Cohen's ability to obtain the security clearance needed to review classified materials in Abu Ghaith's case. Ben Weiser of the Times gives us a play-by-play of last week's hearings.

In the New York Times, Clyde Haberman profiles Karen Greenberg, director of Fordham Law's Center on National Security.

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.