Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Thursday, May 23, 2013, 11:15 AM

Leading the news: President Obama speaks today at the National Defense University on counterterrorism policy.  Many are previewing the speech, including John.  According to the New York Times's Charlie Savage and Peter BakerObama will announce more stringent targeting criteria for non-battlefield strikes.  This approach will govern the use of force against both citizens and non-citizens.

Here are the Washington Post's Karen DeYoung and Peter Finnand NPR's Carrie Johnson, on Attorney General Eric Holder's letter to Congress.  In it, Holder acknowledged that four Americans have been killed in U.S. drone strikes. Matt and John both offered their thoughts on the letter.

In a Times op-ed, Mirza Shahzad Akbar urges readers not to forget about foreign civilians who have been killed in drone strikes.

Pakistan's new government is under pressure to halt U.S. drone strikes within its borders, as Saeed Shah reports in the Wall Street Journal. And Brookings scholar Peter Singer authored an op-ed about the significance of the speech at the LA Times, while Georgetown Law Professor Rosa Brooks offers five questions for the President over at Foreign Policy.

President Obama's speech today won't just be about drones: word on the street is that he will also resuscitate the GTMO detainee transfer program. Here are Jeremy Herb of The Hill, Dina Temple-Raston of NPR, and Julian Barnes, Evan Perez and Adam Entous of the Wall Street Journal.  

Congressman Adam Smith penned this op-ed in the Huffington Post.  He proposes a way to close GTMO, among other things by removing the Congressional prohibition on transferring military commission-convicted detainees to U.S. prisons:

We can reduce the detainee population by changing the unreasonable congressional prohibitions on detaining and trying GTMO detainees in the United States. There are currently three detainees at GTMO who have been convicted by military commissions. Now that they have been convicted, why not have them serve their sentences in Federal prisons?

Detaining enemy combatants in the United States, who need to be kept off the battlefield but who can't be tried or responsibly transferred, can be done according to transparent and reviewable procedures involving judges and counsel, not just untrained military officers. Start the interagency periodic review process that has been stalled. Review the justification for continued detention annually. Let the world see what we are doing. Continue to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross full access to detainees and allow other NGOs more access.

And Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland authored this CNN opinion piece detailing 9 myths about drones and Guantanamo.

On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit upheld the Obama administration's refusal to fulfill a FOIA request for images of a recently killed Osama bin Laden. Here's NPR on the court's decision.

Ellen Nakashima tells us in the Post that the Electronic Frontier Foundation will file a motion in the FISA Court.  The move apparently has to do with the advocacy group's FOIA request for one of the court's secret opinions.

Democrats Edward Markey and Henry Waxman released a Congressional report yesterday about the vulnerability of our electrical power grid. Here's the report, and stories in Info Security MagazineBloomberg Businessweek, and the Post.  The Markey-Waxman report's three main conclusions are:

  1. The electric grid is the target of numerous and daily cyber-attacks.  
  2. Most utilities only comply with mandatory cyber-security standards, and have not implemented voluntary NERC recommendations.
  3. Most utilities have not taken concrete steps to reduce the vulnerability of the grid to geomagnetic storms and it is unclear whether the number of available spare transformers is adequate.

The plot thickens in the James Rosen surveillance story: D.C. District Court Chief Judge Royce Lamberth issued an order yesterday, in which he apologized to the public for a long delay in unsealing records pertaining to the government's leak investigation.  As we now know, documents underlying the search of Rosen's email account were only made public recently.  However, the court had ordered the records to be unsealed in November 2011 (yes, you read that correctly).  Obviously that didn't happen; the issue only came to light when the Post inquired about materials that hadn't been posted on the case's public docket. Here's Ann Marimow of the Post with all the details.

The Times editorial today focuses on Benghazi, and calls for a deeper examination into the CIA's role in the U.S. response---including the drafting of the now-infamous talking points.

Wednesday's violent and especially gruesome murder of a British soldier in London could be an act of terror, said UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Here are the Times, the BBC, and the Post. The Times's Lede blog has a video of one suspect's recorded statement.

David Axe writes in Wired's Danger Room blog about the Taliban's infiltration of the Afghan Local Police---a counterterror group which the New York Times profiled earlier this week.

The Times's Edward Wong writes about hacker culture in China.  It is prevalent not only within the military, but across the private sector as well. He writes:

The culture of hacking in China is not confined to top-secret military compounds where hackers carry out orders to pilfer data from foreign governments and corporations. Hacking thrives across official, corporate and criminal worlds. Whether it is used to break into private networks, track online dissent back to its source or steal trade secrets, hacking is openly discussed and even promoted at trade shows, inside university classrooms and on Internet forums.

Norwegian cybersecurity firm Norman concludes that recent cyber attacks on that country's telecommunications systems came from India---although the hackers don't appear to be state-sponsored. The hackers, according to the report, focus on U.S. and Pakistani targets. Here are the report, and a Times of India story.

The Senate has passed the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, which criminalizes lying about the receipt of military medals. It's now on its way to the President's desk for signature. Here's The Hill's story.

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.