Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Thursday, June 13, 2013, 12:07 PM

Yesterday's Senate Appropriations Committee hearing attracted quite a lot of attention, unsurprisingly, as General Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, testified regarding the PRISM program. Ellen Nakashima and Jerry Markon report in the Washington Post, a trio at the New York Times also have a story, as does The Hill.

Edward Snowden will fight an extradition order, should it come to that, writes Keith Bradsher in the Times. Ashley had a post earlier this week on the options available to the United States in its efforts to collect Snowden.

For technophobes among us, NPR has assembled this guide to key terms in the story. Here's a Wall Street Journal story discussing technological advances that have made the PRISM program possible.

CoinDesk, an 'online currency' news source, analyzes the impact of the disclosure of the PRISM program and subsequent details on the value of Bitcoin.

Dick Morris opines in The Hill on how he'd like to reform the NSA, while Brian Fung of National Journal shares aggregate FISA requests and NSLs since 2001.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, Snowden's comment that the U.S. is executing cyberattacks on China caught that country's officials' attention, as Jia Lynn Yang explains in the Post. Gerry Mullany and Didi Kirsten Tatlow report in the Times on the suggestion by state-run media in China that the leaks will negatively impact the two governments' relations.

Meanwhile, tech companies are doing their utmost to share as much as possible with the public about what exactly they've handed over to U.S. authorities: Google explained it used rather un-techy methods, including FTP transfers and in-person delivery. Here's Claire Cain Miller in the Times and Michael Auslen in USA Today. And the Justice Department is reviewing Google's request that it provide aggregate data on the number of FISA warrants to the public, as Main Justice's Jennifer Koons writes.

The Washington Post editorial board has something to say about that request:

The Obama administration should allow Google and other tech firms to say a little more about their relationship with the government. But the transparency should not stop there. The revelation that so surprised Google — that the NSA is collecting all that phone metadata — apparently relies on a novel interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, a provision that allows the government to obtain business records relevant to national security investigations. We don’t see why the program itself had to be a secret, and we don’t see why the legal rationale for it shouldn’t be released, as well.

Contrary to what you may believe, there are a few other national security-related news stories besides those mentioning "Snowden," "PRISM" and "NSA."

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testified on the Hill yesterday, alongside SecDef Hagel and Undersecretary of Defense Robert Hale. Here's a link to their testimony. The Hill notes that Gen. Dempsey denied that special forces were ordered to stand down during the Benghazi attack last fall, as diplomat Gregory Hicks described in his congressional testimony in May. Here's the gist of his response, as reported by Carlo Munoz.

They were told ... that the mission they were asked to perform was not in Benghazi, but was at Tripoli airport. . . .[The team] would contribute more by going to the Tripoli airport to meet the casualties upon return. . . [rather than being sent into Benghazi].

Let the FY2014 appropriations wars begin: The House Armed Services Committee's markup of the 2014 NDAA prohibits the Defense Clandestine Service from spending more than 50 percent of its appropriated funds until the SecDef certifies to Congress regarding a variety of matters related to the new intelligence agency's purpose and design. The White House is none too pleased with this restriction, and said as much in its official statement of policy (Bobby mentioned earlier that it's threatened a veto over the bill generally). Carlo Munoz of The Hill has the details. You can read the Chairman's mark here, and the White House's statement here.

John shared the news that President Obama will appoint Avril Haines to be the next Deputy Director of the CIA, rather than to continue seeking Senate approval of her nomination to be Legal Advisor to SecState. Here are Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller in the Post.

Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank raised its offer for Sprint to $21.6B, in response to Dish Network's competing proposal to purchase all of Sprint. Here's a Times piece by Michael J. de la Merced.

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 blog, 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.