Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Jane Chong
Friday, June 28, 2013, 2:39 PM

General James E.  Cartwright, former deputy chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the target of a Justice Department probe into the Stuxnet leak—so says an anonymous senior official, in this Washington Post story.

In an interview with NBC, Lonnie Snowden describes his son as a criminal but not a traitor, and distinguishes young Edward from the company that he is keeping:

I don't want to put him in peril, but I am concerned about those who surround him,” Lonnie Snowden said. “I think WikiLeaks, if you've looked at past history, you know, their focus isn't necessarily the Constitution of the United States. It's simply to release as much information as possible.

In a New York Times op-ed, Jennifer Stisa Granick and Christopher Jon Sprigman blast the NSA's surveillance programs as illegal, full stop.  They write:

We may never know all the details of the mass surveillance programs, but we know this: The administration has justified them through abuse of language, intentional evasion of statutory protections, secret, unreviewable investigative procedures and constitutional arguments that make a mockery of the government’s professed concern with protecting Americans’ privacy. It’s time to call the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs what they are: criminal.

Meanwhile, over at Foreign Policy, Shane Harris explains the technological constraints that prevent the NSA from effectively distinguishing between U.S. persons and foreigners when collecting surveillance:

There appear to be some high-level controls on how much U.S. person data the NSA gathers inadvertently, but they are relatively crude. The former intelligence official said that when the government asks the FISA court for the authority to collect communications from a particular cable, it estimates based on historical information and geography how likely it is that most of the data moving on that cable will be coming from foreigners. The court is not likely to approve broad surveillance on a cable that contains a "significant" amount of U.S. person data, the former official said.

Speaking of not-so-sophisticated filtering: it should probably surprise no one that the military is preventing thousands of defense personnel from accessing published-but-still-classified information on the government's surveillance program, and blocking access to parts of the Guardian in the process. Horse gone, barn door still closing. States a Defense Department spokesman, in one emphatic breath:

The Guardian website is NOT being blocked by DoD. The Department of Defense routinely takes preventative measures to mitigate unauthorized disclosures of classified information onto DoD unclassified networks.

Diplomacy, diplomacy. Matthew Duss and Lawrence Korb of Politico discuss why the U.S. should take pains to play nice in the wake of Hassan Rohani's decisive victory in Iran's recent presidential election. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Israel today for the second time in less than 24 hours to press the revival of Israel-Palestinian peace talks. And yesterday the Obama administration announced it was sanctioning Daedong Credit Bank for supporting Pyongyang's nuclear arms programs. Reuters reports. The timing of the move was apparently “purely coincidental” to the start of four-day talks between Chinese and South Korean leaders, who confirmed their common interest in denuclearizing the Korean peninsula in a rare joint press appearance.

Daniel Klaidman of the Daily Beast examines the personal story of Avril Haines's professional rise, detailing her "exotic path" to ultimate spyhood as Obama's pick for CIA deputy director.

AP sums up the 30-count indictment released yesterday against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Newsflash: the Tsarnaev brothers downloaded their DIY bomb-building guides from the web.

And last but certainly not least, the DARPA Robotics Challenge is in full swing. The goal: to encourage researchers to develop robots to man, and save man in, disaster zones. Check out Gary Marcus's acount and video of the “robot triathlon” at the New Yorker.

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