Congress Cybersecurity & Tech

Rational Security: The "Eldritch Portents" Edition

Alan Z. Rozenshtein, Quinta Jurecic, Molly E. Reynolds
Thursday, April 11, 2024, 12:30 PM
This week, Alan Rozenshtein and Quinta Jurecic were joined again by Molly Reynolds to talk over the week’s national security news.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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This week, Alan and Quinta were joined again by Brookings Senior Fellow and Lawfare Senior Editor Molly Reynolds to talk over the week’s national security news, including:
  • “The 702nd Time’s the Charm?” Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was originally set to expire on December 31, 2023. But somehow, Congress has managed to keep kicking the can down the road—and we’re once again in the middle of an argument about whether and to what extent the legislature should reform the bulk surveillance authority. How did we end up here, and is there any indication that Congress will manage to pass a lasting reauthorization in some form this time around?
  • “Magic Mike.” Speaker of the House Mike Johnson’s troubles don’t stop with FISA, however. He’s also tangled up in a prolonged dispute with his caucus over the U.S. aid to Ukraine—which is becoming a matter of rapidly increasing urgency, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warning that his country “will lose the war” if the aid is not approved. Johnson now says he’ll put his own aid package on the table, still tying that aid to another tranche of aid to Israel. But will the House actually vote this time, or is this just another head fake?
  • “Finally, We Can Talk About Linux.” A few weeks ago, a single software engineer alerted the world to an alarming discovery: malicious code inside a key piece of Linux software that, had it gone undetected, could have caused a catastrophic cyberattack. What on earth actually happened here? And what could stop it from happening again?

For object lessons, Alan recommended an adorable giraffe growth chart for keeping track of your child's height. Quinta took a cue from Molly and endorsed a podcast by a local NPR affiliate—“Lost Patients,” a series about mental health care from KUOW and the Seattle Times. And Molly shared a story about misprinted pens from the Clinton impeachment trial, as told in Peter Baker’s book "The Breach."
Other references from this week’s show:

  • chart explaining how dark it gets during a total solar eclipse
  • Bruce Schneier’s Lawfare article about the XZ Utils backdoor

Alan Z. Rozenshtein is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School, a senior editor at Lawfare, and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Previously, he served as an Attorney Advisor with the Office of Law and Policy in the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland.
Quinta Jurecic is a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and a senior editor at Lawfare. She previously served as Lawfare's managing editor and as an editorial writer for the Washington Post.
Molly Reynolds is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. She studies Congress, with an emphasis on how congressional rules and procedure affect domestic policy outcomes.

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