Today's Headlines and Commentary

Clara Spera
Friday, May 23, 2014, 8:31 AM
As expected, the House passed an NSA reform bill yesterday. The Los Angeles Times explains that the USA Freedom Act is designed to increase privacy and rollback some forms of government surveillance.

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As expected, the House passed an NSA reform bill yesterday. The Los Angeles Times explains that the USA Freedom Act is designed to increase privacy and rollback some forms of government surveillance. Senator Diane Feinstein (D – Calif.) has said she is “open to” considering the bill, according to the Hill. Privacy advocates aren’t thrilled about the bill, which underwent some heavy last-minute changes.  Advocacy groups withdrew their support of the bill at the 11th hour. Rep. Justin Amash (R – Mich.), one of the original cosponsors of the bill, even voted against it, the Washington Examiner reports. Here’s Ben’s thorough explanation of the bill. The New York Times Editorial Board is not impressed by the legislation, arguing that it “falls short” of the promises that the government made to secure Americans’ privacy. Everyone’s favorite TV anchor, Brian Williams, has scored Edward Snowden’s first American television interview. According to the Huffington Post, the interview will air on May 28th and also feature Glenn Greenwald. Williams traveled to Moscow where he met with Snowden and Greenwald; Greenwald was in Russia visiting Snowden at the time. On the topic of recording, Attorney Journal Eric Holder has announced a new policy that mandates that federal law enforcement officers record all statements made by suspects in custody before appearing in court. The details of the announcement are over at the Post. The Washington Times informs us that DARPA has revealed a hack-proof drone. (Yes, until now, drones were vulnerable to cyber-attacks.) The Pentagon touts this new technology as essential for maintaining national security interests. More legislative activity: the House passed the NDAA yesterday. RT reports that although two key amendments were defeated---one that would have ended GTMO detainee transfer restrictions and another that would sunset the AUMF---an amendment from Rep. Dennis Ross (R – Fl.), that would cut funding for recreational facilities at Guantanamo, was approved. The Hill has more details on the bill. The Post has a piece on the wider implications of the recent indictment of five Chinese government officials on charges of hacking the information of U.S. companies to benefit Chinese industry. The piece explains that the indictment is a reflection of a shift in U.S. foreign policy as it pertains to China, and that the U.S. government is trying to curb Chinese cyberspying on a grand scale. Meanwhile, the Times explains how the indictment has shone a light on China's hacker community. Many hackers are employed directly by the government, and work a typical ‘9-to-5’ day. Of course, there are more insidious hacking groups throughout China, and the piece considers how those groups form and if they have any relationship to the PLA. President Obama has fallen flat on his commitment to bring sweeping changes to U.S counterterrorism policy, or so Karen DeYoung of the Post argues. DeYoung points to many promises that were made---but that were much “easier said than done”---and the hurdles that the administration has encountered at nearly every turn. Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been elected as the new president of the Boy Scouts of America. Details are over at the Guardian.  On to international news. To no one’s real surprise, Thailand reminds under military control. CNN reports that the military has imposed travel sanctions on over 100 politicians, banning them from leaving the country. Al Jazeera wonders whether this coup d’état might have a positive outcome. The United Nations Security Council sanctioned Boko Haram. The terrorist outfit will be added to an existing list of al-Qaeda organizations that are subject to an arms embargo and asset freezing. The BBC has the story. The International Criminal Court has sentenced the Congolese warlord, Germain Katanga, to 12 years in prison for arming an ethnic militia that carried out a village massacre in 2003. The Guardian has the story. Violence continues in Syria. The BBC reports that 20 pro-Assad supporters were killed during a rally in support of the Syrian president in the city of Deraa yesterday evening. The attack was allegedly carried out by an Islamist rebel brigade. Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Clara Spera is a 3L at Harvard Law School. She previously worked as a national security research intern at the Brookings Institution. She graduated with an M.Phil from the University of Cambridge in 2014, and with a B.A. from the University of Chicago in 2012.

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