Wednesday, June 17, 2015

FBI aerial surveillance revelations prompt backlash from US lawmakers - U.S. National Security and Military News Review - 8:50 PM 6/17/2015

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FBI aerial surveillance revelations prompt backlash from US lawmakers

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Revelations that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was operating a secret fleet of small aircraft spying on the public below has prompted a backlash of sorts.
Lawmakers in the US Senate introduced legislation Wednesday that would require federal authorities to get a probable-cause warrant from a judge to surveil the public from above with manned aircraft or drones.
"Americans' privacy rights don't stop at the treetops," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said of his proposal.
The Protecting Individuals from Mass Aerial Surveillance Act (PDF), also sponsored by Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), comes two weeks after the Associated Press "traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights in 11 states over a 30-day period since late April, orbiting both major cities and rural areas." What's more, the FBI obscured the planes' ownership through fake companies.
Ars' Sean Gallagher also described what he called the "FBI's secret surveillance air force—small planes with sensors perfected for battlefield intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan that have quietly seen service all over the country." The planes are equipped with high-definition day and night surveillance systems.
Under Wednesday's proposed measure, information collected without a warrant during these surveillance flights would be inadmissible in court. Also, the US government could not contract with commercial or private plane operators to perform unauthorized surveillance.
Heller said the measure, which is being backed by civil rights groups, protects the public "from being trampled by the government's intrusion from above and provides much-needed clarity on what authority the federal government has related to aerial surveillance."
The proposal, however, is riddled with loopholes.
For starters, it does not apply to local and state law enforcement agencies. Further, the measure does not apply to immigration patrol within 25 miles of a land border, and all bets are off during "exigent" or emergency situations. Wildlife management and searching for illegal marijuana-growing operations are also excluded.
Even with the loopholes, the measure has slim chances of landing on President Barack Obama's desk for signature, as lawmakers are loath to demand probable-cause warrants to protect Americans' privacy.
The most recent example was the passage of the USA Freedom Act two weeks ago. That measure Obama signed alters the bulk phone metadata spying program Edward Snowden disclosed two years ago. Here's how Ars described the act:
Under the new legislation, however, the bulk phone metadata stays with the telecoms and is removed from the hands of the NSA. It can still be accessed with the FISA Court's blessing as long as the government asserts that it has a reasonable suspicion that the phone data of a target is relevant to a terror investigation and that at least one party to the call is overseas. As we've repeatedly stated, the Constitution's Fourth Amendment standard of probable cause does not apply. The metadata includes phone numbers of all parties in a call, numbers of calling cards, time and length of calls, and the international mobile subscriber identity (ISMI) of mobile calls.
If that isn't enough evidence that the measure is likely doomed, consider that current law does not require the authorities to get a probable-cause warrant from a judge to demand ISPs fork over customers' e-mail if that e-mail has been stored on servers at least 180 days. Lawmakers often talk about changing that President Ronald Reagan-era law, but there's no real political will to actually get it done.
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Kerry’s refusal to be “fixated” on Iran’s former nuclear misdeeds fits the US pattern of indulging Tehran

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Kerry’s refusal to be “fixated” on Iran’s former nuclear misdeeds fits the US pattern of indulging Tehran
US Secretary of State John Kerry remarked Wednesday that the “US and its negotiating partners are not fixated on the issue of so-called possible military dimensions [of the Iranian nuclear program] because they already have a complete picture of Iran’s past activities.”
This comment was a compendium of contradictions and untruths.
debkafile lists five instances to demonstrate the US has been in the dark over Iranian nuclear activities - past and present:
1. Iran’s military complex at Parchin remains a closed book despite repeated international demands to check on the nuclear detonation tests reported to have been conducted there. The US and Israel are left with suspicions, no facts, although Kerry declared: “We know what they did.”
2. At the Fordo underground site, all that is known for sure is that the Iranians are enriching uranium with advanced centrifuges – which they admitted after they were found out. But nothing is known about activities in other parts of the subterranean facility.
3.  Iran is known to be operating secret sites. Once again, strong suspicions are not supported by solid evidence which remains out of reach.
4.  US intelligence has not gained a full picture of Iran’s nuclear collaboration with North Korea or their shared plans for the development of ballistic missiles. Every now and then, delegations of nuclear scientists pay reciprocal visits to each other’s facilities, but no one has got to the bottom of the secret transactions between them. The question is why does this collaboration continue if Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon? And how far as it got? There are no answers to either of these questions.
5. Neither the US nor the international inspectors have gained direct access to the Iranian scientists employed on military nuclear projects, aside from the information reaching the US and Israel from Iranian defectors. All applications to interview these scientists were either turned away or ignored by Tehran.
So when Kerry claims that the negotiators “already have a complete picture of Iran’s past activities,” he is in fact letting Iran off the hook for providing information or even opening up its suspect facilities to international monitors, least of all the “intrusive inspections” promised by President Barack Obama.
For the sacred goal of getting a final nuclear deal signed with Iran by the June 30 deadline, it is permissible to brush these embarrassing “details” under the carpet and ignore troubling questions.
On June 15, Republican Sen. Bob Corker, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to President Obama saying: “It is breathtaking to see how far from your original goals and statements the P5+1 have come during negotiations with Iran.” He went on to say that negotiators “have moved” from trying to strike a 20-year agreement to a 10-year one and "seem ready to let Tehran continue to develop its ballistic missile effort and maintain research and development for advanced nuclear centrifuges.”
Senator Cork concludes: “The stakes here are incredibly high and the security implications of these negotiations are difficult to overstate.”
However, the Obama administration’s concessions to buy a deal do not stop there. They go still further. debkafile’ sources reveal that Washington is preparing to give way on the snap inspections mandated by the Additional Protocol, and agree to limit inspections to facilities unilaterally designated “nuclear” by Tehran and only after two weeks' notice.
But President Obama has made his most substantial concession yet, by accepting Tehran’s demand to divide the final accord into two parts. The first would be made public and the second, carrying the technical protocols, would be confidential. The senior US negotiator Undersecretary Wendy Sherman fought hard to have both parts of the accord released, explaining that the president could not otherwise get it through Congress. But she was overruled.
The US president has employed the same stratagem on the issue of sanctions. While declaring that they will not be lifted until Iran complies with its commitments, he has allowed American companies to enter into business negotiations with Iranian firms.
The 50 pages of the nuclear accord’s practical annexes embody the adage that the devil is in the detail. But president Obama has chosen to keep it secret from Congress, the American public and US allies, while Iran is given free rein to pursue its objectives.
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Saudi Dep. Crown Prince visits Russia

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Saudi Dep. Crown Prince visits Russia
DEBKAfile June 17, 2015, 5:58 PM (IDT)
Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad traveled to Moscow Wednesday for an official visit on behalf of his father King Salman. He will meet with President Vladimir Putin and top officials. The visit is expected to “further bolster bilateral relations and strengthen cooperation in various fields.”

One Does Not Simply Embed US Troops In Iraq - Defense One

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Soldiers from the 76th Iraqi Infantry Brigade receive M16A2 rifles and infantry sets as part of the fielding of combat brigade sets supplied to Iraqi Security Forces May 25, 2015, at Camp Taji, Iraq,
It may be tempting to put U.S. troops alongside Iraqis on the front lines against ISIS, but it would be far more difficult and complicated than it may seem, the military’s top officer told Congress Wednesday.
Augmenting an Iraqi unit with a U.S. specialist — say, a joint terminal attack controller, skilled in guiding air strikes — would require a lot of hidden support.
“This not just about putting three JTACs forward. It’s about putting a medevac capability, and a combat search-and-rescue, a personnel recovery capability and a [quick reaction force],” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing. “So 15 people might require 150.”
Currently, American forces in Iraq are limited to training and advising military units and tribal forces at bases and operations centers throughout the country. Last week, the Obama administrationannounced it would send an additional 450 U.S. troops for that purpose to Taqaddum, an air base about 70 miles west of Baghdad in eastern Anbar province.
The U.S. military has combat search-and-rescue and medevac forces positioned to rescue pilots downed on strike missions inside Iraq and Syria. These units, including the elite Air Force units that fly the HH-60 Pave Hawk CSAR helicopter, are based in neighboring countries, Dempsey said.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey testify before the House Armed Services Committee, on June 17, 2015. (AP Photo)

But if JTACs were embedded with Iraqi forces, these rescue and medevac units might need to be moved closer to the battlefield. “If we expand this, we’ll have to address it,” Dempsey said.
Basing aircraft in a warzone is not as simple as sending pilots, pararescuemen and maintenance crews to a base. Additional forces are needed to make sure the aircraft are secure. Security personnel can easily outnumber aircrew.
But keeping a safe distance also has its costs. Late last year, the United Arab Emirates reportedly suspended its participation in airstrike missions over concerns that American V-22 Osprey aircraft were positioned too far from the battlefield.
Last month, Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said he was okay with more Army trainers deploying to Iraq, and even accompanying Iraqi forces onto the battlefield. “Embedded advisors, with increased risk to our soldiers, probably would make this more effective,” Odierno said.
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Pakistan Army Chief Visits Russia to Forge New Ties

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by Ayesha Tanzeem June 17, 2015
Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif visited Russia this week amidst a regional re-definition of old relationships. Russia, which fought against Pakistan-supported "mujahideen' during the earlier Afghan war in the 1980s, has been warming up to the South Asian country.
"In the last two years, we have had more high level visits between the two countries than in the past many years," Tariq Fatemi, Pakistan's minister of state for foreign affairs said in a policy speech.
"These have included ministers of power, energy, petroleum, finance, defense, foreign affairs, the army chief, and the chiefs of the other services," Fatemi added
During his three-day stay in Moscow, General Sharif met the top Russian civil and military leadership. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is also expected to travel to Russia in the next few weeks for a multilateral conference.
The two countries have announced plans to hold their first ever joint military exercise. Last year, Russia lifted its longstanding, self-imposed arms embargo to Pakistan to prepare grounds for the sale of defense related equipment.
"We have also signed an MoU between the two defense ministries and that we see an opportunity for acquisition of defense equipment from Moscow," Fatemi elaborated during his speech.
This recent thaw between the cold war rivals is a "natural outflow of Russia's concern about what is going to happen to Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the U.S.," explained Nandan Unnikrishnan, who has served as Press Trust of India's bureau chief in Moscow for several years.
If Afghanistan becomes unstable, the spread of militancy and Islamist radicalism is expected to spread to the weak states around it.
"The weak states are not China and Iran," explains Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst Michael Kofman, who focuses on Russia and has worked on Pakistan.
Most of the Central Asian states around Afghanistan have porous borders, weak governments, and varying degrees of autocracies which makes them prone to instability or ethnic conflict. Militants from some of these states are already present in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"Frankly Tajikistan, Turkemenistan, Kyrgyzstan, these are all great targets, and Uzbekistan too," Kofman said.
This is Russia's backyard. Russia has a military presence in several of these countries and a large military base in Tajikistan.
Furthermore, there is a sizeable Muslim population inside Russia. So far the country has not faced issues of radicalization and militancy but it is not immune from them, particularly if the neighboring states fall victim to them.
Another reason for Russian overtures toward Pakistan may be to gain leverage with the Afghan Taliban via Islamabad in case the elected Afghan government falls.
"In the minds of Russian security services there is little doubt that Pakistani intelligence services and Pakistani establishment have very strong links with some of the Afghan Taliban," according to Indian journalist Nandan Unnikrishnan.
Russia's attempt at redefining its relationship with Pakistan comes at the risk of upsetting India, its traditional ally and largest defense sector customer.
However, Russia has justified this by pointing out that India has also looked to its rival, the United States, for its purchases. In the last few years, the U.S. has surpassed Russia to become India's largest arms supplier.
Russia may also be looking to Pakistan as an untapped market. Pakistan's direct defense trade with Russia has been limited, $22 million a few years ago compared to billions of dollars of trade with India.
Pakistan has usually received Russian equipment through China, which is not known for making aircraft engines and often uses Russian engines in its planes.
One of the benefits for Pakistan in trading with Russia will be "to cut out China as the middle man and save a lot of money," according to Kofman of CSIS, who pointed out that Pakistan's JF-17 Thunder aircraft, jointly developed with China, and recently in the news for receiving its first foreign order, uses Russian engines.
He also explained that the extent of this defense cooperation will depend on how much money Pakistan can spend.
"Russia, at the end of the day, is not in a position like the United States to subsidize defense deals,' he said.
However, in a post Ukraine world of increased hostilities between Russia and the West, it is in Russia's interest to show that it is not isolated and has partners willing to do business with it.
Meanwhile, the United States has long encouraged countries in the region to take a greater interest in the stability of Afghanistan and has strongly supported China's efforts in facilitating peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and the government of Afghanistan.
Many analysts think that at this point the United States is happy to have any actor that can contribute towards stability in Afghanistan, including rivals Russia and China.

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Iran’s Nuclear Past Should Not Scuttle A Deal for Its Future

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Secretary of State John Kerry is tasked by his political foes to deliver one impossible concession from Iran after another. The latest is that Iran must fully confess all its past transgressions before any final deal can be concluded. After Secretary Kerry hinted at a possible compromise on this issue on June 16, Liz Cheney tweeted, “Without full accounting of past activity, verification is impossible.” Is this true?
U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Iran conducted research on nuclear weapon designs before 2003. The publicly available evidence is mostly circumstantial, but it is fairly strong. It appears to most experts that Iran — spurred to action when Iraq invaded in 1980 — worked on warhead design, triggering mechanisms for a nuclear bomb and other weapons-related research.
The agencies believe that this research ended in 2003 and has not resumed, at least not as a structured program. The agencies further conclude that Iran has not made a decision to get a nuclear weapon. Further, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress in February that the interim agreement reached in November 2013 has:
“Inhibited further progress in its uranium enrichment and plutonium production capabilities and effectively eliminated Iran’s stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium. The agreement has also enhanced the transparency of Iran’s nuclear activities, mainly through improved International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access and earlier warning of any effort to make material for nuclear weapons using its safeguarded facilities.”
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But Tehran has refused to answer a series of specific questions about its past work posed by theIAEA. Most likely, Iran is stonewalling because to tell the truth would be to admit something they have steadfastly denied for years.
It is an important issue, but ought not be a deal-killer. “It should not be a litmus test of whether a comprehensive agreement can be reached” between Iran and the world powers, says Ed Levine, a former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer who is now an advisor to the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.
The final agreement, expected in early July, can set up a mechanism for getting the answers critics so desperately want. The reality is that it will be easier for Iran to provide access to the scientists and sites that inspectors require if its leaders know that they will not be penalized for doing so. 
And in any case, most experts believe it is more important to stop Iran’s program now, and to know what Iran will be able to do after 2015, than to know all they might have done before 2003. 
This sort of logic led Secretary Kerry to say:
“We’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another. We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in.
What we’re concerned about is going forward. It’s critical to us to know that going forward, those activities have been stopped, and that we can account for that in a legitimate way.”
He is absolutely right. Fencing in Iran’s nuclear capabilities over the next 20 years is more critical than a full confession of what they did 20 years ago – particularly if U.S. intelligence agencies already know what they did. The reason the IAEA is asking for access to specific sites and people is becauseU.S. intelligence told them where to look. We already know what Iran did. And Iran knows that we know.
Resolution of all the questions regarding past research is not necessary to lock in this agreement. The deal under negotiation will slash Iran’s nuclear program to a fraction of its present size and implement an intrusive inspection regime that can ensure full compliance. It will give inspectors the access needed to help ensure that the past weapons work is not reconstituted.
A group of experts led by retired ambassadors Tom Pickering and William Luers concluded in a newreport:
“A deeper and more comprehensive accounting of Iran’s activities will come from an expanded and more intrusive safeguards system extending for the first time ever to uranium mines and mills and to the creation of a new, transparent procurement channel.
These new measures will make it exceedingly difficult for Iran to carry out a parallel, covert weapons program…
The United States does not need to know everything about the past before testing the possibility of securing and monitoring over the next few years an Iranian nuclear program that is for peaceful uses only.”
So, Cheney’s claim that verification is impossible without resolving all the past issues is nonsense. Having Iranian officials publicly acknowledge their past sins might be as satisfying as having Cersei Lannister kneel in confession before the High Sparrow, but it won’t substantially improve our knowledge of Iran’s nuclear program or our national security.  
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'Everyone down': Neighbor recounts FBI arrest at terror suspect's home

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Witness discusses FBI arrest during ISIS-related investigation A 21-year old man identified as Fareed Mumuni was taken into custody by federal agents with the Joint Terrorism Task Force at his Mersereau Avenue home in Mariners Harbor for allegedly conspiring with terrorists. A neighbor who witnessed the raid describes the scene and Mumuni. (Video by Anthony DePrimo)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The sun was barely up over the horizon when FBI agents and other law enforcement officers stormed a semi-attached home on Mersereau Avenue in Mariners Harbor on Wednesday in connection with an ongoing ISIS-related investigation.
At around 6:30 a.m., Don Dwonkowski said he heard a loud bang and screams of "FBI," "police" and "everyone down" at the home of his next-door neighbor, 21-year-old Fareed Mumuni.
When he looked outside, he said he saw about 25 to 30 law enforcement officers, including FBI agents and homeland security officials. EMTs also were on the scene.
According to court documents, Mumuni's mother and sister answered the door and were instructed to exit the residence. Officers spotted Mumuni walking down the staircase and instructed him to sit on the couch, according to court documents.
He then suddenly lunged at them with a kitchen knife, attempting multiple times to stab one in the chest, authorities allege. The knife failed to penetrate the agent's body armor and there were no serious injuries in the incident.
"I saw one FBI agent had a injury to his face, on his forehead, and seemed to be pointing to his abdomen that he was hurt," Dwonkowski said.
Mumuni seemed to be uninjured as he was escorted from his home in a bathrobe, handcuffs and shackles around his feet.
The suspect admitted to federal agents he has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) -- a terror organization also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) -- and intended to travel to territories controlled by the group to join their cause, according to court documents.
Criminal charges were filed Wednesday afternoon in Brooklyn and Mumuni was ordered held without bail.
A woman who answered the door at the Mumuni residence Wednesday afternoon declined to comment.
"I don't believe it," said Dwonkowski. "I just don't. I never suspected anything. He never talked about politics or anything."
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Everything You Want To Know About Iran Sanctions

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The United States, United Nations, and European Union have levied multiple sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program since the UN’s nuclear watchdog found in September 2005 that Tehran was not compliant (PDF) with its international obligations. The United States spearheaded international efforts to financially isolate Tehran and block its oil exports to raise the cost of Iran’s efforts to develop a potential nuclear-weapons capability and to bring its government to the negotiating table.  If the current negotiations yield an agreement, many of the most punishing sanctions are poised to be suspended or lifted, but still some nonnuclear ones will remain in place. 

Why does Iran face sanctions?

Iran faces international sanctions for a clandestine nuclear program that the UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and major powers say violate its treaty obligations. When Iran acceded to the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1967, it promised to never become a nuclear-armed state. But over the course of the 1970s, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s policies raised U.S.concerns that Iran had nuclear-weapons ambitions. In 1974 Iran signed the IAEA Safeguards Agreement, a supplement to the NPT in which it consented to inspections.
The Iranian Revolution in 1979 ushered in a clerical regime, and international concerns that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon resurfaced the following decade as the Islamic Republic fought a grinding, eight-year war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which had anuclear program of its own. These suspicions continued into the mid-1990s, when President Bill Clinton’s administration levied sanctions on foreign firms believed to be enabling a nuclear-arms program.
In the early 2000s, indications of work on uranium enrichment renewed international concerns, spurring several rounds of sanctions from the UN, European Union, and U.S. government. These international sanctions have sought to block Iran’s access to nuclear-related materials and put an economic vise on the Iranian government to compel it to end its uranium-enrichment program and other nuclear-weapons-related efforts.
U.S. sanctions on Iran, however, long predate these nuclear nonproliferation concerns. The United States first levied economic and political sanctions against Iran during the 1979–81 hostage crisis, shortly after Iran’s Islamic Revolution. On November 14, 1979, President Jimmy Carter froze all Iranian assets “which are or become subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.” The United States imposed additional sanctions when, in January 1984, the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah, an Iranian client, was implicated in the bombing of the U.S. Marine base in Beirut. That year, the United Statesdesignated Iran a state sponsor of terrorism. The designation, which remains in place, triggers a host of sanctions, including restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance, a ban on arms transfers, and export controls for dual-use items. U.S. and multilateral sanctions regarding sponsorship of terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic-missile development are expected to remain in force regardless of whether Iran and major powers, known as the P5+1 (for the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany), reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement.
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In November 2013, Iran and the P5+1 signed an interim agreement known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) that provided some sanctions relief and access to $4.2 billion in previously frozen assets in exchange for limiting uranium enrichment and permitting international inspectors to access sensitive sites. The JPA capped Iran’s crude oil exports at 1.1 million barrels per day, less than half its 2011 export level.

What are the U.S. sanctions?

U.S. sanctions cover a variety of purposes related to the country’s internal and external affairs, ranging from weapons proliferation to human rights abuses within Iran to state sponsorship of terrorism and fomenting instability abroad. They target broad sectors as well as specific individuals and entities, both Iranian nationals and nonnationals who have dealings with sanctioned Iranians.
  • Financial/Banking: U.S. sanctions administered by the Treasury Department have sought to isolate Iran from the international financial system. Beyond a prohibition on U.S.-based institutions having financial dealings with Iran, Treasury enforces extraterritorial, or secondary, sanctions: Under the 2011 Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA), foreign-based financial institutions or subsidiaries that deal with sanctioned banks are barred from conducting deals in the United States or with the U.S. dollar, which then-Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen called “a death penalty for any international bank (PDF).” At the end of 2011, the United States moved to prevent importers of Iranian oil from making payments through Iran’s central bank, though it exempted a handful of countries that had made a “significant reduction” in their purchases. Other measures restrict Iran’s access to foreign currencies so that funds from oil importers can only be used for bilateral trade with the purchasing country or to access humanitarian goods.
  • Oil Exports: Along with pressure on Iran’s access to international financial systems, curtailing oil revenue has been the principal focus of the Obama administration as it stepped up pressure on nuclear nonproliferation. Prior to 2012, oil exports provided half the Iranian government’s revenue and made up one-fifth of the country’s GDP; its exports have been more than halved since. Extraterritorial sanctions target foreign firms that would provide services and investment related to the energy sector, including investment in oil and gas fields, sales of equipment used in refining oil, and participation in activities related to oil export, such as shipbuilding, ports operations, and insurance on transport. CISADA and related executive orders expanded restrictions that predated nuclear concerns.
  • Trade: The United States has an embargo that prohibits most U.S. firms from trading with or investing in Iran that dates to 1995 (PDF). Though relaxed in 2000, it was made near-total a decade later. The Obama administration carved out an exception to the embargo for the sale of consumer telecommunications equipment and software.
  • Asset freezes and travel bans: Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush froze the assets (PDF) of entities determined to be supporting international terrorism. This list includes dozens of Iranian individuals and institutions, including banks, defense contractors, and the Revolutionary Guard Corps(IRGC). Still other sanctions are associated with the aftermath of Iran’s 2009 elections, when security forces suppressed a budding protest movement, and its support for U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations. The IRGC’s elite paramilitary Quds Force has been sanctioned for destabilizing Iraq (2007) and abetting human rights abuses in Syria (2011) as Iran lent its support to the government of Bashar al-Assad, whose security forces were putting down what began as a peaceful protest movement.
  • Weapons development. The Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act (1992) calls for sanctioning any person or entity that assists Tehran in weapons development or acquisition of “chemical, biological, nuclear, or destabilizing numbers and types of advanced conventional weapons.” Subsequent nonproliferation legislation and executive actions have sanctioned individuals and entities assistingWMD production. Additional bans restrict dual-use exports, a justification for an automobile ban, which was waived under the JPA.
The U.S. Congress provides the statutory basis for most U.S. sanctions, but it is up to the executive branch to interpret and implement them. While congressional legislation would be required to repeal these measures, the president, by citing “the national interest,” has the authority to waive nearly all of them in whole or in part. Lifting terrorism-related sanctions would require the president to delist Iran as a state sponsor. The president is also able to hollow them out by removing individuals and entities from sanctions lists.
The nature and timetable of sanctions relief are among the knottiest issues in the negotiations for a comprehensive deal.
Because nuclear sanctions would be waived by the executive, rather than repealed by the legislature, in the early years of a prospective agreement, the White House has argued that if Iran violates the agreement, the president can “snap back” sanctions, reinstating them without legislative hurdles.
In late May 2015, President Obama signed into law provisions for congressional review that place restrictions on his prerogative to waive sanctions. Under this law, the House and Senate foreign relations committees have thirty days (or sixty days, if submitted during the summer recess) to review any agreement, during which time the president cannot loosen the sanctions regime. But for Congress to derail an agreement, it would not only have to vote it down, but muster a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto.

What are the UN sanctions?

The UN Security Council has progressively built up an international sanctions regime binding on all its member states ever since the IAEA declared Iran noncompliant with its safeguards obligations in 2005. In a first round of sanctions, in 2006, the Security Council unanimously approved measures that included an embargo on materials and technology used in uranium production and enrichment, as well as in the development of ballistic missiles, and blocked financial transactions abetting the nuclear and ballistic-missile programs.  
Subsequent resolutions in 2007 and 2008 blocked nonhumanitarian financial assistanceto Iran and mandated states to inspect cargo suspected of containing prohibited materials, respectively.
fourth binding resolution, approved in June 2010, tightened the international sanctions regime to its current state. It adopted the U.S. approach, linking Iran’s oil profits and its banking/financial sector, including its central bank, to proliferation efforts, therefore subjecting them to international sanction.
Lifting UN sanctions would normally require a binding resolution passed by a majority of Security Council members without any of the five permanent members (who are all party to the negotiations) casting a veto.  
In June 2015, Reuters reported that the P5+1 had agreed that UN measures should be automatically reinstated if Iran violates the agreement. The exact procedures that would be adopted to bypass a possible Chinese or Russian veto were not specified.

What are the EU sanctions?

The European Union has augmented UN penalties against Iran with sanctions that are “nearly as extensive as those of the United States,” according to the nonpartisan U.S.-funded Congressional Research Service (CRS).
2007 measure froze the assets of individuals and entities related to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic-missile programs, and prohibited the transfer of dual-use items. In 2010, the EU substantially strengthened its sanctions regime, bringing it into line with U.S. measures by blocking European institutions from transacting with Iranian banks, including its central bank, and restricting trade and investment with the country’s energy and transport sectors, among others.
Brussels’ move to isolate Iran and mount pressure to bring it to negotiations culminated with a 2012 measure banning the import of oil and petrochemical products as well as insurance on shipping, and freezing assets related to Iran’s central bank. A year prior to its 2012 oil embargo, the EU was the largest importer of Iranian oil, averaging 600,000 barrels per day, according to the CRS.
The EU suspended certain sanctions after the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action (PDF) was signed; these are poised to go back into force if no deal is reached by the June 30 deadline. If a final deal is reached,  changes to the EU sanctions regime will require the unanimous consent of the bloc’s twenty-eight member states. 
Apart from the nonproliferation sanctions, Brussels has levied sanctions (PDF), including asset freezes and travel bans, for human rights violations, and bans the export of equipment that could be used for telecommunications surveillance or for internal repression. These measures will likely remain in place regardless of a comprehensive deal. 

What has been the impact of sanctions?

International sanctions have have taken a severe toll on the Iranian economy. In April 2015, U.S.Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew estimated that Iran’s economy was 15 to 20 percent smaller than it would have been had sanctions not been ratcheted up in 2012 and cost $160 billion in lost oil revenue alone. In addition, more than $100 billion in Iranian assets is held in restricted accounts outside the country. 
The U.S.-led campaign to ratchet international sanctions threw the economy into a two-year recession, from which it emerged with modest growth in 2014. Meanwhile, the value of the rial declined by 56 percent between January 2012 and January 2014, a period in which inflation reached some 40 percent, according to the CRS. Theunemployment rate might be as high as 20 percent. Economic mismanagement under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and more recently, falling oil prices have also contributed to the economic downturn. The IMF estimates that Iran’s break-even point, the price per barrel at which the country can balance its budget, is $92.50. As of June 1, Brent crude oil sold for $65. Several years of austerity budgets have raised public demands for increased domestic spending, including for oil-industry infrastructure that has fallen into disrepair.
President Hassan Rouhani’s pitch to voters as he campaigned in 2013 was that by negotiating with major powers over Iran’s nuclear program, he could reverse Iran’s economic and diplomatic isolation.  With economic reforms and an interim agreement that offered some sanctions relief, he has stabilized the currency and more than halved inflation, but even if the most severe U.S., EU, and multilateral sanctions are lifted with a comprehensive agreement, Iran is unlikely to experience an immediate windfall, analysts say. 

When would sanctions be lifted?

The nature and timetable of sanctions relief are among the knottiest issues in the negotiations for a comprehensive deal. Iran expects the full raft of nonproliferation sanctions revoked “upon implementation” of the deal, according to its foreign ministry’sApril 2015 fact sheet. Analysts highlight the ambiguity of this language: Day 1 of implementation may refer to when IAEA inspectors determine that Iran has implemented an agreed set of steps, like reducing the number of centrifuges used for uranium enrichment, which could could come four to six months after a deal is signed.
The United States’ corresponding fact sheet stated that sanctions would be “suspended”—rather than revoked—”after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps.” Likewise, the EU, in a joint statement with Iran following the framework agreement, said it will “terminate the implementation of all nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions…simultaneously with the IAEA-verified implementation by Iran of its key nuclear commitments.”
But U.S. and Iranian public statements differed over whether the sanctions would be lifted all at once: Obama said “relief will be phased as Iran takes steps to adhere to the deal,”  while Rouhani said the financial sanctions and UN Security Council resolutions “will be canceled on the very first day of the implementation of the deal.”
The international sanctions regime currently in place could not have been maintained indefinitely. Once lifted, it might be difficult to reinstate in the case of Iranian cheating. (China and India, for example, have bought in to the negotiation strategy, but would would welcome Iran’s reentry in global oil markets.) Nevertheless, unilateral U.S. secondary sanctions could impose high costs on foreign firms and financial institutions that would deal with Iran. Meanwhile, Iranian banks will continue to face restrictions to their access to the global financial system regardless of what sanctions are lifted. 
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Ex-Utah FBI agent accused of assaulting girlfriend pleads no contest to disorderly conduct | Fox News

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A former Utah FBI agent accused of assaulting his girlfriend during a fight has pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge.
The Deseret News reported Wednesday (<a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> ) that former FBI special agent Adam Quirk said in court documents he doesn't dispute the allegation that he got into a loud argument and threw things out the back door of his apartment in December.
The plea deal with prosecutors allows the conviction to be dismissed from the 36-year-old man's record if he doesn't commit any crimes for the next nine months.
In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped charges of aggravated assault and damaging a cellphone. Police said in December that he choked the woman and threw her to the ground.
Defense attorney Tara Isaacson declined to comment to the newspaper on the plea deal.

CIA didn’t know strike would hit al-Qaeda leader

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Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula chief Nasser al-Wuhayshi is pictured in the militant stronghold town of Jaar, Yemen, on April 28, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)
The CIA did not know in advance that al-Qaeda’s leader in Yemen was among the suspected militants targeted in a lethal drone strike last week, according to U.S. officials who said that the operation went forward under counter­terrorism guidelines that were eased by the Obama administration after the collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Yemen this year.
The officials said that Nasir al-Wuhayshi, who also served as al-Qaeda’s overall second-in-command, was killed in a “signature strike,” in which the CIA is permitted to fire based on patterns of suspected militant activity even if the agency does not know the identities of those who could be killed.
The disclosure indicates that the CIA continues to employ a controversial targeting method that the administration had previously signaled it intended to phase out, particularly in Yemen, which U.S. officials have said is subjected to more stringent rules on the use of lethal force than in Pakistan.
The reliance on signature strikes would help explain an increase in the pace of drone operations in Yemen over the past six months. U.S. officials said this week that the campaign has inflicted major damage on al-Qaeda’s franchise in that country even after joint U.S.-Yemen counter­terrorism operations on the ground were effectively suspended several months ago.
The CIA and the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command have carried out at least a dozen strikes in Yemen since January, a number approaching the total for 2014, according to data compiled by the New America Foundation.
U.S. drone strike kills al-Qaeda leader in Yemen(0:57)
Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen says its leader, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, has been killed in a U.S. drone strike. (Reuters)
Human rights groups have been sharply critical of the use of signature strikes. Jameel Jaffer, a senior lawyer at the ACLU involved in lawsuits aimed at forcing the administration to disclose details of its counter­terrorism policies, said that the use of such strikes would cast significant doubt on the administration’s assertions about restraints imposed on the use of lethal force.
“If government is carrying out signature strikes in Yemen, the administration needs to explain whether, to what extent, and on which agencies these restraints have actually been imposed,” Jaffer said in an e-mail Wednesday. “So many of the government’s assertions about its policies have turned out to be incomplete, misleading, or even false.”
The CIA declined to comment on the killing of Wuhayshi or any aspect of the agency’s drone operations in Yemen. But U.S. officials insisted that there was never a comprehensive ban on the use of signature strikes in that country and stressed that other aspects of the White House guidelines — including a requirement of “near certainty” that no civilians will be harmed — remain in tact.
A U.S. intelligence official attributed the killing of Wuhayshi and other al-Qaeda operatives in recent months to “the cumulative knowledge we have developed” of terrorist networks in the country, as well as adjustments seen necessary to “overcoming significant challenges and an evolving extremist landscape.”
That language referred in part to the defeat of a U.S.-backed government in Yemen that had cooperated extensively in counter­terrorism operations against al-Qaeda. U.S. officials said the stepped-up use of signature strikes is part of a broader easing of constraints on the CIA and U.S. military drone campaigns there to help compensate for the loss of a critical ally.
U.S. officials declined to discuss those changes­ in detail except to say there has been an effort to streamline an approval process that has required the CIA and U.S. military to obtain permission from President Obama or top White House officials before launching missiles from their fleets of armed drones.
The adjustments reflect the extent to which the proliferation of terrorist groups and political turbulence in the Middle East have complicated the administration’s efforts to adhere to policies it spent years developing to serve as a counter­terrorism “playbook.”
“If they got Wuhayshi this way, it’s going to embolden those who are in favor of more signature strikes,” said a former senior U.S. counter­terrorism official who served in the administration. “They would be fully justified in thinking that they’re in a far different universe than they thought they were entering in 2012,” when the playbook was being completed.
The years since then have seen the emergence of potent new groups, including the Islamic State, which has beheaded Western prisoners and seized territory in Iraq and Syria.
When those White House guidelines were unveiled in 2013, senior administration officials said one of the goals was to “narrow,” if not eliminate, the use of signature strikes in Yemen. They said the method would mainly remain in use in Pakistan, where CIA drones were used to pursue al-Qaeda as well as disrupt militants seen as posing threats to U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The CIA’s use of signature strikes came under intense new criticism two months ago when it was disclosed that a January drone attack in Pakistan had killed two Western aid workers, including a U.S. citizen, in a signature strike on an al-Qaeda compound.
U.S. officials said that the agency had the site under surveillance for hundreds of hours before the attack and that analysts were confident no civilians were in danger. The CIA only learned afterward that Warren Weinstein of Rockville, Md., and Giovanni Lo Porto of Italy were killed when more bodies were removed from the rubble than the agency had counted beforehand.
Obama subsequently apologized to their families and said the operation had been “fully consistent with the guidelines” established by his administration. But he also pledged “a full review of what happened,” language that some interpreted as a signal the White House might reconsider its willingness to allow lethal operations without knowing targets’ identities.
The Joint Special Operations Command’s drone program has also been plagued by problems. The elite command was forced to suspend lethal drone operations in Yemen after a 2013 strike killed at least a dozen civilians in a wedding convoy, although the JSOC has since been allowed to resume drone strikes there.
CIA officials have staunchly defended the targeting approach, saying that analysts poring over drone footage and other surveillance have become adept at detecting patterns — such as the composition and movement of a security detail — associated with senior al-Qaeda operatives.
U.S. officials have credited the method in accounting for many of the high-value al-Qaeda targets killed in Pakistan during a dramatic escalation in the drone campaign there during Obama’s first term.
A former senior U.S. official said that there were high-level discussions about whether to expand authority for signature strikes in Yemen, especially as al-Qaeda’s franchise there, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, began to eclipse the parent organization as a perceived threat.
Obama at first resisted those proposals, scolding subordinates that the United States was not at war in Yemen. As AQAP expanded, Obama later endorsed a modified version of the targeting approach, one for which administration officials coined a new term: terrorist attack disruption strikes, or TADS.
The publicly disclosed version of the administration’s counter­terrorism policy makes no explicit mention of signature strikes or TADS but includes a requirement of “near certainty that the terrorist target is present.”
A senior U.S. official said that the CIA does not use either the signature strike or TADS terminology. Instead, the official said, the agency describes drone attacks as either “HVT or non-HVT,” depending on whether a high-value target is in its sights.
Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.
Greg Miller covers the intelligence beat for The Washington Post.
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OVERNIGHT CYBERSECURITY: White House backing OPM director

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Welcome to OVERNIGHT CYBERSECURITY, your daily rundown of the biggest news in the world of hacking and data privacy. We're here to connect the dots as leaders in government, policy and industry wrap their arms around cyberthreats. What lies ahead for Congress, the administration and the latest company under siege? Whether you're a consumer, a techie or a D.C. lifer, we're here to give you ...
--STAND BY ME: The White House on Wednesday stood by Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta, even as more lawmakers called for her ousting in the wake of the biggest government data breach ever. "The president does have confidence that she is the right person for the job," spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters. But Archuleta is losing support on Capitol Hill after a poorly-received performance at a Tuesday hearing, and as staffers start receiving notifications that their information is likely stolen. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who co-chairs the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, on Wednesday joined the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers looking for Archuleta's dismissal. "In testimony yesterday ... she refused to acknowledge the errors OPM has made or to apologize to the millions of affected Americans," he said. To read about the White House's support, click here. To read about why Langevin thinks Archuleta deserves to go, click here.
 The White House is pushing back against the Republican vision for the administration's new cyber agency, claiming the GOP has bigger plans for it than the administration ever intended. The fight over the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) is playing out in an intelligence policy bill that the House 
 Tuesday night over Democratic objections and a White House veto threat. The measure will delineate CTIIC's roles and responsibilities. The Obama administration envisions the center as a one-stop shop that gathers and analyzes the dispersed cyber threat data collected across the government. But the White House is accusing the Republicans of slipping an unnecessarily expansive mandate for the CTIIC into the intel measure. To read our full piece, click 
--NEIGHBORLY LOVE. After firming up its cybersecurity relations with a number of overseas allies, the Obama administration is turning its attention to its North American neighbors this week. Starting Wednesday, State Department officials are attending a three-day summit to strengthen cyber ties with the U.S.'s northern and southern neighbors, Canada and Mexico.
"This will be the first trilateral consultation on cyber policy among U.S., Canadian and Mexican cyber foreign policy experts, and is part of a broader effort to address cyber policy under the North American Leaders Summit," the State Department said.
The North American Leaders Summit is a mostly annual gathering of the heads of U.S., Canada and Mexico that first took place in 2005.
--IT STARTED AS A JOKE, but now it's real. Utah Valley University has added a "texting only" lane to its corridors. Per the The New York Times: "A stairway in the campus life and wellness center in Orem, Utah, has been divided into three lanes: walking, running and texting. It's like the high-occupancy lane on the highway, but it's you and your device so connected that you can't take a second to part ways between classes." Read on here.
--DON'T TREAD ON ME. The United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, on Wednesday presented a report -- first released in May -- to the UN Human Rights Council that proclaims strong encryption is fundamental to exercising basic human rights.
Along with the report, the UN also released comments that countries submitted for the report. The U.S. submission is interesting in light of the ongoing battle between the administration and tech community over encryption standards.
"The United States firmly supports the development and robust adoption of strong encryption, which is a key tool to secure commerce and trade, safeguard private information, promote freedoms of expression and association, and strengthen cybersecurity," the letter says.
It continues: "At the same time, terrorists and other criminals use encryption and anonymity tools to conceal and enable their crimes. This poses serious challenges for public safety. Society has an undeniable interest in law enforcement being able to investigate and prosecute terrorist and other criminals."
Check out the full U.S. submission here. And get a refresher on the report with our full story from May.
Links from our blog, The Hill, and around the Web.
Reddit, the self-described "front page of the Internet," will start encrypting all of its traffic by the end of the month. (The Hill)
Activist hacking group Anonymous took down Canadian government websites to protect the passage of an anti-terrorism bill. (CBC)
Federal workers could sue the government over the OPM breach if they wanted. (The Washington Post)
A new documentary features interviews with several of the world's most-wanted hackers, many of whom come from a small, central Romanian town. (BuzzFeed News)
Two flaws affecting hundreds of millions of Android, iOS and Apple products deserve special attention. (KrebsonSecurity)
A look at how baseball teams are increasingly relying on digital data, in light of the FBI probe into the St. Louis Cardinals digital snooping. (The Los Angeles Times)
The owner of the St. Louis Cardinals said he was committed to finding out if anyone in his organization hacked into the Houston Astros' computers. (Reuters)
Is it really hacking if you have a password? (Slate)
Federal CIO: Cyber is "Our most important mission today." (NextGov)
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Key senator says to forget the deadline on Iran talks for a better deal

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Sen. Bob Corker (R.-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wants nuclear negotiations with Iran to stretch past a deadline. (Reuters)
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday said he had urged Secretary of State John F. Kerry to ignore a looming deadline for nuclear negotiations with Iran if that’s what it takes to secure a more ironclad deal.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a key figure in brokering a compromise bill acceptable to the White House and congressional skeptics of an Iran deal, said he spoke with Kerry by phone late Wednesday afternoon, a day after Kerry said the United States is not “fixated” on Iran accounting for every last bit of its past secret nuclear research. Corker has said he thinks the administration is softening its positions in a rush to strike a deal by a self-imposed June 30 deadline.
“June 30 is an artificial deadline,” Corker said he told Kerry. “If it takes longer to get the right deal, take longer, please. Don’t start cutting corners. I know group dynamics; when you’re close to the end of a deal, and your aides are pushing part of what’s going to be a major legacy, I understand how that can affect things. But please, please stop!”
Going much beyond the deadline could cause problems for the administration, however. Congress has 30 days to review any deal and vote, if they choose, on a resolution of disapproval. If they get it after July 10, the review period grows to 60 days.
But Corker’s remarks underscore growing concerns in Congress about negotiations with Iran to rein in its nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions. The United States is one of six world powers negotiating with Iran, and Kerry has played a dominant role in the talks that so far have produced a temporary framework agreement. Kerry is expected to join discussions in Europe soon in a push for a final deal.
In his first State Department news conference since he broke his leg in a bicycle accident on May 31, Kerry on Tuesday said the United States was more concerned about preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons in the future than with extracting a confession from Iran about past secret work that Iran has long denied conducting. One of the sticking points in the talks has been how much access Iran will grant investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) trying to account for the “possible military dimensions” of the work, meaning whether Iran was trying to build nuclear weapons.
Kerry’s remarks, made in a video news conference from his home in Boston, seemed to suggest that the United States could agree to easing sanctions before the IAEA resolves all its outstanding questions. But on Wednesday, Kerry spokesman John Kirby said the secretary’s remarks were misinterpreted, and the United States would not agree to lift any sanctions before the IAEA gets all the access it seeks.
“Sanctions-lifting is only going to occur as Iran meets agreed-to steps, including addressing the concerns IAEA has over possible military dimensions,” Kirby said.
Corker said that he had heard remarks similar to Kerry’s during a series of briefings by administration officials in the past month. Corker has written letters he characterized as “strident” to the administration, hoping to stiffen their spine to resist any backsliding, he said.
“They have a fixation on: ‘We don’t want to offend Iran’s national pride by forcing them to come clean,’ ” he said.
“Are you kidding me?” he added with a touch of sarcasm.
But Corker said he considers getting Iran to account for its secret weapons work a key issue so nuclear experts can better assess the country’s potential ability to build nuclear weapons.
“The experts all emphasize it’s important to get it on the front end,” he said.
Carol Morello is the diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, covering the State Department.
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The OPM Hack and the New DOD Law of War Manual

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Last Friday was a big day in cybersecurity news. OPM announced that, in addition to the compromise of the personnel information of federal employees revealed on June 4, Chinese hackers also breached a database containing millions of security clearance forms. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Potomac, the Department of Defense released its new Law of War Manual — the first since 1956 — including a new chapter on “Cyber Operations.” Considering the OPM hack in light of the Law of War Manual shows why, as a legal matter, the U.S. government is in a tough spot in responding to the hack.
Debates are raging over just how damaging the two OPM hacks are. In the first of what are sure to be many congressional hearings on the breaches, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) asserted that she “consider[s] this attack … a far more serious one to the national security” of the United States than the 9/11 attacks. Others have called the hacks the long-warned-about cyber 9/11 or cyber Pearl Harbor. But other commentators have pushed back. Robert Knake of CFR noted that he is “a bit blasé” about the hack because “if the Chinese government is indeed behind it, it’s not by any stretch the most dastardly thing they have done in cyberspace.” Prof. Henry Farrell on the Washington Post‘s Monkey Cage blog similarly explained that “hacking into information on U.S. government employees, however sensitive, is not a Pearl Harbor attack,” but rather “an (extremely worrying) exercise in espionage.”
That’s also the rub for international law. However damaging the hacks ultimately are to US national security — something that will be revealed only over time — they were fundamentally espionage, not an act of war or use of force. For an explanation, see the DOD Law of War Manual (emphasis added):
16.3.2. Peacetime Intelligence and Counterintelligence Activities. International law and long-standing international norms are applicable to State behavior in cyberspace, and the question of the legality of peacetime intelligence and counterintelligence activities must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Generally, to the extent that cyber operations resemble traditional intelligence and counter-intelligence activities, such as unauthorized intrusions into computer networks solely to acquire information, then such cyber operations would likely be treated similarly under international law. The United States conducts such activities via cyberspace, and such operations are governed by long-standing and well-established considerations, including the possibility that those operations could be interpreted as a hostile act. (footnotes omitted, emphasis added)
This section shows two reasons that make a full-throated US denunciation of the hacks difficult.
First, the OPM hacks were “unauthorized intrusions into computer networks solely to acquire information,” as opposed to causing system disruption or physical destruction. Per the Law of War Manual, they are equivalent to non-cyber intelligence activities under international law. What the Manual implies, but does not explicitly state, is that international law traditionally doesn’t prohibit espionage. (For background, see these articles by William Banks and Ashley Deeks.)
Second, and perhaps more importantly, the Manual acknowledges that the United States “conducts such activities [i.e., espionage] via cyberspace.” The United States regularly denounces China for engaging in commercial espionage, such as theft of intellectual property for the benefit of Chinese companies. But the OPM hack is government-on-government espionage, not commercial espionage. As Jack Goldsmith noted, “this is almost certainly the type of collection we are trying to do, and probably succeeding in doing, against China’s government officials,” and “[w]e can hardly go ballistic if we are doing the same thing.”
There is an irony here: because of the administration’s policy in favor of transparency and attempting to protect individuals’ whose information was compromised in the hacks, the US government is in the position of announcing foreign intelligence agencies’ successes, at least when they compromise individuals’ personal information. Foreign countries are not so forthcoming if or when the United States achieves similar intelligence wins. And of course the announcement of breaches also telegraphs to US adversaries what the United States does and does not know about ongoing vulnerabilities in and breaches of its systems.
Despite the debate over exactly how bad the OPM hacks are for national security, there is no doubt that they are a blow, the magnitude of which will become clearer over time. Where any US claim to the legal or moral high ground would be shaky at best, we should assume that spies are going to spy and act accordingly. This means that the government must better secure its sensitive information going forward and take steps to protect the individuals already put at risk. Beyond such responses, allusions to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor are misplaced and tend to frame these hacks in terms countenanced neither by realism in international relations nor by the rules of international law.
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FBI Arrests NYC College Student for Alleged ISIS-Inspired Plot Video - ABC News

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FBI Arrests NYC College Student for Alleged ISIS-Inspired Plot

FBI: Man tied to Texas shooting wanted to attack Super Bowl

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PHOENIX (AP) — Calling him "off-the-charts dangerous," authorities said a Phoenix man helped orchestrate a shooting at an anti-Islam event in Texas and had aspirations to join the Islamic State terrorist organization and attack the Super Bowl.
Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, 43, was arrested last week on charges related to the shooting at a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest that led to the deaths of two gunmen from Phoenix. Kareem hosted the shooters in his home beginning in January and provided the guns they used in the May 3 attack in Garland, Texas, according to a federal indictment.
FBI Special Agent Dina McCarthy described at a court hearing how a witness and a confidential informant learned about Kareem's interest in the Islamic State group, including watching its videos with shooters Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi.
McCarthy said a 2012 investigation into Kareem determined he had a terrorism training document on his computer. She also said he wanted to attack the Super Bowl when it was in Arizona this year but provided no specifics about how serious he was.
The magistrate denied bail for Kareem, who is charged with conspiracy, making false statements and interstate transportation of firearms with intent to commit a felony. The FBI arrested him June 11.
"This is an individual who is apt to incite violence," prosecutor Kristen Brook said. "This defendant, based on all these facts, is dangerous — he is off-the-charts dangerous."
Defense lawyer Daniel Maynard called it a trumped-up case based largely on an unreliable confidential informant charged with kidnapping and sex trafficking.
"This is your typical jailhouse snitch," Maynard said, adding that there's no proof Kareem bought any of the guns used in the Texas shooting.
Soofi and Simpson were roommates in Phoenix and drove to Texas to attack the event featuring cartoons deemed offensive to Muslims. They were killed by police after they drove up and opened fire outside a conference center, injuring a security guard. No one attending the contest in suburban Dallas was hurt.
Kareem attended the same Phoenix mosque where Soofi and Simpson occasionally prayed. The three practiced shooting with others in the remote desert outside Phoenix between January and May, the indictment said.
Court records show Kareem had a criminal record, struggled with substance abuse and had difficulty finding steady employment.
He has two aggravated drunken driving convictions in Arizona. He also was charged with aggravated assault in 1997 after a woman told police that Kareem pointed a gun at her. Kareem said he didn't point the weapon at anyone and had taken the gun away from his brother during an argument.
After a second DUI arrest, probation officials say Kareem was generally cooperative but continued to drive drunk and struggle with substance abuse. He was sentenced to four months in jail.
He was born and raised in Philadelphia as Decarus Lowell Thomas and changed his name to Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem in 2013.
Usama Shami, president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, said Kareem attended the mosque for at least four years and volunteered to clean the carpets sometimes. Simpson helped him with the carpets at least once, Shami said.
Shami said he has not seen Kareem at the mosque in the last six to eight months, and he first learned about Kareem's possible involvement in the plot when FBI agents showed him 15 to 20 photos of different people.
"They asked not only me, but other people if they have seen him," Shami said. "The FBI is going to do their jobs, and they are going to follow their leads, and whatever they find, we are going to cooperate with them."
Hours before the Texas shooting, the FBI warned local authorities that Simpson, who had a prior terrorism-related conviction, might go to the event, but police said they didn't see the bulletin in time.
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Government apathy is the barrier to better cybersecurity

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When the federal government announced earlier this month that Chinese hackers had stolen sensitive personnel records of 4.2 million current and former government employees (myself included), the biggest surprise was that it had taken so long for this kind of breach to occur. The truth is that it was less an indicator of the Chinese government's technical prowess than it was proof of the U.S. federal government's lackadaisical approach to securing its computer systems.
Many of the security vulnerabilities that likely contributed to the data breach had already been uncovered by 
government auditors
. Obviously, this was to no avail. But rather than pointing fingers merely to score political points, policymakers should use this unprecedented breach to catalyze substantive change to the federal government's approach to information security by creating a zero-tolerance policy that drives real change.
The most frustrating part of this whole affair is that it might have been prevented if the target of the breach, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), had followed the federal rules for information security. The Federal Information Security Management Act outlines steps an agency must take to secure its systems. In 2014, the inspector general for OPM found many areas where it did not follow these baseline security practices. For example, it failed to routinely scan its servers for vulnerabilities, implement multi-factor authentication for remote access or maintain a comprehensive inventory of systems. Findings this substantial should have sent shockwaves through the government, but they instead elicited a collective shrug from officials who have grown accustomed to subpar security practices.
While OPM's problems were more severe than other agencies, it is certainly not alone. For example, not counting the Department of Defense, only 41 percent of federal agencies have implemented the minimum authentication requirements for accessing federal networks. Federal agencies are routinely targets for cyberattacks, so ignoring these vulnerabilities comes at great risk. The long-term solution to this problem is to build a culture in federal agencies that does not tolerate such poor performance.
Achieving this will require strong leadership from within agencies and vigorous oversight from Congress. When agencies fall short in meeting baseline standards, agency leaders should be held responsible. Agencies that fail to address these problems should face budget cuts and agency heads should be replaced. The purpose of these accountability measures is not to assign blame, but to drive structural change by creating a sense of urgency for improving federal information security practices.
In the short-term, President Obama should issue an executive order to address one of the primary reasons this most recent attack was possible: improperly secured data. The president should require agencies to submit to Congress within 90 days a confidential, comprehensive and prioritized inventory of every system that stores sensitive information in an unencrypted format. In addition, federal chief information officers (CIOs) should be required to submit plans to secure these systems, including any additional funding they might need. Congress can then decide if these agencies are deficient due to a lack of resources or their own inadequacies, and if the former, they should provide immediate funding to address the shortcomings. CIOs should provide Congress with an update every six months until the job is accomplished.
Given the scope and sensitivity of the personal information that the U.S. government collects, doing a job that is "good enough for government" is no longer acceptable when it comes to information security. Attacks on the government's information systems are not going to stop. The question is whether or not we will be prepared.
Castro is the vice president for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).
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Putin Bad, GOP Candidates Agree

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He’s someone who John McCain says rules “by corruption, repression, and violence.” He’s someone Joe Biden says has no soul. He’s sometimes flamboyantly shirtless. And for Republican presidential candidates, he’s someone who can pull the primary field toward a sense of nationalism found in the corners of the Far Right, without the risk of alienating most voters.
Vladimir Putin is not popular in the United States. Last February, during the Winter Olympics, the Russian president and his country saw their highest unfavorable Gallup ratings in 20 years. That was before Moscow took Crimea from Ukraine a month later. This February, another Gallup poll found that Russia replaced North Korea as the country Americans consider to be their greatest enemy. Unlike in 2008, when Mitt Romney said Russia was the nation’s No. 1 geopolitical foe and Barack Obama scoffed, Republicans (and Democrats) don’t have to work hard to convince voters that their next president needs a plan to handle Russian aggression.
Putin is a question that Republican contenders can count on to get right on the campaign trail. He’s an easy talking point whose continued intervention in eastern Ukraine allows candidates to do three of their favorite things: bash President Obama’s attempt to “reset” relations with Russia, bash Hillary Clinton’s attempt to implement that reset, and bring up Ronald Reagan, the conservative hero who told Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down that wall.
When it comes to Russia, Republicans don’t have to distinguish themselves from their challengers. Everyone’s winning the Putin primary, as conservative radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt recently called it. They are ready to stand up to him; the question is how tough they’re going to be about it. If Putin is going to act tough, Republican candidates are going to act tough, too—and try to one-up each other in the process.
I’ve got one rule of thumb—any world leader riding around on a horse without their shirt’s got a problem. We can handle that guy.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
We’re beginning to realize the reset button didn’t turn out so hot,” Jeb Bush said last week during a visit to Germany, a few days before announcing his candidacy for president. He also called Putin a “bully.”
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Carly Fiorina agrees. “I have met Vladimir Putin, and I know that his ambition will not be deterred by a gimmicky red reset button,” she said in February.
If I were ever elected, there’s a lot of things people might say about [my] bluntness, directness, and straightforwardness, but I will tell you this: Vladimir Putin would never have to wonder what I thought was acceptable and what was unacceptable,” Chris Christie, who is expected to decide on a 2016 run this month, said last week, using a go-to Republican dig against Obama’s inability to “stand up to Putin” that drips with machismo.
Ted Cruz used it last summer, when he invoked Reagan: “‘Mr. Putin, give back Crimea.’ Why is it so unimaginable for President Obama to utter those words?” In the Ukraine crisis, Cruz said, “the Russian bear is encountering the Obama kitty cat.” After Crimea’s annexation, Marco Rubio wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post titled “Making Putin pay.”
Lindsey Graham once said: “I’ve got one rule of thumb—any world leader riding around on a horse without their shirt’s got a problem. We can handle that guy.”
Rand Paul learned early to err on the side of toughness. Last February, Paul said the United States shouldn’t antagonize Putin over the brewing Ukraine conflict, distancing himself from the prevailing party sentiment at the time, and then backtracked a few days later with decidedly more aggressive words in an op-ed in Time. “If I were president,” he wrote, “I wouldn’t let Vladimir Putin get away with it.”
Presidential elections rarely hinge on foreign policy, but candidates haven’t seized on the threat of Russia—and on the electorate’s distrust of it—this much since perhaps the 1984 race. Recall this eerie ad from Reagan’s reelection campaign warning Americans that “some say the bear is tame; others say it’s vicious and dangerous.”
Campaigning on Putin—the “ruthless pragmatist,” the unsmiling face of “the Russian bear”—allows Republican candidates (and Democratic ones) to slide on offering prescriptions for how to actually deal with his government. Most Republicans agree that the United States should impose more economic sanctions, establish an American military presence inside the borders of Russia’s neighbors, and give Ukraine weapons to fight pro-Russia separatists—all options the Obama administration is considering. But they don’t have to lay out the specifics of their own Russia policies. Few are there to tell them what’s wrong or right, including the White House, which hasn’t yet figured it out, either.
In an interesting twist, the candidate who has gone toughest on Putin, the real winner of the Republicans’ Putin primary, isn’t even in it. At a private fundraiser in March 2014, Clinton compared the Russian government to Nazi Germany, saying that Putin’s justification for entering Crimea—to protect ethnic Russians there from Ukraine—was similar to “what Hitler did back in the 1930s.”
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How The Times Covers ISIS

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The hardest part of writing about the Islamic State is that there is no way for us to go and check out anything ourselves. The group has killed many journalists it has gotten its hands on and is more interested in putting out its own message through videos and social media, which allows it to idealize itself and entice recruits.
So to understand the Islamic State, we have to get at it in other ways. I speak Arabic, and to pull together today’s article about life under ISIS’ control, I did long interviews in southern Turkey and northern Iraq, both areas that are about as close as we can get to the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL. In both places, I was able to hear from people who live under ISIS or had recently fled its territories about what their lives were like and what changes they had noticed since the group took power.
Many people refuse to speak, especially if they will be returning to ISIS-controlled areas. They fear that the group will find out they have criticized it to a foreigner, a concern that is remarkably similar to that among people living under other dictatorial governments. There is a sense that the group has eyes everywhere.
Others are happy to talk as long as we do not identify them in a way that will allow the jihadists to track them down. Many are eager to share their experiences because they detest the group and want to let others know how it has ruined their lives.
But those who most surprise me most are those who feel that the group has been misrepresented in the Western media and want to give their perspective. Not all are true believers in the ISIS ideology (although some are). Some just see it as the best possible option in their country at present. Not all of them are exposed to violence every day. The perspective of a dissident who has fled is very different from that of a laborer who has been paid relatively good money in a war zone to work for the group as, say, a painter or electrician.
I can cross-reference much of what we hear with open-source information: ISIS releases frequent propaganda videos that, while often misleading, do give insights into what the group is doing and how it appeals to its supporters. A number of anti-ISIS activist groups continue to work in ISIS-controlled regions and also provide information and photos.
And to cast the widest net possible for voices and experiences, I work closely with my excellent colleagues in our Beirut, Baghdad and Istanbul bureaus, who have many contacts through phone and Skype with people inside ISIS areas.
Usually when we start a project like this, we pose a broad question, like: What has changed in ISIS-controlled areas in the last six months? Then we talk to everyone we can to see what we come up with, feeding all the notes into a common document that we share to inform our reporting.
We gathered material for this article over about two weeks, adding in other bits we had picked up earlier. When I felt we had enough new material, I pulled it all together to write.
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What The Pentagon Has To Do To Recruit Silicon Valley's Nerds

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Last week, Sen. John McCain took to WIRED to explain how various provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, would help bring young tech minds to bear on the military’s various problems. “By removing barriers to new entrants into the defense market. By adopting commercial buying practices,” by adding protections for intellectual property and technical data that contractors develop at their own expense, the Arizona Republican wrote, the Defense Department will attract the services of fast-moving Silicon Valley companies and the people who work in them.
Meanwhile, Pentagon leaders recently opened a satellite office next to Google headquarters. “One of the reasons that we’re establishing this new presence in Silicon Valley is to have a visual presence out there and get people to think about the DoD as a source of financing and as a potential customer,” Frank Kendall, the department’s undersecretary for acquisition, said at a recent lab day at the Pentagon.
Will all this be enough to draw the attention of the world’s top software engineers? If one were to judge from reader responses to McCain’s op-ed, optimism would seem unwarranted. One of the more polite comments read, “Why would a reputable tech publication such as WIRED allow a politician that doesn’t fully understand the technology he references to write an op-ed that is nothing more than propaganda for increased militarism and corrupt cyber-surveillance?”
But two former Pentagon acquisitions experts called the efforts a good start.
“It will be the execution that matters most, and, in my opinion, it will take more than acquisition reform to do it,” said Peter Newell, a former director of the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force who became a managing partner at the Palo Alto-based consultancy BMNT. “My experience tells me our challenge in the future will be less about how long it takes to acquire technology than it is about how long it takes us to realize we have a problem and translate that understanding into something that energizes an ecosystem to take action, an ecosystem that must go well beyond the walls of the Defense Department.”
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It will be the execution that matters most, and, in my opinion, it will take more than acquisition reform to do it.
Peter Newell, former director, Army Rapid Equipping Force
Newell said the entire department needs to overhaul its approach to with new ideas. “Within the walls of the Pentagon, they will need to reeducate a generation of civil servants to look for ways to say ‘yes’ to trying innovative concepts rather than excuses to say ‘no.’ Most importantly, at all levels, they will need to develop a new lexicon that embraces the pursuit of disruptive innovation rather than treat it as a threat to the efficiency of the system,” he told Defense One.  
Dan Ward has written extensively about how a nimbler approach would benefit the military. “I’d call [McCain’s ideas] a good step,” he said, “a positive move towards resetting the Pentagon’s default away from slow, expensive, complex programs and towards lighter, faster, more agile efforts. I think the next step to really getting Silicon Valley on board is for the DoD — and Congress — to reconsider how it treats failure,” said Ward, a retired Air Force Lt. Col and acquisitions officer. “That is, to let failed projects die like the Valley does, and also to see failure as an investment in learning and a springboard for next time.”
Newell said the Defense Department also needs to foster innovation, experimentation, and research by individual soldiers. “In only rare cases today will you find a military base that offer STEM-based educational programming to its servicemembers,” he said. “If you want to find a 3D printer, the best place to look will be in a barracks room because there isn’t a Maker Space or TechShop on any installation today.” These are DIY havens where people can collaborate and receive tutorials on everything from modifying consumer drones to 3D-printing plumbing parts. “Nowhere will you find aFIRST Robotics competition for military servicemembers, nor will you find ‘hacking problems’ to be the intramural sport that it should be,” he said. “All represent problems that will take a coalition beyond the Pentagon to fix.”
Of course, the government can’t fund the enterprise of providing for a common defense in the same way that a VC outfit in Palo Alto can fund a dating app. The latter needs only to provide a service to a user base at below cost and prove that it can do so at scale. The former must be fully accountable to the public, and Congressional oversight is rather different from a board of directors.
But while acquisition rules have definite benefits like reducing unfair competition, “those same checks and balances when applied in the innovation space tend to kill it,” Newell said. In virtually every study on innovation within corporations, he said, “researchers acknowledge the need to create a sandbox or playground where the gritty, rough and tumble work of innovators can be done without being held to the same standard of scrutiny of the rest of the system while also protecting the system from the destructive behavior of the innovators. Work in these boxes should be judged or scrutinized not on what they are currently doing but rather on what they have finished and only after they have finished.”
The government can’t fund the enterprise of providing for a common defense in the same way that aVC outfit in Palo Alto can fund a dating app. 
Newell said setting up such a space “will require some legislative ingenuity.” He recommends that lawmakers create a fund to underwrite and reward innovative solutions to mundane problems, as distinct from just funding R&D. They could also work with the Defense Department to identify areas where restrictions and requirements could be modified or suspended.
Among other things, this might encourage smart network or software engineers to do a stint in government or the military. “For example, personnel policy restrictions on the use of theIntergovernmental Personnel Act could be suspended to allow a free flow of talent from commercial organizations into government service for specific projects/periods of time while allowing them to be paid at competitive commercial rates,” he said. The act currently covers only people coming from state governments, universities, or private organizations, he said.
The Pentagon has already made some movement in that direction, announcing in April the goal of recruiting thousands of private-sector cyber security professionals as a “surge force” — in essence, a cyber National Guard.
Ward said that although a faster acquisition program would seem to offer less public accountability, the reverse is actually true. “The more time we spend, the harder is it to keep people accountable because of personnel turnover,” he said. “Who gets held accountable for a 10- or 20-year project? Is it the person who starts it and makes early decisions, or the person who’s holding the bag at the end?”
Finally, the importance of attracting top software minds is only growing as software’s importance does. Even as the Pentagon buys fewer ships and aircraft, it’s buying far more code, and that code can be produced by far more companies and at far lower risk than jets or warships. “The trick is creating a system that is flexible enough to adjust the level of oversight to the nature and risk of the acquisition,” said Jason Tama, author of a upcoming policy paper from the Brookings Institution on defense acquisition reform. “Not all acquisitions are created equal in this respect, and the current system doesn’t necessarily do a good job recognizing this.”
Ultimately, Congress must help turn smarter-and-cheaper into a key consideration for everyone in DoD.
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Adm. Zukunft Unveils New Coast Guard Cyber Strategy « Breaking Defense

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Adm. Paul Zukunft
Adm. Paul Zukunft
WASHINGTON: “What is modern warfare going to look like in the 21st century?” asked Adm. Paul Zukunft. “Not that long ago,” he said, workers aboard a mobile offshore drilling unit unwittingly downloaded malware that scrambled the system that kept the floating platform stable. “They drifted off the well site,” the Coast Guard commandant said — with the drill pipe still attached and the well still pumping oil.
“Fortunately, the blowout preventer kicked in and shut it down,” Zukunft continued, preventing a disastrous spill. (It was the blowout preventer that failed on the Deepwater Horizon, where Zukunftcoordinated the federal response in 2010). But a more sophisticated cyber attack on US oil and gas could be devastating, and there are people out there with the motive and the means to do it. Russiajust happens to have some of the sharpest hackers on the planet, a worsening relationship with the US, and a massive share of the European and Asia natural gas markets.
As US gas exports rise, “what if we’re now taking some of that market share?” Zukunft askedyesterday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “If tensions escalate…does Russia conduct electronic warfare against our military, or might they want to conduct electronic warfareagainst our critical infrastructure?”
You don’t even have to be a hacker to mess with crucial electronics: GPS jammers, for example, are cheaply and widely available. As shown by the near-disaster with the drifting oil platform, Zukunft said, “in some ways you have a single point of failure with the GPS signal.”
That’s the kind of crisis the Coast Guard is supposed to prevent — on a shoestring budget. By repurposing funds and personnel, Zukunft said, “we’ve created just recently a cyber command within the US Coast Guard.” It’s all of 70 people strong. Compare that to the 6,000-strong cyber mission force the Pentagon is building.
In fact, as a military service operating dot-mil websites, the Coast Guard is part of the Department of Defense Information Networks (DoDIN) and depends on Pentagon initiatives like the Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) to help protect its system.
The Coast Guard’s cyber self-defense effort “relies on the support that we get from DoD,” Zukunft told me after his public remarks. “We are supported by DoD as an element that’s on the dot-mil domain, so it’s up to me to be a responsible user of that domain.”
Being a “responsible user” requires the Coast Guard to have some cybersecurity personnel of its own, and taking them out of hide is painful. “I never built it into my program of record,” Zukunft told the audience at CSIS. “It was much quicker for me to reprogram [existing] billets.” But money is the Coast Guard’s biggest shortfall, he said, and now it’s time to put its cyber mission on a surer footing: “The reason I wanted this strategy is we needed to build out a program of record.”
That’s the new Coast Guard Cyber Strategy, which Zukunft unveiled yesterday at CSIS. The Coasties actually finished the document in November but wanted to get feedback and buy-in from a host of other agencies before going public.
Like most policy documents released after such extensive vetting, the strategy itself is painfully bland, although its insights reflect sensible consensus policy. Zukunft’s remarks showed the fine line the cash-strapped service is trying to walk. In essence, the Coast Guard wants to do better in cyber without reinventing wheels that already exist at the Defense Department — which it can hardly afford to do — and without requesting new legal authorities.
“I just need awareness that a facility has a vulnerability,” Zukunft continued. “I don’t want to identify [it]. I clearly do not want Coast Guard officers or petty officers accessing those systems that may have personal identifiable information, financially sensitive information.” The service simply needs to know what’s happening and share an aggregated report stripped of personally identifiable information with other agencies so analysts can watch for signs of a systematic attack on US infrastructure.
“Anonymity is certainly a key component,” he said, “which means i wouldn’t need more legislative authority.”
A voluntary approach to security proved highly effective against physical piracy on the high seas: “It wasn’t required,” Zukunft said, “but if you had a privately armed security team on your ship… there were 200 attacks against those ships and not one pirate gained access.” If government agencies can share best practices and establish voluntary standards in cybersecurity, he argued, enlightened self-interest will prompt private companies to adopt them.
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Prosecutor: Worker Discussed Having Inmates Kill Husband

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A woman charged with helping two convicted murderers escape from a maximum-security facility where she worked had discussed having them kill her husband, a district attorney confirmed Wednesday.
Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said at a news conference that Joyce Mitchell had talked to inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat about killing her husband, Lyle, who also works at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, near the Canadian border.
Sweat and Matt escaped from the 170-year-old prison on June 6 and remain on the lam. Joyce Mitchell, a prison tailoring shop instructor who befriended the inmates, was arrested June 12.
Lyle Mitchell arrived at the state police barracks in Malone with his attorney late Wednesday morning to talk to authorities, the Press-Republican of Plattsburgh reported.
Investigators have no information that Lyle Mitchell knew about the escape plan or assisted in it, Wylie said.
Meanwhile, state police expanded the search for the killers beyond a 16-square-mile area of woods, fields and swamps where the manhunt has been most intense. Police stepped up roving patrols and were checking the hundreds, if not thousands, of seasonal homes and hunting camps in the region.
Officials said the number of law enforcement officers involved in the search had been reduced from more than 800 earlier in the week to more than 600 Wednesday. In Dannemora, the heavy law enforcement presence prevalent for more than a week all but disappeared by Tuesday, and roadblocks surrounding the town were gone.
State police said Wednesday that they have "no hard evidence" that Sweat and Matt were able to leave the area. But they cautioned that the lack of evidence doesn't mean the escapees are somewhere near the prison.
Sweat, 35, was serving a life sentence without parole in the killing of a sheriff's deputy. Matt, 48, was doing 25 years to life for the kidnap, torture and hacksaw dismemberment of his former boss.
Joyce Mitchell is charged with helping the killers flee by providing them with hacksaw blades, chisels and other tools. She was visited in jail Tuesday by her husband.
Clinton County Sheriff David Favro described her as "composed" during the visit.
Prosecutors say Mitchell had agreed to be the getaway driver but backed out because she still loved her husband and felt guilty for participating.
She was charged last week with supplying contraband, including a punch and a screwdriver, to the two inmates. She has pleaded not guilty and has been suspended without pay from her $57,000-a-year job overseeing inmates who sew clothes and learn to repair sewing machines.
Authorities say the convicts used power tools to cut through the backs of their adjacent cells, broke through a brick wall and then cut into a steam pipe and slithered through it, finally emerging outside the prison walls through a manhole. Wylie says they apparently used tools stored by prison contractors, taking care to return them to their toolboxes after each night's work.
Associated Press writer Michael Virtanen in Albany contributed to this report.
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A Castro Son Rises in Cuba

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Cuban President Raul Castro's son has emerged as one of his father's closest aides, taking on an increasingly important role reminiscent of the one Raul used to play for his older brother Fidel Castro.
Alejandro Castro Espin, 49, is a colonel in Cuba's interior ministry and was until recently a little-seen figure. As his father has moved to improve relations with the United States after decades of hostility, however, his son has been right by his side.
When Raul Castro, 84, met with U.S. President Barack Obama in a historic encounter at a regional summit in Panama in April, Alejandro Castro Espin was part of the small group in the room. It was unknown what role the son may have played in the 18 months of secret negotiations leading up to the announcement of detente by both presidents last December.
"Clearly Raul is grooming him for more responsibilities, probably higher office and/or rank," said Brian Latell, a former CIA analyst who has closely followed the Castros for decades. Still, it seems extremely unlikely that Castro Espin is being prepared to take over for his father. Cuba experts see no sign the Castro brothers plan to hand power to any of their children.
"Raul is determined, as his elder brother is, that this isn't going to look like a monarchy," said Hal Klepak, a Canadian historian living in Havana who has written two books on Cuba's military.
The heir apparent is First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, 55, and Castro Espin flatly ruled out the idea of succeeding his father in an interview with Mega TV of Greece earlier this year.
His profile suddenly began increasing on Dec. 17, the day his father and Obama announced plans to restore diplomatic ties. Under a prisoner swap that was part of the deal, three Cuban spies returned home as national heroes and there was Castro Espin, in uniform, saluting them at the bottom of the airplane steps. When Raul Castro met Pope Francis at the Vatican on May 10, his son stood with them in a business suit.
Raul Castro had a similar role as confident and adviser to older brother Fidel, 88, the leader of the 1959 revolution who resigned as president in 2008.
"What comes to mind is the way Fidel used Raul all through the years," Latell said. "Raul has raised his son to be at his side, his eyes and ears, especially in the Interior Ministry, reporting to his father. The son is totally trustworthy."
Raul Castro employs another close relative in a position requiring absolute trust. His grandson and Alejandro's nephew, Raul Rodriguez Castro, is a bodyguard.
Castro Espin is a member of a commission on defense and national security that advises his father. As a colonel in line for promotion to one-star general, he would rank high in the interior ministry, which is in charge of internal security and was practically absorbed into the armed forces 25 years ago. The government did not respond to requests to interview him or provide biographical or professional details.
His future beyond 2018, when Raul Castro is due to step down as president, remains unknown, although Klepak said the military brass likes and trusts Castro Espin.
Castro Espin lost all or part of the vision in one eye in a training exercise in Angola, where Cuba sent forces from 1975 to 1991 to defend a Marxist government against South African and U.S.-backed insurgents.
"He had a very good career as a junior officer, and not just in Angola. This is an officer who would have been watched for rapid promotion under any circumstances," Klepak said. Then he added: "It doesn't hurt to have those surnames."
His mother, Vilma Espin, who died in 2007, was a prominent figure in Cuba who led the Federation of Cuban Women.
For years the most visible of Raul and Vilma's four children has been Mariela Castro, an advocate for gay and transgender rights and a member of the National Assembly, but she does not appear to have the same access as her brother on matters of state.
Sister Deborah, a chemical engineer, married Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez-Callejas, a general who heads the armed forces' enterprises, which generate between 30 percent and 40 percent of Cuba's hard currency earnings. The fourth sibling, Nilsa, does not have a public profile.
Alejandro Castro Espin wrote a 2009 book called "The Price of Power," which portrays the United States as an imperial power bent on hegemony in order to serve corporate interests.
Reissued this year, the new edition added an author's note that refers to his father's rapprochement with the United States but still describes U.S. leaders as "those who seek to subjugate humanity to satisfy their interests and hegemonic goals."
One of his former professors said he believed Castro's thinking was "more sophisticated" than that.
"Maybe he published that in his book because he believed it to be politically correct," said Carlos Alzugaray, a retired Cuban diplomat who taught Castro Espin in a master's course on U.S. and Cuban foreign policy.
"He is open to contrary ideas ... He's not a person who doesn't listen."
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Reclamation to end soon, China says, as tensions with US grow | TODAYonline

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BEIJING — By declaring that it would soon complete its contentious programme of building artificial islands in the South China Sea, Beijing hopes to diminish tensions with the United States while reassuring its home audience that it has delivered on its pledge to resist US military pressure, experts said.
US and Chinese leaders are set to meet next week in Washington at a major annual conference, the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. An expected topic is the Obama administration’s opposition to China’s building in the disputed waters, including the construction of a runway capable of handling military aircraft.
“We need to find some way to let this topic not become so prominent, and China wants to head off the activity,” said Mr Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University and a Chinese government adviser.
Prof Shi said China wanted the conference to go smoothly ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit in September, during which he may be confronted about the South China Sea expansion, cybertheft and trade.
In an announcement on Tuesday on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website, spokesman Lu Kang said: “After the land reclamation, we will start the building of facilities to meet relevant functional requirements.”
He added that the sites in the Spratlys, which the Chinese call Nansha Islands, would be used for “military defence needs” and “civilian demands”, including maritime search and rescue efforts, scientific research and navigational safety measures.
Land reclamation has been carried out at seven sites in the disputed waters, whose other claimants include Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan.
“The dredging is almost finished but construction of military facilities is not, and I would guess that the Chinese will accelerate those after the September summit,” said Ms Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser at Washington’s Centre for Security and International Studies.
The US accuses China of building 80ha in the last 18 months and a runway at Fiery Cross Reef long enough for fighter jets.
At a security forum in Singapore last month, Defence Secretary Ashton Carter called on China to stop construction, and warned that the US would “fly, sail and operate” in the South China Sea to ensure freedom of navigation and flight as permitted by international law.
Mr Carter’s pointed remarks and flights by US surveillance planes near Fiery Cross Reef may have forced China to at least slow the pace of military installations, a senior Asian diplomat said. One of the flights carried a CNN crew that recorded and broadcast the Chinese navy repeatedly warning the plane to leave.
“The works under way will not stop — too politically damaging to do this — but whatever other things they may have in mind must now be rethought very carefully,” said the diplomat, speaking anonymously in order not to offend the Chinese.
China has rushed to finish military installations before the 2016 US presidential election to remove them as a potential campaign issue, the diplomat said, but Pentagon’s reaction forced the Chinese to pause sooner than planned.
China did not want to risk confrontation with the US in the South China Sea that could potentially rattle the Communist Party’s grip at home, the diplomat added.
Ms Glaser said: “There is a pressing need for dialogue between the US and China on the application of the Law of the Sea to the artificial islands and associated maritime rights.”
China is sending a specialist maritime lawyer from the State Oceanic Administration, which has a large voice in China’s policies in the South China Sea, to the Washington conference next week, a sign that the Chinese are prepared for tough discussions, she added.
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Reclamation to end soon, China says, as tensions with US grow

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BEIJING — By declaring that it would soon complete its contentious programme of building artificial islands in the South China Sea, Beijing hopes to diminish tensions with the United States while reassuring its home audience that it has delivered on its pledge to resist US military pressure, experts said.
US and Chinese leaders are set to meet next week in Washington at a major annual conference, the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. An expected topic is the Obama administration’s opposition to China’s building in the disputed waters, including the construction of a runway capable of handling military aircraft.
“We need to find some way to let this topic not become so prominent, and China wants to head off the activity,” said Mr Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University and a Chinese government adviser.
Prof Shi said China wanted the conference to go smoothly ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit in September, during which he may be confronted about the South China Sea expansion, cybertheft and trade.
In an announcement on Tuesday on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website, spokesman Lu Kang said: “After the land reclamation, we will start the building of facilities to meet relevant functional requirements.”
He added that the sites in the Spratlys, which the Chinese call Nansha Islands, would be used for “military defence needs” and “civilian demands”, including maritime search and rescue efforts, scientific research and navigational safety measures.
Land reclamation has been carried out at seven sites in the disputed waters, whose other claimants include Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan.
“The dredging is almost finished but construction of military facilities is not, and I would guess that the Chinese will accelerate those after the September summit,” said Ms Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser at Washington’s Centre for Security and International Studies.
The US accuses China of building 80ha in the last 18 months and a runway at Fiery Cross Reef long enough for fighter jets.
At a security forum in Singapore last month, Defence Secretary Ashton Carter called on China to stop construction, and warned that the US would “fly, sail and operate” in the South China Sea to ensure freedom of navigation and flight as permitted by international law.
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Russia not acting as responsible nuclear power: NATO commander

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World | Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:09pm EDT
U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of the U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of the U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 30, 2015.
Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
SWIETOSZOW, Poland NATO's top commander said on Wednesday Russia's announcement it was adding 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal was not the kind of behavior expected of a responsible nuclear power.
President Vladimir Putin's announcement on Tuesday of the planned new deployments put further strain on the relations between Moscow and the West, already tense over the Ukraine crisis.
"This is not a way that responsible nuclear nations behave," U.S. Air Force General and NATO supreme allied commander Philip Breedlove told Reuters during a visit to Poland.
"A rhetoric which ratchets up tensions in a nuclear sense is not a responsible behavior and we seek and ask that these (nuclear) nations handle this particular type of weapon in a more responsible way."
Following Putin's announcement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg accused Russia of nuclear saber rattling, describing it as "destabilizing and dangerous".
Speaking to Reuters on Wednesday, Stoltenberg said Russia was investing heavily in new military capabilities, including nuclear.
"They are exercising more their nuclear forces, and they are also using nuclear rhetoric as part of their strategy," Stoltenberg said.
Asked whether Macedonia and Montenegro should be invited to join NATO at an alliance summit in Warsaw next year, Breedlove said that while the countries were ready in military terms, the decision to invite them would ultimately be political.
Macedonia and Montenegro want to follow in the footsteps of Albania and ex-Yugoslav Croatia, which joined NATO in 2009, and Poland's defense minister said that the two countries should be invited next year.
But Russia has opposed any NATO expansion to former communist nations of eastern and southeast Europe, part of a competition for geostrategic influence since the end of the Cold War that lies at the heart of the current conflict in ex-Soviet Ukraine.
"From a military point of view these nations have done the things that we need them to do," Breedlove said.
"To have the last sort of non-NATO nation like Montenegro in that area join (the alliance) would certainly make the military situation there simpler."
(Reporting by Wiktor Szary; editing by John Stonestreet)
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Canadian government websites go dark after 'cyber attack'

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Multiple Canadian government websites have been brought back online after they went dark for several hours in a hacking attack.
Tony Clement, a member of parliament and president of the Treasury Board, said that government servers had suffered a cyber attack on Wednesday.
Mr Clement said he did not know whether any data had been taken.
A video posted online claimed that the Anonymous hacking group was responsible for the attack.
"We are working very diligently to restore services and to find out the origination of the attack," Mr Clement said.
CTV News reported that the websites went down around midday (04:00 GMT) on Wednesday.
Some of the sites including those of Canada's spy agency and its parliament were restored around 15:00 local time.
Mr Clement told reporters that the attack was a Dynamic Denial of Service (DDOS) attack.
DDOS attacks are a common type of web attack that involves overloading a web server with too many requests.
A video posted on YouTube claiming to be uploaded from the so-called Anonymous hacking group says the group perpetrated the attack in retaliation for the recently-passed anti-terrorism law, known as C-51.
In the video, which appears to be highly produced, a computer-generated voice says the bill "is a clear violation of the universal declaration of human rights".
"Bill C-51 targets minority groups and dissidents alike," the voice says.
Bill C-51 was passed by the House of Commons in May and by the Senate on 10 June.
A few days ago, the IT department for the House of Commons warned staffers that they are "currently being targeted by several cyber attacks", CTV News reported.
Last summer, Canada's National Research Council was hacked in an attack blamed on Chinese hackers.
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Putin Relitigates His Midlife Crisis

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