Homeland Security

Congress must move carefully in regulating corporate cybersecurity

The Federal Trade Commission's recent lawsuit against hotelier Wyndham neatly encapsulates the most vexing problem information security practitioners face — how to protect digital data residing inside corporate networks.

In its initial response to the FTC, Wyndham rightly brings to the fore the irrationality of being accused of improper consumer data custodianship while not receiving specific instructions on the methodology, tools or best practices it should have adhered to in order to protect the data.

It's absurd for the FTC, a federal agency, to accuse public and private firms of improperly handling consumer data while a recent report from the Pentagon claims that as far as cyberattacks from abroad are concerned, even our military is not prepared to defend against this threat.

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Should we give China 'eyes and ears' to U.S. communications?

The $20 billion proposed merger between U.S. cellular carrier Sprint/Nextel and Japan’s SoftBank seems like a good match. Sprint would partner with one of the most dynamic cellular companies in the world, whose latest claim to fame is the Advanced Extended Global Platform (AXGP), the fastest mobile broadband network serving Tokyo and other Japanese cities. But Sprint has another suitor, the TV satellite provider DiSH Network. DiSH would actually offer Sprint shareholders more money than SoftBank, and offer significant synergies that benefit consumers.

Yet there is more to this than innovative platforms, synergies and returns for shareholders. There is the potential for a SoftBank-acquired Sprint cellular network to serve as a convenient transmission path for malware and spyware, courtesy of SoftBank’s Chinese business partners or their government.

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The false debate

Even an act as terrifying and damaging as 9/11 is no excuse for engaging in torture.

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E-Verify wrong for America

More than 30 years ago at a Cabinet meeting on immigration reform, Ronald Reagan dismissed the idea of a national ID card with a broad smile and a wisecrack. “Maybe we should just brand all the babies,” he said. The Justice Department’s plan to put a national ID in the hand of every worker didn’t make it out of the Cabinet Room.

Today, conservatives and Republicans are the strongest backers of the national identification system in the Senate’s Gang of Eight immigration reform bill. If they get their way, they may just deliver the American people over to a national ID and tight, comprehensive control from Washington, D.C., through the program known as E-Verify. Politically, it appears that the price of enough conservative votes to pass a broader immigration reform package is giving the federal government the power to approve or decline every American business’s hiring decisions from now on.

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North Korea, Iran threats demand military readiness

Many of the most tragic days in American history feature a common thread: a surprise attack for which the United States simply was not ready. This is true of the sinking of the USS Maine that began the Spanish-American War. So too of Pearl Harbor, and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Each was a watershed moment that changed America’s approach to national security and the defense of our homeland. The lesson learned was that reacting was wholly inadequate when faced with rogue enemies and determined foes. Our Armed Forces would need to be on the front foot, anticipating and preparing for the next assault on our way of life.

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Sessions amendment would harm military families

The Senate Judiciary Committee will turn to questions of immigration enforcement in the coming week as the senators continue to mark up the immigration bill crafted by the Gang of Eight. One amendment in particular could cause huge problems for military family members by mandating the imprisonment for 60 to 90 days of people who overstay their permission to be in the United States. It’s doubtful that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) realizes how military families would be affected by the fifth of his 49 amendments to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, or S. 744, but serious harm will result if his proposed amendment is adopted.

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Help fight torture — release the CIA report

In 1988, President Reagan led a bipartisan effort to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Twenty-five years ago today, he told the Senate in a letter that, “Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.”
 
The recent phenomenon of unyielding partisanship and stalemates on Capitol Hill can make it easy to forget that it was once common to put aside partisan differences and work on issues of national concern. From Reagan’s leadership on the Convention Against Torture to the Senate’s overwhelming support in 2005 for the McCain amendment designed to prohibit abusive interrogations, the United States has a strong history of bipartisan opposition to torture.

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The FBI’s surveillance power in the aftermath of Boston

Last month’s tragic attack on the Boston marathon leaves us wanting answers — not just about why it occurred, but why we failed to prevent it. One tempting answer is that the FBI could have prevented the Boston attack if it had more power and fewer legal encumbrances. That seems to be the wrongheaded if understandable impulse of former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who at last Thursday’s House Homeland Security Committee hearing on the Boston attack, urged Congress to review the Attorney General Guidelines that regulate the FBI’s surveillance and investigation power.

In our democratic society, a thought crime is no crime at all. Yet Lieberman and some members of Congress suggested that the FBI should be able to keep investigations open based on a person’s religious and political beliefs. That change would be ruinous to an agency that prides itself on upholding the Constitution, and it would not help prevent terrorism.

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Missile defense turns 30

While missile defense may have been a politically divisive issue when it was first proposed by President Reagan 30 years ago, the need for such capability is no longer in doubt.

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Drones are useful, but not the solution or the problem

The use of drones to attack the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and al Qaeda there and in Yemen, draws criticism for exacerbating anti-American sentiment. But drone use needs to be seen in broader contexts as the U.S. withdraws from combat in Afghanistan, deals with unrest in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, and grapples with al Qaeda threats to our homeland.

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