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Stewart Baker
Former government official now practicing law
Recent Activity
We celebrate the holiday season by interviewing David Ignatius, Columnist and Associate Editor at The Washington Post and the author of multiple spy thrillers, including his most recent, The Quantum Spy. David and I discuss themes from the book, from quantum computing to ethnic and gender tensions at the Agency, while managing to avoid spoilers. It’s a fun and insightful work. In the news, I flag Twitter’s weird journey from the free speech wing of the free speech party to the censorship wing of the Censor’s Party. Twitter is now revoking the verification checks for people whose speech it disapproves of. It’s even de-checking people based on its assessment of their off-line conduct. So maybe that should be the Stasi wing of the Censor’s Party. And, not surprisingly, given Silicon Valley’s steep leftward tilt, the censorship seems to fall far more harshly on the right than on less PC targets. Markham Erickson and I treat Twitter’s wobbly stance as a symptom of the breakdown of the Magaziner Consensus, as both left and right for their own reasons come to view Big Tech with suspicion. Markham has shrewd observations about what it all means for the (questionable) future of social media’s... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Skating on Stilts
I've just published an op-ed with Fox News, opposing the effort to require warrants to search lawfully collected section 702 intercepts. It begins: You might be surprised to discover that the average college freshman doesn’t remember 9/11. I was even more surprised to find that a lot of Congressmen don’t either. That’s the only good explanation for their willingness to play chicken with one of our most valuable anti-terrorism programs. And it finishes with my experience defending and renouncing the wall that many of the 702 "reform" proposals would at least partially restore: Inspired by ISIS, more terrorists are internet-radicalized loners, and many are already known in a general way to law enforcement. They may be “lone wolves” but they’re also “known wolves.” This is no time to make it harder to do an electronic background check on these known suspects. If there were a truth in labeling requirement for acts of Congress, the proposed warrant requirement would be called the “Known Lone Wolf Preservation Act.” This is all achingly familiar to me. In the 1990s, I was one of those who defended the idea of a wall between intelligence and law enforcement. Not because there had been actual abuses,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
With the Texas church shooting having put encryption back on the front burner, I claim that Apple is becoming the FBI's crazy ex-girlfriend in Silicon Valley -- and offer the tapes to prove it. When Nick Weaver rises to Apple's defense, I point out that Apple responded to a Chinese government man-in-the-middle attack on iCloud users with spineless obfuscation rather than a brave defense of user privacy. Nick asks for a citation. Here it is: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203126 (Careful: don't click without a chiropractor standing by.) Nick provides actual news to supplement the NYT's largely news-free front page story about leak and mole fears at NSA. I gloat, briefly, over hackback's new respectability, as the ACDC act acquires new cosponsors, including Trey Gowdy, and hacking back acquires new respectability. But not everywhere. Michael Sulmeyer finally gets a word in edgewise as the conversation shifts to the NDAA . He discusses the MGT Act, the growing Armed Services Committee oversight of cyberoperations, and the decision to lift -- and perhaps separate -- Cyber Command from NSA. I take issue with any decision that requires that a three-star NSA director argue intelligence equities with a four-star combatant commander. We end with Michael Sulmeyer walking... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
Episode 191 is our long-awaited election security podcast before a live, and lively, audience. I interview Chris Krebs, formerly of Microsoft and now the top cybersecurity official at DHS (with the longest title in the federal government as proof), and Ed Felten, formerly the deputy CTO of the federal government and currently Princeton professor focused on cybersecurity and policy. We walk through the many stages of election machinery and the many ways that digitizing those stages has introduced new insecurities into our election results. When all is said and done, however, the panel ends up more or less in one place: Election security is not to be taken for granted -- it will be hard to achieve, but the task is not impossible, or even unaffordable. With sufficient will and focus, and perhaps a touch of Ned Ludd, we may be able to overcome the risk of foreign hackers interfering in our elections. At least outside of New Jersey. As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785. Download the 191th Episode (mp3). Subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast here. We... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
The 190th episode is an interview with United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who has a long history of engagement with technology and security issues. We cover the cybersecurity waterfront, from the FBI’s problems accessing the Texas church shooter’s phone, and what Silicon Valley should do about that, to Vladimir Putin’s electoral adventurism and how to combat it. Along the way, we touch (skeptically) on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and (more enthusiastically) on allowing private citizens to leave their networks to track the hackers who’ve attacked them. Plus: botnet cures, praise for Microsoft, a cybersecurity inspector general (or, maybe, bug bounties), DHS’s role in civilian cybersecurity, and how much bigger Rhode Island really is at low tide! As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785. Download the 190th Episode (mp3). Subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also on iTunes, Pocket Casts, and Google Play (available for Android and Google Chrome)! Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
In this bonus episode, I had a chance to interview United States Representative Tom Graves, co-sponsor of the Active Cyber Defense Certainty (ACDC) Act, which allows victims of persistent network attacks to leave their own network to conduct investigative action. Representative Graves offers a measured but deeply felt defense of the proposal and is optimistic about its reception. In the end, in keeping with The Cyberlaw Podcast's reputation for hard-hitting investigative journalism, I ask the tough question: “Is this bill a tribute to AC/DC – and if so, which song?” (Hint: the answer may be in the title of this post.) Mark your calendars for November 7th when we will gather for a live taping of a special episode on Election Cybersecurity at our Dupont Circle offices here in DC. To register please visit the Events page of our website at steptoe.com. As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785. Download the 189th Episode (mp3). Subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also on iTunes, Pocket Casts, and Google Play (available for Android and Google Chrome)! Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
In this episode, Brian Egan and I deconstruct the endlessly proliferating “FISA 702 Reform” bills, from the irresponsible House Judiciary bill to the “I’ll see your irresponsible and raise you crazy” bipartisan extremist bill beloved of Sens. Wyden and Paul (which at least deserves praise for truth in advertising: what better designation for a bill that takes us back twenty years to the pre-9/11 era than S.1997?). Even the relatively restrained Senate Intelligence bill takes fire for its, ahem, “creative” approach to FBI searches of 702 data. Brian does not share my distaste for all of the options, but agrees that the cornucopia of 702 proposals makes it even more unlikely that anything other than a straight-up short-term reauthorization can be passed before the end of the year. In other legislative news, CFIUS reform is also in the air, and Sen. Cornyn's carefully scripted rollout has begun. In her podcast debut, Alexis Early unpacks this complex bill. Need a one-word explanation? China. The bill tries to block all of the avenues China is believed to have traveled in its pursuit of US technology over the last decade. We also discuss how the bill would remove the veneer of “voluntariness” from... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
I had a chance to interview Tom Bossert, President Trump’s Homeland Security Adviser, and we’re releasing the conversation as a bonus episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast. The talk ranges from the Peggy Noonan Rule for White House staff work to the vast improvement in West Wins carpeting before we turn to the main topic – a looming deadline for renewing authority for FISA section 702. Tom is deeply familiar with the issues in the debate over 702. He stands by the administration’s position that 702 should be renewed without amendment and without a sunset but he discusses with nuance the many legislative proposals for changing the program as well. Finally, we talk about the executive order that unleashed a flood of internal reports on empowering DHS to protect the US government’s systems, measures to protect critical infrastructure, and the administration’s hunt for a new cyberspace deterrence strategy. Coming soon: Mark your calendars for November 7th when we will gather for a live taping of a special episode on Election Cybersecurity at our Dupont Circle offices here in DC. To register please visit the Events page of our website at steptoe.com. As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
Our interview is another in our series on section 702 reform, featuring Mieke Eoyang of the National Security Program at Third Way and Jamil Jaffer of George Mason University and IronNet Security. They begin with the history of the program but quickly focus on proposals to require warrants for FBI criminal searches of already collected 702 data, which Mieke broadly supports and Jamil broadly opposes. The debate ends up in a surprising place -- Las Vegas. Because the shootings there raise the question, "Are we really going to make the FBI wait for a warrant before it checks its own 702 database to see whether Stephen Paddock has been in communication with terror groups and what he's been saying?" In the news roundup, Jim Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Brian Egan nerd out with me on the DOD's objections to section 1621(f) of the National Defense Authorization Act. Neither Jim nor Brian finds them persuasive. I give a preview of my plans to celebrate Halloween as a Russian Twitter troll, and Jim predicts that the main fallout from the entirely predictable Russian use of Twitter will be on Silicon Valley: What I call the Magaziner... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
This episode features an interview with Mårten Mickos, the CEO of HackerOne. HackerOne administers bug bounty and vulnerability disclosure programs for a host of private companies as well as DOD’s “Hack the Pentagon” program. Mårten explains how such programs work, how companies and agencies typically get started (with “vulnerability disclosure” programs), the legal and other assurances that companies need to provide to ensure participation, and the role that bounty administration firms play – from hacker reputation management to providing a kind of midnight basketball tournament for otherwise at-risk fourteen-year-old boys. (And they are boys, at least 98% of them, an issue we also explore.) Along the way, there’s even unexpected praise for the Justice Department’s Computer Crime Section, which has produced a valuable framework for vulnerability disclosure programs. As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785. Download the 185th Episode (mp3). Subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also on iTunes, Pocket Casts, and Google Play (available for Android and Google Chrome)! Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
Today’s news roundup features Shane Harris of the Wall Street Journal, Brian Egan, and Alan Cohn discussing stories that Shane wrote last week. Out of the box, we work through the hall of mirrors that the Kaspersky hacking story has become. The Russian hacking story is biting more companies than just Kaspersky. Turns out that Twitter deleted all the Russian trolling accounts and tweets when the Russians asked them to. Because privacy! I put in a plug for the rule that privacy always somehow ends up protecting the powerful – in this case Vladimir Putin and, of course, Twitter itself. We also cover another Wall Street Journal story detailing North Korea’s use of (another) antivirus product to hack South Korea’s military – and US war plans. Alan unpacks the Trump Administration’s most detailed statement to date on law enforcement and technology -- Deputy AG Rosenstein’s far-ranging speech on the topic. Alan and I also touch on the emerging fight over 702 – and the media’s evergreen and credulous “discovery” that the far left and far right are surprisingly close on surveillance issues. Alan spells out the case for Kirstjen Nielsen as Homeland Security Secretary, along with what some of her... Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
Richard Danzig, former Navy Secretary and a serious defense and technology thinker, speaks to us about the technology tsunami and what it means for the Pentagon. Among the risks: lots more accidents, some of them catastrophic, and “emergent” interactions among systems that no one predicts or prepares for. He calls for the Department of Defense to spend more time thinking about ways in which our weapons might kill us without any enemy action. Along the way, we ask the hard questions, including whether Kim Jung Un will use gene therapy to make his people smarter, dumber, or better basketball players. In our news roundup, the House Judiciary Committee has struck the first blow in the 702 renewal debate. Paul Rosenzweig and I assess its bill and end up concluding that it does less damage to national security than expected, except for the unfortunate decision to sacrifice the possibility of conducting “about” collection. Meanwhile, a turf fight inside Treasury has gotten vicious, with FinCEN lobbing (and leaking) “intelligence scandal” epithets at its sister Office of Intelligence and Analysis. Brian Egan doesn’t seem surprised by the fighting, while expressing skepticism about the likelihood of a real scandal. In the words of our... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
Episode 182 features a panel of experts on attribution of cyberattacks. I moderated the panel at the Georgia Tech 15th Annual Cyber Security Summit in Atlanta on September 27, 2017. Panel members included Cristin Goodwin of Microsoft, Rob Knake of the Council on Foreign Relations, Hannah Kuchler of the Financial Times, and Kim Zetter, author of a 2014 book on the Stuxnet attack. It’s a wide-ranging and compelling discussion of how we’re doing in attributing cyber intrusions and what more is needed in the field. Special thanks to Michael Farrell, Co-Director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Information Security & Privacy (IISP) and the organizer of the Summit, for all the work and assistance that made this episode possible. As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785. Download the 182nd Episode (mp3). Subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also on iTunes, Pocket Casts, and Google Play (available for Android and Google Chrome)! Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
Was the Equifax breach a nation-state attack? Nick Weaver parses the data, and I explore the surprising upside for Equifax if it was. Twitter comes to Capitol Hill to talk Russian election interference; it goes home with a flea in its ear and plenty of homework to do. Stephen Heifetz and I ask why the Foreign Agent Registration Act could not be used to discipline nation states' use of social media. Twitter isn't alone in getting sideways with the government. The Justice Department says that Google is defying court orders on disclosure of data -- while building a system to make compliance impossible. Nick gives the company a chutzpah award. Jim Comey is still taking hits from the Hill, months after his departure from public life. Sens. Wyden and Lee are hoping to call him a liar, and they'd like the DNI's help. The good news for Jim Comey is bad news for Section 702, since the attack on Comey is really a way of paving the ground for a major reduction in the kinds of intelligence collection the government can conduct using section 702. Bet you never thought you'd hear the phrase "Bush-Obama Consensus," but the Trump administration's CFIUS... Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
In a delightfully iconoclastic new book, Jeremy Rabkin and John Yoo take the air out of 75 years worth of inflated claims about the law of war. They do it, not for its own sake, though God knows that would be enough, but as prelude to discussing how to use the new weapons – robots, space, and cyber -- that technology makes possible. Brian Egan and I interview Jeremy Rabkin about these and other aspects of “Striking Power: How Cyber, Robots, and Space Weapons Change the Rules for War." In the news roundup, cell tower simulators, aka stingrays, take another hit as a divided DC Court of Appeals says warrants are required before they can be used. Maury Shenk sees good news for industry in the recent meetings between Commissioner Jourova and Secretary Ross; the European Commission is giving every sign of wanting to avoid yet another fight over Privacy Shield, though hotter heads in Europe may yet prevail. Brian Egan opines on Robert Strayer’s appointment as deputy assistant secretary of state for cyber and international communications and information policy – and the reorganization that his appointment cements for now. Stewart and Jeremy unpack the implications of the CCleaner attack,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
Our interview is with Jeanette Manfra, DHS’s Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Communications. We cover her agency’s binding directive to other civilian agencies to purge Kaspersky software from their systems, and her advice to victims of the Equifax breach (and to doctors who think that Abbott Labs’ heart implants don’t need a security patch because no one has been killed by hackers yet). I also ask how she’s doing at expanding civilian agency security from intrusion prevention to monitoring inside networks – and the future of her agency at DHS. CFIUS is back in the news as President Trump kills his first deal on national security grounds. Stephen Heifetz explains what he did and what it means for roughly 15 more deals caught in CFIUS’s toils. For those who are following the 702 Upstream issue from last week’s episode, a bipartisan group of House Judiciary members have come down on Liza Goitein’s side of the debate, saying they’ll abolish upstream collection “about” terrorists. Whether they can sell the moderates of both parties on that, especially in the Senate, remains to be seen. Jennifer Quinn-Barabanov explains how bad things have gotten for Equifax: a delayed patching process that will be... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
Today, the Cyberlaw Podcast kicks off a series exploring section 702 – the half-US/half-foreign collection program that has proven effective against terrorists while also proving controversial with civil liberties groups. With the program due to expire on December 31, we’ll examine the surveillance controversies spawned by the program. Today, we look at the “upstream” collection program under section 702. We talk to Becky Richards, NSA’s Civil Liberties and Privacy and (whew!) Transparency Officer as well as Liza Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice. In the news, Equifax is taking a beating both for a massive and serious data breach and for a series of missteps in its mitigation effort. Michael Vatis lays out the gory details. Speaking of ugly, the climate for the online ad business is getting a lot worse, or so I predict, as Russia's use of social media ads and trolls gets attention in Washington. Had enough? Nope. Now the European Court of Human Rights is piling on, limiting employers' right to monitor employees. Maury Shenk explains the law; and I marvel at the court’s ability to take an obligation imposed on governments and turn it into a code of conduct for private employers. But wait,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
In Episode 177, fresh from hiatus, we try to summarize the most interesting cyber stories to break in August. Paul Rosenzweig kicks things off with the Shunning of Kaspersky. I argue that the most significant – though unsupported – claim about Kaspersky is Sen. Shaheen’s assertion that all of the company’s servers are in Russia. If true, that’s certainly an objective reason not to let Kaspersky install sensors in non-Russian computers. The question that remains is how much due process companies like Kaspersky should get. That’s a question unlikely to go away, as DOD is now comprehensively shunning DJI drones, issuing guidance that sounds a lot like Edward Snowden demanding that users uninstall all DJI apps and remove all batteries and storage media. Speaking of companies the US government can’t trust, Paul and I note that Apple has lost control of its secure enclave software. At the same time, Apple has pulled VPN apps from the Apple store at the direction of the Chinese government. Tim Cook explains that this makes perfect sense because Chinese law is on the Chinese government’s side but US law was not on the US government’s side. Right. Sounds like Tim is as good at... Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
Everybody’s a critic, and everybody’s a censor, at least if you judge by today’s episode: Maury Shenk tells us the European Court of Justice will soon rule on its authority to censor what Americans read. Markham Erickson discusses the Ninth Circuit decision upholding national security letter gag orders. And Maury says that China is getting impressively good at deleting images it doesn’t like from citizens’ phones in real time. In other news, Congressional sanctions on Russia look like a done deal; Anthony Rapa explains (contra the NYT) that the sanctions weren’t watered down in the House – and the fuss they’re likely to cause among our European trading partners. Speaking of sanctions, how long before Putin decides to sanction the extended Trump family by going after their property, either with legal decrees or illegal hacks? The Trump hotels are already prime targets for credit card hacks; adding doxing and bricking to the mix wouldn’t be hard. In fact, that’s a lesson Hollywood seems to have absorbed. To keep from getting hacked a la Sony, it looks as though other studios are airbrushing Vladimir Putin from their upcoming films. Meanwhile, Reuters and others report that Silicon Valley’s Big Tech seems to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
This episode is dominated by IT procurement news. And it’s as irresistible as a twelve-car pileup on the Beltway. We open the news with an exploration of the federal de-listing of Kaspersky Labs, and how seriously government contracts lawyers take such an action (h/t to Michael Mutek for that). Then, in the interview, Eric Hysen, formerly of the DHS Digital Service, lays out his view of how DHS’s effort to bring agility and speed to big IT contracts came a cropper, with plenty of color commentary from procurement law guru, Michael Mutek. If you care about reforming federal IT purchasing (and you should), this interview is a cautionary tale. In other news, as Steptoe summer associate Quentin Johnson lays out, the Knight First Amendment Institute has brought a lawsuit to declare @realDonaldTrump a public forum from which trolls and griefers may never be excluded. Gus Hurwitz overcomes his inclination to snark and instead treats the claim seriously, which only makes it sound more ridiculous. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing White House press briefings moved to the Rose Bowl. Alan Cohn and I note that Booz Allen has come up with the best explanation yet for NotPetya’s weirdly self-defeating ransomware... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
In this episode, we interview Jim Miller, co-chair of a Defense Science Board panel that reported on how the US is postured for cyberconflict and the importance of deterrence. The short answer: deterring cyberconflict is important because our strategic cyberconflict posture sucks. The DSB report is thoughtful, detailed, and troubling. Jim Miller manages to convey its message with grace, good humor, and clarity. In the news, Brian Egan and I find ourselves unable to turn away from the Trump-Putin meeting in Warsaw. Bottom line: by raising concerns with election hacking, Trump did and said more or less what any President would have said and done – except he failed to stick the landing with a self-serving debrief. Even the joint computer security unit comes in for some surprising, if faint, praise. File this under dog bites man: Europeans are beating up on Google. The UK data protection commissioner says it was unlawful for the National Health Service to share medical data with Google’s DeepMind subsidiary, even if the goal was to provide new medical insights. And the EU’s massive fine for Google’s abuse of its dominant position leads to musings on the regulatory foundations of some competition law doctrines –... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
Today we deliver the second half of our bifurcated holiday podcast with an interview of Richard Ledgett, recently retired from his tour as NSA’s deputy director. We cover much recent history, from Putin’s election adventurism to questions about whether NSA can keep control of the cyberweapons it develops. Along the way, Rick talks about the difference between CIA and NSA approaches to hacking, the rise of NSA as an intelligence analysis force, the growing effort to keep Kaspersky products out of sensitive systems, and the divergence among intel agencies about whether Putin’s attack on the American election was intended mainly to hurt Hillary Clinton or to help Donald Trump. As always the Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785. Download the 173rd episode (mp3). Subscribe to the Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also on iTunes, Pocket Casts, and Google Play (available for Android and Google Chrome)! Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
In this news-only episode, we cover the irresistible story of the week: Trump, Russia, and the Media. It’s especially irresistible for us because we’ve had two of the protagonists on as guests. I make the bold prediction that Shane Harris’s stories on Russia collusion and the Trump campaign will be seen as the moment when the media OCD fascination with Russia collusion finally jumped the shark. Though in this case, the shark had already consumed at least one Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Eric Lichtblau. (And for the record, CNN, I am not advocating that more journalists should be eaten by sharks, and I refuse to accept the blame when they are.) Unfortunately, journalists chasing nonstories can’t devote any attention to some very real stories involving government and IT. So we do it for them. Stephen Heifetz reports on the CFIUS logjam that is blocking close to a dozen transactions because the administration has not filled the subcabinet positions that could sort through the filings with a coherent policy in mind. In other cyberwar logjam news, the UN Government Group of Experts (GGE) has failed to produce a consensus report following up on earlier reports endorsing some application of the law of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
Our guest, Ellen Nakashima, was coauthor of a Washington Post article that truly is a first draft of history, though not a chapter the Obama administration is likely to be proud of. She and Greg Miller and Adam Entous chronicle the story of Russia’s information operations attack on the 2016 presidential election. Want to know how it feels to have Donald Trump tweeting your article and taunting the last administration? Don’t worry, we ask. We also ask why the NSA was only moderately confident Putin was trying to help Trump win, and how the Obama administration managed to “choke” at every turn. Jim Comey makes a cameo appearance, ironically refusing to go public with his agency’s assessment of the hack because it might look like he was trying to influence the election -- well, whew! – that’s a bullet dodged! We dwell on the Obama administration’s bad luck in announcing its judgment on Putin’s hack half an hour before the Access Hollywood story broke and an hour before Podesta’s emails were released. Sometimes you win the news cycle; sometimes the news cycle wins you. Finally, Ellen talks about the plan to implant cyberweapons in Russian infrastructure and where it stands.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2017 at Skating on Stilts
This week’s episode is a news roundup without an interview. We lead with the Senate’s overwhelming adoption of unexpectedly tough Russia sanctions along with the Iran sanctions bill. The mainstream press has emphasized that the bill will lock the Obama sanctions into legislation, but Anthony Rapa explains that the bigger story is just how tough the bill will be on investors in Russia’s energy sector, including European and other third-country firms. This is going to put heavy pressure on the House and its Republican majority, where enthusiasm for punishing Russia has been more tepid. In other legislative news, the Freedom Caucus has announced that it doesn’t know what it wants from 702 renewal, but it wants something. At least that’s how I read the Caucus’s two sentence press release on section 702 renewal. In its entirety, the release says, “Government surveillance activities under the FISA Amendments Act have violated Americans’ constitutionally protected rights. We oppose any reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act that does not include substantial reforms to the government’s collection and use of Americans’ data.” In a rare show of Cyberlaw podcast consensus, Michael Vatis agrees. Meanwhile, NSA and GCHQ are now linking WannaCry to North Korea. The... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2017 at Skating on Stilts