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Counter Terrorism and Defense

Welcome Dr. Brothers and General Taylor

This week, the U.S. Senate confirmed, on a voice vote, Dr. Reginald Brothers as the Under Secretary for Science and Technology and General Francis X. Taylor as Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis.

Welcome to the (Internet) Balkans

“Balkanization” is a splitting into many opposed factions closely located in one area. It ain’t good to be Balkanized, but that is what is happening to the Internet, and there is nothing Washington can do about it. The Obama Administration’s move to let go of U.S. government control over the naming rights of Internet sites is being viewed as the latest in a long line of U.S. withdrawals from control of the Internet.

DHS Secretary Johnson’s First Time Before House Homeland Security Committee

The House Homeland Security Committee did something yesterday it has not done in the past several years, for anyone: it came out in full force for DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s maiden appearance before the committee. It was a positive performance by the Secretary, who showed himself adept at answering questions, even as his lawyer’s instincts kept him from falling into political traps.

At Sports Events, Some Security Tactics Drive Cynicism, Risk

Security is high for the Sochi Olympics, but the TSA’s ban on toothpaste and other gels on flights to Russia is not so much a deterrent as it is an insurance policy against blame should something happen. Meanwhile, metal detectors will be in use at Major League Baseball stadiums come 2015. For both Sochi and U.S. baseball, I am worried we are creating bigger problems down the road in terms of public cynicism and policies that actually increase risk.

On Putin, Pot and Public Security in 2014

As 2014 begins, it is tempting to comment on trends and things one hopes will happen, or do not happen. A few things have occurred that have me thinking overtime on the latter – such as hesitancy to attend the Olympics given terrorism fears or TSA looking for marijuana from Colorado.

Top 3 Security Issues to Watch in 2014

Of all the big stories to keep your eye on for 2014, what are three, base-level “working-stiff” issues? They are mobile computing, defense readiness, and the connection between Special Operation Forces and intelligence. If we can get these right, it would take us a long way towards better security.

A Bitcoin For Your Thoughts

Bitcoin is a new digital currency. The Cyber age has vastly changed our day-to-day relationship with money, and Bitcoin is here to stay in some shape and form. But is it real money? The bottom line is simple: as people accept Bitcoin as a means of exchange for goods and services, then it’s a currency.

A New Year’s Hope for CFIUS

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is an increasingly robust regulator of foreign investments in U.S. businesses, policing these investments for possible harm to national security. But which investments? CFIUS reviews “covered transactions” that might adversely affect national security. If that’s unclear to you, you’re not alone – but you might be at risk.

NSA Intel Gathering and the Privacy v. Security Conflict

It seems like not a week goes by without yet another report on the NSA’s digital intelligence gathering activities. Understanding what the NSA is up to deserves a robust and nuanced public discussion. The agency’s activities raise challenging questions about just how much privacy Americans are willing to sacrifice in the name of security and counterterrorism.

Johnson Nominated for DHS Secretary – What Does That Tell Us?

The anticipated nomination of Jeh Johnson to become the fourth DHS Secretary is welcomed news almost any way you look at it. Johnson’s prodigious resume and professional history is being chronicled by the homeland security, defense and legal establishment writers. Most of those stories will focus on Johnson’s past experience at the Pentagon, but here are the five most pressing issues he ought to address in his confirmation hearing, as well as his tenure as Secretary (should that occur).