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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The United States might look less welcoming to foreign investment these days. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has ceased operations temporarily. Foreign investors seeking the “safe harbor” that CFIUS approval confers will have to wait until CFIUS resumes operations in order to close acquisitions of U.S. companies.
As the United States and other world powers weigh the risks and rewards of a strike against Syria, there are rising concerns that destabilizing the Assad regime could give extremists – particularly al Qaeda – an opening to gain strength and weapons. The embassy closures earlier this month threw a spotlight on al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), with some suggesting the terrorists in Yemen are more powerful than ever. So are they?
Media coverage of the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government in Egypt by the military has generally been lopsided and focused on the military’s various violations of human rights. Americans often believe that every conflict involves “good guys” and “bad guys.” I would argue that we have to stop looking for good guys where we are not likely to find any and instead focus on our interests, which are to support the army in its efforts to stabilize Egypt.
The civil war in Syria may have begun in March 2011 with peaceful protests against regime policies, but it is now unquestionably a brutal sectarian conflict characterized by massacres and ethnic cleansing. It is now clear that the Syrian humpty dumpty, with its mix of Sunnis, Alawis, Christians, Druze, Kurds, Ismailis, and other communities, cannot be put back together again. One action that could potentially bring stability and advancement to Syria is partition.
Canadian police and intelligence agencies will announce later today they have thwarted a plot to carry out a major terrorist attack, arresting two suspects in Montreal and Toronto. The investigation was part of a cross-border operation involving Canadian law enforcement agencies, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.