Our guest for episode 114 is General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and CIA; he also confirms that he personally wrote every word of his fine book, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror. In a sweeping interview, we cover everything from Jim Comey’s performance at the AG’s hospital bedside (and in the Clinton email investigation) to whether the missed San Diego 9/11 calls were discovered before or after the 215 program was put in place. Along the way, we settle the future of Cyber Command, advise the next President on intelligence, and lay out the price the intelligence community is paying for becoming so darned good at hunting terrorists.
Michael Vatis and I do the news roundup. It’s bad news this week for the same child porn defendants who got good news last week, when a court overturned the search warrant used to search their computers after they visited an FBI-run Tor node. Now, though, the Supreme Court has approved a change to Rule 41 authorizing geographically unbound search warrants in computer cases. Unless Congress comes to their rescue by rejecting the proposed rule change, an unlikely prospect indeed, the new rule will take effect at the end of the year.
Well, that was fast, at least by the standards of Washington lawyers. We’ve gone from attribution to proposed retribution in less than two years. Indictments in 2014 charged that the Chinese government had broken into US Steel’s computer network. Now US Steel is claiming that the hackers stole advanced steel technology and gave it to a Chinese competitor, and it’s asking the International Trade Commission to exclude the competitor’s products from the United States, on the ground that stealing secrets is an unfair trade practice. With the government eager to send a message on commercial cyberespionage, look for plenty fireworks over the next year as the case is brought to judgment.
The big FISA news revolves around notices being given to litigants when section 702 played a role in their cases. A rare notice of that kind has been given to an Iraqi refugee accused of traveling to Syria. He has promised a constitutional challenge. Meanwhile, if you’re wondering whether OFAC uses 702 intelligence to issue sanctions, and whether the targets get notice when that happens, the New York Times is fighting to get those answers, using FOIA. It’s losing. Congress is also taking a harder look at 702, with fourteen of the usual suspects asking DNI Clapper to estimate how many Americans’ communications are swept up in the program.
In other news, Michael notes that Nebraska has expanded its breach law to cover more data – and to make sure that the encryption exception only applies to encryption that’s not fatally compromised.