Jack Reed: Time to look at balance between security, privacy

June 13th, 2013 at 10:45 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne has a column today about the debate over surveillance, and one of the voices in the piece is that of U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (who also expressed concerns to WPRI last week):

That we’re now more inclined to question the national security state should not surprise anyone. “In the period immediately after the attacks of 9/11, the American people were willing to give the government broad power to keep them safe,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), one of Congress’s most thoughtful voices on national security, said in an interview. “Now, more than a decade later, it’s entirely appropriate that Americans are asking about the balance between security and privacy.”

Reed believes that we still need extensive surveillance programs. But he was also in the minority last December in supporting an earlier version of the Merkley proposal on the FISA court decisions. He also favored another amendment, proposed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), that would have required the director of national intelligence to submit a report to Congress and the public on the impact of the revised FISA law on the privacy of U.S. citizens.

This is a rare issue that divides Reed and his junior colleague, Sheldon Whitehouse.

Reed voted yes but Whitehouse voted no on the two measures from December that Dionne references – the Merkley amendment to disclose legal justification for surveillance and the Wyden amendment to require a privacy report. As I wrote in Saturday’s column, Whitehouse’s views may relate to his past service on the Intelligence Committee, his time in law enforcement and his general trust in the federal government.

• Related: Sen. Whitehouse defends Obama on surveillance programs (June 7)

Sen. Whitehouse defends Obama on surveillance programs

June 7th, 2013 at 12:55 pm by under Nesi's Notes

By Ted Nesi

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse defended the Obama administration’s use of surveillance in terrorism investigations on Friday, breaking with fellow progressive lawmakers who have harshly criticized the president’s tactics this week.

Read the rest of this story »

Whitehouse, GOP working on campaign finance, cybersecurity

May 17th, 2012 at 1:03 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is undoubtedly a Democrat, but lately it seems he’s spending some significant time trying to work on legislation with his Republican colleagues.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an architect of the McCain-Feingold law, has been talking with Whitehouse among others for a couple of months about Whitehouse’s proposed DISCLOSE Act that would require more information from political donors, The Hill reports:

“I’ve been having discussions with Sen. [Sheldon] Whitehouse [D-R.I.] and a couple others on the issue,” McCain told The Hill. …

Whitehouse said he is excited about the prospect of having McCain as an ally.

“He has a really remarkable record of courage and dedication in this area, so it’s a question of working to make sure the technical issues he wants to address and the technical issues that we want to address make a match and we can find something to agree on,” Whitehouse said. “We are beginning those discussions, but they’ve come to no conclusion yet, other than they are going forward amicably.” …

McCain’s support would boost [the legislation's] prospects immediately.

Meanwhile, Politico reports on the junior senator’s efforts to push stalled cybersecurity legislation:

With no sign of a solution to a partisan Senate impasse on two competing cybersecurity bills from Joe Lieberman and John McCain, it seems the best chance for Senate passage of a cyber bill this year lies with other senators who are now trying to steer the debate. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Sheldon Whitehouse are working together to find a compromise between the two bills. And Whitehouse, along with Sens. Jon Kyl, Barbara Mikulski and Roy Blunt, plans to hold a classified briefing for senators to discuss the similarities and differences ….

Meanwhile, Whitehouse is looking like a lock for reelection in November – this week 538′s Nate Silver put the odds of him winning a second term at 99%. (That’s not a typo.) But Republican Barry Hinckley is still gamely trying to make a race out of it, sending press releases like this one today: “Senate Democrats Refuse To Offer a Budget Resolution For Third Straight Year.”

Langevin opposes SOPA; ‘incompatible’ with cybersecurity

January 9th, 2012 at 1:17 pm by under Nesi's Notes

As predicted here on Nesi’s Notes, Congressman Jim Langevin has come out against the Stop Online Piracy Act. “While I strongly support protecting our intellectual property, SOPA’s methods are incompatible with efforts to maintain the security and openness of the internet,” he said in a statement.

Langevin is the first of Rhode Island’s four members of Congress to take a position on the legislation, as far as I know. More on Politico Morning Tech.

Update: Anchor Rising’s Patrick Laverty reports U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is sponsoring the Senate version of SOPA.

Langevin alarmed after cyber attacks on U.S. Chamber, Stratfor

December 29th, 2011 at 11:45 am by under Nesi's Notes

In the wake of two high-profile reports of cyber attacks this month – first against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, then the elite consultancy Stratfor Global Intelligence – Congressman Jim Langevin is renewing his call for Washington to take stronger steps to protect the nation’s digital infrastructure.

The Stratfor attack is particularly concerning, Langevin said. ”When you have a major firm specializing in cybersecurity getting hacked this way, it gives you an idea of how difficult this problem is and how much ground still needs to be covered to better secure our cyber networks,” he said Wednesday in a statement.

“Consider also that many of our most critical industries still aren’t taking cyber threats seriously, even though they do not have the level of expertise that Stratfor does and an attack on them could result in much more serious damage than this incident,” Langevin said. In the past, he’s pointed to electric and water utilities as potential targets.

Rhode Island’s 2nd District congressman has become one of Congress’s leading authorities on digital threats and is cofounder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus. In June he authored an op-ed for The Hill’s website entitled “Preventing a cyber Sept. 11.” (For more on the topic, try David Scharfenberg’s May Providence Phoenix story.)

However, Langevin has yet to weigh in on the top hot-button digital debate roiling Congress these days: the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that’s before the House Judiciary Committee. But considering the concerns experts have raised about its potential to compromise cybersecurity, it won’t be surprising if he decides to oppose it.

Langevin pressures GOP to put him on cybersecurity panel

June 30th, 2011 at 3:31 pm by under Nesi's Notes

There’s probably no issue more closely associated with Congressman Jim Langevin than cybersecurity. He’s even talked about it on “60 Minutes.” So Langevin is a bet miffed that House Speaker John Boehner’s new task force examining the issue is GOP-only, Politico reports:

Shortly after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) unveiled the 12-member Republican task force late last week, a prominent lawmaker protested that Democrats were being excluded from the group.

“It’s frustrating to see at the leadership level that Speaker Boehner and Cantor are making this into a partisan issue,” Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) told POLITICO. “There’s too much at stake here, and we need to have both parties working on this.”

When Langevin caught wind that only Republicans would be appointed to the task force, he sent a letter to Boehner on June 15 asking him to reconsider and open membership to both parties. …

In a statement to POLITICO, Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel stressed that members of both parties can weigh in on cybersecurity issues regardless of whether they’re on the task force or not.

For a good overview of D.C.’s cybersecurity efforts up to now, and Langevin’s role in it, check out this Providence Phoenix story from last month.