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News Roundup and Notes: July 31, 2015

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.


Airstrikes in Syria targeted the Nusra Front today, believed to have been conducted by US-led coalition warplanes in response to an attack by the al-Qaeda affiliated group on Western-backed rebels, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.…   continue »

The Declining Half-Life of Secrets


Image credit: US Government via Wikimedia Commons

The following post is a preview of a new paper from New America’s Cybersecurity Initiative, where the author is a fellow.

The nature of secrets is changing. The “half-life of secrets” is declining sharply for many intelligence activities as secrets that in the past may have been kept successfully for 25 years or more, are now exposed well before.…   continue »

The APA Scandal

This post is the latest installment of our “Monday Reflections” feature, in which a different Just Security editor examines the big stories from the previous week or looks ahead to key developments on the horizon.

[CORRECTION: in an earlier version, I misspelled Steve Reisner’s name.]

Last Friday, James Risen published an article describing an independent investigation of the American Psychological Association (APA) by a team of lawyers at Sidley Austin, headed by former prosecutor David Hoffman.…   continue »

It’s Time to End the “Debate” on Encryption Backdoors

Yesterday, on Lawfare, FBI Director James Comey laid out his concern that the growing adoption of strong encryption technologies will frustrate law enforcement’s ability to conduct investigations — what he calls the “Going Dark” problem. The gist of Comey’s position is this: He recognizes encryption is important to security and privacy, but believes we are fast approaching an age of “universal encryption” that is in tension with the government’s investigative needs.…   continue »

There’s No Reason to Hide the Amount of Secret Law

Last week, President Obama announced a new policy that would allow private parties to pay ransoms to hostage takers. The policy was established through an executive order and an accompanying presidential policy directive issued under the number “PPD-29.” Quickly, however, the White House corrected the number to “PPD-30” — revealing that a secret directive had been issued at some point between January 2014, when PPD-28 was made public, and now.…   continue »