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Morning Musings

  • If you’re an export controls/economic sanctions lawyer, or do compliance work in this field, you may want to visit this website: CAUSE. Among other interesting items, there is a map claiming to show where certain surveillance technology is made and, more importantly, who buys it. The group wants to expose the likely unlawful use of this technology by despotic regimes and human rights abusers. I’m keeping counsel until I know more about the group and its long-term goals. This could turn out to be yet another left-leaning organization with anti-U.S. aims. That would be too bad. If you’ve followed the past few years U.S. efforts to reform the export control system, you’d know that this is an area that could use some serious attention and monitoring. Yet the solutions will come from the marketplace and responsible companies doing the right thing, not special interest groups conflating or distorting the debate of an already complex legal, regulatory, and political matter.
  • Roll Call reports this morning that Freshman Rep. Vance McAllister’s days in Congress could be numbered. Good. There is just too much going on in the country right now for the GOP leadership to allow Members of Congress to treat the job as some college extracurricular activity. Just because the liberal wing of the other party condones that behavior from its Members, and staff, does not mean the GOP needs to. McAllister can always consult for House of Cards.
  • Genuine privacy hawks should be more concerned about HHS, ObamaCare, and the private sector, rather than what the NSA or CIA are doing. This week’s data breach prize goes to … the private sector. The encryption issue affects popular website and ISPs such as Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Facebook. Maybe these companies should focus more energy on securing their house, than wasting millions lobbying Congress on un-related matters such as immigration reform or fomenting the data privacy vs. national security inter-agency turf war.
  • Senate staff allegedly removed classified material from a secure place. When will these folks be held to account for possibly breaking the law? U.S. law is fairly clear, the Speech and Debate Clause cannot be used as a defense for a criminal act; however, this is a Congress vs IC matter …
  • Edward Snowden talks with Vanity Fair, yet I wish he was talking to a cellmate.
  • It was an “emotional” day on Capitol Hill yesterday No, not the type that appears to upset liberals Harry Reid or Dianne Feinstein (see bullet one). Over in the House, it was Attorney General Eric Holder who became emotional under questioning by Rep. Louie Gohmert, calling the Congressman “buddy” at one point during the exchange. Meanwhile in the Senate, Senator John McCain and Secretary of State John Kerry engaged in a, at times, testy emotional exchange over the Administration’s foreign policy failings, including Ukraine.
  • Congress is taking a look at the satellite launch business and, it appears, folks want more competition. Meanwhile defense exports to Russia are suspended. The expected move will could impact buyers of U.S.-made satellites who rely on Russian rockets to put satellites in orbit.
  • The Robocoin kiosk – the first Bitcoin “ATM” – was on Capitol Hill yesterday.  The timing was good because several Members of Congress want to start regulating something that requires a lot more Member and staff education. If Congress really wants to tinker with something a majority of its Members do not understand, it may want to include in legislation an audit of the Fed while they are at it (since there is really no oversight). It is not a question of it, but when crypto currency will be regulated. Might as well do it right from the onset.
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