home Economic Sanctions, Musings Morning Musings

Morning Musings

  • Not certain yet, it may be too early in the morning, whether I like this headline or not: “U.S. export control reforms starting to help U.S. firms: official.” I’ll just keep telling myself, until the next espresso, that maybe the security angle was omitted by the headline writer … for the export control wonks out there, including folks on the Hill, there is a still quite a bit that should remain on the ITAR when it comes to satellites and other high-tech items developed and manufactured in the United States. Why? You know why, but if you need a recent example, look no further than the Department of Justice announcement this week on China and cybercrime. You probably read it here first, in a few years, there will be another Cox-Dicks Commission. Despite opponents of export controls may say, the overwhelming majority of U.S. goods and services are not subject to national security regulations or other export or sharing restrictions. They are needed because they work. Even with the kinks, it is, bar none, one of the better systems out there. If it were otherwise, our allies and competitors, and yes, enemies, would not be asking (and lobbying) for the easing of restrictions all the time.
  • Ask anyone who knows what they are talking about in this town and they’ll admit, in private of course, that House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) would make a much better Democratic leader than Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). He’d be tougher to vilify than Pelosi, one of the Left’s favorite Members of the House. Take Hoyer’s approach to the Select Committee on Benghazi; even though he’s reaching for the political stars, it sounds reasonable. What’s not to like about, as Hoyer says, full access, full participation and equal access? Hoyer knows Republicans control the make-up and structure of the panel. Unlike Pelosi who is prone to shrill and baseless political attacks, Hoyer understands and appreciates the institution as well as the process. I’ve seen his work style close up when I worked on the Hill on a Committee he served on. He’ll fight Republicans over every period, comma, and semi-colon.
  • If you’ve read our prior posts on data privacy matters, you’ll note that we frequently remind readers that if you’re really concerned about this issue, you should really be more concerned about the IRS and HHS, not the CIA or NSA. Here is another reason why. According to a recent report prepared by the Council for Health Freedom, and as reported by CNS News, “[t]he federal government is piecing together a sweeping national “biosurveillance” system that will give bureaucrats near real-time access to Americans’ private medical information in the name of national security.” Read more here. Think about that next time you visit your doctor. On this larger data privacy debate, I still question how serious of an issue most Americans think data privacy happens to be? When some of the most popular television shows are the Blacklist, 24, and Homeland, and the demand for Apps and wireless devices continue to soar, I think most Americans have other concerns than what governments or corporations are doing with personal data. All that said, both the government and the private sector need to understand that there are limits to the public’s trust. Use of health care data in the manner that the Council describes may be one bridge too far. 
  • Talking about fantasy and television programs, the popular cable show House of Cards is allegedly seeking an NSA director for new shows. The gratuitous bashing and false narrative about what the NSA does, no doubt, will continue. Or maybe they will surprise all by generating a plot of a whistleblower traitor captured and brought to justice for leaking and damaging U.S. national security secrets to Russia, China, and, why not, let’s add certain European countries.
  • The House of Representatives offered five bills this week to combat human trafficking.
  • Some folks are upset that proposed NSA reforms have been “watered down.” Sounds like good news. If they could only shelve most of it, and do genuine oversight using existing laws and authorities, then all would be well …
  • Interesting use for INTERPOL, e-waste.
  • The Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned an additional twelve Russians for the torture and death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky (for background, see the embedded article).

The Magnitsky List: a trend-setter process in global human rights and compliance law? by Jason Poblete

%d bloggers like this: