Issues with Designating Election Infrastructure as Critical Infrastructure

By Daniel Patrick Shaffer

Critical Infrastructure and the Power of the Executive Branch

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently proposed the idea of designating election infrastructure as “critical infrastructure.” Critical infrastructure includes pieces of infrastructure that are so vital to the United States, that their destruction would have a crippling effect on our economy, health, and security. This currently includes infrastructure like dams, the power grid, and financial institutions. The Secretary has cybersecurity concerns, citing the recent cyber-attacks on the Democratic National Committee database, and the possibility of more destructive attacks in the future. Pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, The President and Secretary of DHS both have the power to designate critical infrastructure. The President did this in the Presidential Policy Directive-21, Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience. The Directive says that department heads are in charge of working with the Secretary of Homeland Security to ensure security in their respective critical infrastructures. The Department of Justice, a part of the executive branch, has jurisdiction to monitor, investigate, and Continue reading “Issues with Designating Election Infrastructure as Critical Infrastructure”

Danger to U.S. Defense Industry: China’s Monopoly Control of Rare Earths

“Rare earths” refer to seventeen metals found on the periodic table of elements that are important ingredients in some of the most advanced and desired consumer technologies, including cell phones, motors for hybrid vehicles, LED lights, and solar panels. Even more importantly, they are also crucial to national defense being necessary elements in advanced defense systems, weapons, and other technologies such as “smart bombs” that use magnets formulated with rare earth metals to control their direction and lasers with rare earth components that determine the distance of long-range enemy targets. China is the world’s largest producer of rare earth minerals producing 95 percent of the world’s supply. Over the past few years, China has been imposing strict export controls thereby reducing the amount of rare earths available around the world as well as keeping the price artificially high. On March 13, 2012, as a result of these practices, the United States, Japan, and the European Union filed a World Trade Organization complaint against China. Continue reading “Danger to U.S. Defense Industry: China’s Monopoly Control of Rare Earths”

Could Qaddafi’s downfall be the last nail in the coffin for the War Powers Resolution?

As negotiations continue for the surrender of the few cities where deposed tyrant Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi could be hiding, how peaceful the endgame turns out to be may impact the rhetoric surrounding President Obama’s decision to enter the fray in the first place. Part of that discussion will undoubtedly concern the War Powers Resolution (“WPR”), the post-Vietnam legislation that promised to hold future presidents accountable to Congress when engaging in international conflicts. The law has been largely ignored by past commanders in chief, and no Congress has ever enforced the act. Although Obama has claimed that the WPR does not apply to US involvement in Libya, a successful intervention could make the legislation even less potent than it is now. Continue reading “Could Qaddafi’s downfall be the last nail in the coffin for the War Powers Resolution?”

The Third Party Records Doctrine and Privacy in the Digital Age and Its Role in National Security

Everyday that passes the expectation of privacy of individuals diminishes. The newest technological crazes revolve around monitoring our day-to-day activities and maximizing every second we have. From wristwatches that measure your heart rate and let you read email or text messages at the same time, to smart meters installed at our houses collecting minute-by-minute data about energy consumption to transmit it back to energy companies for more accurate billing.[1] Everywhere we go and in everything we do there seems to no longer be a way to avoid transmitting some our most personal and private details of our life to a third party through the use of technology. In taking into account this reality it’s hard to accept the fact that just by making use of this existing technology we’ve inadvertently renounced to our privacy rights over some of our most personal information that was never intended to be public. Continue reading “The Third Party Records Doctrine and Privacy in the Digital Age and Its Role in National Security”

Supreme Courts Approves Change to Rule 41 Search and Seizure Warrants for Electronic Property

On Thursday, April 28, Chief Justice John Roberts submitted to Congress, the amendments to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that have been adopted by the Supreme Court.[1] The Supreme Court amended Rule 41(b), governing ‘Search and Seizure’ by expanding the scope of venue in which a warrant could apply.[2] Under certain circumstances, a federal judge could issue a warrant that would allow law enforcement to hack into a computer that may be located outside the district in which the warrant is being sought.[3] The rule states: Continue reading “Supreme Courts Approves Change to Rule 41 Search and Seizure Warrants for Electronic Property”