February 20, 2015
The House and Senate were in recess this week. Ash Carter was sworn in by Vice President Biden on Tuesday as President Obama’s fourth Secretary of Defense.
Draft Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act
A draft cybersecurity bill from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) was released this week and may be introduced next week. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2015 is a lot like the previous CISA bill including provisions on information sharing; authorizations for preventing, detecting, analyzing, and mitigating cybersecurity threats; sharing of cyber threat indicators and countermeasures with the federal government; and liability protections. The bill also includes tougher requirements on companies to remove personally identifiable information.
A copy of the bill can be found at:
RFI for Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations
Ari Schwartz, Senior Director for Cybersecurity on the U.S. National Security Council Staff at the White House participated in a cybersecurity event this week at the Atlantic Council. At the event, Schwartz said that the administration is preparing a request for information (RFI) as its first step in setting ground rules for the planned network of Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations (ISAOs). The President proposed ISAOs in his latest cybersecurity executive order as a mechanism for sharing information within the private sector, and potentially with the federal government (although they won’t be required to). The administration will follow up with a request for proposals (RFP) seeking bids to set up the standards-setting organizations, which will, in turn, develop best practices and benchmarks for the ISAOs. The administration did not comment on the timing of the RFI.
Administration’s Cyber Agenda
Lisa Monaco, US Homeland Security Advisor to President Obama, said this week that the administration aims to develop new cyber policies along four lines: 1) boosting basic defenses for critical infrastructure by using tools such as the federal framework of cybersecurity standards; 2) strengthening our ability to disrupt, respond to, and effectively manage U.S. responses to cyber threats; 3) enhancing international cooperation to hold cyber criminals accountable; and 4) making cyberspace intrinsically more secure by replacing passwords with more secure technologies and enhancing consumer protections online.
Authorization for Use of Military Force
The House Armed Services Committee will hold a full committee hearing next Thursday on the President’s proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. This hearing will focus on input from witnesses outside the administration. Witnesses include General Jack Keane, USA (Ret.); Robert Chesney, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, University of Texas; and Benjamin Wittes, Brookings Institution.
President Obama selected Joseph Clancy to be the next Director of the Secret Service. Clancy has been serving in an acting capacity since October 1, 2014 when former director Julia Pearson resigned following several major security breaches. Clancy is a retired agent who began his career with the Secret Service in the late 1980s and formerly led the Presidential Protective Division. President Obama chose not to follow the advice of an independent panel and Congress who recommended that he bring in an outsider to run the beleaguered agency. The independent panel said in their final report, “Only a director from outside the Service, removed from organizational traditions and personal relationships, will be able to do the honest top-to-bottom reassessment this will require.” The Secret Service is a federal law enforcement agency that is part of the Department of Homeland Security. The Director is appointed serving at the approbation of the President of the United States, and is not subject to Senate confirmation.
The White House named Dr. DJ Patil as its first ever Chief Data Scientist and Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Data Policy. Patil will work in the Office of Science and Technology Policy reporting to US Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith. He will focus on developing policies and practices for new applications of big data across all areas of government, with a particular focus on healthcare. Prior to joining the White House, Patil worked for the Department of Defense, LinkedIn, eBay, PayPal, Skype, RelatelQ, and venture capital firm Greylock Partners.
President Obama picked Jen Psaki, previously a State Department spokesperson, to take over as White House communications director. Psaki will succeed Jen Palmieri who is leaving to join Hillary Clinton’s expected presidential campaign.
Democratic Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander announced this week that he will challenge Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) in 2016. Blunt is the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, chairman of the Senate Labor HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, and a member of the Senate Commerce and Intelligence Committees. Kander was first elected statewide in 2012 and was a Captain in the US Army who served in Afghanistan.
The Senate returns from recess on Monday and the House on Tuesday. The House will take up HR 529, a bill amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to improve 529 plans and HR 5, the Student Success Act. Funding for the Department of Homeland Security runs out on Friday, February 27, so both the House and Senate will have to consider a funding bill for the agency to avoid a shutdown.