Editorial April 24, 2015

TheWeekinCongress.com

Editorial

Sudan Back on the Table

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry 27 Members of both parties urged a resolution to the conflict in South Sudan. Here is the letter…:

Dear Secretary Kerry:

We are writing in light of the latest collapse in South Sudan’s peace talks.  We have been appalled by the failure of the parties to resolve their differences, which we believe reflects an abject failure of leadership, particularly on the part of President Kiir and former Vice President Machar. While these leaders stall at the negotiating table, South Sudan’s people continue to suffer, with many facing unspeakable brutality: almost two million displaced, and more than 2.5 million facing severe food insecurity.  In the past year, thousands of parents have also seen their young boys recruited into a new generation of violence.  We urge you to increase pressure on the relevant parties to reach a negotiated settlement to this conflict by engaging directly in the IGAD plus peace talks, enacting a U.S. arms embargo, and bringing U.N. sanctions into force.

Last July, we wrote to you reiterating a clear message we had heard from representatives in the region: the United States is critical to bringing the parties together and helping resolve this crisis.  We are grateful for your efforts to support and facilitate the talks to date, and we commend your team, particularly Ambassador Power, on its efforts to enact U.N. Security Council Resolution 2206 last month.  Regrettably, U.S. actions to date, and those of our partners, have yet to alter the behavior of the negotiators or those providing them financial and military support.  In the words of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Hailemariam Dessalegn,“the consequences of inaction are the continued suffering of… the people of South Sudan, and the prolonging of a senseless war in [that] country.  This is unacceptable, both morally and politically.” We agree with that statement and encourage you to take stronger steps to end this conflict. We specifically believe that the U.S. should take further advantage of Executive Order 13664, and sanction additional individuals who are undermining the peace process in South Sudan.

We also encourage you to work with our international partners to give force to U.N. sanctions by passing a second resolution that establishes an arms embargo, and by expediting the Panel of Experts’ investigations so that individuals responsible for driving the violence can be sanctioned. Without taking these steps, the U.N. Security Council will prove what the warring parties already suspect – that they can continue in their recalcitrance with little consequence for themselves.  In the meantime, the people of South Sudan will continue to suffer.  As we have seen in previous Sudanese peace negotiations, talks can take years, and the cost for the South Sudanese people would be devastating.  Only additional pressure will motivate the two sides to end their stalling and reach an agreement.

Thank you for your attention to this grave crisis, and we stand ready to work with you in the U.S. effort to resolve this conflict.

Sincerely,

Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5)
Michael McCaul (TX-10)
Eliot Engel (NY-18)
Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Michael Capuano (MA-7)
Karen Bass (CA-37)
John Conyers (MI-13)
Sanford Bishop (GA-2)
Peter DeFazio (OR-4)
Donna Edwards (MD-4)
Keith Ellison (MN-5)
Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3)
Alcee Hastings (FL-20)
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30)
Hank Johnson (GA-4)
John Lewis (GA-5)
Betty McCollum  (MN-4)
Jim McGovern (MA-2)
Gregory Meeks (NY-5)
Gwen Moore (WI-4)
Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL)
Jan Schakowsky (IL-9)
Maxine Waters (CA-43)

GAO on Cyber-Security

 

The increasing dependency upon information technology systems and networked operations pervades nearly every aspect of our society. While bringing significant benefits, this dependency can also create vulnerabilities to cyber-based threats. Underscoring the importance of safeguarding critical information and information systems and weaknesses in such efforts, federal information security and protecting computerized systems supporting our nation’s critical infrastructure are designated a high-risk area.

Federal agencies have significant weaknesses in information security controls that continue to threaten the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of critical information and information systems used to support their operations, assets, and personnel. For example, in their performance and accountability reports and annual financial reports for fiscal year 2014, 17 of 24 major federal agencies indicated that inadequate information security controls were either material weaknesses or significant deficiencies.

In addition, most major federal agencies have weaknesses in most of the five major categories of information system controls:

  • access controls, which ensure that only authorized individuals can read, alter, or delete data;
  • configuration management controls, which provide assurance that only authorized software programs are implemented;
  • segregation of duties, which reduces the risk that one individual can independently perform inappropriate actions without detection;
  • continuity of operations planning, which helps avoid significant disruptions in computer-dependent operations; and
  • agency-wide information security programs, which provide a framework for ensuring that risks are understood and that effective controls are selected and implemented.

Critical infrastructures are systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to our nation that their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating impact on national security, economic well-being or public health or safety. Critical infrastructure includes, among other things, banking and financial institutions, telecommunications networks, and energy production and transmission facilities, most of which are owned by the private sector. As these critical infrastructures have become increasingly dependent on computer systems and networks, the interconnectivity between information systems, the Internet, and other infrastructures creates opportunities for attackers to disrupt critical systems, with potentially harmful effects.

The federal government has taken a number of steps aimed at addressing cyber threats to critical infrastructure. Despite the actions taken by several successive administrations and the executive branch agencies, significant challenges remain to enhancing the protection of cyber-reliant critical infrastructures, such as

  • implementing a strategy to address cyber risks to federal building and access control systems;
  • improving federal efforts to implement cybersecurity in the maritime port environment; and
  • enhancing cybersecurity for air traffic control systems.

Other challenges that need to be addressed include

  • developing and implementing procedures to help protect national security-related agencies’ systems from information technology (IT) supply chain risk;
  • enhancing the oversight of contractors providing IT services;
  • improving security incident response practices;
  • implementing security programs at small agencies;
  • implementing programs to protect the privacy of personally identifiable information (PII) and responding to breaches of PII; and
  • protecting the privacy of mobile device location data.

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A World in Turmoil,
What’s Happening in…

Libya

 Libya-analysis.com reports Operation Diginty and the LIbya Dawn factions continue to struggle for control in Tripoli while UN negotiations to form a national unity government  appears to be 80% complete.

Read more…

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Death Toll of Migrants Fleeing Libya Via the Mediterranean Over 1,000 for April Alone

“The United Nations refugee agency estimated Tuesday that as many as 850 migrants had perished in a boat capsizing this week off the coast of Libya, as the ship’s captain and a crew member were taken into custody on criminal ­charges.”

Washington Post


Syria

Syria to Saudi Arabia; Back Off

The Syria Times (affiliated to the Ministry of Information) reports the Syrian Government’s response to Saudi Arabia’s threat to intervene in Syria as it just has in Yemen.

Syria Times, Read More…

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Coalition Continues Airstrikes, ISIS

breakingnews.sy reports 13 airstrikes against ISIS in Syria.

http://breakingnews.sy/en/article/57035.html


Yemen

After Bombing Yemen, Saudi’s Offer Relief

Yemen Post reports “Hundreds of tons of foodstuffs and medications have already arrived at the Aden and Hodeida ports coming from GCC and other countries. ”

Yemen Post Article

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China Weighs in on Yemen Crisis

From the PRC’s perspective “The situation in Yemen concerns the security and stability of the Middle East, especially the Gulf region,”

Yemen News Agency


ISIS

ISIS Chief Seriously Injured

The Guardian reports ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was seriously injured in a coalition airstrike on his three-car convoy. Slowly recovering.

The Guardian article

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ISIS Losing Ground in Iraq? Maybe.

Mairi Mackay reports on CNN “The gains made in the fight against the terror group by Iraqi security forces and coalition air power certainly look impressive — although as the U.S. Department of Defense acknowledges it’s a dynamic conflict and territory can change hands depending on “daily fluctuations in the battle lines.”

Read her report…

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