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Morning Security Brief: Agreement on Chemical Weapons, FISA Court Opinions to be Aired, and DHS Use of Social Media Criticized

By Teresa Anderson

► Secretary of State John Kerry announced today that the United Nations will enforce a deal hammered out over the weekend for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons. The Guardian reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to account for his chemical weapons stockpile within a week with international inspections to begin in November. Under the agreement, the weapons will be destroyed next year. According to The Washington Post, Kerry spoke on behalf of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, saying that “we will not tolerate avoidance or anything less than full compliance.”

► A federal judge has ordered the White House to declassify all of the legal opinions issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court after May 2011 that relate to Section 215 of the Patriot Act. In a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the judge noted that the disclosures made by Edward Snowden require greater transparency and that disclosure of the opinions is necessary for an informed debate on the issue of government surveillance and privacy.

► The Office of the Inspector General released a report on Friday that questions whether the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has control over its employees’ use of social media. DHS does not have an accurate list of its social media accounts nor does it know when employees are using private accounts for work purposes. In addition, the report noted that employees were often confused over the legal and security boundaries when using social media. For example, investigators secretly monitored online accounts of those suspected of benefits fraud without realizing that such activities ran afoul of DHS rules. Once investigators realized the error, they stopped the practice. However, the report notes that such instances underscore the need for more employee training. According to the Associated Press, Jonathan Cantor, the department’s acting privacy officer, disputes the report’s findings and says that he has “significant concerns” about the report’s accuracy.

 

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