Morning Security Brief: Syrian Government Meets With Rebels, House Report on Security Clearances, and More

By Holly Gilbert

► Representatives from the Syrian government and members of the opposition met face-to-face today in Geneva, Switzerland, to make an attempt at negotiating peace in the war-torn country. While the rebels demand the nation’s president Bashir al-Assad step down, according to The New York Times, “The government says it will not discuss his leaving power while the opposition wants no role for the man whose family has ruled Syria for more than four decades.” Meanwhile at the United Nations, ambassadors from China and Russia failed to attend a meeting of the Security Council on Monday that was set to draft a resolution allowing for the distribution of aid in war-torn Syria. The meeting took place one day after an aid convoy came under attack in the city of Homs that was distributing much-needed food and other supplies. Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly I. Churkin, said that the draft “would not have any practical, positive impact on the situation.” China’s UN ambassador expressed concern that any such draft would hinder talks going on between the Syrian government and rebels.

►Today the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will release a report stating that more than 450 law enforcement jurisdictions in the U.S. do not cooperate with security-clearance investigations for federal employees, including Washington, D.C. The report from the House committee will propose legislation to address the lapses that have occurred with security clearances, one of which led to the deadly shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. “Unfortunately, many local law enforcement agencies frequently shun federal security clearance investigators, either refusing to provide criminal history information or providing only limited information,” according to a copy of the report obtained by the Washington Post. The Office of Personnel Management, which keeps a list of noncompliant jurisdictions in the security clearance process, lists New York, Baltimore, and Los Angeles, in addition to D.C., according to the report. 

► The White House National Security Council (NSC) got its name back on Monday when President Barack Obama signed an executive order restoring the group’s former title. Obama had changed the name five years ago after combining the duties of the NSC and the Homeland Security Council into one team called the National Security Staff. However, according to the Associated Press, “That name had not been popular with national security staffers,” adding that, “The change back to the original Truman-era name was seen as a morale booster.” The NSC is led by National Security Adviser Susan Rice and deals with foreign policy around the globe.

► In other news, the House Armed Services Committee will release a report today condemning the White House for the attack on a U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya. ⇒ About 40 security officers and other members of the Los Angeles community protested on Monday at the Academy Awards nominee luncheon, demanding that the organization stop using a specific security firm for the event, which they call "irresponsible." ⇒ And, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says that, despite the calm so far, he still believes Sochi and the Winter Olympic Games face a dire threat


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