US Opinion and Commentary

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The Thin Line Between Privacy and Security

Posted March 29th, 2016 at 3:21 pm (UTC-5)
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After the horrific and deadly terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California at a work holiday party, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began its work: what drove the suspects – a Muslim couple with an infant – to kill 14 people? Were they acting at the behest of ISIS? Investigators found the iPhone of Syed Farook, but couldn’t get past the passcode to examine his contacts. Apple CEO Tim Cook refused an FBI order to create a coded “backdoor.” Critics called foul, accusing the FBI of looking for a case with which it could set a legal precedent. Cook held firm. Privacy protests erupted. This week, the FBI announced it used a third party to successfully hack the smartphone. Obvious questions were immediately raised: why did U.S. authorities try to legally compel Apple to create a backdoor? Who wins in such cases? Are we safer when officials can force digital companies to make hackable products? Or, must personal privacy always trump security?

In The Case Of Apple V. FBI, Congress Should Be The Judge

Posted March 1st, 2016 at 2:53 pm (UTC-5)
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The laws governing who has access to our personal, digital information and communications were written when a cloud was exclusively a white, puffy thing that formed familiar shapes. Technology has far outpaced the law, and now law enforcement, business, courts, and Congress are all grappling with the implications.

Does Privacy Trump Security? Apple Thinks So

Posted February 18th, 2016 at 4:10 pm (UTC-5)
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It has been just over two months since a married Muslim-American couple opened fire on a holiday party in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 co-workers. Since then, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been investigating the couple, who appear to have been inspired by Islamic State. But investigators have been unable to access information stored on one of the suspect’s password protected iPhone. Using an obscure law, written in 1789 — the All Writs Act — the FBI got a federal judge to order Apple to place a back door into its iOS software in order to gain access. This week, Apple CEO Tim Cook answered the FBI with a firm “no,” setting off a huge debate, much of it on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. The question of privacy versus national security is reminiscent of the revelations made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which revealed the extent to which the U.S. government is “listening” to its citizens.Encryption, back doors, government spying all summon up the fantasy world of George Orwell’s famed novel “1984.” Sixty-seven years later, Americans ponder the same dilemma, while weighing legitimate needs of law enforcement.

The Apple Fight Isn’t About Encryption

Posted February 17th, 2016 at 3:53 pm (UTC-5)
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Those who think encryption protects their personal data from the government — or, for that matter, from anyone determined enough to invest the effort in a brute force attack — are naive. Any encryption can be broken.

Obama Mosque Visit Confronts Rising Anti-Muslim Sentiment

Posted February 4th, 2016 at 12:56 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin During his seven years in office, President Barack Obama has visited mosques in foreign countries, in part, to show respect for one of the world’s major religions as a way of countering perceptions that Americans are anti-Islam. His belated presidential visit, his first, this week to an American mosque reflected acknowledgement that bigotry is […]

An Emotion Obama Announces New Measures to Tighten Gun Laws

Posted January 6th, 2016 at 6:13 am (UTC-5)
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Wiping tears, the president spoke of the young school children during the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,”

Obama on Terrorism: “No Specific and Credible Information”

Posted December 17th, 2015 at 5:25 pm (UTC-5)
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President Barack Obama made yet another public appearance in an attempt to ease Americans’ tensions about the threat of terrorism.

Gun Control: Americans Search Yet Again for Antidote to Gun Violence

Posted December 17th, 2015 at 4:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Two weeks to the day that a heavily armed radicalized Muslim couple killed 14 people at a work holiday party in San Bernardino, California, President Barack Obama tried to reassure Americans nervous about terrorism. Flanked by top officials at the National Counterterrorism Center, Obama said there are no “specific and credible” threats to the homeland. New polls indicate more Americans are concerned about a terrorist attack than gun violence, although one survey shows seven in 10 believe mass shootings have become a normal part of American life. The right to bear arms is among the most hotly debated constitutional issues. Demands for stricter gun control laws grow louder with each inexplicable act of violence: Sandy Hook, Columbine and, now, San Bernardino. The gun lobby and its supporters are no less pained by these tragedies, but say no law can stop a determined individual from buying a weapon. It is a familiar debate – one that continued on the week that first of the victims of San Bernardino were laid to rest.

How a Digital Surge Can Help Beat Islamic State

Posted December 15th, 2015 at 4:25 pm (UTC-5)
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To wage a digital counterinsurgency, we need to understand the structure of this enemy’s digital army. Unlike Al Qaeda’s cluster of isolated cells, Islamic State is centralized. Its hierarchy, in fact, resembles a corporate pyramid…

The Left’s Witch Hunt Against Muslims

Posted December 14th, 2015 at 8:35 am (UTC-5)
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Hope Not Hate, a supposedly “anti-fascist” group in Britain, has just compiled a list of people it deems “anti-Muslim”—including devout Muslims.

Calls Grow Louder for New US Terror Strategy

Posted December 11th, 2015 at 1:28 pm (UTC-5)
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Until 2011, this was the face of international terrorism, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. That year, President Barack Obama gave the go-ahead for a top secret mission to take out bin Laden, who had been found living in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The mission succeeded and for a long time much of the world relaxed, knowing the man who was behind September 11th was gone forever. Just three years later, the Islamic State took al-Qaida’s slot as the most dangerous terrorist organization, emerging out of the wreckage of Iraq with its signature brutality of beheading hostages and taking huge swathes of territory. A president once admired for acting boldly against al-Qaida is now under withering criticism for not doing enough to stop this latest incarnation of radical Islam. With the shooting deaths of 14 Americans at a workplace holiday gathering in California by a radicalized Muslim-American couple last week, a new poll shows Americans are now just as nervous as they were right after September 11th.

Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States

Posted December 11th, 2015 at 8:26 am (UTC-5)
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I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.

Tackling the Threat of Islamic Extremism

Posted December 10th, 2015 at 3:08 pm (UTC-5)
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There has been a steady drip, drip, drip of criticism aimed at President Barack Obama’s strategy against terrorism, and the threat posed here in the United States. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump dominated the debate with his controversial call to bar Muslims from entering America in the wake of the deadly mass shooting by a Muslim couple in San Bernardino, California. Obama’s Oval Office address was examined and torn apart by his fiercest opponents for lacking anything new in the fight against the Islamic State, and for failing to comfort the nerves of ordinary Americans. From the president’s standpoint, those calling for a tougher response by pressing for a new military effort against jihadists are ignoring history – at America’s own peril.

Rating Obama’s War on Terror

Posted December 7th, 2015 at 3:30 pm (UTC-5)
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President Obama referred to the “evolving threat” of terror attacks during his address to the nation Sunday night in the aftermath of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. That attack and the Islamic State assault on soft targets in Paris symbolizes the president’s worries. Instead of highly sophisticated acts of terror like the September 11th attacks, now heavily armed individuals detonate explosives or fire at civilians gathered in public spaces. Last week, it was a work holiday party in San Bernardino; in 2013, it occurred during the famed Boston Marathon; four years prior, an army psychiatrist began randomly shooting colleagues at his base in Texas. While Obama’s critics condemn what they say is an incoherent and inadequate response to Islamic State militants, many experts agree there is no simple answer or strategy. The intersection of extremist ideology masking as religion, the availability of weapons, a flood of war-weary immigrants and those who might be inspired by Middle Eastern militants have made the war on terror far more challenging than ever before.

The President’s Scary Speech

Posted December 6th, 2015 at 11:53 pm (UTC-5)
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Americans have two things to worry about. One is that ISIS killings in American will continue. The other is that Obama will refuse again to grab the moment and fail to understand the peril and lead us out of it.

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