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Posts Tagged state department
From Ars Technica:
In a 2-1 decision, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was not persuaded that Defense Distributed’s right to free speech under the First Amendment outweighs national security concerns.
Ordinarily, of course, the protection of constitutional rights would be the highest public interest at issue in a case. That is not necessarily true here, however, because the State Department has asserted a very strong public interest in national defense and national security. Indeed, the State Department’s stated interest in preventing foreign nationals—including all manner of enemies of this country—from obtaining technical data on how to produce weapons and weapon parts is not merely tangentially related to national defense and national security; it lies squarely within that interest.
In July, we reported on an ill-advised attempt by the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls of DOS (DDTC) to “clarify” who is a regulated firearms “manufacturer” for purposes of the Arms Export Control Act and its implementing rules, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
As we noted in that report, DDTC’s “guidance” document creates far more confusion than clarity and threatens to chill lawful behavior and put small commercial gunsmiths who cannot afford ITAR’s heavy compliance costs out of business.
On July 22, the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls issued new guidance for firearm manufacturers and gunsmiths to register as exporters under the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and pay an annual $2,250 fee — even if they had no intention of exporting. This included companies and individuals who performed machine work on firearms such as threading barrels, magazine modifications and rechambering.
The underlying legal ideas stretch back to one of EFF’s earliest major legal victories. Twenty years ago, in Bernstein v. U.S. Department of Justice, a judge articulated that code is speech inrejecting so-called export restrictions on code that implements cryptographic protocols. Daniel Bernstein, a mathematics Ph.D. student, wanted to publish source code for a program to run an algorithm he developed. He objected to the State Department classification of his code as a “munition” and, with EFF’s help, sued to establish his First Amendment right to publish the code without arbitrary restrictions outlined in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and other laws—restrictions that included registering as an arms dealer and submitting the code for governmental review.
Read EFF’s full amicus brief here.
From Fox News:
The (15) members of Congress, led by Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kent., signed onto an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where Texas inventor Cody Wilson is fighting a lower court ruling in favor of the government agency. The State Department in 2013, citing a law allowing it to regulate international arms trafficking, blocked Wilson and his nonprofit group Defense Distributed from posting technical data for 3-D printing of legal handguns.
Wilson has received more “friend of the court” backup from policy think tank Cato Institute and various free speech organizations.
According to Sean Davis at The Federalist the new regulations are nothing more than retaliation against Defense Distributed:
On June 3, just four weeks after Defense Distributed filed its complaint in federal court, the State Department suddenly decided to propose a new rule giving it the authority to pre-approve speech related to publicly available firearm plans. The State Department’s play here is obvious: it hopes to promulgate a new rule making its previous anti-speech efforts superficially legal in order to short-circuit Defense Distributed’s court case. If that were to happen, the non-profit would then have to file a new and separate suit alleging the unconstitutionality of the new rule.
The State Department has proposed new ITAR rules that would cover merely talking about guns according to the NRA.
From The Washington Examiner:
…the NRA boiled it down for gun owners with this warning:
“In their current form, the ITAR do not (as a rule) regulate technical data that are in what the regulations call the ‘public domain.’ Essentially, this means data ‘which is published and which is generally accessible or available to the public’ through a variety of specified means. These include ‘at libraries open to the public or from which the public can obtain documents.’ Many have read this provision to include material that is posted on publicly available websites, since most public libraries these days make Internet access available to their patrons.
“The ITAR, however, were originally promulgated in the days before the Internet. Some State Department officials now insist that anything published online in a generally-accessible location has essentially been ‘exported,’ as it would be accessible to foreign nationals both in the U.S. and overseas.
“With the new proposal published on June 3, the State Department claims to be ‘clarifying’ the rules concerning ‘technical data’ posted online or otherwise ‘released’ into the ‘public domain.’ To the contrary, however, the proposal would institute a massive new prior restraint on free speech. This is because all such releases would require the ‘authorization’ of the government before they occurred. The cumbersome and time-consuming process of obtaining such authorizations, moreover, would make online communication about certain technical aspects of firearms and ammunition essentially impossible.”
From The New York Times:
Now, with a high-powered legal team behind it, Mr. Wilson’s company,Defense Distributed, a self-described “anti-monopolist digital publisher,” has filed suit against the State Department claiming that its efforts to stop him from publishing his instructions, which are no more than computer code, amount to a prior restraint on free speech. The 25-page suit, filed on Wednesday in Federal District Court in Austin, Tex., is an innovative and apparently unprecedented effort to use the First Amendment in support of the Second.
Wilson’s gun manufacturing advocacy group Defense Distributed, along with the gun rights group the Second Amendment Foundation, on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the State Department and several of its officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry. In their complaint, they claim that a State Department agency called the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) violated their first amendment right to free speech by telling Defense Distributed that it couldn’t publish a 3-D printable file for its one-shot plastic pistol known as the Liberator, along with a collection of other printable gun parts, on its website.
From The Post and Courier:
Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, the Republican chairman, vowed to pursue the facts wherever they lead him. Opening the panel’s first public hearing since its establishment four months ago, he said the U.S. must learn from past violence on U.S. facilities from Beirut to East Africa to Benghazi to prevent repeat attacks.
Watch the hearing via CSPAN:
From Fox News:
Special operators in the region tell Fox News that while Benghazi targets have been identified for months, officials in Washington could “never pull the trigger.” In fact, one source insists that much of the information on Benghazi suspects had been passed along to the White House after being vetted by the Department of Defense and the State Department — and at least one recommendation for direct action on a Benghazi suspect was given to President Obama as recently as Aug. 7.
“With Embassy Closures, the U.S. Errs on the Side of Caution is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
Global, nonspecific threats such as those that prompted recent U.S. embassy closures and travel warnings have rarely proved credible. These precautionary measures appear to be the result of two separate threats, one attack against an unspecified U.S. embassy and another against travel infrastructure — presumably an airliner. In response to the embassy threat, the U.S. government announced Aug. 4 that it had extended the closure of several embassies in the Middle East until Aug. 10 and that African posts would now be among the embassies closed. In response to the airline threat, Washington issued a global travel alert running from Aug. 2 to Aug. 31. The travel warning and the closures have commanded the media’s attention and have led to much speculation about the source and the credibility of the threats, but more often than not these threats fail to materialize. Read the rest of this entry »
The State Department has stopped Defense Distributed from hosting the files for a plastic gun, but those files were copied thousands of times and are now hosted on sites all over the internet. People have already begun to make the guns and improve on the designs in just a few weeks. Forbes has a good article on the phenomenon.
A letter to Defense Distributed from the Department of State, Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance, Enforcement Division (DTCC/END) explains that while conducting a review of the data posted on DEFCAD it found that the licensed firearm manufacturer might have released ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations)-controlled information without authorization and would thus be in violation.
From: Fred Thompson
So now, apparently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is going to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to testify about the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya and the ensuing scandal.
Although, the murdered ambassador was working for her and she was in charge of the department responsible for the clearly inadequate protection of the diplomatic facility, she had essentially nothing to say about the matter even before her health difficulties. This follows the Obama Administration’s well-worn game plan and the failed practices of the past: the FBI cites “criminal investigations” to keep from having to discuss this terrorist attack … even with the CIA. Aided and abetted by the media, the White House ignores the matter, and even if it were forced to focus on it, would decline comment, citing the FBI’s criminal investigation. There have been no public hearings or testimony from Departments of Defense, State or the White House national security witnesses, even though it seems apparent that most of the information needed by Congress and the American people is not or should not be classified. Read the rest of this entry »
“The Benghazi Report and the Diplomatic Security Funding Cycle is republished with permission of Stratfor.”
By Scott Stewart
Vice President of Analysis
On Dec. 18, the U.S. State Department’s Accountability Review Board released an unclassified version of its investigation into the Sept. 12 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack, so the report was widely anticipated by the public and by government officials alike.
Four senior State Department officials have been reassigned to other duties since the report’s release. Among them were the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security; two of his deputy assistant secretaries, including the director of the Diplomatic Security Service, the department’s most senior special agent; and the deputy assistant secretary responsible for Libya in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.
The highly critical report and the subsequent personnel reassignments are not simply a low watermark for the State Department; rather, the events following the attack signify another phase in the diplomatic security funding cycle. The new phase will bring about a financial windfall for the State Department security budgets, but increased funding alone will not prevent future attacks from occurring. After all, plenty of attacks have occurred following similar State Department budgetary allocations in the past. Other important factors therefore must be addressed. Read the rest of this entry »