Warwick Post: Langevin talks growth, small business needs with local chambers of commerce

Warwick Post: Langevin talks growth, small business needs with local chambers of commerce

By Rob Borkowski

EAST GREENWICH — Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) hosted three roundtable discussions with leaders in the Rhode Island small business community Thursday, focusing on business needs and economic growth strategies, the first of many themed days for the Langevin Listening Tour, a district-wide initiative Langevin is leading to collect feedback and gain insight from constituents.

“Small businesses are the engine that drives Rhode Island’s economy,” said Congressman Langevin. “They support economic activity, help build communities, and employ the majority of private sector workers in our state. I look forward to engaging with local business leaders and listening to their ideas to improve our business climate and foster further economic growth.”

“We need to all work together to provide resources and assistance to small businesses and to the community groups that support economic development.” said John Kevorkian, a Partner at Sprout CoWorking who is hosting Congressman Langevin for a tour before the first roundtable event with members of the co-working and incubator community.

Congressman Langevin is a tireless advocate for small business in Rhode Island,” said Lauren Slocum, the Executive Director of Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce and the lead organizer of the roundtable at the New England Institute of Technology. “I am pleased to see he is continuing his outreach, and I look forward to a spirited discussion of the issues.”

“This convening session provides an opportunity for a sampling of our chamber members and of other chambers to voice their pressing concerns about operating a small business in Rhode Island”, said Kristin Urbach, the Executive Director of the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce. “Based on our past experience with Congressman Langevin, we know that he is not only a great listener, but also a leader who takes action and follows up to achieve the desired outcome. We’re honored that the Congressman selected Dan’s Carriage Inn located in North Kingstown for his South County small business event.”

Disability Scoop: Community Living Agency Denies Disability ‘Segregation’ Remarks

Disability Scoop: Community Living Agency Denies Disability ‘Segregation’ Remarks

By Michelle Diament

A federal agency responsible for community living is reaffirming its mission following allegations that a top official publicly stated that she favored “segregation” of people with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living said it is committed to making “community living possible for all.”

The assertion comes in a letter to members of Congress weeks after the agency’s principal deputy administrator, Mary Lazare, spoke at two disability group conferences. A similar set of remarks during both appearances left some advocates alarmed and sparked concerns from a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers.

In letters sent to Lance Robertson, who heads the Administration for Community Living, last month, the lawmakers said they were told that Lazare indicated that the Supreme Court came to the wrong conclusion in the landmark Olmstead v. L.C. case, which affirmed the right of people with disabilities to access community-based living.

Furthermore, the letters from U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Gregg Harper, R-Miss., and Jim Langevin, D-R.I., as well as Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said Lazare reportedly stated a preference for segregated and institutional settings.

There are believed to be no recordings of the appearances, which Lazare made at conferences put on by the Autism Society and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities during the same July day.

However, later that day, Lazare seemed to back away from her own words through a statement on the Administration for Community Living’s Twitter page.

“I regret & apologize for my words at #ASAconf18,” thestatement read. “ACL believes ppl w/disabilities have the right & choice to live in the community. We work to expand those opptys & are 100% committed to that mission. We also recognize Olmstead gives people the right to other choices.”

Now, in a written response to members of Congress, ACL’s Robertson is denying that Lazare expressed the alleged views.

“As you know, Principal Deputy Administrator Mary Lazare spoke on July 11 at two events. We know portions of her remarks caused concerns, which we are happy to address. I want to assure you that she did not state, or intend to express, the opinions referenced in your letter,” Robertson wrote.

“At ACL, we believe community living should always be the expectation,” he continued. “An integral part of our mandate is to uphold those rights guaranteed in the Americans with Disabilities Act and reinforced through the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., which we fully support.”

In addition, Robertson said his agency remains “firmly committed” to supporting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in implementing a Medicaid rule outlining what types of settings qualify as community-based. The lawmakers had indicated that Lazare reportedly said the rule should be revisited.

Even with the response, Langevin said he remains unsatisfied.

“Despite the agency’s assertion that Ms. Lazare ‘did not state, or intend to express, the opinions referenced in (our) letter,’ I remain concerned that we received no additional information or clarification on her original remarks,” the congressman told Disability Scoop. “People with disabilities deserve to be fully included in society, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply unacceptable.”

Coventry Courier: Amgen breaks ground on biotech plant

Coventry Courier: Amgen breaks ground on biotech plant

By Kendra Port

WEST GREENWICH –– On Tuesday morning local and state officials gathered for the groundbreaking of Amgen’s new next-generation biomanufacturing facility in West Greenwich. The new plant, which will be built on Amgen’s existing 75-acre West Greenwich campus, will be the first next-generation biomanufacturing plant in the country.

The multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered out of Thousand Oaks, California, plans to invest up to $200 million in the approximately 120,000 square foot plant, which is expected to create about 150 new highly-skilled manufacturing positions and three to four-hundred construction jobs.

The company has been behind some of the most ground breaking pharmaceuticals on the market, including a drug to prevent infections in chemotherapy patients as well as treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases. To date they are considered the world’s largest biotechnology company, creating substances for nearly 10 different medications. Their West Greenwich facility is primarily devoted to the production of the protein therapeutic ENBREL.

“We understand that serving patients is a privilege and it comes with a great deal of responsibility,” said Amgen Vice President Tia Bush. “Our nearly 600 staff members demonstrate their commitment each and every day to serve every patient every time. Amgen has transformed from a reliable supplier of a single product into an agile manufacturer of multiple products. Constructing this next-generation plant in Rhode Island further enhances our manufacturing capabilities within Amgen’s global operations network to deliver on our mission to serve patients.”

A next-generation biomanufactring plant, according to Bush, incorporates numerous innovative technologies into a single facility, allowing it to be built in half the construction time for about one half of the operating cost of a traditional plant. She said next-generation biomanufacutring plants require a smaller manufacturing footprint, thereby offering greater environmental benefits such as reduced consumption of water and energy and lower levels of carbon emissions.

The equipment within the plant will be portable and smaller than that of a traditional facility. Some components will also be disposable. Officials say this will eliminate the costly and complex retrofitting needs inherent in traditional plants.

“It will be 75 percent smaller, meaning it will have a significantly reduced environmental footprint,” said Amgen Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Bradway. “We expect to invest more than $3.5 million in capital expenditures, with 75 percent of that taking place here in the United States.”

Bradway said Amgen is grateful for the incentives offered to them when negotiating a location for the new plant and said that Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has been a supporter every step of the way.

“We’re committed to providing the state with an attractive return on that investment,” said Bradway. “This will create 150 new manufacturing jobs, and thanks to the growing life sciences community in this area we’re confident we can find the talent we need in Rhode Island today and in the future. This is an exciting time for our industry and company. We’re thrilled to be doing this important work in the state of Rhode Island.”

In her remarks Governor Gina Raimondo thanked Amgen for selecting Rhode Island for their new facility.

“The reality is we recognize that Amgen has options not just globally but within America,” said Raimondo. “There are 50 states, and you could have gone anywhere. Thank you for choosing Rhode Island.”

Raimondo said Rhode Island has “a long and rich history of innovation,” starting with jewelry manufacturing and now with biotechology.

“We are a state where you can make a living making things, and that’s why we as a state continue to invest in job training to make it easier for these manufactures to grow and retain people here,”” she said. “We want to grow with you and invest in the job training and technical programs that you need to hire the team that you need. It is my hope your investment here is just the beginning and we can build out.”

“It’s a great time for Amgen to be doubling down on Rhode Island,” Raimondo added. “Rhode Island really is on the move.”

Congressman James Langevin praised Amgen for what he called a “responsible environmental design.”

“The construction of this plant is important,” he said. “It will foster economic growth, and the medicines they produce provide hope and opportunities for people across the nation. This plant also represents a new frontier of new treatments and the promise of a future with reduced suffering from diseases.”

The existing Amgen plant in Rhode Island received a license from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September of 2005 and is home to one of the world’s largest mammalian protein manufacturing sites. That facility currently produces commercial and clinical bulk drug substances.

More than $1.5 billion has been invested in the Rhode Island Amgen campus. The existing facility already employs 625 full time staff members in Rhode Island. The Amgen Foundation has committed more than $4.8 million to support science education and community programs in Rhode Island.

“We’re so excited about the momentum here,” said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. “Amgen is one of those great companies making Rhode Island a better place.

West Greenwich Town Administrator Kevin Breene also thanked Amgen for selecting West Greenwich for the new plant.

“I was a young town council President when the state put this industrial park together,” said Breene. “Now the longest standing tenant has been Amgen.”

Breene recalled being told last January that West Greenwich might be in the running for the new facility.

“We knew we were competing with other sites around the country,” he said. “There were times we didn’t think we’d get over the jump.”

Also present for the ceremony was Hopkins Hill Fire District Chief Frank Brown, who said although the propertty is technically in West Greenwich, the fire district has been covering Amgen since it opened.

“It’s a great day,” said Brown. “It’s good for the state and it’s good for the local community.”

LPR: Langevin Applauds Passage of Major Career and Technical Education Legislation

LPR: Langevin Applauds Passage of Major Career and Technical Education Legislation

By LPR News

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, issued the following statement after the House agreed to the Senate amendment to H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which now goes to the President for his signature:

“The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which funds important CTE programs in Rhode Island and across the country, has long been overdue for an update. After years of work, I’m proud that this bill reflects an inclusive, thoughtful and bipartisan process. I am particularly thankful to my CTE Caucus co-chair, Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, who has been a great leader and partner on CTE issues in Congress.

“The Strengthening CTE for the 21st Century Act will help close the workforce skills gap in in fields such as manufacturing, IT, and other trades. This bill strengthens federal investment in CTE programs and realigns programs with industry needs to ensure students are learning the academic, employability, and technical skills they need to succeed in high-paying, high-growth economic sectors.

“As an original cosponsor of H.R. 2353, I’m pleased that the final bill incorporates several of my policy priorities, including expanding access to apprenticeships to provide students with hands-on learning experiences, and supporting career counselors to guide students down appropriate academic and career paths. Furthermore, by encouraging industry-education collaboration and realigning performance metrics with local labor market needs, the Strengthening CTE for the 21st Century Act advances my goal of preparing students for in-demand careers in Rhode Island and across the nation.”

Politico: Defense policy bill nudges U.S. toward more aggressive cyber posture

Politico: Defense policy bill nudges U.S. toward more aggressive cyber posture

By TIM STARKS

DEFENSE BILL GOES BIG ON CYBER — The final defense policy bill unveiled Monday would overhaul U.S. cyber defense policies, putting the country on a more aggressive footing against digital adversaries. The compromise fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5515),hammered out by House and Senate lawmakers, features several modified proposals from the upper chamber draft, such as setting the nation’s first cyber warfare policy, affirming the authority of the Defense secretary to conduct clandestine military activities and operations in cyberspace, and authorizing the president to direct U.S. Cyber Command to take steps to counter Russia, China, Iran and North Korea in cyberspace.

The negotiated measure also includes a provision to establish a “Cyberspace Solarium Commission” — a 13-member panel to develop a strategic approach to protecting and defending U.S. interests online — and a pilot program authorizing the Defense Department to provide technical experts to the Homeland Security Department to boost cooperation to protect critical infrastructure, according to a Democratic summary of the policy roadmap. It also requires DoD to notify lawmakers of cybersecurity breaches and loss of information from approved defense contractors, a response to the recent incident where Chinese hackers stole troves of data about the country’s submarine efforts from a contractor.

The measure additionally mandates that the Pentagon chief notify lawmakers in the event of a data breach that exposes the personal information of service members and create a pilot program within the Defense Digital Service to identify new ways to evaluate cyber vulnerabilities in DOD’s critical infrastructure. The policy blueprint would also put Cyber Command in charge of defending the military’s information network. The House is expected to voteon the final bill some time this week.

HAPPY TUESDAY and welcome to Morning Cybersecurity! “I’m noteating anything with a broken yolk.” Send your thoughts, feedback and especially tips to tstarks@politico.com, and be sure to follow @POLITICOProand @MorningCybersec. Full team info below.

PUTTING THE RISK IN CONTEXT — State and local officials will emphasize at a House Oversight hearing today that while they’re taking the election security threat seriously, they’re confident that there’s little chance of dramatically influencing the results of the 2018 midterms. “From a cybersecurity standpoint, we are most acutely concerned with ‘social engineering’ hacking attempts, which include phishing and baiting attempts through email” prior to the election, according to prepared testimony from Weber County, Utah, clerk/auditor Ricky Hatch, speaking on behalf of the National Association of Counties. “Most hacks are unsuccessful and crude attempts, akin to a burglar driving down a street looking for open windows or jiggling the locks, but it only takes one breach to cause significant problems.” Like Hatch, the representative of the National Association of Secretaries of State will point out that key systems aren’t connected to the internet. “If our protections to our voter registration system are breached, we can address that and the vote count is not impacted,” New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s prepared remarks read. “If our protections election night reporting website are breached, we can address that and the vote count is not impacted.” The bigger concern is voter confidence, she will say.

Republicans’ goals for the hearing — which will also feature testimony from top DHS cybersecurity and infrastructure protection official Chris Krebs and Election Assistance Commission Chairman Thomas Hicks similar to their recent Hill appearances — are to assess election security preparedness across all levels of government, and to see what can be done before the 2018 elections to safeguard them. Democrats plan to lob a few protests, a Democratic committee staffer told MC. Among them: Republicans should have invited the director of national intelligence to testify, given his warnings about ongoing Russian interference; the GOP should back additional election security funds after rejecting them last week; and Republicans need to aid Democrats’ requests to DHS for more information on the alleged 2016 Russian attacks.

CDM LEGISLATION UP TO BAT — The House Homeland Security Committee today marks up legislation (H.R. 6443) that would enshrine DHS’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program in law and require that it keep pace with technological advancements that would aid the program’s goal of strengthening federal agencies’ digital defenses. Rep. John Ratcliffe, the bill’s sponsor, will argue at the markup that the legislation is necessary after a recent government report that most federal agencies are at risk of failing their cybersecurity program. “It is DHS’s CDM program that will help federal agencies and the whole of the federal government understand the threats they face, and the risks vulnerabilities pose in real-time,” his prepared opening remarks read.

Rep. Jim Langevin plans to offer an amendment to the bill to reflect his concerns that the original four-phased plan for implementing CDM might no longer be the best approach. “Many of the tools and services available under Phase 3 and Phase 4 would both be useful in agencies now, and it remains unclear to me why the Department would not aim to implement them in parallel,” he said in a statement emailed to MC. “My amendment will require DHS to address these important questions in its strategy and implementation plan required under the bill.”

LIFE, AND PEN-TESTING, FINDS A WAY — Penetration testers continue to slip into systems like they’re Swiss cheese, according to a new reportfrom the security firm Rapid7, which offers pen-testing services. The company said its employees successfully exploited a digital flaw in 84 percent of attempts, while its success rate for abusing a “network misconfiguration” was just slightly lower, at 80 percent. “The environments where software vulnerabilities were encountered grew significantly” from the previous survey period to the current one, Rapid7 said in its report, which is based on 268 pen-testing “engagements” conducted between last September and mid-June.

The three most common configuration errors that opened the door for pen-testers were “service misconfiguration,” password reuse, and accounts holding unnecessarily elevated privileges. Meanwhile, the most popular password lengths are eight, 10, and nine digits, respectively, according to Rapid7’s database of compromised credentials. Eight-digit passwords are far and away the most popular, accounting for 46 percent of the database.

“It is practically inevitable that an experienced penetration tester will uncover at least one vulnerability or misconfiguration and use it to their advantage,” the company said in its report. “However, this should not cause IT, security, and development teams to lose heart; there are strategies available to help minimize the impact of a breach, both simulated by a penetration tester or caused by a real threat actor.”

MORE INFO SURFACES ON GRID ATTACKS — “Hackers working for Russia claimed ‘hundreds of victims’ last year in a giant and long-running campaign that put them inside the control rooms of U.S. electric utilities where they could have caused blackouts, federal officials said,” The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. “They said the campaign likely is continuing.” The hackers “broke into supposedly secure, ‘air-gapped’ or isolated networks owned by utilities with relative ease by first penetrating the networks of key vendors who had trusted relationships with the power companies.”

TAX FRAUD — The IRS could be doing more to prevent identity theft, according to a watchdog report out Monday. The Government Accountability Office made 11 recommendations for the IRS to follow to help ensure people are who they say they are online and elsewhere. Most notably, GAO suggests the service should follow the latest NIST guidelines on cybersecurity and direct its Identity Assurance Office to help develop a plan for implementing changes to its online authentication programs consistent with NIST.

LET ME SEE SOME I.D. — DHS on Monday awarded a $200,000 grant to a Canadian company that will design a system to authenticate smart devices and prevent them from being hijacked for cyberattacks. Plurilock Security Solutions Inc. will develop the system based on its existing BioTracker identity management platform. DHS’s goal is “to prevent spoofing of [internet of things devices] that can involve unfriendly actors pretending to be smart devices to launch attacks, access and steal user information, spread malware or bypass security,” according to an agency statement. DHS said BioTracker would suit this mission well because it “uses behavioral and contextual data from users to authenticate the identity of [a smart device] to protect it” from threats like DDoS attacks and botnets. Plurilock’s grant is the latest from the DHS Science & Technology Directorate’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program. It is the second non-American company to receive a SVIP grant.

RECENTLY ON PRO CYBERSECURITY — Twenty-one state attorneys general urged Congress to take action on election security. … National security adviser John Bolton will meet with his Russian counterpart next month. … Here’s how U.S. spies can figure out what President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed. … Secretary of State Mike Pompeo turned down an invitation to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee about Trump’s interactions with Russian and European leaders, citing a scheduling conflict, but will testify on the same subject before the Senate Foreign Relations panel.

— A survey of chief executive officers revealed that 72 percent admitted that they took intellectual property from a former employer, but 78 percent agree that IP is the most valuable asset their companies have. The survey, by data security company Code42, also found that the CEOs were fairly cavalier with protecting their work: 93 percent said they keep copies of their work on a personal device, 63 percent confessed to clicking on a link they should’ve have or didn’t mean to and 59 percent said they downloaded software without knowing if it was approved by company security. Separately, the survey findings include the opinions and impressions of chief information security officers on a range of data security questions as well.

Foreign Affairs: Narragansett Fire Department Receives $218K Federal Grant for New Equipment & Rescue Training

Foreign Affairs: Narragansett Fire Department Receives $218K Federal Grant for New Equipment & Rescue Training

NARRAGANSETT, RI – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman Jim Langevin announced $218,096 in federal funding to help the Narragansett Fire Department purchase needed equipment and provide water rescue training. The funding is being awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program.

The Narragansett Fire Department will use the federal funds to upgrade older manual ambulance stretchers with new power-lift stretchers and will create a new marine rescue training program for firefighters.  The power lift stretchers, accompanied by power load devices, will improve emergency response efficiency and enhance both patient and firefighter safety.  The new equipment will help reduce the frequency of injuries to firefighters, while improving interoperability within the community, particularly during potentially large-scale or mass casualty events.

The Narragansett Fire Department, which recently acquired a 28-foot rescue vessel with the help of a previously awarded federal Port Security grant, will use the training funding under this grant to initiate a technician training program to instruct firefighters in watercraft and surf search and rescue missions.  The training will take firefighters through different scenarios to prepare them to mitigate water emergencies and respond to incidents on the water.  This training would also be available to other Rhode Island fire departments that are part of the Narragansett Bay Marine Task Force.

“I am pleased to help deliver federal funds to support the outstanding work of the Narragansett Fire Department,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee that oversees FEMA funding.  “This is a smart investment in new tools, technology, and training to help our firefighters effectively respond to a range of emergencies.  It will benefit not only Narragansett, but enhance public safety in neighboring communities as well.  I commend Chief Partington and his team, and I will continue doing everything I can at the federal level to help them improve their emergency response capabilities and protect our communities.”

“Narragansett firefighters work hard to keep residents and visitors safe, especially during the busy summer season,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “I’m pleased to congratulate Town Manager Manni and Chief Partington on winning this federal grant for training and new equipment to support those efforts.  This is why we fight for these funds.”

“Firefighters in Narragansett and across Rhode Island put their lives on the line every day to protect us,” said Congressman Langevin, a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security, which oversees the AFG program. “They deserve to be equipped with the finest tools and training to carry out their duties as safely and effectively as possible.  This federal grant will bring the Narragansett Fire Department the resources to continue its excellent service to the community.”

“We are grateful to the Congressional delegation for their efforts to support the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program.  I, along with other fire chiefs, have met in Washington, DC with the delegation to discuss the importance of this grant program.  This funding will provide much-needed equipment to the department and help support training for our marine rescue operations,” said Narragansett Fire Department Chief Scott Partington.

Since 2001, Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders across the state have successfully secured nearly $36 million in AFG awards to pay for equipment upgrades, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources.

GoLocalProv: Langevin Calls Mueller Indictment Most Significant Hacking Case in U.S. History

GoLocalProv: Langevin Calls Mueller Indictment Most Significant Hacking Case in U.S. History

Jim Langevin is calling Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers the most significant hacking case in U.S. history.

Congressman Jim Langevin is calling Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officers the most significant hacking case in U.S. history.

Mueller indicted the Russian officers for distributing documents they had stolen from U.S. political organizations in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

According to the Justice Department, the hacking targeted Clinton’s campaign, Democratic National Committee, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Langevin Released the Following Statement:

“This is the most significant hacking case the United States has ever brought against the agents of a foreign state. Russian interference in the 2016 election struck at the very core of our democracy, and the perpetrators must be held to account. This is another example of why Director Mueller’s investigation is so important and must be allowed to continue.

This indictment is an important part of that reckoning, but it is in no way sufficient. When a nation violates the norms of responsible state behavior in cyberspace, we must respond with all means of state power, economic, diplomatic and otherwise. It is simply unacceptable to use cyber means to steal and disseminate political documents with the goals of undermining faith in American democracy. Sadly, the President continues to cast doubt on the facts first set forth by our intelligence community and reiterated in today’s indictment. Given these developments, the President should cancel next week’s meeting with Vladimir Putin and work with Congress to punish Russia for its actions.

The indictments today continue to reinforce a clear message to America’s adversaries who would target civilian infrastructure and processes: you will be found out. Although we are unlikely to see these Russian military intelligence agents in an American prison anytime soon, their worlds have gotten much smaller. I look forward to continuing my work in Congress to hold Russia responsible for its actions and improve our cybersecurity posture.”

WPRO: Rhode Island Democrats to Trump: don’t meet with Putin

WPRO: Rhode Island Democrats to Trump: don’t meet with Putin

By WPRO News Team and the Associated Press

Three members of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation called on President Donald Trump to cancel his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin after 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted for alleged hacking offenses during the 2016 presidential election.

Trump and Putin are to meet Monday in Helsinki.

The Justice Department announced the indictments Friday as part of the special counsel probe into potential coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russia.The indictment alleges a coordinated effort to break into Democratic email accounts.

Senator Jack Reed Reed said Trump should cancel the meeting in light of the “stunning indictment that these Russian conspirators attacked our democracy.”

Congressman David Cicilline reacted on Twitter, sharing a link to a Politico article on the indictments and telling Trump he should “raise this with Putin when you see him on Monday.” In a separate tweet a few hours later, Cicilline said Trump should cancel the meeting.

Congressman Jim Langevin said Trump should not only cancel the meeting, but also “work with Congress to punish Russia for its actions.”

“When a nation violates the norms of responsible state behavior in cyberspace, we must respond with all means of state power, economic, diplomatic and otherwise. It is simply unacceptable to use cyber means to steal and disseminate political documents with the goals of undermining faith in American democracy,” he said. “Sadly, the President continues to cast doubt on the facts first set forth by our intelligence community and reiterated in today’s indictment.”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said “it has long been clear” that Russia hacked and leaked emails during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“The President’s willingness to ignore this — even the findings of his own intelligence community — raises red flags, and requires that law enforcement be allowed to continue its investigations unimpeded,” he said. “The phony claims that this investigation needs to be ‘wrapped up’ are highly suspect and utterly without merit.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also says Trump should cancel the meeting.

A White House spokeswoman says the indictments contain no allegations of knowing involvement by Trump campaign officials.

WPRI: Local leaders react to Kavanaugh nomination

WPRI: Local leaders react to Kavanaugh nomination

By: Caroline Goggin

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Standing next to his wife and daughters, conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Donald Trump Monday night. This was the president’s second Supreme Court pick since taking office.

“My judicial philosophy is straightforward,” Kavanaugh said. “A judge must be independent, and must interpret law as written. A judge must interpret the constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.”

Kavanaugh, 53, was born in Washington, D.C. and currently sits on the D.C. circuit. He is a graduate of Yale Law School, and later gained national attention from his time working for former independent counsel Ken Starr during the investigation of then-president Bill Clinton.

Roger Williams University law professor Peter Margulies described Kavanaugh as “exceptionally bright.”

“Great track record on the D.C. circuit, and great credentials,” Marguiles said. “So in that sense, President Trump couldn’t have picked a better person. But in terms of his general perspective, he is highly conservative. So, conservatives will be happy about that.”

Margulies said if Kavanaugh is confirmed, he believes that could eventually lead to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

“It certainly will be at risk,” he explained. “I think the court’s approach will be to first uphold state laws that in some ways limit access to abortion. But over time, I think there will be states that will be encouraged by the selection of Judge Kavanaugh, that will have laws in place that categorically and absolutely prohibit abortion.”

Kavanaugh will need 51 votes to be confirmed in the Senate, and Margulies said he does not believe attaining confirmation will be difficult.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse criticized Trump’s nomination.

“Special interests approved this nominee,” he said. “The confirmation process will be powered by massive, secretive spending by their phony front groups. That’s why Brett Kavanaugh must convince me he can actually be independent. I, along with the American people, will not tolerate a rigged system anymore.”

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed claimed Kavanaugh, if confirmed, would “pose a serious threat to Americans’ access to health care and their civil liberties.”

“I opposed Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lower court seat because of his overtly partisan background,” he said. “I did not believe he was a good fit to serve on the DC Circuit then, and I do not think he is a good fit for the Supreme Court now.”

“President Trump had an opportunity to put forth a mainstream nominee who could bring the country together,” Reed continued. “Instead, he once again chose partisanship and the powerful over the interests of hardworking Americans.”

Kavanaugh was tapped to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring. Congressman Jim Langevin expressed concern that his independent voice will be missed.

“Throughout his tenure, Justice Kennedy provided a pivotal vote on several important cases, and some of his most memorable decisions empowered the disadvantaged,” he stated. “From privacy rights to affirmative action to marriage equality, he believed in the rights of people to live and love unburdened by the weight of historical oppression. Although I did not agree with all of Justice Kennedy’s opinions, we must consider the significant role he played on the Court and his impact on women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.”

“While I do not have a role in the confirmation process,” Langevin added, “it is critical that my colleagues in the Senate subject Judge Kavanaugh to a careful vetting process and fully consider the impact of his future decisions on the lives of the American people.”

FCW: Waging cyber war without a rulebook

FCW: Waging cyber war without a rulebook

By Derek B. Johnson

For years, security experts have warned of an impending cyber Pearl Harbor: an attack so big and bold that it cripples U.S. infrastructure and demands a military response.

However, in interviews with former White House and executive branch officials as well as members of Congress and staffers involved in cyber policy, many expressed more concern about the potential for a Cyber Gulf of Tonkin: a misunderstanding or misattribution around an event that precipitates or is used as a justification for war.

“I think we should all be concerned about a [misunderstanding] or something that is made to look like someone else took action,” said Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), a co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus. “Attribution is very difficult, although we are getting much better at it. There’s no doubt there could always be a level of uncertainty.”

The U.S. government is currently engaged in disputes with at least four other countries — Iran, North Korea, Russia and China — over a series of recent hacks, intrusions and cyberattacks dating back five years. In cases like Iran and North Korea, some worry the situation is potentially one precipitating incident away from breaking out into military conflict.

Furthermore, members of Congress have increasingly agitatedfor a more forceful response against nation-state- led cyberattacks, while providing little in the way of statutory guidance around rules of engagement for offensive cyber operations, including which agencies should take the lead and how brightly the lines should be drawn between private sector, civilian government and military response.

Blurred lines

The federal government lacks a commonly understood framework for the type and scope of actions that would or would not qualify as an act of war in cyberspace.

“There isn’t [a document] — to my knowledge at least when I was in government — where it’s like ‘this is our list’ and if it’s one of these things then we’re going to declare war,” said Megan Stifel, a former director of international cyber policy on the National Security Council.  “It’s not very helpful and reassuring to many to say that we’ll know it when we see it, but that has been a bit of the philosophy because we haven’t seen it yet.”

Stifel pointed to many of the most high-profile attacks against United States assets – such as the 2016 election disinformation campaign, the 2017 WannaCry attacks, the 2014 Sony hack and the Office of Personnel Management hack — and questioned whether any of them could truly be interpreted as a genuine act of war by the nations who supposedly carried them out.

In its new command vision on information warfare, U.S. Cyber Command noted that nation-states have taken advantage of this ambiguous policy landscape to conduct aggressive cyber campaigns to harm or destabilize U.S. interests and infrastructure.

“Adversaries continuously operate against us below the threshold of armed conflict. In this ‘new normal,’ our adversaries are extending their influence without resorting to physical aggression,” the vision statement reads.

Some have argued that such direction would allow policymakers to clearly communicate which kind of attacks and targets are beyond the pale and require an in-kind cyber or even kinetic military response. Alternatively, the absence of such a framework carries the risk of fostering confusion and misunderstandings on the international stage that could precipitate a larger conflict.

“There are these questions of ‘what was the intent?’ and I think we need to be careful not to go [like the metaphorical hammer] looking for nails,” Stifel said. “Because of the way western democracies have the private sector own most of the communications and information technology infrastructure, the lines are very blurred.”

A shifting policy landscape

That ambiguity has left some perplexed as to how best to respond to a series of cyber-focused operations against the United States.

Langevin is one of 12 members of Congress to co-sponsor a bill introduced this year by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fl.) that would require the president to single out as a “critical cyber threat” any foreign persons or entities determined to be responsible for a cyberattack as well as any person or organization that “knowingly materially assisted or attempted such activities.” Those actors would then be subject to a range of potential economic and travel-related sanctions. Yoho’s bill recentlypassed the House Foreign Affairs Committee and has garnered support from a bipartisan group of cybersecurity-focused lawmakers in the House.

The legislation is meant to codify many of the strategies employed during the first 18 months of the Trump administration to respond to high-profile cyberattacks against the United States, pairing “name and shame” tactics with economic and political pressure in a way that results in meaningful consequences for those who step over the line.

The problem is many policymakers are unsure where those lines actually are, and some question whether it’s even a good idea to draw them in the first place.

Langevin believes that legislation like Yoho’s bill will help to better police “the grey zone” around nation-state cyberattacks, but said he worries that being too specific could feed the potential for a Gulf of Tonkin-like misunderstanding.

“It’s hard to draw red lines in cyberspace as the threats are rapidly evolving,” said Langevin. “We have to be careful about being too prescriptive.”

That view was echoed by many others. A majority staffer on one of the congressional homeland security committees speaking on background was reluctant to even offer a broad outline of a cyber warfare doctrine, arguing the landscape is so unsettled and the potential for new technologies like AI, quantum computing and augmented reality to disrupt the status mean that any rules the Trump administration or Congress lays out today could be obsolete five years down the road.

Even worse, the rules could box them into enforcing ultimatums that no longer makes sense in an evolving policy environment. The staffer compared the status quo to “Calvinball,” a game from the popular comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes” in which the only rule is that the rules must constantly change.

“We don’t have examples in history of that kind of asymmetry and how to handle it,” the staffer said. “Even if you looped in the smartest, most knowledgeable people with all of the letters after their name that you could possibly imagine, they couldn’t sit in a room and say 10 years from now, this framework will still hold true.”

Over the past year, policymakers have been working behind the scenes to carve out a larger role for U.S. Cyber Command. CyberScoop reported in April that CyberCom has been steadily winning a tug of war with intelligence agencies for supremacy over offensive cyber operations, including those taking place outside of traditional war zones. More recently, the organization has been wading into what is typically considered the Department of Homeland Security’s turf by establishing threat information sharing programs with the banking sector.

Curtis Dukes, who ran the National Security Agency’s Information Assurance unit, said unleashing a military organization like Cyber Command to engage in offensive operations outside of war zones without a shared doctrine for conducting information warfare is a recipe for unintended consequences.

“We don’t know with any level of precision what would actually constitute an act of war where we would respond either militarily or using our own cyber offensive capabilities,” Dukes said. “Frankly, that needs to occur if we’re going to use Cyber Command as a capability to protect the homeland.”

A former high-ranking congressional staffer who worked on military cyber policy speaking on background concurred with that sentiment, saying the U.S. lacks a solid interagency process for weighing risks and examining the trade-offs of such operations.

“I’m sure there are places where it would be appropriate for CyberCom to be more aggressive, but I can tell you having sat over at DOD, that CyberCom would bring out some really stupid proposals that would sometimes ignore risks to things like the integrity of the global financial system,” the source said.

Like many of those interviewed, the former staffer cited the recent elimination of the White House cyber coordinator position as a move that would only exacerbate these problems. Langevin as well as Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) have introducedlegislation to restore the position.

Pinning the blame

There are political and public relations factors to consider as well. When nations go to war, they often couch their decision as a defensive or retaliatory response to some malicious precipitating event.

Proving to allies and the international community that a cyberattack came at the behest of a particular nation-state is difficult. Most instances of cyber attribution — such as those done with WannaCry and NotPetya — can take months if not years before reaching a high confidence assessment.

Even then, policymakers may not want to risk exposing intelligence-related sources and methods. In December, the White House publicly blamed North Korea for the 2016 WannaCry malware.

Tom Bossert, who served as White House homeland security advisor at the time, told reporters that intelligence and technical forensics gave the government high confidence about the attribution, but he declined to specify what evidence the administration was relying on and indicated that a smoking gun definitively associating the attacks to Pyongyang was “difficult” to come by.

That sort of posture could make it trickier to convince allies that the evidence justifies a cyber or military response. A State Department document providing guidance to the president on international engagement around cyber matters released May 31 notes that “difficulty attributing the source of [cyber] attacks or sharing sensitive evidence to support attribution findings has made international or public-private cooperation to respond to specific threats more challenging.”

Such cooperation is critical to establishing international rules of engagement in most domains of war, according to John Dickson, a former Air Force officer who previously served in the Air Force Information Warfare Center. While other domains of war have had millennia to develop clear lines of engagement, there’s still significant uncertainty around how best to respond to incidents of information warfare. Because of that, Dickson argued it’s sometimes best to leave policymakers with maximum flexibility.

“We don’t have anywhere near the level of history, the level of conflict, the level of openness and visibility [with cyberwar] that you have in other wars,” Dickson said. “The biggest deal is that if you’re a talented attacker, certainly a nation-state attacker, you can prosecute and attack and still maintain some level of deniability.”