HARVARD MODEL CONGRESS SAN FRANCISCO 2015

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1 HARVARD MODEL CONGRESS SAN FRANCISCO 2015 BRIEFING SUMMARIES A Memo for Members of the Presidential Cabinet RECENT UPDATES CIA - Cyber Hacking The CIA is concerned about cyberhacking because it has the ability to take down major U.S. infrastructure. In this briefing, Fine reports that this issue is a source of vulnerability for both American businesses and private citizens. Examples of this are alleged attacks by people connected to the Chinese government, which resulted in immense amounts of data being stolen from companies from Coca-Cola to major oil distributors, as well as the hacking of credit data by a Russian teenager. The main issue with legislating on the subject of cyber-security is that no one truly knows the power that others have and how safe or unsafe data storage methods really are. Some liberals and conservatives are divided on the issue because most attempts to increase cyber-security or investigate cyberhacking threats raise privacy issues. As the briefing author notes, In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama addressed cybercrime as a point of emphasis for his policies moving forward. CIA - Domestic Terrorism In light of recent events such as the Boston marathon bombings and several school shootings, more attention has been drawn to acts of violence within the United States than usual. In a post9/11 environment, it is important to distinguish domestic terrorism from other acts of violence in order to deal with it effectively, something that few, if any, legislators are against. Domestic terrorism, in particular, involves act that are those committed by American citizens on American soil to protest specific actions of the US government, according to the briefing authors. One point of contention is how we treat domestic terrorists in terms of violations of privacy and due process. Legislators may be considering several bills to address domestic terrorism. One issue is the legality of killing an american without a trial if he or she is guilty of acts of terrorism. Others involve creating new designations for individuals and organizations to enhance or restrict the jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies in tracking and detaining potential domestic terrorists. In general, though most legislators agree that domestic terrorism is a serious issue that should be prevented,

2 conservatives are typically more hawkish on this issue while democrats are softer. Put more simply, liberal legislators may pay particular emphasis to maintaining the rights of U.S. citizens under the constitution while conservative legislators may focus on directly addressing security concerns by any means possible. The president has taken heat from both sides for going too far and not far enough, depending on the circumstance. FDA - E-Cigarettes E-Cigarettes now represent a $2 billion industry in the United States, yet there has been no decisive federal statement on their usage. Due to conflicting scientific data about its health risks, the FDA or any other entity has not definitively declared them a hazard. Still, scientists almost unanimously say that e-cigarettes do not have a demonstrated effect in helping people quit smoking, as some advocates of e-cigarettes have claimed. For policymakers in the FDA, a number of questions remain about how the federal government should respond to the expansion of e-cigarettes, if this merits any response at all. The FDA may consider actions to encourage more research on the health side-affects of e-cigarettes, regulate the information e-cigarette marketers can utilize in advertisements, begin educational campaigns about e-cigarettes, and modify the legal age of consumption of e-cigarettes. All of these options bring in the question of federal-state jurisdiction, as well as the broader debate about the role of government. FDA - Nuclear Medicine According to the author of the briefing, nuclear medicine is a medical field that uses radioactive materials to diagnose and treat diseases. It is mostly used to improve imaging, in order to more effectively and conclusively diagnose illnesses. However, it also has the side effects present whenever nuclear material comes into contact with humans. It is unclear, however, if the side effects outweigh the benefits in all cases or just some cases. Besides the health considerations associated with nuclear medicine, because it is such an expensive technology, it is possible that an absence of regulation would likely encourage the formation of an oligopoly that would be unfavorable for the market of health care consumers. In responding to the increase in nuclear medicine, the FDA has an opportunity to tighten the regulations on nuclear medicine providers. Those in favor of tighter regulation point to the inherent dangers of nuclear medicine, the uncertainty when using it as an imaging or treatment tool, and the possibility of an nuclear medicine oligopoly that would keep prices high and limit accessibility to this technology. Those opposed to tighter regulation would point to the benefits of this new technology and the harmful economic effect that occurs when government regulation interferes with the market. House Foreign Affairs - Aid to Kenya The U.S. has an extensive history providing aid to Kenya. While the motivations and outcomes of aid to Kenya have changed over the years, we have consistently allocated large amounts of funding to Kenya and selected other African countries. The issues surrounding foreign aid usually have to SAN FRANCISCO 2015 BRIEFING SUMMARIES 2

3 deal with the perceived costs and benefits of providing such aid. Specifically, legislators ask: what aims do we achieve through aid? Aid usually is justified because it has the potential to provide humanitarian assistance in emergencies, strengthen alliances, assist international security efforts, and support the development of healthy democracies. In Kenya, it has become increasingly difficult, due to high levels of corruption and an increasingly unstable government. This issue is an interesting one for legislators since opinions are not clearly divided along party lines. Ideological splits are most notable amongst conservatives, some of whom advocate for less involvement in African affairs and others of whom are in strong support of African aid, especially as security threats become more apparent in countries like Kenya and Somalia. The President has adopted a liberal approach to this, strongly supporting high levels of aid to Kenya. In light of these different perspectives, legislators may be considering bills to fund more public works projects, direct a larger portion of funding to Kenyan NGOs, or institute a more formal system of conditional aid. House Foreign Affairs - U.S. Intervention Abroad U.S. intervention abroad is constantly under internal and external scrutiny. This issue, more than many others, is something that the general public place in the hands of the President, though Congress passes much of the important and binding legislation on the topic. In particular, Congress has the ability to pass legislation limiting the foreign policy powers that the President holds, such as deploying troops through his authority as Commander-in-Chief. While wanting to keep the President accountable for his/her actions in foreign policy, Congress also does not want to completely restrict the authority of the President, especially in a post-9/11 world in which many of our enemies are not formal states against whom Congress can ratify declarations of war. On this topic, as with many that deal with national security, differing opinions are not restricted to a Republican-Democratic debate. While some conservatives believe that the instances of U.S. military intervention abroad have been imprudent overreaches by the government, other conservatives see these actions as tantamount to ensuring national security. Democrats have been accused of being soft on these issues, because they usually carry the banner of human rights and are large advocates of diplomacy over shows of strength. The President has had a mixed record in this arena, but like most presidents, is generally not in favor of any legislation that limits his ability to act unilaterally as Commander-in-Chief. House Intelligence - Military Use of Drones More so that other uses of military force, drones are particularly controversial because they are operated from afar and therefore have an inherent uncertainty associated with them in terms of identification of targets. Since 9/11, when President Bush authorized the first drone strikes, critics have condemned the new ability of the U.S. to engage in extrajudicial killing (killing targets, who are enemy combatants, without judicial process). From Congress, the President has faced rather limited attempts to restrain his authority in ordering drone strikes, but in public there has been much debate about the ethical issues surrounding the use of drones. SAN FRANCISCO 2015 BRIEFING SUMMARIES 3

4 Unlike some other issues, certain Democrats and Republicans are able to find common ground, especially in the area of privacy. Both libertarian Republicans and most liberal Democrats see the increased use of drone strikes as an overreach of government and a threat to the rights of American citizens. Meanwhile, some Republicans and Democrats also support the view that drones are a military technology that saves the lives of American soldiers. The President has utilized drone strikes and is against most Congressional limitation on his ability to use discretion in matters of national security and war. Legislative initiatives might include increasing transparency about the drone program, which is largely secretive due to national security concerns, limiting the acceptable uses of drone strikes, or transferring control of the Program from the CIA to the Department of Defense. House Intelligence - NSA and Domestic Surveillance Two events have dramatically altered how we view the NSA and domestic surveillance: the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Edward Snowden information leaks. The 9/11 attacks led to the authorization of broad intelligence efforts that included more domestic surveillance than ever before in the name of national security. 12 years later, the Edward Snowden leaks, which exposed the NSA program that included the aggregation of immense amounts of personal data from American citizens raised outcries about protecting privacy. Opinions on this issue by Congresspersons across the political spectrum are very similar to those on the military use of drones and other national security issues. Briefly, members of both parties are split between priorities on Constitutional rights to privacy and national security. The President has defended the NSA programs and views national security as a paramount concern. Legislative initiatives might include ending mass surveillance programs, restricting the types of information that the NSA can collect, or reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). House SST - The Future of Vehicular Regulation Throughout history, Congress has had to keep up with innovations in the vehicular industry in order to ensure the safety of American citizens. Recently, their main concerns have regarded environmental impact and responding to technologies that make vehicles more and more autonomous. Two examples of these concerns are the spread of electric cars and self-driving cars, both of which require Congressional attention if the government chooses to encourage or discourage their use. While conservatives are in no way against the safety of American citizens, they usually do not support further regulation of industry, which would disrupt the market. Especially in the case of environmental impact, Congressional Republicans do do not view regulation as a viable option to curb what some believe is an issue that is blown out of proportion (climate change due to greenhouse gases). Congressional Democrats are much more open to increasing oversight over the transportation industry and are much more outspoken in their advocacy for environmental issues. Autonomous vehicles, however, divide some Congressional Democrats. The President s view largely agrees with Congressional Democrats, though he has not commented specifically on the issue of autonomous vehicles. SAN FRANCISCO 2015 BRIEFING SUMMARIES 4

5 House SST - The Robotics Age The expansion of technology continues to present questions for our society in terms of how much we regulate the machines that we have created. These technologies range from robots that can perform mundane human tasks like imitating speech to advanced machines like drones that can be used for a variety of personal, commercial, and military operations. Three notable recent developments are the expansion of artificial intelligence with machines like Watson (who beat reigning champion Ken Jennings on Jeopardy!), plans by companies like Amazon to use drones to deliver goods, and the increased military use of drones. Since robotics is a relatively new field, especially in its current iteration, it is hard to say decisively where most lawmakers stand on issues involving robotics. Things lawmakers in both parties take into consideration are maintaining the privacy and safety of American citizens but also do not wish to stifle the innovation to which the U.S. has owed much of its progress. The President has come out in support of robotics as a form of innovation. SAN FRANCISCO 2015 BRIEFING SUMMARIES 5

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