U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: May 14, 2015

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky


1.Amtrak train entered curve at 106 mph before derailing
The Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia, killing at least seven people, was traveling at 106 mph — more than twice the speed limit — as it approached the curve where the accident occurred, the National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday. “That’s just insanity,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said. More than 200 people were injured, several of them critically. Investigators said a high-tech train-control system due to be installed this year could have prevented the crash.

Source: USA Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer

2.House votes to end phone-record surveillance program
The House voted Wednesday to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone data. The bill — the USA Freedom Act — passed 338-88. It would require U.S. intelligence agencies to get a court to find a reasonable suspicion of a link to international terrorism to get permission to access the data. The vote set up a possible showdown the Senate, where several Republican leaders want to renew the existing bulk data collection program when it expires on June 1.

Source: Reuters

3.Seventy-two die in Philippine factory fire
The death toll from a fire at a sandal factory in Manila reached 72 on Thursday. The blaze broke out on Wednesday when sparks from welding work on the Kentex Manufacturing Corporation’s front gate ignited chemicals used to make the company’s rubber flip-flops and sandals. The fire spread quickly. Some survivors jumped from the second floor. Many others were trapped inside by metal bars covering windows. There were 200 to 300 people inside when the fire started.

Source: BBC News, The New York Times

4.Senate deal revives fast-track trade bill
Senate leaders have agreed on a deal to revive a proposal to give President Obama fast-track authority as he tries to strike a trade agreement with 11 Pacific rim nations. Democrats demanding more protections for American workers blocked the bill earlier in the week. The Senate will hold votesThursday on two related bills demanded by Democrats, then move on to a vote on the measure to speed approval of foreign trade agreements. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the compromise “sensible.”

Source: Bloomberg

5.Vatican recognizes Palestinian state in legal document
The Vatican said Wednesday that it would recognize the “state of Palestine” in a new treaty. The document, which is expected to be signed soon, is believed to mark the first time the Holy See has formally recognized Palestinian statehood, although it has referred to Palestine as a state since November 2012. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to visit Pope Francis on Saturday. Israel said it was “disappointed,” and that the move would “not advance the peace process.”

Source: The New York Times

6.Fourteen, including one American, killed in Kabul attack
At least 14 people, including nine foreigners, were killed Wednesdaywhen suspected Taliban gunmen stormed a hotel in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. One of the dead reportedly was an American. Two were Indians. Kabul Police Chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said early Thursday that another five people were wounded in the attack. Fifty-four people who had been trapped inside were rescued by police and special forces after a five-hour siege. Taliban attacks have increased since the Islamist extremist group launched a spring offensive last month.

Source: Time

7.Lawyers make closing arguments ahead of Boston Marathon bombing sentencing
The defense and prosecution gave their closing arguments Wednesday in the sentencing phase of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial. A simple majority on the jury can sentence Tsarnaev to life in prison with no chance of parole. A vote for the death penalty has to be unanimous. Prosecutors say Tsarnaev deserves to die for his role in the April 2013 attack killed, which killed three people and injured more than 260. Defense lawyers say his older brother, Tamerlan, dragged him into the plot.

Source: ABC News

8.Iraq says No. 2 ISIS leader killed in coalition airstrike
The No. 2 leader of the Islamic State, Abu Alaa al-Afri, has been killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike near the town of Tal Afar in northern Iraq, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said Wednesday. The Pentagon said it could not independently confirm the report, although it said the coalition carried out airstrikes against ISIS near Tal Afar on Tuesday and Wednesday. Iraq said al-Afri and several other ISIS leaders had been meeting in a mosque, but U.S. officials denied any mosque had been targeted.

Source: CNN, The New York Times

9. Fifth person arrested in connection with deaths of two Mississippi officers
A fifth person has been arrested in connection with a weekend shooting that left two Hattiesburg, Mississippi, police officers dead. Abram Wade “Pete” Franklin was charged with obstruction of justice after being questioned by Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agents. Authorities did not immediately say what led to the charge. The other suspects remain in jail. One — Marvin Banks, 29 — faces two capital murder charges for the killings of officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate.

Source: CBS News

10.Watchdog says Secret Service were probably alcohol-impaired in March incident
Homeland Security Inspector General John Roth said in a report releasedWednesday that two senior Secret Service agents were “more likely than not” impaired by alcohol when they drove a government vehicle through a secure area where agents were investing a suspicious package at the White House in March. The men — Marc Connolly, the deputy in charge of the Presidential Protection Division, and George Ogilvie — denied being drunk. Connolly retired ahead of the report’s release. Ogilvie is on administrative leave.

Source: The Associated Press

The Week's "10 Things..."

10 things you need to know today: March 31, 2015

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Week

1.Germanwings co-pilot had been treated for suicidal tendencies
German prosecutors said Monday that Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had been treated for “suicidal tendencies” years before he crashed the airline’s Flight 9525 in the French Alps last week. Lubitz locked the plane’s captain out of the cockpit and was alone at the controls when the flight went down, killing all 150 people on board. Lubitz, 27, was treated “over a long period of time” but showed “no signs of suicidal tendencies or aggression toward others” in follow-up visits, the public prosecutor’s office in Dusseldorf, Germany, said.

Source: The New York Times

2.One killed by gunfire as stolen vehicle approaches NSA security checkpoint
Police officers shot and killed a person in a stolen Ford Escape when the occupants tried to drive through a security checkpoint outside the National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, on Monday. The two men in the car reportedly were dressed as women. The second occupant and an NSA officer were hospitalized. Investigators did not believe the incident was a terrorist attack, and are looking into whether the men were under the influence of drugs after a night of partying. Cocaine was allegedly found in the car.

Source: CNN

3.Talks heat up hours from deadline for Iran nuclear deal
Negotiators from the U.S., Iran, and five other nations made a final push to reach a deal curbing Tehran’s controversial nuclear program hours ahead of a Tuesdaydeadline. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, returning to Switzerland to rejoin the talks, said “chances are high” for an accord on preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but diplomats said any agreement would be preliminary and incomplete, leaving key issues, such as uranium enrichment and lifting sanctions, for later.

Source: Reuters, The New York Times

4.Prosecution rests at Boston Marathon bombing trial
Prosecutors rested their case Monday in the Boston Marathon bombing trial. The state’s 92nd and final witness, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry Nields, brought jurors to tears as he described the devastating and fatal injuries suffered by 8-year-old Martin Richard, the youngest of four people killed in the twin April 2013 bomb blasts. Next Tsarnaev’s lawyers will begin their defense. Seventeen of the 30 charges faced by Tsarnaev, 21, carry the death penalty.

Source: Boston Herald

5.States and cities ban official travel to Indiana over “religious freedom” law
Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy on Monday signed an executive order barring state-funded travel to Indiana, which just approved a controversial new religious freedom law criticized as anti-gay. “We are sending a message that discrimination won’t be tolerated.,” Malloy tweeted. Washington state, Seattle, and San Francisco have enacted similar bans in response to the law, which critics fear would allow people and businesses to cite religious beliefs to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Source: NBC, Fox News

6.Strike kills at least 40 at Yemeni refugee camp
An airstrike targeting Houthi rebels in north Yemen killed at least 40 people and wounded another 200 at a refugee camp on Monday. Yemen’s state news agencySaba, now controlled by Houthis, said Saudi planes had intended the bombs for a rebel camp nearby. Saudi military officials said they were trying to confirm what happened. “It could have been that the fighter jets replied to fire, and we cannot confirm that it was a refugee camp,” Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri said. A humanitarian worker said the strike hit a truck filled with Houthi fighters at the camp gate, killing nearby residents as well as fighters.

Source: Reuters

7.Arizona governor vetoes bill on keeping officers’ names secret after shootings
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) on Monday vetoed a bill that would have temporarily blocked the release of the names of police officers involved in shootings. Proponents of the legislation said it would allow a 60-day cooling-off period to prevent retaliation against officers, and protests like those that broke out after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri, last year. Critics, including many police chiefs, said the measure could have escalated tensions by fueling distrust of police.

Source: The Arizona Republic

8.Obama plans first presidential trip to Kenya
The White House announced Monday that President Obama will co-host a Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya in July, his first trip to his father’s homeland as president. It will be Obama’s “fourth trip to sub-Saharan Africa and the most of any sitting U.S. president,” note National Security Council staffers Grant Harris and Shannon Green, comparing the Kenya visit to “President Kennedy’s historic visit to Ireland in 1963.”

Source: The New York Times

9. Jay-Z relaunches Tidal, a high-def, higher priced rival to Spotify
Music mogul Jay-Z on Monday relaunched Tidal, the high-definition music streaming service he acquired this year for $56 million. Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, promised “a new direction for the music industry from both a creative and business perspective.” Tidal will charge $19.99 per month, compared to $9.99 per month for established rival Spotify, but hopes to offer users earlier access to new releases by big-name musicians.

Source: Techcrunch

10.Trevor Noah picked as Jon Stewart’s Daily Show heir
South African comedian Trevor Noah will replace Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show, Comedy Central announced Monday. Noah, 31, made his first appearance on the popular satirical news show in December, when he gave his thoughts on Ebola, Boko Haram, and police brutality in the U.S., from the perspective of a biracial South African. Stewart, 52, announced in February that he was leaving later this year after 16 years, although neither he nor Comedy Central has given a date for his last show.

Source: The Washington Post

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: February 3, 2015

Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images

The Week

1.Second snowstorm hits already snow-covered Northeast
Boston authorities postponed a victory celebration for the New England Patriots after their Super Bowl victory, moving it from Tuesday to Wednesday due to a record breaking winter storm. The second blizzard to hit the Northeast in a week dumped another foot of snow on Boston, which was blanketed with two feet of snow last week, the most snow ever to fall on the city in seven days. The storm has been linked to at least 10 deaths, and forced the cancellation of 2,900 flights in Chicago, Newark, Boston, and New York.

Source: Reuters

2.Paul and Christie criticized for vaccine remarks
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates, faced criticism from medical experts on Monday after suggesting some child vaccinations should be made voluntary. Paul said some vaccines have caused “profound mental disorders.” Christie said parents need “some measure of choice” although, with a U.S. measles outbreak surpassing 100 cases, a spokesman said Christie believes “there is no question kids should be vaccinated” for measles. CDC director Tom Frieden said not vaccinating endangers other children.

Source: Fox News, The Washington Post

3.Obama sets new rules on NSA data mining
The Obama administration on Tuesday will announce new rules about how U.S. intelligence agencies manage the data they collect. The National Security Agency and other spy agencies will have to delete private information they collect about Americans that has no intelligence value, and do the same for foreigners after five years, The New York Timesreports. Obama will also begin a regular, formal White House assessment of NSA spying on foreign leaders.

Source: The New York Times

4.Obama releases his proposed $4 trillion budget
President Obama on Monday unveiled the specifics of a $4 trillion proposed budget that would roll back blanket spending cuts, raise taxes on wealthy Americans, and extend tax benefits to the middle class. “These proposals will put more money in middle-class pockets, raise wages, and bring more high-paying jobs to America,” Obama said in a statement. The budget covers the 2016 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The blueprint is largely a symbolic statement of the president’s priorities, as Congress will make significant changes to it over the coming months.

Source: The Associated Press

5.Google reportedly is developing an Uber rival
Google invested $258 million in Uber in August 2013, and put more money in the next year, but now the internet search giant reportedly is preparing to compete with Uber by starting its own ride-hailing service, possibly linked to its driverless car project. A person close to Uber’s board said David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer and an Uber board member, informed fellow Uber board members of the possibility. Uber leaders reportedly have seen a prototype app being used by Google employees.

Source: Bloomberg

6.Cuba publishes first photos of Fidel Castro since August
Cuba on Monday released the first photos of former president Fidel Castro seen since August. With Cuba’s communist government and the Obama administration attempting to renew diplomatic relations cut off in the Cold War, rumors have surfaced that Castro, 88, was dead or near death. Last week, Cuba released a letter attributed to Castro in which he said he didn’t trust the U.S. but advocated a “peaceful resolution to conflicts.” The photos, published in the official Granma newspaper, showed Castro in a meeting with a youth leader.

Source: The Washington Post

7.Bus firebombing kills seven in Bangladesh
Attackers hit a packed bus with gasoline-bombs in Bangladesh on Tuesday, killing at least seven people and injuring 16 others. The local police chief blamed the bombing on opposition activists, but they denied responsibility. At least 53 people have died in political violence, mostly vehicle firebombings, since the opposition launched a nationwide transportation strike in early January in a bid to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to resign.

Source: The Associated Press

8.Suge Knight charged with murder
Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight was charged with murder and attempted murder on Monday for allegedly running over two men with his truck, killing one and injuring the other. His $2.2 million bail was revoked because authorities considered him a possible flight risk. Police said Knight argued with the men on the set of Straight Outta Compton, a film about the group N.W.A., and later ran them over. Knight’s lawyer said he accidentally ran over the victims while trying to get away from two men trying to attack him.

Source: Los Angeles Times

9. Charles Manson’s marriage license expires with no wedding
Eighty-year-old mass murderer Charles Manson’s marriage license is set to expire on Thursday without a wedding. Manson and his fiancee, 26-year-old Afton Elaine Burton, missed their last chance to marry over the weekend — weddings are not performed on weekdays at the California prison where Manson is incarcerated. Burton, who uses the nickname Star, intends to get another 90-day license and proceed with the wedding plan, according to a source in contact with her.

Source: The Associated Press

10.Revenge-porn site creator convicted of extortion
A California court on Monday convicted revenge-porn site founder Kevin Bollaert, 28, on identity theft and extortion charges. He faces up to 20 years in prison. Bollaert set up one website, YouGotPosted.com, where women’s former husbands and boyfriends posted nude photos of them, and he established another website, ChangeMyReputation.com, where victims could pay up to $350 to get the photos taken down. “This is essentially 21st century blackmail,” Deputy Attorney General Tawnya Austin told jurors last week.

Source: NBC 7 San Diego, The Washington Post

National Security

NSA releases decade’s worth of damaging intelligence reports in Christmas Eve document dump

Spyware (Shutterstock)
Spyware (Shutterstock

The Raw Story

At approximately 1:30 p.m. EST on Christmas Eve, the National Security Agency responded to a Freedom of Information Act request from the American Civil Liberties Union by releasing more than a decade’s worth of incriminating quarterly and annual reports, David Lerman at Bloomberg News reports.

According to the heavily redacted reports to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board, intelligence operatives routinely emailed private data on American citizens to unauthorized recipients, stored that data in unsecured computers, and retained it long after laws required it be destroyed.

“The government conducts sweeping surveillance under this authority — surveillance that increasingly puts Americans’ data in the hands of the NSA,” the ACLU’s Patrick C. Toomey told Bloomberg News in an email. “Despite that fact, this spying is conducted almost entirely in secret and without legislative or judicial oversight.”

In an executive summary, the NSA concluded that “[t]he vast majority of compliance incidents involve unintentional technical or human error. [The] NSA goes to great lengths to ensure compliance with the Constitution, laws and regulations.”

However, in one case, an NSA analyst “searched her spouse’s personal telephone directory without his knowledge to obtain names and telephone numbers for targeting.” In another, a civilian requested that intelligence be gathered on “the telephone number of his foreign-national girlfriend without an authorized purpose for approximately one month[.]”

In an August 2013 statement to Bloomberg News, the NSA claimed that “[o]ver the past decade, very rare instances of willful violations of NSA’s authorities have been found. [The] NSA takes very seriously allegations of misconduct, and cooperates fully with any investigations — responding as appropriate.”

General Michael Hayden

EX-NSA Director Hayden Compares ISIS Airstrikes To ‘Casual Sex’

Retired Air Force General Michael Hayden | AP Photo / Roger Askew/REX


Apparently General Hayden is starting to display his disdain for the POTUS more and more.  I’m not saying he’s right or wrong on this issue, just saying his comment was rather “audacious” for an ex member of the President’s cabinet.

TPM LiveWire

“The reliance on air power has all of the attraction of casual sex: It seems to offer gratification but with very little commitment,” Hayden said according to US News & World Report. “We need to be wary of a strategy that puts emphasis on air power and air power alone.”

Hayden’s comments come two days after President Barack Obama in a prime time speech vowed“a steady, relentless effort” to battle ISIS, the group that recently publicized beheading two U.S. journalists.

Hayden stressed that just using air power against ISIS might not be enough to fully defeat it.

“We need to be wary of a strategy that puts emphasis on air power and air power alone,” Hayden said. “The sooner we take the fight into Syria against [ISIS], the better of we’ll be.”

(H/t: The Hill)

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: July 6, 2014

Netherlands celebrates after advancing to the World Cup semis
Netherlands celebrates after advancing to the World Cup semis Michael Steele / Getty Images

The Week

The NSA ensnares far more bystanders than targets, Israel arrests six in connection with Palestinian boy’s death, and more.

1. Report: NSA sweeps snare bystanders far more than intended targets
Surveillance carried out by the National Security Agency led to the collection of significantly more information on “incidental” innocents than on the NSA’s intended targets, according to The Washington Post. Citing files provided by Edward Snowden that detailed collections between 2009 and 2012, the Post found that only about 10 percent of accounts culled in that time period belonged to targets; the rest belonged to people accidentally caught in the agency’s wide search nets. Further, many of the files — a large portion of which belonged to Americans — had a “startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality,” according to the Post. [The Washington PostThe Guardian]


2. Israel arrests six in Palestinian teen’s death
Israeli police have arrested six suspects in connection with the abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager whose death set off days of violent protests. Police have not identified the suspects, though the newspaper Ha’aretz said law enforcement described the suspects’ motive as “nationalistic.” Sixteen-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was abducted Wednesday outside his home in East Jerusalem in what Palestinians claimed was revenge for the abduction and murder last month of three Israeli teens. Israel killed five Palestinians and rounded up hundreds more in the search for the missing teens, further inflaming tensions between the two sides. [Associated PressHa’aretz]


3. Argentina, Netherlands advance to World Cup semis
Argentina topped Belgium 1-0 and the Netherlands outlasted Costa Rica in penalty kicks on Saturday as both teams advanced to the World Cup semifinals. Costa Rica was on paper one of the weaker teams in the entire tournament, but they made a surprising run to the final eight and nearly knocked off the powerhouse Dutch team before succumbing in the shootout. Germany and Brazil already advanced to the semis with wins on Friday. [Fox Sports]


4. Purported ISIS leader makes first public appearance in new video
A video posted online Saturday claimed to show the leader of the Sunni extremist group ISIS delivering a sermon in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. The video, which was purportedly shot Friday, is said to show Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, though so little is known about al-Baghdadi that officials could not immediately confirm it was him on the tape. The video was released through websites and promoted on social media accounts linked to the insurgent group, and the Iraqi government is analyzing it to determine its authenticity. [Associated PressCNN]


5. Petra Kvitova wins Wimbledon
Petra Kvitova routed Eugenie Bouchard in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0 on Saturday to win her second Wimbledon title. Kvitova was so dominant it took her less than an hour to finish off the match. On the men’s side, top-seeded Novak Djokovic will take on seven-time Wimbledon champ Roger Federer Sunday in the title match. [ESPNThe Washington Post]


6. California swimmer attacked by great white shark
A swimmer was bitten by a great white shark Saturday in Manhattan Beach, California, after swimming too close to the hooked killer. A fisherman had snared the seven-foot shark off a pier and was trying to reel it in when the victim, one of several distance swimmers training in the waters, swam by. The 40-year-old man suffered what a Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman called a “moderate” wound to the torso. [CNN]


7. Nigerian troops kill 53 insurgents
The Nigerian army said Saturday it had killed 53 fighters from the militant group Boko Haram. The army said the insurgents were killed after they attacked a military base in the town of Damboa. Five soldiers and one officer were also killed in the clash. [ReutersBloomberg]


8. Afghanistan nixes proposed Facebook ban
The Afghan government won’t ban Facebook after all as it sorts out the winner of last month’s contested presidential election. Supporters of the two candidates had exchanged inflammatory threats online, prompting the government to ask Facebook for help scrubbing the comments and to consider a blanket ban. “There are people on Facebook who spread hatred and cause damage to national unity,” Fayeq Wahedi, a government spokesman said, “but after talks the council decided not to ban Facebook.” [The Guardian The Telegraph]


9. Spain’s Running of the Bulls begins today
Spain’s iconic bull running festival kicks off Sunday in Pamplona. Thousands of revelers packed the main city square to mark the start of the nine-day festival, whose main event involves, as the name suggests, thousands of thrill-seekers dashing madly through the city streets ahead of rampaging bulls. [Associated Press]


10. Kanye West booed during mid-show rant in London
Rapper and self-described “God” Kanye West was booed during his set at London’s Wireless music festival this weekend. West interrupted his show to assail the media for trying to “dishumanize” him. But as he continued on his five minute tirade, audience members began to heckle him and chant “off, off, off.” [The Independent]

Edward Snowden · Glenn Greenwald

Why can’t you trust Snowden? Let me count (some of) the ways…

Edward Snowden’s Russian ID

From the onset, let me say that I know some of our TFC readers are pro Snowden and that’s perfectly fair.   This particular article happened to be “anti Snowden”.  I’ll be sure to balance it out within the week.

Sulia – Milt Shook

I just read a comment on a blog post in which a poster claims it was the $250 million investment to Glenn Greenwald’s “news” website start-up that made her think that, perhaps, Snowden was full of crap.

Really? It was that, which is completely unrelated to Snowden? Why?

I would think that what Snowden has done would certify him as full of crap. Think about it…

He lied and took a national security job under false pretenses.

He got NSA employees to give him usernames and passwords under false pretenses.

He stole thousands of documents that he had no right to.

He lied to his bosses to get time off to hightail it to China with the stolen documents.

He lied to us in his introductory video about what his job was and how much he was supposedly “giving up.”

Who knows what he’s doing with the documents he stole, other than giving them to Greenwald and reporters.

He even lied about not taking the documents to Russia. How is he determining what to release unless he’s looking at them?

Seriously. Greenwald’s a money whore; we all knew that. But that has nothing to do with why you can’t trust Snowden.

NSA Data Mining

NSA collection of phone data is lawful, federal judge rules

NSA Logo

Of course this Federal Judge is not the final arbiter of this matter but it does put a bit of a damper in Snowden’s “I was right…I’m exonerated” meme.  Thoughts?

Washington Post

A federal judge in New York ruled Friday that the massive collection of domestic telephone data brought to light by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden is lawful, rejecting a challenge to the program by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The decision conflicts with that of a U.S. District Court judge who ruled against the government early last week, finding that the NSA’s program was almost certainly unconstitutional. The divergent decisions make it more likely that the Supreme Court will make its own ruling.

In a 53-page opinion, U.S. District Judge William Pauley said Friday the legality of the program, which collects virtually all Americans’ phone records, is “ultimately a question of reasonableness,” under the Fourth Amendment and represents the U.S. government’s “counter-punch” to eliminate the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Pauley said that if the U.S. government had the phone data collection program before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it could have helped provide critical clues. He said that so-called telephone metadata might have permitted the NSA to notify the FBI that one of the terrorists was calling a Yemeni safe house from inside the United States.

“The government learned from its mistake and adapted to confront a new enemy: a terror network capable of orchestrating attacks across the world,” Pauley wrote. “It launched a number of counter-measures, including a bulk telephony metadata collection program — a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data.”

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said the government is “pleased the court found the NSA’s bulk telephony metadata collection program to be lawful.”

In a statement, the ACLU said it intended to appeal the case.

“We are extremely disappointed with this decision, which misinterprets the relevant statutes, understates the privacy implications of the government’s surveillance and misapplies a narrow and outdated precedent to read away core constitutional protections,” said Jameel Jaffer, an ACLU deputy legal director.

Pauley’s opinion comes 11 days after a federal judge in Washington ruled that the NSA’s collection of bulk telephony metadata is based on “almost-Orwellian technology.”In that opinion, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon granted a request for an injunction that blocked the collection of the phone data of conservative legal activist Larry Klayman and a co-plaintiff. Leon stayed his ruling to give the government time to appeal.

As the issue plays out in the courts, Congress is debating whether the NSA’s sweeping collection of phone data should be curtailed. A panel appointed by President Obama recommended this month the NSA should no longer store the data.

NSA · Tea Party

Tea Party ‘revolutionary’ Larry Klayman blames Obama for disastrous CNN interview

“It’s Obama’s fault!”

Sorting out the crazies indeed…

The Raw Story

Tea Partier and frequent litigant Larry Klayman said in an interview with World Net Daily on Thursday that he is considering filing a lawsuit against the news network CNN after an embarrassing interview with anchor Don Lemon and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin earlier this week.

Not only did Klayman tell WND head Jerome Corsi that Lemon should be fired for being a “well-known ultra-leftist African-American political activist who pursues a LGBT sexual agenda,” Right Wing Watch reported that the Tea Party leader said that the interview was the culmination of a plot against him by formidable forces.

“What CNN did to me yesterday was a hit piece orchestrated against me by the Obama White House with the direct involvement of the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to discredit me and to turn the public against Judge Leon’s court decision that the NSA is violating Fourth Amendment rights,” Klayman said to Corsi

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon — appointed by George W. Bush — found in favor of a suit by Klayman and fellow right-wing activist Charles Strange alleging that the National Security Agency’s metadata spying program is unconstitutional.

Toobin argued on CNN that while perhaps it’s true that the program is invasive and unconstitutional, a nuisance litigant like Klayman — who has sued, variously, President Barack Obama in a “birther” lawsuit demanding evidence of the president’s birth in Hawaii, the Minneapolis City Pages and the Phoenix Sun-Times, his ex-wife, an Ohio family court officialthe Clinton administration (18 different times) and even his own mother— was a useful tool in a targeted political ruling.

Toobin read from p. 39 of Leon’s ruling, which quoted Klayman as saying, “I think they, the NSA, are messing with me.” The judge wrote that Klayman “then went on to explain that he and his clients had received inexplicable test messages and emails, not to mention a disc, containing a spyware program.”

The legal analyst said that even the judge who granted the suit thinks that Klayman is a victim of “tin-foil hat paranoia” and a “lunatic.”

“He had some fantasy that the NSA was after him,” said Toobin. “This case is not about Larry Klayman. It’s about the metadata program that affects everybody, but the idea that Larry Klayman is the representative is simply outrageous.”

Klayman said on Thursday that all of this is an orchestrated hit on his credibility. 

“This was a Clinton thing as much as it was an Obama thing,” he said, accusing Lemon of being a “shill” for the DNC.

“Obama and the Clintons know this was a key decision, and they don’t want us to have any oxygen,” he said. “The DNC wants to cut me down to size.”

The Obama administration, he said, is carrying out “the worst violation of constitutional rights in America history.”

“The entire segment with me yesterday was structured as a hit piece, designed to bring in CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin whose job was to call me a lunatic even though he appeared not to have read Judge Leon’s decision,” he insisted, and as a result he is contemplating filing a defamation suit against the network.

Earlier this year, Klayman announced at a rally during the government shutdown that a coup was going to sweep President Barack Obama out of office on November 19. Pointing toward the White House, the former Freedom Works leader ordered Obama to “put the Koran down” and “come out with your hands up.”

Klayman’s November 19 “coup” rally, which he promised would bring millions to the capital and send Obama “back to Iran” turned out to be around 130 people carrying signs and voicing various complaints against the Obama administration, from “birthers” to anti-Islam activists like “Ground Zero Mosque” opponent Pamela Geller.


U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: December 19, 2013

The Fed's decision to start tapering sent stocks unexpectedly soaring. 
The Fed’s decision to start tapering sent stocks unexpectedly soaring. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The Week

Stocks soar as the Fed tapers its stimulus, advisers urge Obama to curb NSA spying, and more

1. Fed curbs its bond-buying stimulus program
Stocks surged around the world early Thursday after the Federal Reserve announced it was tapering its effort to stimulate the economy by purchasing bonds. The Fed will cut back by $10 billion at the beginning of 2014, but will still pump $75 billion into the economy in January, before gradually ending its purchases by year’s end. The Fed also announced it was strengthening its plans to keep short-term interest rates near zero. The moves signal that the job market is making solid gains but still needs some help. U.S. stock futures fell back after hitting records on Wednesday. [Wall Street JournalLos Angeles Times]

2. Advisers recommend limiting NSA spying
A panel of advisers on Wednesday urged President Obama to limit the National Security Agency’s surveillance powers. The panel, echoing a recent court ruling, said that the NSA should not be allowed to collect phone logs in the hunt for terrorists. Instead, the advisers said, the information should be left in the hands of telecommunications companies to protect privacy, and intelligence agencies should be required to get a court order before doing any data mining. [New York Times]

3. Senate sends Obama a budget deal
The Senate passed the bipartisan, two-year budget deal on Wednesday, sending it to President Obama for his signature. The agreement amounts to a pledge by Republicans and Democrats to avoid a government shutdown when a temporary spending measure expires Jan. 15. It says nothing about what will happen the next time the government reaches the debt limit, so there could be another budget clash when that happens, in late February or early March. [Washington Post]

4. Foreigners evacuating South Sudan as rebels seize a town
The U.K. and U.S. sent planes Thursday evacuate British and American nationals from South Sudan as violence spread following government claims of a failed coup attempt. The British government announced its decision to get its citizens out of the oil-rich country a day after rebels seized control of a town in the country’s north from the South Sudanese Army. [BBC NewsNew York Times]

5. Potential security breach reported at Target stores
The Secret Service is investigating a potentially massive security breach involving the credit card information of up to 40 million Target shoppers, USA Today reported on Wednesday. The problem appears to have started around Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Krebs on Security says information may have been stolen from the magnetic stripe on the backs of cards used at most of Target’s 1,800 stores around the nation. [USA Today]

6. Kerry tries to calm India’s outrage over diplomat’s arrest
Secretary of State John Kerry is reportedly meeting with India’s external affairs minister on Thursday to soothe tensions over the arrest of India’s deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade. Prosecutors say Khobragade lied in an application for a visa for her housekeeper, dramatically inflating what she pays the woman. Indian officials say Khobragade was subjected to a “barbaric” strip search and are demanding an apology. [CNN]

7. Congress reaches deal to send some Guantanamo prisoners home
Members of Congress have reached a tentative deal that could allow the transfer of about half of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay to their home countries. The compromise, part of a broad defense bill, still has to pass the Senate. A vote is expected later this week. If it clears that hurdle, the deal would mark a rare victory for President Obama’s push to close the controversial prison for terror suspects. [Associated Press]

8. Obama is expected to nominate Baucus as China ambassador
President Obama reportedly plans to name outgoing Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) as the next U.S. ambassador to China. Baucus has served in the Senate since 1978, but has already said he would not run for reelection when his term ends in 2014. If he leaves early, he’ll be giving up the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee in the middle of a push to rewrite the tax code, dampening the effort’s chances in this Congress. [Politico]

9. Guantanamo nativity scenes spark a controversy
The commander at the Guantanamo Bay naval base, Capt. J.R. Nettleton, ordered the removal of Nativity scenes from two dining halls on Wednesday after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained the displays improperly promoted Christianity. The decorations will be moved to the base’s chapel. “The spirit of the Navy’s policy on this is, if it’s religious, it goes to the chapel,” Nettleton said. [Associated PressMiami Herald]

10. Duck Dynasty star suspended over anti-gay remarks
Phil Robertson has been suspended from the Duck Dynasty reality TV show over homophobic remarks he made in GQ magazine. Robertson, 67, said gay sex was “not logical,” and sinful, equating it to bestiality and sleeping around. A&E Networks said it was “extremely disappointed” over the comments, and gay-rights activists said they “fly in the face of what true Christians believe.” [New York Daily News]