August 9th, 2013
08:36 PM ET

Documents shed light on U.S. surveillance programs

By Evan Perez

The Obama administration released two documents on Friday describing the scope of National Security Agency data collection programs, a bid to quiet criticism they violate privacy rights.

An NSA memorandum describes the beginnings of the agency's collection of so-called telephone metadata of nearly every American under a provision of the Patriot Act, and the agency's monitoring of foreign Internet traffic.

The agency says in the memo that its systems monitor 1.6% of the world's Internet traffic, and its analysts review .00004% of global traffic.

Published accounts drawn from leaked documents provided by admitted NSA leaker Edward Snowden have portrayed a much broader eavesdropping system under section 702 of the Patriot Act.

Another document from the Justice Department describes the legal basis for collecting the telephone metadata, such as the numbers dialed, the length and time of the calls. The government says the NSA phone data collection operated under court supervision, and that the database is only accessed for specific searches in counterterrorism investigations.

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Filed under: Edward Snowden • NSA • PRISM
August 9th, 2013
08:23 PM ET

Obama says 'pause' needed to assess Russian relations

By Jill Dougherty

Two days after calling off a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow, President Barack Obama said Friday he is re-evaluating the entire U.S./Russia relationship.

Obama, speaking at a White House news conference, seemed ready for a more rocky relationship with the Kremlin.

"It is probably appropriate for us to take a pause, reassess where it is that Russia's going, what our core interests are, and calibrate the relationship so that we're doing things that are good for the United States and hopefully good for Russia as well, but recognizing that there are just going to be some differences and we're not going to be able to completely disguise them, and that's ok."

Obama told reporters his decision not to participate in the Moscow summit next month went beyond Russia's decision to give temporary asylum to admitted National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

"It had to do with the fact that, frankly, on a whole range of issues where we think we can make some progress Russia has not moved," he said. "And so, we don't consider that strictly punitive."

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Details emerge about talk between al Qaeda leaders
Nasir al Wuhayshi, the Yemeni leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
August 9th, 2013
06:28 PM ET

Details emerge about talk between al Qaeda leaders

By Barbara Starr

New details are emerging about some of the communication between al Qaeda leaders that prompted so much concern among U.S. officials about an imminent terror threat they decided to close nearly two dozen embassies in the Middle East and Africa.

CNN has previously reported U.S. officials intercepted a message between al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and a top ally in Yemen, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, with al-Zawahiri telling al-Wuhayshi to "do something" - an inference to a terror plot.

Now, two U.S. officials tell CNN that in his communication with al-Zawahiri, al-Wuhayshi, who is the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), laid out a plan for a plot; then, al-Zawahiri acknowledged the communication. Al-Wuhayshi, the officials said, was not asking for permission from al- Zawahiri - but rather informing him of his plans.

This scenario - that al-Wuhayski presented al-Zawahiri with a plan - was first reported Friday in the Wall Street Journal.

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No summit, but U.S. and Russian officials meet
August 9th, 2013
12:42 PM ET

No summit, but U.S. and Russian officials meet

By Jill Dougherty

Opening a meeting with top Russian officials, Secretary of State John Kerry referred to himself and to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as "old hockey players" who both know "that diplomacy, like hockey, can sometimes result in the occasional collision."

But he said at the State Department that Russia and the United States are "candid" about issues on which they agree and disagree and he is looking forward to a "very honest and robust discussion" on all issues in the U.S.- Russian relationship.

The meeting, which also includes Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, occurred two days after President Barack Obama canceled a planned summit next month with Russian President Vladimir Putin following Moscow's decision to grant admitted NSA leaker Edward Snowden temporary asylum.
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