McCain: Send Petraeus back to Iraq
January 12th, 2014
10:58 AM ET

McCain: Send Petraeus back to Iraq

By Ashley Killough

President Barack Obama should send David Petraeus, a retired four-star general who ran the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, back to Iraq to help deal with the growing unrest in the country, Sen. John McCain said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The Arizona Republican also weighed in on a new book by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, saying he would have waited a bit longer to release the book, which offers a blistering critique of the Obama administration.

On Iraq, McCain said the country is not a lost cause and argued the United States can still offer assistance to help quell the renewed violence that’s rocked the country in the last year.

The 2008 GOP presidential nominee said he opposed sending combat troops back to Iraq, but added the U.S. can provide other kinds of aid, such as logistics support and Apache helicopters.

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Filed under: Iraq • McCain • Petraeus
NSA won't say if it is "spying" on Congress
January 4th, 2014
03:45 PM ET

NSA won't say if it is "spying" on Congress

Congress is just like everyone else. That's the message the National Security Agency has for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The independent senator from Vermont sent a letter to the agency Friday, asking whether it has or is "spying" on members of Congress and other elected American officials.

The NSA provided a preliminary response Saturday that said Congress has "the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons."

"NSA's authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of U.S. persons. Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all U.S. persons," said the agency in a statement obtained by CNN.
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NSA team spies, hacks to gather intelligence on targets, report says
National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.
December 31st, 2013
07:58 AM ET

NSA team spies, hacks to gather intelligence on targets, report says

By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd

A top-secret National Security Agency team uses spyware and hacking to gather intelligence on targets, according to a new report based on internal agency documents.

According to Der Spiegel, a German magazine that published some of the documents, the unit's interception techniques are worthy of James Bond: intercepting a computer being shipped to a target and installing spyware before it is delivered; supplying an altered monitor cable that transmits everything on a computer's screen to the NSA; or planting a USB plug with a secret radio transmitter.

The unit, called Tailored Access Operations, also uses hacking in addition to spy craft. The most basic method involves phishing, sending an e-mail that lures a target into clicking on it and unknowingly downloading NSA spyware. More sophisticated techniques include identifying exploitable computer vulnerabilities by eavesdropping on a target's error messages; tracking a target's cookies to shadow their Internet use; and even surreptitiously diverting a target's web surfing to phony replica web pages of commonly used sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Agents could use such fake sites both to see what a target is typing and to try to insert spyware on the target's computer, according to cybersecurity expert Michael Sutton at ZScaler, a California-based information technology security company.

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Filed under: NSA
NSA gets win in court over bulk data collection
December 27th, 2013
12:15 PM ET

NSA gets win in court over bulk data collection

By Evan Perez

The National Security Agency notched a much-needed win in court, after a series of setbacks over the legality and even the usefulness of its massive data collection program.

A federal judge in New York ruled Friday that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of data on nearly every phone call made in the United States is legal.

The ruling contrasts with another ruling last week by a federal judge in Washington, who called the same program "almost Orwellian" and likely unconstitutional.

In his ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge William Pauley said that while the NSA's program under Section 215 of the Patriot Act has become the center of controversy since it was revealed by leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, it is legal.

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Israel decries U.S. snooping; presses for spy's release
December 23rd, 2013
01:53 PM ET

Israel decries U.S. snooping; presses for spy's release

CNN Justice Reporter Evan Perez

Israeli officials are protesting revelations of National Security Agency snooping on their leaders, while also taking the opportunity to press for the United States to release an Israeli spy.

Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who spied for Israel in the 1980s, is serving a life sentence for espionage; Israel has acknowledged he was an intelligence asset and has pushed for years to have him released.

The NSA allegations surfaced in the New York Times last week based on a leak from former agency contractor Edward Snowden.

After a few days of silence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a political party gathering Monday that he had asked the United States to explain the reports, adding that spying among close allies is unacceptable.

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Filed under: Israel • NSA
Senator's questions about CIA program may hold up nomination
December 17th, 2013
09:11 PM ET

Senator's questions about CIA program may hold up nomination

By Evan Perez, CNN Justice Reporter

A new congressional fight is brewing over the Central Intelligence Agency's controversial use of harsh interrogations almost decade ago.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colorado, is threatening to block the nomination of President Barack Obama's choice for CIA general counsel unless the agency provides an internal report that he says bolsters findings made by a congressional investigation of the interrogation program.

The Senate Intelligence Committee produced a 6,300-page report on the program, which used methods such as waterboarding on prisoners held by the CIA in the years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
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Judge: NSA domestic phone data-mining unconstitutional
December 16th, 2013
02:44 PM ET

Judge: NSA domestic phone data-mining unconstitutional

CNN's Bill Mears and Evan Perez

A federal judge said Monday that he believes the government's once-secret collection of domestic phone records is unconstitutional, setting up likely appeals and further challenges to the data mining revealed by classified leaker Edward Snowden.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said the National Security Agency's bulk collection of metadata - phone records of the time and numbers called without any disclosure of content - apparently violates privacy rights.

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McCain: CIA did not tell Congress the truth about Levinson
December 15th, 2013
05:51 PM ET

McCain: CIA did not tell Congress the truth about Levinson

Sen. John McCain joined CNN's "State of the Union" from Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday after the Arizona Republican addressed thousands of protesters who are angry over the Ukrainian government's decision to backpedal away from an agreement with the European Union.

McCain spoke about a range of issues happening around the globe, and suggested the Central Intelligence Agency was not truthful to Congress about former FBI agent Bob Levinson, who went missing in Iran seven years ago.

Here are five noteworthy points from the interview.

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Filed under: CIA • McCain
Reports: American who went missing in Iran worked for CIA
Daniel Levinson (L) shows a picture of his father, ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson, holding his grandson Ryan during a press conference with his mother Christine at the Swiss embassy in Tehran, 22 December 2007.
December 13th, 2013
09:02 AM ET

Reports: American who went missing in Iran worked for CIA

By Susan Candiotti and Catherine E. Shoichet

A former FBI agent who went missing in Iran was working for the CIA there, not conducting private business as officials have previously claimed, The Associated Press and the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

Both the State Department and Bob Levinson's family have long denied he was working for the U.S. government when he disappeared on a trip to Iran in 2007.

But Thursday's reports from the Washington Post and the AP claim that Levinson had been on a CIA mission to dig up information.

A source who's involved in the matter told CNN that there's proof that Levinson worked for the CIA undercover and under contract while also working as a private investigator.

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Filed under: CIA • Iran • Security Brief
Tech companies seek limits on government surveillance
December 9th, 2013
07:21 AM ET

Tech companies seek limits on government surveillance

By Evan Perez

Some U.S. technology giants are asking the Obama administration and Congress to rein in government surveillance.

Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Google and Microsoft are among the companies signing an open letter arguing that surveillance has gone too far. The companies say they're improving encryption and fighting to limit surveillance requests, but they're also asking for new legal changes to limit surveillance.

This comes after recent revelations from documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. His leaks have lifted the veil on the agency's vast surveillance databases, many of which are part of programs with intelligence agencies in other countries. The aim, the NSA and other agencies say, is to prevent terrorism and protect security.
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Filed under: Edward Snowden • NSA
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