By Bill Mears
The U.S. Supreme Court will allow the National Security Agency's surveillance of domestic telephone communication records to continue for now.
The justices without comment Monday rejected an appeal from a privacy rights group, which claimed a secret federal court improperly authorized the government to collect the electronic records.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed its petition directly with the high court, bypassing the usual step of going to the lower federal courts first. Such a move made it much harder for the justices to intervene at this stage, but EPIC officials argued "exceptional ramifications" demanded immediate final judicial review. There was no immediate reaction to the court's order from the public interest group, or from the Justice Department.
Published reports earlier this year indicated the NSA received secret court approval to collect vast amounts of so-called metadata from telecom giant Verizon and leading Internet companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo and Facebook. The information includes the numbers and location of nearly every phone call to and from the United States in the past five years, but not actual monitoring of the conversations themselves. To do so would require a separate, specifically targeted search warrant.
Drones with super-size cameras may be coming to a town near you in the not too distant future. But the debate over their implication for personal privacy is already heating up. Chris Lawrence reports for CNN's 'Erin Burnett Out Front.'
By Pam Benson
Unmanned vehicles, robotic aides to the elderly and surgical enhancements to make you stronger, smarter, or even give you night vision - it's all part of the world the U.S. intelligence community says could exist just 20 years from now.
In its "Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds" report released Monday, the National Intelligence Council indicated future advancements in technology have the potential to boost economic productivity and reduce scarcity in food, water and energy worldwide.
In a briefing for reporters, Christopher Kojm, the chairman of the council added, "they will continue to extend the average age and life spans of populations around the world."
The report is the fifth in a series that looks 15-20 years ahead at the critical trends and the potential game changers.
It's intended to provide policymakers a way to think about the future of the world. Kojm said the council made a "special effort" to assess one of the game changers: the impact of new technologies in shaping global economic, social and military developments.
By Elise Labott
In the middle of a foreign policy crisis, diplomacy isn't always best digested 140 characters at a time.
But the reaction so far to newly proposed State Department guidelines for staff members tweeting in their official capacity about certain subjects has been universally negative.
Under the proposed guidelines, obtained by the Diplopundit blog, there could be up to a two-day review ahead of publishing posts on social media sites.
Naturally, the issue turned into a heated debate on Twitter.
By Jennifer Rizzo
Future unmanned ships could be retrofitted with missile-firing systems following successful prototype tests, but how long before the technology can be deployed remains a question, U.S. Navy officials say.
Six long-range missiles were fired during three days of testing last month, marking the first time missiles have been fired from any unmanned ship.
The seafaring drone, called the NUWC-4, is a smaller craft developed to defend against a potential attack of ships swarming toward naval vessels, according to the Navy. Terrorists and pirates have been known to use these tactics.
The "project was developed in response to recent world events involving swarms of small attack craft, as well as threat assessments outlined in recent studies conducted by the Naval Warfare Development Command," said NAVSEA Special Warfare Program Manager Capt. Thomas D. Gajewski. "Technology demonstrated in this project can provide a capability to combat terrorists who use small low-cost vehicles as weapons platforms."
By Bill Mears
David Nevin is an American private attorney defending accused 9/11 terror mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Human Rights Watch is an international group that has monitored the U.S. government's treatment of accused terrorists held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, including Mohammed.
Journalist/activists Naomi Klein and Chris Hedges have written about the war on terror and have overseas sources as part of their jobs.
These key plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court on Monday to allow them to proceed with a lawsuit over the constitutionality of the federal government's sweeping electronic monitoring of targeted foreigners suspected of terrorism or spying. FULL POST
By Mike Mount
Who needs business class when your overseas flight will last less than an hour? Some of the first tests of such a technology happened Tuesday off the California coast as the Air Force tested its hypersonic X-51A Waverider vehicle.
At just 25 feet long and only a few inches in diameter, the Waverider is a far cry from an aircraft that can carry people anywhere. But the technology one day could send people or troops across the world in just minutes.
Hypersonic travel, meaning speeds of Mach 5 (3,800 miles per hour) and above, has been a focus of the military as it looks to perfect a technology that can become the new stealth. The Pentagon says that countries are becoming wiser to US stealth technology and it is increasingly becoming a less effective tool.
Hypersonic flight does away with stealth because its speeds allow for greater flexibility and control for missions that are not possible with current jet technology.
The website WikiLeaks has posted emails stolen from a private security company that detail a surveillance system originally intended to help counter terrorism.
According to those WikiLeaks emails, 'TrapWire' is a program that was originally intended to provide law enforcement with information about suspicious activity captured by surveillance cameras in U.S. cities in an effort to help connect the dots and prevent a terrorist attack. But as Suzanne Kelly reports, it turns out that while this system may not be all that widely used, the notion of being watched around the clock isn't such a stretch.
By Jennifer Rizzo
A new robotic arm would give U.S. troops in Afghanistan the ability to feel the improvised explosive devices they are remotely trying to disarm, potentially allowing for greater precision than ever before.
The arm, called the RedHawk, gives its operator the sense of touch by using "haptic technology.” The perceptions of force, vibrations, and motion allow the operator to feel like they are touching the object.
"RedHawk's haptic control technology reduces operator workload, preserves forensic evidence, and provides such realistic, intuitive feedback that operators can pick out an individual wire in an IED," said Bill Gattle of Harris Government Communications Systems.
The system's precision will aid the operator in dismantling an IED’s triggering mechanism without destroying it, allowing the military to lift fingerprints or other clues to who made the bomb, according to the company.
By Chris Lawrence and Jennifer Rizzo
Most people's morning routines include checking the weather for their work commute. But for U.S. Navy scientist Gregory Scott, it's all about the weather inside his office.
Scott works at the Navy's Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research, or LASR, a new facility that can create the most extreme weather environments to test the Navy's newest robots.
Today, he is working out of a simulated desert in the middle of Washington, D.C., testing a robotic arm that digs for explosive devices in the sand. Tomorrow, he could be testing a robot in the facility's steamy rain forest.
"You have to make sure you bring the right clothes for the right day," Scott said. "But otherwise, it's a pretty rewarding experience ... especially knowing we're able to create a better product for our men and women out in the field to keep them safe and support their work."
And that's precisely the point. A robot may work just fine in an air-conditioned office. But can it handle the sand, water and fire of real-life wars and rescue operations? The multimillion-dollar facility is designed to build better robots, pumping up the severity of simulated nature to see if they can handle extreme environments.