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."


First on CNN: More on NSA surveillance programs to be declassified
July 29th, 2013
08:44 PM ET

First on CNN: More on NSA surveillance programs to be declassified

By Barbara Starr

The U.S. intelligence community plans to declassify additional information about surveillance programs of the National Security Agency, possibly as soon as Tuesday, CNN has learned.

A senior U.S. official tells CNN the information includes "white papers" on surveillance programs but also previously undisclosed information about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The official declined to be identified because the information has not been made public yet and because of the sensitive nature of the information. He would not offer further details in advance of the declassification process, which could extend into later this week.

It is unclear how the additional information would be released. FULL POST

Opinion: We need transparency on domestic spying
July 23rd, 2013
09:44 AM ET

Opinion: We need transparency on domestic spying

By Al Franken, Special to CNN

Last month, when Edward Snowden began leaking highly classified documents to the press, many Americans were shocked by what they read.

I don't blame them. For years, the architecture of the programs designed to keep us safe have been a secret to all but a few members of the intelligence community and select legislators. The companies that were involved in these programs were under strict gag orders. And while members of Congress had the opportunity to be briefed on these programs, it would have been a crime, literally, for us to have talked about them publicly.

As a result, when Snowden's leaks became public, Americans had no way of knowing the scope of these programs, their privacy protections and the legal authorities they were operating under. It was just Snowden and his documents on the one side and the government on the other, saying "trust us."

Editor's note: Al Franken represents Minnesota in the U.S. Senate and is a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party.

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Filed under: Edward Snowden • Edward Snowden • NSA • Opinion • PRISM
July 19th, 2013
05:28 PM ET

Court renews secret U.S. surveillance program

By CNN Staff

A top-secret court has renewed the authority of U.S. national security officials to collect telephone data as part of a surveillance program that was exposed by intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it had decided to declassify and announce the program renewal, which occurs periodically but is never publicized.

Snowden leaked classified information about the program to media outlets last month and then fled the country. He has been charged with espionage.

His disclosure prompted outrage from civil libertarians, members of Congress and privacy groups concerned with the sweeping nature of the telephone surveillance and a companion effort that monitors e-mails.

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Filed under: Edward Snowden • NSA • ODNI
Deputy secretary of defense: 2 mistakes led to Snowden leaks
July 18th, 2013
02:37 PM ET

Deputy secretary of defense: 2 mistakes led to Snowden leaks

Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories and opinion pieces surrounding the Aspen Security Forum currently taking place in Aspen, Colorado. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the event, which is taking place from July 17 to 20 in Aspen, Colorado.

A senior-level defense official said Thursday that keeping top-secret information on one shared server and giving an individual the ability to view and move that data were two mistakes that allowed NSA leaker Edward Snowden to disclose top-secret information.

Although Ashton Carter, the deputy secretary of defense, said he didn't want to directly comment on Snowden - "because that is a criminal investigation" - he spent a portion of a panel at the Aspen Security Forum laying out the "root causes of all of this."

"This is a failure to defend our own network," Carter said. "That failure originated from two practices that we need to reverse."

The first mistake: "In an effort for those in the intelligence community to be able to share information with one another, there was an enormous amount of information concentrated in one place. ... It creates too much information in one place."

The second: "You had an individual who was given very substantial authority to access that information and move that information. That ought not to be the case, either."


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Filed under: Aspen Security Forum • Cybersecurity • Edward Snowden • NSA • Pentagon
In wake of NSA leaks, former key lawmaker says no tradeoff needed between security and liberty
July 15th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

In wake of NSA leaks, former key lawmaker says no tradeoff needed between security and liberty

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the latest in a series of stories and opinion pieces previewing the upcoming Aspen Security Forum. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the event which is taking place from July 17-20 in Aspen, Colorado.  Follow the event on Twitter under @aspeninstitute and @natlsecuritycnn #AspenSecurity.

By Elise Labott, CNN

Revelations of classified National Security Agency programs by former contractor Edward Snowden have prompted debate about the public and political oversight of U.S. intelligence and the role of a special court that reviews electronic surveillance requests.

CNN’s Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott talks to Jane Harman, a former Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, about fallout from the Snowden leaks and questions they raise about the role of intelligence collection.

Harman, now head of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, will participate in a panel about counterterrorism, national security and the rule of law at the Aspen Security Forum this week.


On the run, Snowden 'unbowed in my convictions'
July 1st, 2013
07:00 PM ET

On the run, Snowden 'unbowed in my convictions'

By Matt Smith

The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks released a statement attributed to NSA leaker Edward Snowden on Monday, blasting the Obama administration for trying to block his efforts to seek asylum in another country.

"Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me," Snowden said in the statement issued through WikiLeaks, which has been assisting his effort to find a haven from U.S. espionage charges.

He added, "I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many."

Snowden had sought asylum in Ecuador after revealing details of secret U.S. surveillance programs to reporters. He flew to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23 after the United States requested his extradition, and there were conflicting reports Monday about whether he was now seeking asylum in Russia.

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Filed under: Edward Snowden • Intelligence • NSA • WikiLeaks
June 30th, 2013
08:41 AM ET

Europe furious, 'shocked' by report of U.S. spying

By Josh Levs

European officials reacted with fury Sunday after a report that the U.S. National Security Agency spied on EU offices.

The European Union warned that if the report is accurate, it will have tremendous repercussions.

"I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations," European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in a statement. "If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-US relations. On behalf of the European Parliament, I demand full clarification and require further information speedily from the U.S. authorities with regard to these allegations."

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Filed under: Edward Snowden • EU • NSA
June 25th, 2013
11:00 PM ET

U.S. and Russia in standoff over NSA leaker

CNN's Jill Dougherty reports on the U.S.-Russian stalemate as Edward Snowden, the admitted leaker of once-secret surveillance programs, apparently remains hold up in a transit area in Moscow's airport.

June 24th, 2013
05:59 PM ET

Kerry defends NSA surveillance programs in interview with CNN

CNN's Elise Labott interviewed Secretary of State John Kerry Monday in India about U.S. efforts to find Edward Snowden after he fled Hong Kong.  She asked him whether China's failure to stop him from fleeing was payback after Snowden leaked information about U.S. surveillance activities on China.

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