June 17, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Current and former top U.S. officials yesterday defended the government's collection of phone and Internet data following new revelations about the secret surveillance programs, saying the operations were essential in disrupting terrorist plots and did not infringe on Americans' civil liberties. In interviews on Sunday talk shows, guests ranging from White House chief of staff Denis McDonough to former Vice President Dick Cheney and former CIA and National Security Agency head Michael Hayden said the government's reliance on data collection from both Americans and foreign nationals was constitutional and carefully overseen by executive, legislative and court authorities.
June 12, 2013 |
NEW YORK - The U.S. government monitors threats to national security with the help of nearly 500,000 people like Edward Snowden - employees of private firms who have access to the government's most sensitive secrets. When Snowden, an employee of one of those firms, Booz Allen Hamilton, revealed details of two National Security Agency surveillance programs, he spotlighted the risks of making so many employees of private contractors a key part of the U.S. intelligence apparatus. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, called Snowden's leak "gut wrenching.
June 11, 2013 |
In politics, we often skip the simple questions. This is why inquiries about the fundamentals can catch everyone short. The independent-minded scholar Michael Lind posed one such question last week about libertarianism. I'll get to it in a moment. It's important because many in the new generation of conservative politicians declare libertarianism as their core political philosophy. Libertarians have the virtue, in principle at least, of a very clear creed: They believe in the smallest government possible, or what the philosopher Robert Nozick called the "night-watchman state.
June 8, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - President Obama on Friday defended the government's collection of data on the phone records of millions of Americans, saying that it was a modest encroachment on privacy and one he thinks is both lawful and justified in order to identify terrorists plotting to attack the United States. Obama emphasized that the government does not collect information on individual callers or eavesdrop on Americans' conversations without a warrant. He said he would welcome a debate on the classified surveillance effort as well as the previously secret workings of a second program that gathers the e-mails and other digital content of targeted foreigners outside the United States from major American Internet companies.
June 1, 2013 |
New Jersey Assemblyman Chris Brown says he made a "human error" when he posted a campaign event on the Internet using government letterhead and providing the phone numbers of staff at the taxpayer-funded Assembly Republican Office. Election laws prohibit the use of official staff and stationery for campaigning. The letterhead included the state seal and official websites. The posting appeared Tuesday on Brown's LinkedIn page. In an interview late Wednesday, he said he deleted it "about 45 minutes later" when someone contacted him about the mistake.
May 27, 2013
By Seth Grossman Gov. Christie is not yet running for reelection against state Sen. Barbara Buono (D., Middlesex). He is not officially the Republican party nominee until he defeats his GOP opponent in the June 4 primary election. That opponent is me. With such a small percentage of voters taking part in primary elections, one vote carries more weight than in November general elections. That's why primary challenges terrify the insiders who dominate the Democratic and Republican parties with big campaign contributions.
May 24, 2013
THERE ARE already too many countries in the world where the idea of a free press is a lie, or a joke - where journalists face repression if they challenge the powers that be. This week, we learned that the list of these countries might grow even longer: The United States is threatening to sign up. On Monday, The Washington Post published a story about the Obama administration's ongoing crackdown on leakers. This administration has been very hostile to government officials who leak information, having prosecuted more leakers under the Espionage Act of 1917 than any other presidential administration.
May 21, 2013 |
Councilman William Greenlee hopes not to get burnt Thursday when his indoor-tanning bill comes up for a vote. Citing what he called "a preponderance of evidence" that indoor tanning greatly raises one's risk of developing skin cancer, Greenlee has introduced a bill that would restrict minors from using indoor-tanning facilities in Philadelphia without parental permission. The measure would also prohibit those younger than 14 from using commercial tanning beds and other ultraviolet-emitting equipment without a doctor's permission.
May 21, 2013
By Melissa Chea-Annan Chilling remarks about press freedom in Liberia have led to a standoff between the government and the media. At a ceremony on May 3 marking World Press Freedom Day, Othello Daniel Warrick, the chief security aide to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, referred to journalists as "terrorists. " The threatening remarks by Warrick, the head of Liberia's presidential guard, the Executive Protection Service (EPS), also included a vow to arrest journalists if they continue to report negative stories on the president and her administration.
May 20, 2013 |
It must get confusing in the IT department at the Associated Press: Are you talking about the hackers who hacked our Twitter account or the Justice Department hackers who hacked our phones? Monday, the Associated Press reported that the Justice Department had secretly obtained two months of records of phone conversations by its reporters. Meanwhile, the Washington Post revealed that the IRS's targeting of conservative groups was more widespread than first reported. Someone at the IRS also leaked information about conservative groups to ProPublica.