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Feb 8, 2014

Holder adopts spousal privilege for same-sex couples at U.S. Justice Dept

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Attorney General Eric Holder plans widespread changes within the U.S. Justice Department to benefit same-sex married couples, such as recognizing a legal right for them not to testify against each other in civil and criminal cases, according to excerpts of a speech on Saturday.

The changes are designed to keep pushing for gay rights in the United States after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year said the federal government cannot refuse to recognize same-sex marriages carried out in states that allow them.

Feb 7, 2014

Former U.S. analyst pleads guilty in leak to reporter

WASHINGTON, Feb 7 (Reuters) – A former U.S. State Department
analyst pleaded guilty on Friday to sharing secret information
about North Korea with a reporter for Fox News, becoming the
latest government employee convicted in a campaign against
unapproved leaks to the media.

Stephen Kim, 46, entered the plea in U.S. District Court to
avoid a trial scheduled for April. Under an agreement with
prosecutors, he admitted to the unauthorized disclosure of U.S.
national defense information but will not face a charge that he
lied about the leak to the FBI.

Feb 7, 2014

U.S. spy court adds two judges with Democratic ties

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The secret court that authorizes U.S. spying operations such as the massive collection of telephone data is adding two judges who were put on the bench by Democratic presidents, a spokesman said on Friday, in a shift following criticism the court is one-sided.

The appointments to the 11-member U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court came without comment from Chief Justice John Roberts, who in addition to heading the U.S. Supreme Court has exclusive power to determine the makeup of the spy court.

Feb 5, 2014

JPMorgan to pay $614 million in U.S. mortgage fraud case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) settled the latest in a string of legal claims on Tuesday when it agreed to pay $614 million to the U.S. government and admitted that it defrauded federal agencies by underwriting sub-standard mortgage loans.

JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, said as part of the settlement that for more than a decade it approved thousands of insured loans that were not eligible for insurance by the Federal Housing Administration or the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to court papers.

Feb 5, 2014

JPMorgan to pay $614 million to settle mortgage fraud case: U.S

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has agreed to pay $614 million to the U.S. government to settle claims it defrauded federal agencies by underwriting sub-standard mortgage loans, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday.

JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, is admitting in the settlement that for more than a decade it approved thousands of loans that were not eligible for insurance by the Federal Housing Administration or the Department of Veterans Affairs, the department said in a statement.

Jan 30, 2014

U.S. to seek death penalty for accused Boston Marathon bomber

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be put to death if he is found guilty of planting bombs that killed three people and wounded 264 at the Boston Marathon last year, the U.S. government’s chief prosecutor said on Thursday.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that he was authorizing trial prosecutors to seek the death penalty against Tsarnaev, who is charged with committing one of the largest attacks on U.S. soil since the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Jan 30, 2014

U.S. to launch clemency effort for low-level drug offenders

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department plans to launch an effort on Thursday to identify non-violent prison inmates convicted of low-level drug charges who would be good candidates for clemency from President Barack Obama.

The department’s No. 2 official, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, plans to lay out details at a legal conference in New York, according to excerpts of his speech released prior to delivery.

Jan 29, 2014

Analysis: Obama avoids executive actions that could prompt lawsuits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Despite anticipation that President Barack Obama would seize on his authority to act without U.S. congressional approval, his State of the Union speech appeared to mention only a handful of executive actions that could face legal challenges.

In his Tuesday night speech, Obama stayed away from the kind of bold, detailed proposals that some lawmakers and media pundits said beforehand would shake up his relationship with Congress, legal experts said afterward.

Jan 28, 2014

U.S. frees tech companies to give more spying data

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. technology companies may give the public and their customers more detail about the court orders they receive related to surveillance under an agreement they reached on Monday with the Obama administration.

Companies such as Google Inc and Microsoft Corp have been prohibited from disclosing even an approximate number of orders they received from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. They could give only an aggregate number of U.S. demands that combined surveillance court orders, letters from the FBI, subpoenas in run-of-the-mill criminal cases and other requests.

Jan 27, 2014

U.S., tech companies reach deal on spying data

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration and major U.S. technology companies have struck a deal that would allow the companies to tell the public in greater detail about the spying-related court orders they receive, the Justice Department said on Monday.

The agreement, filed in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, would settle demands from companies such as Google Inc and Microsoft Corp for more leeway to disclose data about the court orders, according to documents released by the department.