Mark's Feed
Aug 23, 2013

Initial Western intelligence finds Syrian forces used chemical weapons

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. and allied intelligence agencies’ have made a preliminary assessment that chemical weapons were used by Syrian forces in an attack near Damascus this week, likely with high-level approval from the government of President Bashar al-Assad, according to American and European security sources.

The early intelligence finding could increase pressure for action by President Barack Obama, who has made clear that he plans to tread cautiously even as his aides air their differences in a debate over possible military responses to the Syrian government.

Aug 22, 2013

NSA collected 56,000 emails by Americans a year: documents

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The National Security Agency may have unintentionally collected as many as 56,000 emails of Americans per year between 2008 and 2011 in a program that a secret U.S. court subsequently said may have violated U.S. law and the Constitution, according to documents released on Wednesday.

The once-classified documents were released by U.S. intelligence agencies as part of an unprecedented White House effort to smooth the uproar following revelations by former contractor Edward Snowden about the extent of secret government surveillance programs.

Aug 20, 2013

Guardian says Britain forced it to destroy Snowden material

WASHINGTON/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – The Guardian, a major outlet for revelations based on leaks from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, says the British government threatened legal action against the newspaper unless it either destroyed the classified documents or handed them back to British authorities.

In an article posted on the British newspaper’s website on Monday, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said that a month ago, after the newspaper had published several stories based on Snowden’s material, a British official advised him: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.”

Aug 19, 2013

Britain forced Guardian to destroy copy of Snowden material

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The editor of the Guardian, a major outlet for revelations based on leaks from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, says the British government threatened legal action against the newspaper unless it either destroyed the classified documents or handed them back to British authorities.

In an article posted on the British newspaper’s website on Monday, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said that a month ago, after the newspaper had published several stories based on Snowden’s material, a British official advised him: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.”

Aug 17, 2013

Under fire, U.S. spy agency defends surveillance programs as lawful

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Under increasing pressure to justify electronic surveillance programs that at times capture communications of American citizens, the U.S. National Security Agency went to unusual lengths on Friday to insist its activities are lawful and any mistakes largely unintentional.

In a sign of how much heat it has taken since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden started disclosing details of highly classified U.S. surveillance programs, the ultra-secretive intelligence agency held a rare conference call with reporters to counter public perceptions that NSA transgressions were willful violations of rules against eavesdropping on Americans.

Aug 16, 2013

Murdoch’s UK unit could face corporate hacking charges: source

LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – London police are actively investigating Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper business for possible criminal violations over allegations of phone-hacking and illegal payments to public officials by its journalists, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Murdoch’s News Corp said it was aware of the police inquiry but gave no further details.

Aug 15, 2013

Snowden downloaded NSA secrets while working for Dell, sources say

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden began downloading documents describing the U.S. government’s electronic spying programs while he was working for Dell Inc in April 2012, almost a year earlier than previously reported, according to U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the matter.

Snowden, who was granted a year’s asylum by Russia on August 1, worked for Dell from 2009 until earlier this year, assigned as a contractor to U.S. National Security Agency facilities in the United States and Japan.

Jul 23, 2013

U.S. arming of Syria rebels could be temporary, slow: officials

By Mark Hosenball and Susan Cornwell

(Reuters) – U.S. plans to arm Syrian rebels passed one congressional hurdle but may face more when funding runs out in two months, further delaying the flow of weapons, U.S. officials and other sources said.

House and Senate intelligence panels this month agreed to a White House plan to provide arms to rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, despite lawmakers’ reservations about the its chances of success.

Jul 15, 2013

U.S. lawmakers’ doubts ease on arming Syrian rebels: official

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration has made progress in overcoming lawmakers’ objections to its plans to arm Syrian rebels, but some details remain unresolved, a U.S. official said on Monday.

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who questioned the wisdom of arming the insurgents have tentatively agreed the administration can go ahead with its plans, but asked for updates as the covert effort proceeds, a senior administration official told Reuters.

Jul 10, 2013

White House lobbies Congress to overcome Syria arms deadlock

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry are lobbying members of Congress to try to break an impasse over White House plans to send arms to Syrian rebels, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers fear the weapons will end up in the hands of Islamist militants, and will not be enough to tip the balance against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad anyway.