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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congressional committees are holding up a plan to send U.S. weapons to rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because of fears that such arms deliveries will not be decisive and might end up in the hands of Islamist militants, five U.S. national security sources said.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees have expressed reservations behind closed doors at the effort by President Barack Obama’s administration to support the insurgents by sending them military hardware.
BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The director of the U.S. National Security Agency on Thursday offered a more detailed breakdown of 54 schemes by militants that he said were disrupted by phone and internet surveillance, even as a British newspaper offered evidence of more extensive spying.
In a speech in Baltimore, NSA chief General Keith Alexander said the list of cases turned over recently to Congress included 42 that involved disrupted plots and 12 in which surveillance targets provided material support to terrorism.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Even as U.S. intelligence agencies and their global partners assess potential damage from Edward Snowden’s disclosures about surveillance programs, militants have begun responding by altering methods of communication, a change that could make it harder to foil attacks, U.S. officials say.
Intelligence agencies have detected that members of targeted militant organizations, including both Sunni and Shi’ite Islamist groups, have begun altering communications patterns in what was believed to be a direct response to details on eavesdropping leaked by the former U.S. spy agency contractor, two U.S. national security sources said.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. intelligence agencies are worried they do not yet know how much highly sensitive material is in the possession of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, whose whereabouts are unclear, several U.S. officials said.
The agencies fear that Snowden may have taken many more documents than officials initially estimated and that his alliance with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange increases the likelihood that they will be made public without considering the security implications, they said.