Mark's Feed
Apr 9, 2014

U.S. may test influence at U.N. by denying visa to Iran envoy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States may soon deny a visa to Iran’s proposed U.N. ambassador, two U.S. officials said on Wednesday, a rare and potentially precedent-setting step that would test U.S. influence over the world body.

The U.S. government objects to Hamid Abutalebi entering the United States because of his suspected participation in a Muslim student group that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days starting in 1979, when the group seized control of the U.S. embassy in the Iranian capital Tehran.

Apr 4, 2014

U.S. finalizing plan to boost support for Syrian rebels: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government is finalizing a plan to increase training and small-arms shipments for Syrian rebels, two U.S. security sources said on Friday, as Syrian government troops gain momentum following the collapse of U.S.-backed peace talks.

The United States would increase assistance and send the shipments to moderate rebel factions mostly based in Jordan, along Syria’s southern border, the officials familiar with the plan told Reuters.

Apr 3, 2014

Obama’s NSA overhaul may require phone carriers to store more data

WASHINGTON, April 3 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s
plan for overhauling the National Security Agency’s phone
surveillance program could force carriers to collect and store
customer data that they are not now legally obliged to keep,
according to U.S. officials.

One complication arises from the popularity of flat-rate or
unlimited calling plans, which are used by the vast majority of
Americans.

Apr 2, 2014

Lawmakers call for declassifying CIA report, cite torture

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee came out on Wednesday in favor of declassifying parts of a report on the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation” methods, saying they had concluded some detainees “were subjected to techniques that constituted torture.”

The announcement by Maine Senators Susan Collins, a Republican, and Angus King, an Independent aligned with the Democrats, was an important boost for the declassification push a day before the panel is expected to vote on the issue.

Apr 1, 2014

Proposed release of Israeli spy raises ire of U.S. spies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. proposal to consider freeing a jailed Israeli spy caught many American intelligence officials off-guard and will face stiff opposition if the Obama administration decides to go ahead with it in a bid to salvage Middle East peace talks, officials said.

Negotiations over the fate of Jonathan Pollard, a former naval intelligence analyst serving a life sentence for espionage, have stoked deep concern in the ranks of U.S. spy services already reeling from leaks orchestrated by former national security contractor Edward Snowden.

Mar 28, 2014

Russia’s buildup near Ukraine may reach 40,000 troops: U.S. sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia’s reinforcement of troops near Ukraine has brought the total forces there to as many as 40,000, U.S. officials estimated on Friday, as the United States voiced anxiety over the buildup and called on Moscow to pull back its military.

The U.S. estimates of as many as 35,000 to around 40,000 troops are higher than the more than 30,000 total deployments reported earlier this week by U.S. and European sources familiar with official reporting.

Mar 27, 2014

White House unveils plan to end NSA’s bulk collection of phone data

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration on Thursday announced details of its plan to end the government’s vast bulk collection of data about phone calls made in the United States, including new procedures to get judicial approval before asking companies for such records.

Under the plan, phone companies would have to provide data from their records quickly and in a usable format when requested by the government, a senior administration official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Mar 26, 2014

Western governments see continuing Russian buildup on Ukraine border

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. and European security agencies estimate Russia has deployed military and militia units totaling more than 30,000 people along its border with eastern Ukraine, according to U.S. and European sources familiar with official reporting.

The current estimates represent what officials on both sides of the Atlantic describe as a continuing influx of Russian forces along the Ukraine frontier, the sources said.

Mar 25, 2014

NSA ‘metadata’ reform plans seek to defuse potential opposition

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Proposals by the White House and a congressional committee to reform the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ telephone “metadata” are being crafted with an eye toward defusing potential opposition from telephone companies and privacy advocates, sources familiar with the plans said.

Lawmakers are considering giving government compensation to phone companies for expenses incurred when the intelligence agency asks for searches of phone records, as well as offering the firms greater protection against lawsuits challenging their compliance with those requests.

Mar 22, 2014

CIA chief vows fast review of declassifying interrogation report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the CIA on Friday promised a quick review of whether a Senate report on the agency’s use of “enhanced interrogation” methods on foreign terrorism suspects can be released on an unclassified basis, apparently moving to reduce tensions with the CIA’s congressional overseers.

CIA Director John Brennan’s statement, contained in a message distributed to CIA employees, comes amid a fierce dispute over whether members of the spy agency secretly monitored a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation of the detention and interrogation policies used under former Republican President George W. Bush.