WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Thursday faced growing calls at home and abroad for forceful action against the Syrian government over accusations that it carried out a massive deadly chemical weapons attack.
While the White House said it was “appalled” by reports of hundreds of people gassed near Damascus on Wednesday, it made clear that any U.S. response must await confirmation of the attack and again demanded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad give U.N. inspectors immediate access to the sites of the alleged attacks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday adopted a harder line toward Egypt’s military-backed government, stressing that its bloody crackdown on protesters could influence U.S. aid to Cairo but denying reports that it has suspended the assistance.
The army’s clampdown on supporters of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi over the past week, the “suspicious deaths” of 37 prisoners in custody and the detention of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie on Tuesday have worsened relations between Washington and Egypt’s new rulers.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Thursday told lawmakers he is open to changing controversial surveillance programs in order to restore public confidence and provide assurance the government is not violating citizens’ privacy, participants at the meeting said.
“We understand the American people really do need to know what’s going on now and what’s going on in the past and get the right kind of assurances that their privacy has not been breached,” said Senator Saxby Chambliss, who attended the meeting.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New revelations from former security contractor Edward Snowden that U.S. intelligence agencies have access to a vast online tracking tool came to light on Wednesday as lawmakers put the secret surveillance programs under greater scrutiny.
The Guardian, citing documents from Snowden, published National Security Agency training materials for the XKeyscore program, which the newspaper described as the NSA’s widest-reaching system that covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As Congress increasingly scrutinizes U.S. surveillance programs, the government on Wednesday released declassified documents on the mass collection of telephone data in a rare glimpse into the world of intelligence gathering.
The U.S. Director of National Intelligence released three declassified documents that authorized and explained the bulk collection of telephone data, one of the surveillance programs revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama has asked two senior Republican senators to travel to Egypt to meet with its military leaders and the opposition, as Cairo’s allies struggle with how to address the turmoil convulsing the country.
Senator John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, hope to travel to Egypt next week, Graham said on Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican senators pushed for more transparency on aid to Egypt, if not an outright end to the $1.3 billion per year in military assistance, as U.S. officials struggled on Monday with how to respond to the crisis in Cairo.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has introduced an amendment to a Senate transportation funding bill that would end military aid to Egypt under a U.S. law banning aid to countries that have experienced military coups, and redirect the money to domestic infrastructure projects.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration said on Friday it plans to repatriate two inmates to Algeria from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, resuming the transfer of detainees from the controversial prison for the first time in nearly a year.
The step is the latest by President Barack Obama’s administration to show his commitment to closing the prison, which has held dozens of prisoners – most without charge – for more than a decade.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration sidestepped a decision on cutting off most of the annual $1.55 billion of U.S. aid to Egypt by saying on Thursday it does not plan to rule on whether a military coup took place in Egypt.
The stance resolves a dilemma for the White House: whether to comply with a U.S. law that requires eliminating most aid in the event of a military coup or to find that the armed forces’ July 3 ouster of President Mohamed Mursi was not in fact a coup.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration told Congress on Thursday it does not plan to make a determination on whether a military coup occurred in Egypt, avoiding a decision that would force the cut off of most of the annual $1.55 billion in U.S. aid.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns delivered the message in separate briefings to senior members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, several lawmakers told reporters after meeting the number two U.S. diplomat.