Shorter Question Everything
• CNET Reporter Posts Wildly Inaccurate Yet Totally Viral ‘Bombshell’ About NSA Eavesdropping. As I read the article, the headline became less and less accurate — a trend we’ve witnessed several times recently. In fact, McCullagh’s reporting almost entirely disintegrated under just cursory scrutiny… but not before it went viral. Nadler appeared to be confused between the notion of “listening” to calls and acquiring “information” from a phone, which are two very different things with varying layers of oversight. But the details and word usages were vague and scrambled and the meaning was lost. Somehow, though, McCullagh took a super-colossal leap from this perplexing back-and-forth to the bombshell conclusion that the NSA admitted to listening to phone calls at any time without a warrant. The “admits” language in the headline obviously led readers to believe that the NSA perhaps issued a statement or offered testimony confirming claims made by Edward Snowden to Glenn Greenwald. However, the NSA admitted no such thing, and there was nothing from the NSA in McCullagh’s article confirming such an admission. Nadler didn’t even say the acronym “NSA” during the exchange. Upon further investigation, it turns out McCullagh is a vocal Ron Paul supporter, which is fine, but exposes perhaps why his article is loaded with so much anti-surveillance confirmation bias.
• The president argued that oversight through the federal court system and Congress safeguards Americans against any abuses of privacy, even referring to the National Security Agency programs as “transparent.” “You’ve got a federal court with independent federal judges overseeing the entire program, and you’ve got Congress overseeing the program—not just the intelligence committee and not just the judiciary committee,” he said. Obama continued, “there has been a lot of misinformation out there.” He acknowledged the public’s uneasiness over the secret collection of phone and Internet data, yet maintained that some information must stay classified. “Even though we have all these systems of checks and balances, Congress is overseeing it, federal courts are overseeing it–despite all that, the public may not fully know. And that can make the public kind of nervous, right?” But he said, “What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a U.S. person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your emails … and have not. They cannot and have not, by law and by rule, and unless they–and usually it wouldn’t be ‘they,’ it’d be the FBI–go to a court, and obtain a warrant, and seek probable cause, the same way it’s always been, the same way when we were growing up and we were watching movies: you want to go set up a wiretap, you got to go to a judge, show probable cause.” Still in order to address “legitimate concerns” over the use of private citizens’ information, the president said he “asked the intelligence community to do is see how much of this we can declassify without further compromising the program.”
• Snowden: You don’t go and help the Russians if your goal is fighting for the American people, unless you have a darn good reason, and Snowden has so far given none for today’s new leaks. I just can’t accept the argument that it’s okay to leak classified information simply because the leaker thinks it’s justified, especially when he’s being set up as some kind of role model for future national security whistleblowers. You’d better have a darn good reason if you’re going to leak national security secrets, and break some major laws, while running the risk of endangering our national security. And at this point, with these new revelations, it’s no longer clear what is motivating Edward Snowden, other than animus. And that’s not good enough to justify the actions of a man who’s starting to look less and less like Daniel Ellsberg with each new revelation.
• Rep. Trent Franks’ (R-Ariz.) proposal to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy reaches the House floor. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), widely seen as a top Democratic target in 2014, said last week, “I discouraged our leadership from bringing this to a vote on the floor. Clearly the economy is on everyone’s minds, we’re seeing very stagnant job numbers, confidence in the institution of government is eroding and now we’re going to have a debate on rape and abortion. The stupidity is simply staggering.” The stupidity looked even worse when the bill advanced after Franks inexplicably and falsely claimed, “The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” It led House GOP leaders to give the bill a little touch-up: Rep. Trent Franks’s (R-Ariz.) bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks nationwide now includes an exception for rape and incest after his remarks about rape and pregnancy created an uproar. And it’s not Franks’s bill anymore — or more precisely, he won’t be managing his own bill when it goes to the House floor Tuesday. He’s being replaced with a high-profile House GOP woman.
• Facepalm: Republican cites masturbating fetuses to support new abortion restrictions. Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX) on Monday asserted that he witnessed male fetuses pleasuring themselves as early as 15-weeks after conception, RH Reality Check reported. His comments came during a House Rules committee debate on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
• Russia, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, will not permit no-fly zones to be imposed over Syria, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Monday. “I think we fundamentally will not allow this scenario,” Lukashevich told a news briefing, adding that calls for a no-fly zone showed disrespect for international law.
• Afghanistan: The Pentagon said on Monday it will spend $572 million to buy 30 Russian-built military helicopters that will be used by Afghan security forces. The Mi-17 helicopters will be used by Afghanistan’s National Security Forces Special Mission Wing, which supports counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics and special operations missions. The contract with Rosoboronexport, the Russian arms company, covers spare parts, test equipment and engineering support. The Pentagon said the work would be performed in Russia. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.
• Iran’s outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been summoned to a criminal court in Tehran to answer unspecified charges following the victory of the moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani in Friday’s presidential election. “Appear in court following the complaint lodged against you by the head of parliament’s Article 90 committee as well as Ali Larijani, the head of the parliament and Mr Yaghoub Khalilnejad,” read the summons published by the semi-official Fars news agency. The government’s website said the charges were not specified. Rouhani himself has nothing to do with the lawsuit but the timing showed Ahmadinejad’s parliamentary rivals had waited until the election was over before making their complaint public. Ahmadinejad is scheduled to hand over Iran’s presidency to Rouhani in early August, when the president-elect will be sworn in.
• Montreal awaits word on whether mayor will address charges. Mayor Michael Applebaum faces 14 charges, including fraud, amid calls to resign.
• Star seeks unsealing of warrants, arguing links to Mayor Rob Ford are in the public interest. The Star filed an application in a Scarborough court on Monday to have the warrants made public, arguing the public has a right to know what connections those warrants may reveal an ongoing crack cocaine scandal surrounding Mayor Rob Ford.
• Toronto police raids: List of names and 224 charges released in Project Traveller gang sweep. Released the names of 35 people charged in gang raid, while 10 suspects remain outstanding. The star’s sources say at some point during the year long police probe, investigators became aware of the existence of a video appearing to show the mayor smoking crack cocaine and making homophobic and racially charged statements.
• Supreme Court strikes down Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship to vote. The Supreme Court on Monday struck down an Arizona law that requires people to submit proof of citizenship when they register to vote. The vote was 7-2. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said that a 1993 federal law known as the Motor Voter Act takes precedence over the Arizona law because of its requirement that states “accept and use” the federal voter registration form. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, two members of the court’s conservative wing, dissented.
• Obama, Putin to sign new deal on reducing nuclear threat. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin said they would sign an agreement on securing and destroying nuclear material to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, replacing a 1992 deal that expired on Monday.
• NORAD Exercise Planned for National Capital Region. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and its geographical component, the Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR), will conduct exercise Falcon Virgo 13-09, between 11:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 18 and 5:30 a.m. EDT Wednesday, June 19, in the National Capital Region, Washington, D.C.. The exercise is comprised of a series of training flights held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Capital Region Coordination Center, the Joint Air Defense Operations Center (JADOC), Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard and CONR’s Eastern Air Defense Sector.
• Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley’ may need a new nickname after two fatal blasts. Not that there should be tighter oversight of the Louisiana chemical industry or anything, but there were fatal blasts at two different Louisiana chemical plants last week. Thursday’s explosion at the Williams Olefin plant killed two and injured more than 100, while Friday’s rupture (not an explosion, executives insist) at a CF Industries plant killed one and injured eight. So, what kind of safety records did these plants have leading up to last week?
• OSHA Investigating Second Chemical Plant Explosion In Louisiana. One day after a petrochemical plant exploded in Geismar, Louisiana on Thursday, killing two people and injuring 73, another chemical plant exploded in the state, killing one person and injuring seven. The CF Industries Holdings plant in Donaldsonville manufactures nitrogen, and the company is the largest producer of nitrogen in the country. This is the worst accident at the plant in 13 years.
• McCain Claims ‘Secret’ Email Accounts Fuel Distrust, Uses Secret Email Address. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) criticized the Obama administration in a letter Monday, accusing officials of undermining public distrust in government by using “secret e-mail addresses.” But McCain himself uses a secret e-mail address — as have previous Republican administration officials since the federal government began using email.
• Congressman Calls For New Birther Investigation, Questions ‘The President’s Validity’. Another Republican is accusing President Obama of secretly being a Kenyan man who forged his birth certificate in order to get elected President of the United States. This time the theorist is Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), chairman of the House Homeland Security Oversight Subcommittee. Duncan appeared on the radio program TruNews with Rick Wiles on Friday where the host asked the South Carolina congressman whether the House would go after Obama’s “phony identification papers.” Duncan initially demurred, but then agreed with Wiles that Obama could be lying about his birth certificate, calling for Congress to “revisit” the issue of “the president’s validity.”
• Joe Biden To Make Another Gun Control Push To Congress. Working to maintain gun policy reform’s place in the political conversation, Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday will urge Congress to act on the White House slate of proposals. It’s unclear whether Biden will explicitly call for a vote on expanded background checks, the centerpiece of those proposals. But a senior administration official told reporters that Biden “will make that push” when it came to arguing for the president’s policy prescriptions, which were filibustered in the Senate in April.