FROM Siobhan Gorman
US Issues Travel Alert, Citing Terror Threat The State Department has issued a world-wide travel alert and it’s closing dozens of US embassies and consulates this Sunday in the Middle East and Africa. The actions are based on what’s described as potential terrorism planned by al Qaeda and its affiliates.
Is Electronic Surveillance Out of Control? When Edward Snowden revealed that Americans' phone calls and emails were being sucked up by government computers, the President called for a "national conversation." Yesterday, a former judge told the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board he was " frankly stunned " at what's now allowed by the secret court he once served on. How did the National Security Agency get so much power? Do the courts and the Congress understand the technology, let alone provide real supervision? We hear about constitutional rights and homeland security as the "national conversation" gets under way.
FISA Court Allows Phone Records Collection Today, a new controversy may pit national security against personal privacy. The Guardian newspaper has published the order of a secret, so-called FISA court. It requires Verizon to provide the National Security Agency with records of every cell phone or land line call in its system, both international and domestic. Content will not be monitored. California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, confirmed the report. Some say it's a massive invasion of privacy. The Administration and its allies call it "critical" for national security. Is it something new or an extension of what started during the Bush years? Will the publication produce another leak investigation?
A Culture of Mediocrity Among the Army’s Top Brass On Friday, former Army General David Petraeus resigned as director of the CIA, citing his own bad judgment for an extramarital affair. California's Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was surprised that the FBI never notified her about the investigation. Petraeus resigned after the FBI told him it had uncovered his affair with Paula Broadwell, author of All In, an admiring account of Petraeus’s Army career. Former Washington Post military correspondent Thomas Ricks, author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Fiasco, a critique of the war in Iraq, has written a scathing history of top leadership in the Army since the end of World War II. The Generals attributes military failures in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to a lost culture of accountability.
Should There Be Rules of Combat for Cyber Warfare? The Pentagon is about to make public its conclusion that computer sabotage from another country can be an act of war, possibly justifying a military response. One official told the Wall Street Journal , "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks." But how could the US be sure where the attack came from, how much damage it really did or what level of military response would be "equivalent?" Is the US rattling sabers in cyberspace? Does peace in the virtual world require diplomacy, rather than threats of retaliation?
State Department Issues Travel Alert for All of Europe The State Department is warning Americans who live or travel in Europe to be on the alert. But it's not entirely clear what that means. Siobhan Gorman reports for the Wall Street Journal .
Plot Thwarted for Mumbai-Style Attacks in Europe The CIA has set a record this month with 20 drone strikes in Pakistan, reportedly to help thwart a serious terror threat against Europe. Intelligence agents are saying that the threat against European countries is the most serious in recent years, and they're trying to determine if the US is also a target. That's according to Siobhan Gorman with the Wall Street Journal .
The Secret Program the CIA Wouldn't Tell Congress Recently House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began a political firestorm by accusing the Bush-era CIA of lying to Congress about waterboarding and other activities. Then, CIA Director Leon Panetta reportedly briefed the House Intelligence Committee about a secret program he was told about after months on the job. Seven Democratic committee members then released a letter saying Panetta acknowledged that the matter had never been vetted with Congress. In today's Wall Street Journal , Siobhan Gorman reports that the initiative Panetta terminated was an effort to carry out an order from President Bush in the aftermath of September 11.
Cyberspies in the Electrical Grid Last year, the Center for Strategic and International Studies reported that the US could suffer more damage from cyber attacks than any of the other potential threats against it. Now it turns out that the nation's electrical grid has been compromised. US intelligence agents say cyber-spies have penetrated the grid, leaving behind computer programs that could disrupt the system in case of hostilities. That's according to Siobhan Gorman, intelligence reporter for the Wall Street Journal .
Will the Senate write a healthcare bill in secret? While Democrats and Republicans argue White House relations with Russia, another question is being decided behind closed doors: who gets help buying health insurance and who doesn't? We hear how the pros and cons are being shrouded in secrecy.
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?