That’s not an editorial position. There really are people saying the Obama administration should declassify more information about the intelligence community’s phone and Internet dragnets. Among them was the head of the NSA today. “We’re trying to be transparent here,” he said, teasing a classified briefing for senators tomorrow and more public information in the future.
And it works really well with the history of June 12th:
”Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!” - Ronald Reagan on June 12, 1987… Regardless of your politics, that one will give you goose bumps - http://abcn.ws/11zYjrg
BarackObama will go for a redo at the Brandenburg gate next week. Think he’ll brush up by watching the archived Peter Jennings / Sam Donaldson report? – http://abcn.ws/18xcxlf
Cool idea from NPR with their @todayin1963 Twitter feed.
Lots of landmark moments from the Civil Rights Movement are turning 50. Today it was the killing of Medgar Evers. http://abcn.ws/19rEgmR
Yesterday it was George Wallace trying to block the doors at the University of Alabama. http://abcn.ws/117o1XR
NSA Head ‘Trying to Be Transparent;’ Says ‘Dozens’ of Attacks Thwarted by Dragnet - Today in 2013 NSA Director Army Gen. Keith Alexander testify on Capitol Hill about the country’s intel dragnets – phone records and Internet.
Alexander, while he wasn’t exactly pushed hard, didn’t once tell the lawmakers he couldn’t say something because it was classified (a command performance in dealing with senate questioners).
He said, unequivocally and despite the leaked slides, that agents and contractors cannot get access to everyday Americans’ data. Snowden’s claims are “false,” according to the spy chief.
There were a few tense moments. Sen. Patrick Leahy, the curmudgeonly Vermonter, had a thing or two to say about transparency, which led Alexander, the head of the super secret spy agency whose program is only public because it was leaked, to utter these completely audacious words:
“I want the American people to know that we’re trying to be transparent here.”
Place that against this soundbyte from Sen. Tom Udall:
“It’s very, very difficult, I think, to have a transparent debate about secret programs approved by a secret court issuing secret court orders based on secret interpretations of the law.”
Alexander talked about the need for making people understand and for an informed debate. But he also stoked a little fear.
“Great harm has already been done by opening this up. And the consequence, I believe, is our security is jeopardized. There is no doubt in my mind that we will lose capabilities as a result of this and that not only the United States but those allies that we have helped will no longer be as safe as they were two weeks ago.”
His point, over and over, seemed to be that the government collects information, but it doesn’t actually access any of it without a court order. He implied with some detail that this kind of data could have prevented 9/11.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, however, held up his Verizon cell phone and demanded to know the legal justification for the NSA having HIS phone records. Dick Durbin wondered about the 312 area code. Mike Johanns wondered about all of Nebraska.
More on Alexander’s testimony – http://abcn.ws/10csmdy
More on the rest of the story, including the latest on the pole dancing girlfriend, the Hong Kong lam, Snowden’s claims about the U.S. hacking China and all that stuff is here – http://abcn.ws/19560eh
Obama Stumps for ‘Principled’ Ed Markey in Massachusetts Senate Run- Cue the familiar music, the chanting crowd and the “Yes, We Can” campaign slogan. No, you’re not having flashbacks. Seven months after winning re-election, President Obama is back on the campaign trail today. This time, he’s lending his political prowess to stump for Senate hopeful Rep. Ed Markey. http://abcn.ws/18y8DZo (Mary Bruce)
Massachusetts GOP Candidate Slams ‘Moron’ Lawmaker’s Rape Comment- Gabriel Gomez, the Republican candidate for the open Massachusetts Senate seat, has harsh words for “moron” Republican Rep. Trent Franks, who said today that the rate of pregnancies resulting from rape is “very low.” “I think that he’s a moron and he proves that stupid has no specific political affiliation,” Gomez told ABC News of his fellow Republican. http://abcn.ws/1bwDYrC (Abby Phillip)
Cornyn Places Triggers to the Head of the Immigration Bill - How secure is secure? And the one amendment that could threaten the compromise – http://abcn.ws/14XKhAX
Leahy Tries (Again) to Include Same-Sex Couples in Immigration Bill – http://abcn.ws/13XIGMu
Activist Who Secretly Recorded Mitch McConnell Still in Limbo- It has been nearly two weeks since a liberal activist and freelance journalist named Curtis Morrison publicly admitted to secretly recording Sen. Mitch McConnell earlier this year. But federal authorities have yet to say whether he is being prosecuted. http://abcn.ws/13YessJ (Jack Date, Michael Falcone, Jonathan Karl)
APNewsBreak: FEMA Denies Aid to Texas for Blast- The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide additional money to help rebuild the small Texas town where a deadly fertilizer plant explosion leveled numerous homes and a school, and killed 15 people. http://abcn.ws/10cymDb (Ramit Plushnick-Masti)
Hagel Opposes Gilibrand’s Bill on Sex Assaults in Military- Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand’s legislation that would remove sexual assault cases in the military from the chain of command and turn them over to independent military prosecutors appears on the ropes. Her bill was opposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff during a hearing last week and has also drawn opposition by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel who favors keeping the chain of command involved. http://abcn.ws/1736F2Q (Luis Martinez)
Rep. Trent Franks Claims ‘Very Low’ Pregnancy Rate From Rape: In comments likely to stir controversy, Rep. Trent Franks, who has authored a measure banning all abortions after 20 weeks without exception, said the rate of pregnancies resulting from rape is “very low.” “The incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,” Franks, R-Ariz., said during a Judiciary committee markup of his legislation today as he expressed his opposition to a Democratic amendment to allow exceptions for rape and incest. http://abcn.ws/1bwlxmI (John Parkinson)
Boehner Calls Immigration Overhaul ‘Important Project’: House Speaker John Boehner today once again expressed support to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, but maintained that the House will consider its own ideas rather than accept outright the Senate’s final product on which the upper chamber began working this week. http://abcn.ws/13CiwzV (John Parkinson)