The Note’s Must-Reads for Friday, June 7, 2013

Jun 7, 2013 3:03am

The Note’s Must-Reads are a round-up of today’s political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at www.abcnews.com

Compiled by ABC News’ Carrie Halperin, Jayce Henderson, Amanda VanAllen and J.P. Lawrence

PHONE TRACKING
ABC News’ Sunlen Miller: “‘Nothing New’: Senators Dismiss Verizon Phone Record Dragnet” Obama administration officials and lawmakers in charge of overseeing American intelligence efforts reacted defensively to reports of a secret federal court order that granted the U.S. government a warrant to compile information about every phone call conducted on Verizon’s network. The top Republican on the House intelligence committee said the records had “thwarted” a domestic terror plot in recent years. White House spokesman Josh Earnest called the program, which could extend beyond Verizon to just about every phone call made in the United States, a “critical tool” for protecting the country. LINK

The Los Angeles Times’ Ken Dilanian and David Lauter: “Government is tracking all U.S. phone calls” he federal government has amassed a database for at least seven years containing details on virtually every telephone call made within the United States or between this country and telephones abroad, officials said Thursday, providing the first glimpse of a vast secret domestic surveillance operation. LINK

The Hill’s Jeremy Herb: “Report: NSA, FBI mining data from 9 US Internet companies” The National Security Agency and FBI are mining data from the servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies under a classified program, The Washington Post reports. The classified program allows the government agencies to extract audio, video, photographs, emails and documents to track individuals, according to the Post report. LINK 

The Boston Globe’s  Matt Viser and Noah Bierman: “Debate rages over monitoring of phone records” The disclosure of a top-secret order allowing the Obama administration to obtain phone records of millions of Americans reignited a national debate on Thursday about whether the White House is violating civil liberties, with Massachusetts lawmakers among the most vocal critics. But the administration and several top US lawmakers defended the program as a vital and necessary tool in continuing to combat potential terrorists. LINK

Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev, Chris Strohm and Mike Dorning: “Lawmakers Defend U.S. Collecting Verizon Phone Records” The Obama administration and Senate Intelligence Committee leaders of both parties defended the secret collection of telephone records of millions of U.S. residents as critical to combating terrorism, with one lawmaker saying such surveillance thwarted a “significant” plot. As some members of Congress condemned the program as an intrusion in the lives of innocent Americans, the White House said Congress was regularly updated and all rules were followed. LINK

The Washington Times’ Dave Boyer: “Obama administration defends NSA’s secret seizure of U.S. phone records” The Obama administration on Thursday defended its secret seizure of the phone records of millions of U.S. citizens as part of counterterrorism efforts, while privacy advocates blasted the move as illegal and a debate erupted in Congress over the intended scope of a key surveillance law. The revelation that the National Security Agency has been collecting phone records from Verizon Communications of all calls within the U.S. and to sources overseas raised accusations that President Obama is running a police state, in spite of his 2008 campaign promise to expand civil liberties while prosecuting the war on terror differently from his Republican predecessor. LINK

The New York Times’ Charlie Savage, Edward Wyatt and Peter Baker: “U.S. Says It Gathers Online Data Abroad” The federal government has been secretly collecting information on foreigners overseas for nearly six years from the nation’s largest Internet companies like Google, Facebook and, most recently, Apple, in search of national security threats, the director of national intelligence confirmed Thursday night. The confirmation of the classified program came just hours after government officials acknowledged a separate seven-year effort to sweep up records of telephone calls inside the United States.  LINK

Politico’s Dave Clarke: “Report: NSA targets credit card transactions” Credit card transactions are among the activities that have been monitored by the National Security Agency as part of its effort to target possible terrorists, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday night. The report does not identify the credit card companies involved and says it is unclear if the monitoring of transactions is ongoing. The news about the credit card transactions follows reports from earlier in the day that the NSA has had access to the internet servers of large technology companies, giving the agency the ability, through a program nicknamed PRISM, to track e-mails and web searches. LINK

The Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Gorman, Evan Perez and Janet Hook: “U.S. Collects Vast Data Trove“ The National Security Agency’s monitoring of Americans includes customer records from the three major phone networks as well as emails and Web searches, and the agency also has cataloged credit-card transactions, said people familiar with the agency’s activities. The disclosure this week of an order by a secret U.S. court for Verizon Communications Inc.’s phone records set off the latest public discussion of the program. But people familiar with the NSA’s operations said the initiative also encompasses phone-call data from AT&T Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp., records from Internet-service providers and purchase information from credit-card providers. LINK 

The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas and Jess Bravin: “Obama’s Civil-Liberties Record Questioned“ The disclosure of a broad government effort to collect phone records of millions of U.S. consumers has rekindled a debate about President Barack Obama’s commitment to civil liberties, with some lawmakers and advocacy groups saying he has broken a campaign pledge to combat terrorism in ways that protect basic freedoms. Mr. Obama’s record on civil liberties was already drawing renewed scrutiny over reports that his administration has investigated journalists as part of criminal leak cases, his increased use of drones and other matters. LINK

DONALD TRUMP
ABC News’  Alisa Wiersema: “Donald Trump to Rent a White House View for $250K a Month“ Donald Trump has been coveting famous real estate on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington for a while, but now that the General Services Administration has told him “you’re hired,” his dreams have finally come true. GSA officials Wednesday said they had completed negotiations with the Trump Organization to remodel the Old Post Office building, which is located mere blocks away from the White House, into the newest addition of the Trump Hotel line. Under a 60-year lease agreement, the Trump Organization will invest an estimated $200 million to redevelop the 114-year-old building into the luxurious “Trump International Hotel.” LINK

TECH INITIATIVE 
ABC News’ Chris Good: “President Obama Announces Broadband-for-Schools Project at NC Middle School” President Obama on Thursday called for wider access to high-speed Internet in schools, prodding the Federal Communications Commission to work toward an aggressive goal that he first proposed in 2008. ”In a country where we expect free WiFi with our coffee, why shouldn’t we have it in our schools?” Obama asked during a visit to Mooresville Middle School outside of Charlotte, N.C. Obama said he would ask the FCC to “begin a process that will connect 99 percent of America’s students to high-speed broadband Internet within five years.” LINK

ECONOMY
The Wall Street Journal’s Neil Shah: “Wealth Lost in Slump Returns“ Americans have rebuilt much of the wealth they lost during the recession. The net worth of U.S. households and nonprofit organizations—the value of homes, stocks and other assets minus debts and other liabilities—jumped 4.5%, or about $3 trillion, in the first three months of 2013 to $70.349 trillion. That is the highest in nominal terms since records began in 1945, according to a Federal Reserve report released Thursday. LINK

MITT ROMNEY
The Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz: “Romney mixes business and politics at exclusive Utah conference” John Schoenfeld came to an exclusive resort here to do business with Mitt Romney. But he stayed for the politics. Schoenfeld spent most of Wednesday in a downstairs conference room of the Stein Eriksen Lodge assessing the investments of Solamere Capital, the firm co-founded by Romney’s son Tagg and increasingly managed by Romney himself. Then he learned that several potential GOP presidential candidates would be attending a separate Romney conference at the same exclusive lodge. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEO
Holder Pressed on NSA Secret Storing of Phone Records LINK 

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