Justice Department secretly taps into AP reporters’ phone records
In a surprising declaration a short time ago, the Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department had obtained two months of phone records tied to numerous reporters and editors in various cities, in what the news organization is calling a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.”
The reason for the government’s actions, which the AP was alerted to in a letter Friday, are as of now unknown.
From the Associated Press’ story on the emerging scandal:
In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
AP’s President and CEO, Gary Pruitt, issued a strongly-worded letter to Attorney General Eric Holder:
We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news. While we evaluate our options we urgently request that you immediately return to the AP the telephone toll records that the Department subpoenaed and destroy all copies.
Photo: Molly Riley / Associated Press
An end to Guantanamo Bay prison?
President Obama opened the doors for a renewed push to close the much-criticized prison in Cuba, where the U.S. detains a number of suspected terrorists
Said Obama earlier today during a press conference marking the 100th day of his second term:
"I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed."
But Obama has promised to close Guantanamo, where a large number of prisoners are currently on hunger strikes, before - making it a prominent pledge in his first presidential campaign.
Photos: J. Scott Applewhite, Brennan Llinsley, Shawn Thew, Justin Lane / EPA
Today in terrifying fake news
The Associated Press’ Twitter account was hacked earlier today, sending out a false report of explosions at the White House. The tweet was swiftly debunked, no report was sent on the AP news wire and Twitter has since suspended the account.
But that didn’t stop some from immediately believing the fraudulent tweet. Note the sudden plunge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the time the tweet went out:
In the wake of the now-notorious tweet, and the outrage last week over a number of grassroots amateur detectives on Reddit working to solve the Boston Marathon bombings, it’s important to remember that not everything online should be taken at face value.
Photos: Twitter, Google
Presidential Science Fair
President Obama welcomed some of the country’s youngest scientific minds to the White House earlier today, offering them a chance to show off their projects.
The students’ innovations ranged from a more efficient way to detect pancreatic cancer (courtesy of 16-year-old Jack Andraka) or Kiona Elliott, 18, and Payton Kaar, 16 who created a collapsible water filtration system.
Photos: Aude Guerrucci / Getty Images
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev caught
Police captured the second of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings tonight, after a lengthy pursuit and standoff that left one of the two alleged bombers dead. The second, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has been apprehended alive.
Law enforcement circled a Watertown, Mass. home Friday night, pinning down suspected Boston Marathon bomber in a boat housed in the back yard. After being placed in custody, Tsarnaev was rushed to a local hospital for wounds sustained at an unknown point in the search.
CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.— Boston Police Dept. (@Boston_Police)
Keep an eye on this post for further details.
UPDATE: Massachusetts State Police have told the Times that Tsarnaev is “in serious if not critical condition,” and has lost a lot of blood. He has been rushed to Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center following his capture.
UPDATE 2: President Obama addressed the nation just a few moments ago, heralding the triumphant efforts of law enforcement in pursuing and apprehending Tsarnaev.
"Tonight, our nation is in debt to the people of Boston and the people of Massachusetts."
Obama conceded that there are still many “unanswered questions” in the case, but remained confident that whatever their motives, those behind the attack “failed, because as Americans, we refuse to be terrorized.”
Photos: CJ Gunther / EPA, Darren McCollester, Jared Wickerham / Getty Images, Google, FBI
Memorial services for the Boston Marathon attacks
Mourners, family members and lawmakers gathered at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston to commemorate those lost and wounded in Monday’s tragic attack on the Boston Marathon.
President Obama spoke at the interfaith healing service, telling the city of Boston:
"As you begin this long journey of recovery, your city is with you. Your commonwealth is with you. Your country is with you. We will all be with you as you learn to stand and walk-and yes, run again. I have no doubt, you will run again."
Obama also spoke to the ties between Boston, the rest of the country and the world:
"Every one of us has been touched this attack on your beloved city…Boston may be your home town but we claim it, too."
UPDATE: Watch Obama’s full remarks below.
Photos: Charles Krupa / Associated Press, Don Emmert, Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images, Spencer Platt / EPA
Letter sent to Obama tests positive for ricin
A law enforcement official has confirmed to the Times that a suspicious letter sent to President Obama tested positive for the deadly poison ricin. Ricin had been found just yesterday in another letter intended for Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Whether there is any connection between the two, or if there’s any connection between the bombing attack at the Boston Marathon Monday and the series of poisoned letters in Washington, D.C., is yet unknown.
We’ll have more updates as the story develops here.
UPDATE: Capitol Police have reopened three Senate buildings closed after three suspicious packages were found on the premises. The packages have since been removed, and there’s no word yet on whether there’s any connection between these packages and those sent to Obama and Wicker.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, speaking to the press earlier today, referred all questions on the ongoing investigation into the packages to the FBI.
UPDATE 2: The FBI has confirmed that there’s no indication of any connection between the Boston attack and the ricin letters.
Photo: Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images
Boston Marathon bombing: “An act of terrorism”
Following yesterday’s running update of the latest on the Boston Marathon attacks, here’s the latest on what’s known so far:
The number of wounded has reached 176 wounded, with 17 in critical condition and three confirmed fatalities, including an eight-year-old boy.
With hundreds of security and police officers still examining Boston, and heightened security measures across the nation, it has been confirmed that no unexploded devices were found following the initial two explosions, and Boston Police have made no arrests.
President Obama, speaking just moments ago, called the bombing “an act of terrorism,” pledging for the second time that those behind the attack would be brought to justice, Obama praised law enforcement, hospital workers and the countless individuals around the attack for their selfless work in helping those affected by the attack.
Speculation is still running wild as to who is responsible for the attack, with Obama confirming that authorities still are unsure as to whether a domestic or international individual or organization is behind the attack. The Pakistani Taliban has denied any responsibility.
Like yesterday, additional updates will be added below as new information arises.
Additionally, to contact law enforcement officials with relevant information on the attacks, call 1-800-494-TIPS, and for those looking for lost family members, call 617-635-4500.
Update: New evidence suggests that the explosive devices used in the Boston attack contained items intended to be used as shrapnel, including metal pellets and nails.
Federal investigators familiar with the matter have suggested that the crude nature of the explosives suggests that those responsible are domestic, instead of international, terrorists.
And further heartbreaking details about Martin Richard, the eight-year-old killed in the attack, have emerged. Martin was waiting for his father at the finish line with his mother and sister, both of whom were injured in the attack.
Attorney General Eric Holder, in a statement released a short time ago, said that the full force of the FBI is pursuing possible leads, from available footage to on-site interviews, and has established a tip line for those with information that may help their search: 1-800-CALL-FBI.
Photos: Ken McGagh / MetroWest Daily News/Associated Press, Susan Walsh / Associated Press, Matt Campbell / EPA
President Obama’s full remarks following the bombing at the Boston Marathon earlier today.
Obama’s first presidential visit to Israel
Amid the accolades for the "eternal" relationship between the U.S. and Israel, the tours of the Iron Dome defense system and the planting of a tree at the house of Israeli President Shimon Peres, both Palestinians and Israelis continue their protests against Obama’s trip.
Photos: Abed Al Hashlmoun / EPA, Bernat Armangue, Mohammed Ballas Associated Press Mahmud Hams / AFP/Getty Images
A true-to-life, old fashioned filibuster
Endless arguments? A litany of contentions? Republican backup? Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster has it all. The libertarian-leaning senator has taken to the floor to block the nomination of John Brennan to lead the CIA, using his time in the spotlight to bring attention to the policy of targeted killings of American citizens suspected of terrorism.
From Paul’s remarks:
"Are we so complacent with our rights that we would allow a president to say he might kill Americans?" Paul asked. "No one person, no one politician should be allowed … to judge the guilt of an individual and to execute an individual. It goes against everything we fundamentally believe in our country."
Ignore the lame so-called “snowquester.” This is the real story in Washington today.
Photo: Associated Press
The Obama team’s love of memes continues.
test reblogged from politico
No Deal: Following a meeting between President Obama and top congressional leaders, it looks like there’s next to no chance a so-called “sequestration” deal will be reached.
With both sides refusing to budge on how to avoid $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, it looks like the broad across-the-board cutbacks that were constructed to be so horrendous that no one would let them happen, will happen.
House Speaker Boehner:
"Let’s make it clear the president got his tax hike on January 1. The discussion about revenue, in my view, is over. It’s about taking on the spending problem in Washington."
“It’s unnecessary at a time when too many Americans are looking for work. It’s inexcusable.”
Read more on the failed Hail Mary meeting here.
Photo: Charles Dharapak / Associated Press