President Obama is facing major challenges as he returns to full-time work this week: newer concerns and revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency and the carnage caused in Egypt.
The CSMonitor reports that the Obama family returned from the summer vacation trip to Martha's Vineyard, but news that the NSA electronic spy agency regularly collected e-mails and telephone metadata on Americans without first obtaining legal authorization and the briefings about horrifying violence in Egypt must be faced. Last week President Barack Obama stated:
“While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back."
Obama also cancelled September's previously scheduled joint military exercises and delayed a scheduled delivery of four more F-16 fighter jets, according to the Monitor story, while lawmakers from all sides of the aisle spoke their latest thoughts. On sending aid to Egypt, the Monitor reports:
Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire: “I don’t see how we can give them aid ... I do support suspending aid to Egypt at this time.”
Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island: “I do think we can send a strong signal by suspending aid.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said he would make aid to Egypt conditional “on specific steps toward the rule of law and return to democracy.”
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee had resisted calls to cut off aid, but said on Sunday: "I think we need to look at the tiers of our aid."
Sen. John McCain of Arizona: "We have no credibility. For us to sit by and watch this happen is a violation of everything that we stand for.”
Momentum seems to be snowballing inside Congress to do more to curb the top-secret surveillance programs made public by Edward Snowden reports Bloomberg. Legislative restrictions may be forthcoming as the news unfolds and more people re-think the agency activity.
Violations were first cited by a Washington Post story regarding a May 2012 audit and other documents provided by Edward Snowden, according to Bloomberg, but they also report on the internal audit by the NSA which uncovered "2,776 cases of violations in the preceding year in collecting voice and data communications of both Americans and foreigners."
Snowden is the former NSA contractor who faces U.S. espionage charges and was granted temporary asylum in Russia, the article noted.
And from Techdirt's Mike Masnik is news of Executive Order “Twelve-Triple-3,” which apparently helps keep our government leadership in the dark. The story notes one tweet made on Friday by Rep. Jim Himes, who is on the House Intelligence Committee:
"Possibility of 1000s of NSA violations unacceptable. Many intel comm members unaware of this report. In fact, we have been told no abuses.
4:15 PM - 16 Aug 2013"