Obama’s post-vacation blues: Egypt and NSA spying on Americans
As he heads home from vacation, President Obama faces two major challenges: what to do about violence in Egypt and how to handle the latest revelations about NSA spying on Americans.
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The agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, The Washington Post reported last week.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Continued Turmoil in Egypt
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The infractions range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of US e-mails and telephone calls, the Post said, citing an internal audit and other top-secret documents provided it earlier this summer from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, a former systems analyst with the agency.
While Obama as president and commander in chief has prime responsibility here, lawmakers are feeling the heat of public criticism as well.
“Doubts and criticisms about government snooping have started to surface in numerous districts and states,” reports Politico.com. “Amid the mounting revelations, some voters seem eager to have a debate that President Barack Obama and most of Washington never wanted in the first place.”
“Rep. Chris Van Hollen, (D) of Michigan, for example, already has tangled with protestors who are seething over the pol’s position on surveillance, and activists have rallied against House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco,” Politico reports. “Rep. Zoe Lofgren, (D) of California, has addressed her constituents’ deep-seated distrust of government directly. And perhaps looking to capitalize on the news, Rep. Rush Holt, (D) of New Jersey, had invited the reporter who first unveiled the scope of the NSA’s surveillance programs – Glenn Greenwald – to speak at one of his campaign events.”
“There’s a very real interest and concern expressed more frequently than ever before,” Senator Blumenthal told the news site. “I think Americans have become strongly questioning about big institutions in their lives – not just big government, but big banks, big corporations.”
In a statement responding to the Washington Post story on NSA spying, Obama said the administration is “keeping the Congress appropriately informed of compliance issues as they arise.”
Some Democrats are not so sure.
“I remain concerned that we are still not getting straightforward answers from the NSA,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D) of Vermont said in a statement.
Adding together the new Egypt and NSA challenges, Washington Post political blogger Chris Cillizza wrote that Obama “had the worst week in Washington” during his vacation on the beaches and golf courses of Massachusetts.
Noting that there seemed to be a pattern in the president’s work breaks being interrupted (the “fiscal cliff,” the toppling of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy), Mr. Cillizza wrote that “President Obama should probably just stop taking vacations.”
This report includes material from The Associated Press.
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