Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Jane Chong
Monday, July 1, 2013, 1:07 PM

A lot more Edward Snowden and surveillance news this weekend.

The EU is most displeased, as Jack noted this morning, to learn that the United States is using its spy agencies to . . . spy on them. On Saturday, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported that (here's a shocker) American agencies had bugged EU offices in New York and Washington, as revealed in a set of Snowden-leaked documents. The Guardian followed up with details on 38 named "targets," which include the French, Italian and Greek embassies and allies like Mexico, Japan, India, South Korea and Turkey.

This New York Times story offers bits and pieces of the overseas reaction:

The president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, said in a statement that he was “deeply worried and shocked.” He added, “If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on E.U.-U.S. relations.”

Yesterday the Washington Post published this useful infographic explaining how the PRISM system works. The Post also offered a  rundown of the misstatements recently made by senior officials in their descriptions of the classified NSA surveillance programs.

At least numbers don't lie. Newly released figures show that federal courts authorized 1,354 Title III wiretaps in 2012---that's a 71 percent jump from 2011. Read the full 2012 Wiretap Report here, or just cut to the Washington Post's summary. Buried in the report is an admission that encryption is thwarting government wiretapping efforts for the first time. Threat Level's David Kravets reports.

Snowden himself remains "marooned" in a Moscow airport transit zone, in a real-life twist on The Terminal. In an interview with the Associated Press  yesterday, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa attempted to pass the puck to Putin, notwithstanding Putin's attempts to distance himself from the affair. Writes the AP:

Analysts familiar with the workings of the Ecuadorean government said Correa's claims that the decision was entirely Russia's appeared to be at least partly disingenuous. They said they believed Correa's administration at first intended to host Snowden, then started back-tracking this week when the possible consequences became clearer.

The Independent reports that Julian Assange, who claimed asylum in Ecuador's London embassy last year, is having troubles of his own with Quito, thanks to Wikileaks's role  in the Snowden debacle. Assange's plate may be in other ways full: the WSJ ran a story yesterday on his plans to run for Australian senate.

On to the non-Snowden news:

Foreign Policy's Bailey Cahall reports days of overwhelming violence in Pakistan, including two separate shootings and an attack on a security checkpoint today. Three bomb blasts yesterday killed at least 50 people and injured 100 more.

From the Department of South China Sea Escalation: On Saturday, Chinese state media warned the Philippines to stop provoking Beijing in the South China Sea, on pain of "counterstrike."

And after four days of pushing for the revival of Middle East peace talks, Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel without a verbal commitment but with the sense that negotiations might be within reach.

According to the New York Times, a long awaited military report released on Friday concludes that Adnan Latif, the Guantanamo detainee found dead in his cell on September 8, 2012, died of a drug overdose and details personnel  failure to follow protocol in overseeing detainee pill consumption. Latif, a Yemeni citizen detained for 10 years, 7 months and 25 days, was the ninth man to die in Guantanamo. Judge Henry Kennedy, Jr. had ordered Latif's release in 2010; that decision was overturned by the D.C. Circuit, which ruled that government evidence against detainees must be afforded a presumption of accuracy. Learn much more about this case right here.

Speaking of Guantanamo detainees, over at the New Republic, Letta Taylor of Human Rights Watch has a piece denouncing the latest restrictions governing Guantanamo detainees' lawyer-client communications as an "affront to justice."

And to end on a lighter note: Last Friday, Reuters reported that South African police detained a freelance filmmaker for operating a helicopter drone near the hospital where Nelson Mandela is being treated for a lung infection. After four hours of questioning, the drone operator was released; the drone camera was not so lucky.

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