Panel makes dozens of proposals; doesn’t call for ending NSA data collection
WASHINGTON — A presidential advisory panel has recommended sweeping limits on the government’s surveillance programs, including requiring a court to sign off on individual searches of phone records and stripping the National Security Agency of its ability to store that data from Americans.
It was unclear how the changes, if enacted, would impact the scope of the vast government surveillance programs. While President Barack Obama ordered the review board to submit recommendations following government spying disclosures earlier this year, he is under no obligation to accept the proposals.
The White House authorized the release of the review group’s report Wednesday, weeks ahead of schedule. The president was also conducting an internal review of the government’s surveillance programs and planned to announce his decisions in January.
The review board’s proposals address the government’s ability to collect intelligence both in the United States and overseas.
The recommendations include tightening federal law enforcement’s use of so-called national security letters, which give the government sweeping authority to demand financial and phone records without prior court approval in national security cases. The task force recommended that authorities should be required to obtain a prior “judicial finding” showing “reasonable grounds” that the information sought is relevant to terrorism or other intelligence activities.
Ga. woman has 1 winning ticket in $636M jackpot; other ticket sold in Calif.
ATLANTA — A Georgia woman who bought just one ticket and used family birthdays and lucky No. 7 to choose her numbers was one of two winners of the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot, the second-largest in U.S. history.
Lottery officials in Georgia identified the winner as Ira Curry, of Stone Mountain, which is east of Atlanta. Curry will take a lump sum of $123 million after taxes, Georgia Lottery chief executive Debbie Alford said.
“She has not decided how she’ll spend those winnings,” Alford said at a news conference that Curry did not attend.
The other winning ticket was sold at a gift shop in San Jose, Calif. The winner there has one year to come forward.
Curry was driving to work Wednesday when an announcer on the radio talked about the Mega Ball being 7. Curry knew that was her Mega Ball number, so she called her daughter to check the ticket.
New trial set for Egypt’s ousted Islamist president on charge of sweeping terror conspiracy
CAIRO — Egyptian prosecutors on Wednesday announced a new trial of ousted President Mohammed Morsi and the top leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood, accusing them of conspiring with Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and militant groups to carry out a wave of terrorism to destabilize the country.
The charges, which carry a potential death penalty, are the most sweeping and heaviest accusations yet in a series of trials against the Brotherhood. The new trial of Morsi, the three top Brotherhood leaders and 32 other defendants appeared aimed at decisively crippling the top echelons of the group that dominated Egypt’s political scene during Morsi’s one-year presidency.
The timing appeared aimed at further tarnishing the Brotherhood among the public ahead of a key January referendum on a new constitution, a substantial rewrite of the charter largely drafted by Islamists under Morsi. The new military-backed government is seeking a strong “yes” vote for the constitution to show the legitimacy of the political transition process put in place after the military removed Morsi on July 3. Brotherhood supporters oppose the new document and have vowed protests against it.
By wire sources
Since the coup, prompted by massive protests calling for Morsi’s removal, Egypt has been in continual unrest. Morsi supporters have been holding near daily protests demanding his reinstatement, met by a fierce security crackdown that has killed hundreds of people and arrested thousands of Brotherhood members. Meanwhile, a wave of retaliatory attacks by suspected Islamic militants have targeted Christians and security forces, and the Sinai Peninsula has been the center of a mounting militant insurgency.
Throughout, the new government has depicted the Brotherhood as a violent movement that threatened the nation and forced the military to remove it power. Previous, ongoing trials of Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders have focused on accusations the group is implicated in violence.
By wire sources