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The Senate Intelligence Committee has released its report reviewing the attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. The report broadly faults the State Department and various intelligence agencies for failures of communication, and for disregarding recommendations to ramp up security. The gist is this: the attacks were preventable. The Washington Post reports. A big story in The New York Times: the NSA is using radio frequencies to “penetrate” computers for surveillance purposes. This technology allows the NSA to enter computer systems that are far away and isolated from most outside communications. Apparently the NSA has entered nearly 100,000 computers. There is no evidence, so far, that the NSA is using this tactic to break into any domestic computer systems. There has been a lot of anticipation and activity in advance of President Obama’s announcement, on Friday, of proposed NSA Reforms. Members of the President's surveillance review board spoke in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, explaining the recommendations that they had made to the Administration. Their biggest suggested reform: encouraging private companies or third parties collect consumer data, which the government may afterwards query pursuant to court order. The Guardian also reports on the panel’s suggestions to “rebalance the competing values of liberty and security.” Yesterday, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced the “Telephone Metadata Reform Act”---which would heavily reign in the NSA’s metadata collection program by requiring the government to request records from phone companies on a case-by-case basis. Schiff says that the bill reflects the recommendations of the president's NSA review panel. But Schiff acknowledged that the bill may be doomed from the start, as he knows how difficult it will be to push any NSA reform through Congress. The Associated Press looks at the use of tunnels along the U.S.---Mexico border, to smuggle contraband between the countries. The growing number of illicit tunnels is proving to be a difficult hurdle for U.S. border authorities to overcome. Apropos of borders, drones owned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection are being lent out to other arms of the government for domestic surveillance purposes much more frequently than previously thought. The agency, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, is one of the few outfits allowed to fly drones domestically; other government entities thus eagerly have sought to make use of its unmanned aircraft. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is slated to hold a hearing on this issue this afternoon. In quite the diplomatic faux pas, Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon allegedly accused Secretary of State Kerry of meddling a little bit too much in the Middle East. Ya’alon is quoted as saying that Kerry has been “acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor” in his efforts to push for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Naturally, there has been quite the uproar, from both sides; Israeli officials are angry with Ya’alon for potentially damaging the peace process, and the U.S. State Department isn’t pleased, either. Israel has since apologized. Fighting between Al-Qaeda backed groups and rebels groups continues in Syria. Yesterday, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took back the city of Raqqa after a long and bloody fight. The violence and eventual takeover interrupted a crucial polio vaccination campaign, which had been undertaken by the World Health Organization after 17 cases of the disease were detected. Yesterday the word was that the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency would meet with Iran in January, regarding its nuclear program. But now the meeting has been postponed until February 8th. No reason was given for the delay. Government documents suggest that the United Kingdom may have been involved in 1984's exceedingly controversial "Operation Blue Star"---in which the Indian government raided the most holy Sikh site, the Golden Temple, and killed hundreds of Sikh worshippers. Tom Watson, a British MP, says he has seen documents suggest collusion between then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Indian Prime Minister at the time, Indira Gandhi.
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