By Joseph Menn, Dustin Volz and Mark Hosenball WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Obama administration officials briefed key congressional staffers last week about a secret court order to Yahoo Inc that prompted it to search all users’ incoming emails for a still undisclosed digital signature, but they remain reluctant to discuss the unusual case with a broader audience. Executive branch officials spoke to staff for members of the Senate and House of Representatives committees overseeing intelligence operations and the judiciary, according to people briefed on the events, which followed Reuters’ disclosure of the massive search.[nL2N1C601L] But attempts by other members of Congress and civil society groups to learn more about the Yahoo order are unlikely to meet with success anytime soon, because its details remain a sensitive national security matter, U.S. officials told Reuters. Release of any declassified version of the order is unlikely in the foreseeable future, the officials said. The decision to keep details of the order secret comes amid mounting pressure on the U.S. government to be more transparent about its data-collection activities ahead of a congressional deadline next year to reauthorize some foreign intelligence authorities. On Tuesday, more than 30 advocacy groups will send a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asking for declassification of the Yahoo order that led to the search of emails last year in pursuit of data matching a specific digital symbol. “We believe such a massive scan of the emails of millions of people, particularly if it involves the scanning of email content, could violate (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), the Fourth Amendment, and international human rights law,” the coalition wrote in an advance draft of the letter that was shared with Reuters. The Center for Democracy & Technology, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Brennan Center, Human Rights Watch and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers are among the signatories. The groups say that Title I of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, under which sources said the order was issued, requires a finding that the target of such a wiretap is probably an agent of a foreign power and that the facility to be tapped is probably going to be used for a transmission. An entire service, such as Yahoo, has never publicly been considered to be a “facility” in such a case: instead, the word usually refers to a phone number or an email account. The groups also pressed Clapper, who has pledged to be more transparent in the wake of controversial spying revelations, to explain how much authority the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has to order technical assistance from technology companies. Reuters reported that Yahoo had installed a special program that was hidden inside a Linux kernel module on its mail servers, where security staffers found it. Representative Justin Amash, who does not sit on one of the relevant committees, recently asked that all of Congress be briefed, given the significance of any change in interpreting foreign intelligence laws. “The briefing should involve all members, because all members will within about a year have to vote on a significant part of FISA,” said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology, which circulated Tuesday’s letter among free speech and privacy advocates. "They should know what occurred so that they can decide whether to outlaw it.” Also last week, Yahoo itself asked Clapper to declassify the secret order or at least describe it, so that the company could respond to news reports and criticism that it did not do more to protect its users’ communications. The American Civil Liberties Union meanwhile filed a motion in the surveillance court asking that the Yahoo order and other significant ruling going back a decade be unsealed. (Reporting by Joseph Menn in San Francisco and Dustin Volz and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Andrew Hay and Lisa Shumaker)
- Yahoo News
Black National Guardsman describes being deployed to protect Biden’s inauguration: 'I just felt this huge sense of pride'
As most of the 25,000 National Guardsmen who were called upon to protect Washington, D.C., during the presidential inauguration began heading home this week, one Black service member agreed to speak to Yahoo News about the experience of protecting the nation’s capital in the wake of a pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill.
- Yahoo News 360
It seems unlikely that 17 Republican senators will vote to convict Trump, but some see reasons to believe it could still happen.
- Yahoo News
“By signing this order, President Biden indicates that he’s more interested in the views of the citizens of Paris than in the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh,” Cruz said.
- The Telegraph
The leader of the Proud Boys extremist group has been unmasked as a "prolific" former FBI informant. Enrique Tarrio, 36, worked undercover exposing a human trafficking ring, and helped with drug and gambling cases, according to court documents. Tarrio's documented involvement with law enforcement related to the period 2012 -2014. There was no evidence of him cooperating after that. But the revelation raised further questions over why police did not take further steps to secure the US Capitol ahead of the riots on Jan 6. At least half a dozen members of the Proud Boys were arrested over involvement in the riots. Tarrio denied ever being an informer, telling Reuters: "I don’t know any of this. I don’t recall any of this."
- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- Yahoo News
Former President Donald Trump’s “big lie” about a stolen election may have been discredited over and over in the courts, and disgraced by the attack on the U.S. Capitol, but the corrosive effect of his dishonesty will linger on, complicating efforts to strengthen American elections.
- The Week
John Kerry: American workers 'fed a false narrative' that shift to clean energy is 'coming at their expense'
President Biden on Wednesday turned his attention to climate issues, signing executive orders that seek to halt new oil and gas leases on public lands and waters, conserve 30 percent of federal lands and waters by 2030, and find ways to double wind production by the same year. John Kerry, the first-ever United States Climate Envoy, championed the actions, reiterating his belief that the climate crisis is "existential" and "failure, literally, is not an option." While briefing reporters, Kerry was asked about potential job losses in the fossil fuel industry, and whether he had a message for workers who believe they are witnessing the end of their livelihoods. Kerry explained that those workers "have been fed a false narrative" by the Trump administration about the shift to clean energy, which he said will not come "at their expense." He added that, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the solar and wind energy industries were growing swiftly, while coal plants have been closing over the last few decades. "The same people can do those jobs. But the choice of doing the solar power one now is a better choice," he said, also pointing out the health risks associated with coal mining. John Kerry says oil and gas workers have been fed a "false narrative" that action on climate change will hurt their livelihoods, and that President Biden wants to "make sure that those folks have better choices" for jobs in the energy sector https://t.co/Nj065CIsxp pic.twitter.com/czkjomesi8 — CBS News (@CBSNews) January 27, 2021 Republicans like Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) weren't buying the reassurance, suggesting that Kerry's statement lacked empathy, although he didn't explicitly refute the notion that an industry transition may be feasible for fossil fuel workers. John Kerry's message to the tens of thousands of Americans who lost their jobs thanks to the Biden administration: go make solar panels. Where is the empathy that Joe Biden promised in his inauguration? https://t.co/CvQovUlEoD — Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) January 27, 2021 More stories from theweek.comWith Senate Republicans balking at convicting Trump, Democrats explore alternative censuresGameStop makes the case for financial regulationMitch McConnell is the GOAT
- The Independent
Jill Biden spent her first week as First Lady reshaping the role. Melania Trump spent hers isolated in a tower
New first lady signals she will be an active and constant presence in the White House - drawing stark contrasts to her predecessor
- The Telegraph
Russian authorities target Navalny's associates and wife in series of police raids ahead of protests
Russian authorities raided the homes of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and his associates on Wednesday, piling pressure on opposition figures ahead of a major rally planned for this weekend. Masked police on Wednesday afternoon broke down the door of Mr Navalny’s rented flat despite the pleas from his wife who was inside, asking for her lawyer, Veronika Polyakova. Ms Polyakova arrived at her house but was not allowed in to witness the search, a clear violation of the Russian law,she told the Dozhd TV channel. In the biggest wave of police action against the opposition in months, law enforcement agents raided at least seven homes on Wednesday, including a Moscow property owned by Mr Navalny but where he has not lived for years, and the office of his associates who run his YouTube channel. A video posted online by Lyubov Sobol, a close ally of Mr Navalny, showed black-clad masked men break down the door and walk into the office.
- Associated Press
A former teacher extradited from Israel after a six-year legal battle appeared in an Australian court Thursday to face child sex abuse charges. Malka Leifer, 54, appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court by video link from a police station where she is in COVID-19 quarantine. Guards in the room with Leifer confirmed that the audio-visual link was working.
Explainer: Why Trump's post-presidency perks, like a pension and office, are safe for the rest of his life
The impeachment proceeding against Donald Trump on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has fueled speculation online that he could lose some of the benefits extended to former presidents. But according to legal experts, under the laws currently in effect, Trump will retain perks including a pension, office space and security detail even in the unlikely event that he is convicted by the Senate in its impeachment trial. Trump can thank a relatively obscure law, the Former Presidents Act.
- NBC News
President Joe Biden vowed to ultimately put an end to private prisons, but activists says the move isn't enough to fully address mass incarcerations.
- Yahoo News Video
China toughened its language toward Taiwan on Thursday, warning after recent stepped-up military activities near the island that "independence means war" and that its armed forces were taking action to respond to provocation and foreign interference.
- The Telegraph
A doctor with terminal cancer killed a female paediatrician and then himself after taking hostages at a children's clinic in Austin, Texas. Dr Bharat Narumanchi held hostages in a five-hour siege before killing Dr Katherine Lindley Dodson. Narumanchi had applied for a volunteer position at the clinic a week ago and was declined. He later came back carrying a pistol, a shotgun and two duffel bags. Police spokesman Jeff Greenwalt said Narumanchi had recently been given "weeks to live" after a cancer diagnosis. He said: "The case as far as who did this is closed. We know who did it. And we know that there's no longer a threat to the public. But we really, really want to answer the question of why." Dr Lindley Dodson, 43, was beloved by patients and their families. Karen Vladeck, whose two children were among her patients, told the Austin American-Statesman: "You saw her at your worst when your kid was sick, and she just always had a smile on her face. "She made you feel like you were the only parent there, even though there was a line of kids waiting." During the siege a SWAT team used a megaphone to communicate with the armed doctor. A hostage negotiator shouted: "Your life is very important to me. And I know life is very important to you. "You don't deserve to go through this. For all you have done for others. That is why I want to help you work through this. You have saved a lot of lives." Police first sent in a robot and then officers went into the medical office where they found two bodies. They did not comment on how the two doctors died. A police spokesman said: "The SWAT situation has ended. Two subjects have been located and were pronounced deceased."
- U.S.News & World Report
Global financial markets are receiving much-needed boosts heading into this year, thanks to earlier-than-anticipated approvals and distributions of multiple vaccines that are spurring hopes of recovery from the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But until inoculations become more widespread, policy support from governments will drive economic recovery worldwide, according to the 2021 Global Financial Stability Report Update released on Wednesday by the International Monetary Fund.
- Associated Press
Now, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont is stepping into one of his most visible and physically grueling roles: presiding over former President Donald Trump's second Senate impeachment trial. Leahy, the Senate's longest-serving current member, will be doing it after a brief health scare that saw him taken by ambulance to a hospital Tuesday evening, only to gavel the Senate into order Wednesday morning. “I had some muscle spasms," Leahy, 80, told reporters the morning after feeling ill in his Capitol office.
- The Independent
Biden news - live: Republican Party suffers ‘mass exodus’ as Marjorie Taylor Greene scandal consumes Congress
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Australia's most populous state of New South Wales recorded its 11th day of zero local coronavirus cases on Thursday, allowing neighbouring Queensland state to lift border restrictions while Victoria state also hinted at relaxing travel with Sydney. Australian states imposed quarantine or hard border restrictions for travellers from New South Wales (NSW) after an outbreak in Sydney in late December, throwing Christmas holiday plans of thousands of Australians into chaos. The Sydney clusters have now been curbed, giving other states the confidence to reopen borders.
- The Telegraph
Germany faces vaccine shortages that will last into April and hamper its efforts to bring the coronavirus under control, the country’s health minister warned on Thursday. “We have at least ten tough tough weeks ahead of us with the vaccine shortages,” Jens Spahn tweeted in a message to German regional leaders. “We should spend that time working together on the matter. That is what the citizens can expect from us in these difficult times.” The European Union is facing severe shortages after vaccine companies were forced to cut planned deliveries because of production problems — an issue the manufacturers say was caused by the bloc ordering too late to allow them to ramp up production. Germany has been caught up in the shortages after Angela Merkel overruled an attempt by Mr Spahn to order sufficient stocks last summer and insisted the country entrust its vaccine orders to the European Commission. “Making vaccines is very complex, and a lot of work is needed to increase capacity that leads to delays,” Mr Spahn told German radio. “But it has to impact everyone in the same way and not just the EU.” EU leaders have accused AstraZeneca, the company which makes the Oxford vaccine, of prioritising deliveries to the UK. The company says Britain placed its orders much earlier.
- FOX News Videos
Former New Mexico Republican Gov. Susana Martinez says the Biden administration's border agenda is 'very wrong.'