Today’s Top Talker: Associated Press: “The government is secretly collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top-secret court order, according to the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Obama administration is defending the National Security Agency’s need to collect such records, but critics are calling it a huge over-reach. Sen. Dianne Feinstein told reporters Thursday that the court order for telephone records, first disclosed by The Guardian newspaper in Britain, was a three-month renewal of an ongoing practice. The records have been collected for some seven years, according to Sen. Harry Reid. … And the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, said the NSA search of telephone records had thwarted an attempted terrorist attack in the United States in the past few years. He said it was a ‘significant case’ but declined to provide further details. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that he couldn’t provide classified details but that the court order in question is a critical tool for learning when terrorists or suspected terrorists might be engaging in dangerous activities.”
The Article That Started It All: The Guardian’s NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily.
The NYT Lets Loose: New York Times’ Editorial Board: “[T]he Obama administration [has] issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights. Those reassurances have never been persuasive — whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism — especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability. The administration has now lost all credibility. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the 9/11 attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.”
More NSA Analysis from Slate:
- Technology: Who’s Watching You? Not Just the NSA.
- Jurisprudence: Is the Government Snooping Through My Phone Calls?
- Frame Games: Stop Freaking Out About the NSA
- Explainer: Who Represents the Public at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court?
- Future Tense: NSA Phone Surveillance Not New, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Says
- Weigel: Two Senators Have Been Harping on the Obama Administration’s Phone Data Collection Policy for Years
- Slate V: Can You Hear Me Now? Yes, We Can.
The New New Jersey Senator: Star-Ledger: “Gov. Chris Christie today named New Jersey attorney general Jeffrey Chiesa to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the death of U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Chiesa said he won’t seek election later this year. Christie’s announcement at a hastily arranged news conference ended days of intense speculation over whom the Republican governor would appoint to serve nearly five months before voters elect a replacement for the 89-year-old Lautenberg, who died Monday. New Jersey voters haven’t sent a Republican to the Senate in four decades.” The Week’s got a solid breakdown of what you should know about the new New Jersey senator.
Sorry, Students: Reuters: “The U.S. Senate on Thursday thwarted two rival bills aimed at stopping interest rates on millions of federal student loans doubling in less than a month. The defeat of the Democrat and Republican bills will likely lead to a partisan showdown ahead of the July 1 deadline. Both sides agree student loan rates shouldn’t go up. They remain gridlocked on a way to avert that. A Republican plan to switch to a market-based interest rate system and a Democratic bill to extend the current lower rates for another two years failed to each garner the 60 votes needed to advance. Student loan debt in America now surpasses $1 trillion, according to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and is already hindering young people from making important economic decisions such as purchasing new homes or cars.”
The Slatest: The New York Post’s “Bag Men” May Get the Last Laugh
It’s That Time of Year Again: USA Today: “The first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season is nearing landfall Thursday afternoon in Florida. It continued to bring drenching rain to much of the state. As of 2 p.m. ET, Tropical Storm Andrea had winds of 60 mph and was moving to the northeast at 17 mph. The storm has already spawned 10 tornadoes today in Florida, says severe storm expert Greg Forbes of The Weather Channel. A tornado watch remained in effect for much of Florida throughout the day. … As much as 4 to 7 inches of rain is possible across much of northern Florida over the next couple of days, the weather service says. Flood watches have been posted for much of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. The storm is then forecast to head up the Eastern Seaboard on Friday and Saturday, delivering heavy rain and thunderstorms from the Mid-Atlantic to New England. Andrea is not forecast to strengthen into a hurricane.”
Zimmerman Witnesses Will Testify Publicly: ABC News: “Witnesses in the upcoming murder trial of George Zimmerman will not be permitted to testify anonymously, a Florida judge ruled today, just four days before the start of what is be a closely watched case in the murder of teenager Trayvon Martin. … Zimmerman’s defense attorney Mark O’Mara said some witnesses feared for their safety if his client were acquitted, and asked that they be allowed to testify anonymously during the trial. … Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda argued that allowing some witnesses to testify anonymously could unfairly sway the jury who might assume those witnesses were more important.”
The Troubling State of Our Juvenile System: CBS News: “Nearly 10 percent of youth held in state juvenile facilities report experiencing sexual victimization at the hands of another young person or faculty staff, according to a newly released report from the Department of Justice. The report, from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, found that 7.7 percent of youth reported an incident involving facility staff, including roughly 3.5 percent who said they had sex or sexual contact with staff as a result of force. Two-and-a-half percent reported an incident involving another young person, including 1.7 percent who reported a nonconsensual sexual act with another youth. … Overall, the rate of sexual victimization has dropped from 12.6 percent in 2008-09 to the current rate of 9.9 percent, due primarily to a drop in staff sexual misconduct.”
A Few More Quick Hits From Slate’s Blogs—
- The Slatest: The (Perceived) Inevitability of Gay Marriage
- XX Factor: Free Legal Advice for the Person Shopping Around the Joe Francis Sex Tape
- XX Factor: The Rise of the Fortysomething Hollywood Actress
- TNC: Fox News’ Ideal Woman: “Blonde, Giant-Haired, Hypersexualized, Combative” (VIDEO)
See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.