The Slatest

Slatest PM: U.S. Spy Chief Seems to Think Journalists Are Acting as Snowden’s “Accomplices”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies during a hearing before Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee January 29, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

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Give it Back: Washington Post: “The nation’s spy chief called on former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden to return a massive trove of classified documents on Wednesday during a congressional hearing on security threats that was dominated by heated exchanges over that security breach and the surveillance programs subsequently exposed. Speaking before a Senate panel, James R. Clapper Jr., outlined an array of dangers to American interests including a rise in cyber threats and the emergence of Syria as a magnet for Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda. But … Clapper focused his opening remarks on Snowden, delivering a blistering stream of criticism in which he described the former contractor for the National Security Agency as a hypocrite who has severely undermined U.S. security. … ‘Snowden claims that he has won and that his mission is accomplished,’ Clapper said. ‘If that is so, I call on him and his accomplices to facilitate the return of the remaining stolen documents that have not yet been exposed to prevent even more damage to U.S. security.’”

Who Are You Calling an Accomplice? Huffington Post: “Guardian national security editor Spencer Ackerman, among others, questioned on Twitter whether Clapper was referring to journalists. HuffPost put the question to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which didn’t rule out that journalists could be considered ‘accomplices.’ The office’s public affairs director Shawn Turner said in an email that ‘director Clapper was referring to anyone who is assisting Snowden to further threaten our national security through the unauthorized disclosure of stolen documents related to lawful foreign intelligence collection programs.’ The suggestion that Snowden is conspiring with journalists, rather than acting as their source, has come up ever since the National Security Agency surveillance story broke last spring.”

Wonder What Glenn Has to Say About That: Greenwald: “Is it now the official view of the Obama administration that these journalists and media outlets are “accomplices” in what they regard as Snowden’s crimes? If so, that is a rather stunning and extremist statement. Is there any other possible interpretation of Clapper’s remarks?”

It’s Wednesday, January 29th, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

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Southern Deep Freeze: Associated Press: “Helicopters took to the skies Wednesday to search for stranded drivers while Humvees delivered food, water and gas — or a ride home — to people who were stuck on roads after a winter storm walloped the Deep South. Students spent the night on buses or at schools, commuters abandoned their cars or slept in them and interstates turned into parking lots. The problems started when schools, businesses and government offices all let out at the same time. As people waited in gridlock, snow accumulated, the roads froze, cars ran out of gas and tractor-trailers jackknifed, blocking equipment that could have treated some of the roads. In the chaos, though, there were stories of rescues and kindness. It wasn’t clear exactly how many people were still stranded on the roads a day after the storm paralyzed the region. And the timing of when things would clear and when the highways would thaw was also uncertain because temperatures were not expected to be above freezing.”

Future Tense: Civilization Breaks Down in South Because of Two Lousy Inches of Snow. Who’s to Blame?

Presidential Sales Trip: Reuters: “President Barack Obama, on a road trip to highlight themes from his State of the Union speech that called for narrowing the gap between the rich and poor, urged Congress on Wednesday to raise the minimum wage for millions of low-income Americans. ‘If you work hard, you should be able to pay your rent, buy your groceries, look after your kids,’ Obama said at a Costco big-box store in this Washington suburb. … Flanked by boxes of paper towels and garbage bags, Obama said that in coming weeks he will sign an executive order raising to $10.10 an hour the minimum wage for federal contract workers. But he said Congress must act to raise it for millions of other American workers. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Obama noted that many state governors have already taken steps to raise the minimum age in their states.”

Slatest: Why Obama Will Have to Talk About Guns During His Post-SOTU Tour Whether He Wants to or Not

Ukraine Update: CNN: Ukraine is on the brink of civil war, the Eastern European country’s first post-independence President warned Wednesday as parliament met again to debate a possible amnesty for protesters arrested during two months of demonstrations. Leonid Kravchuk, Ukraine’s President from 1991 to 1994, addressed a special parliamentary session to seek a way out of a deepening political crisis following weeks of mass protests that have crippled the capital, Kiev. ‘Let’s be honest, the situation is dramatic. Both Ukraine and the world recognize the country is on the brink of civil war,’ Kravchuksaid. Wednesday’s session comes after a day of political upheaval when Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his Cabinet resigned and draconian anti-protest laws were annulled. Opposition politicians and activists welcomed the concessions made but said they were only a small step toward the change needed.”

The World: The World Is 70 Years Behind Schedule on Education

A College Football First: USA Today: “After years of feeling somewhat alone in the world, Conner Mertens, a 19-year-old red-shirt freshman kicker for Willamette (Ore.) University football team, finally has found some peace. Last week, the student-athlete told his coach, Glen Fowles, that he is bisexual, that he has a boyfriend — and on Monday he announced it to the rest of the world in the name of helping and inspiring other LGBT athletes, students, and people like him. … On Monday, Mertens was in the Willamette University men’s locker room with his teammates and coaches, who had gathered to discuss his announcement. … The team’s reaction was a positive one. … According to, no college football player in the United States at any level has come out publicly while still playing, until Mertens.”

Weigel: How a Senator’s 2013 Interview Was Turned Into a Fake 2014 Attack on Him

Stolen Stradivarius: NBC News: “A 300-year-old Stradivarius worth millions of dollars was stolen from a concert violinist by thieves who shot the musician with an electric stun gun just after he had performed with the instrument in suburban Milwaukee, police said on Tuesday. … The so-called Lipinski Stradivarius, an instrument made in 1715 and distinguished by unique striations on its back, was stolen on Monday night at a college campus in Wauwatosa, immediately west of Milwaukee, [Milwaukee Police Chief Edward] Flynn said. The instrument was on loan to violinist Frank Almond of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra when it was taken from him following a performance, Flyn said.  Police said Almond was subdued with a stun gun fired at him by one of the thieves, who then jumped into the waiting getaway vehicle driven by another suspect. Violins such as the one stolen can sell for $5 million to $10 million, Flynn said.”

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