State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced on August 4 that U.S. embassies and consulates in 19 Muslim nations will remain closed at least until the end of this week. Psaki stated that the decision to keep the diplomatic posts closed signifies an “abundance of caution” and is “not an indication of a new threat.”
After writing to FBI Director Robert Mueller expressing concerns about the FBI’s use of surveillance drones, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) received a letter from Stephan Kelly, the assistant director at the FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs, in which Kelly denied that the bureau required a warrant to conduct aerial surveillance by means of drones.
In the July-August 2013 issue of the AARP Bulletin, the periodical’s editor in chief, Jim Toedtman, wrote an editorial headlined “All Together, Let’s Like Ike.” The headline was, of course, a play on the campaign slogan coined for General Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1951, when internationalists dismayed by the prospect of popular Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft (a non-interventionist in foreign policy) securing the Republican nomination in 1952 started a movement to convince Eisenhower — a lifelong Democrat — to run for president as a Republican.
A story broken by CNET on July 25 stated that the U.S. government has “demanded” that major Internet companies provide federal agencies with their customers’ passwords. The report identified the information as coming from two unidentified technology industry sources “familiar with these orders.”
Reports from Egypt indicate that attacks against Egypt’s Coptic Christians have increased since former President Mohamed Morsi was forced from power on July 3. Copts claim that they have been targeted by Islamic radicals as retribution for their opposition to Morsi, who was backed by the Muslim Brotherhood.
In an appearance before a reconfirmation hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 18, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he favors a U.S. role in “building a moderate opposition” against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
As media pundits continue to discuss the “not guilty” verdict rendered by the jury on July 13 in the nationally watched George Zimerman trial, a particular aspect of the case warrants further attention. Ben Kruidbos, the former information technology director in the Florida State Attorney’s office, was fired on July 12 for what he believes was retaliation for having testified that prosecutors withheld evidence from Zimmerman’s defense team.
The Guardian newspaper (U.K.) and other news outlets reported on July 12 that during a meeting with human rights activists at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden said he will request temporary political asylum in Russia. Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch, who was at the meeting, reported that Snowden would stay in Russia until he could win safe passage to Latin America.
The Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-based newspaper O Globo reported on July 9 that former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden had provided it with documents showing that the United States has been accumulating data on telephone calls and e-mails from several countries in Latin America, including Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.
South American leaders invited to attend a special summit in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba released a joint statement on July 4 demanding an explanation and an apology from the governments of France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, after the nations closed their airspace to the plane carrying Bolivia’s President Evo Morales two days earlier. Officials in the four nations had suspected that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board Morales’ plane.