Morning Security Brief: National Security Debate, FEMA Corps, DHS Budget, and More

By Laura Spadanuta

► The debate continues on the topics of privacy and civil liberties versus security as more information comes to light about the National Security Agency's tracking of citizen telephone records. EPIC points out that though the order for the domestic surveillance came from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, it was not tied to a specific foreign intelligence operation. USA Today reports that various lawmakers defended the phone tracking, which began in 2006, while civil libertarians criticized the surveillance. The Guardian revealed this week that a court ordered that Verizon turn over the information. "The data collected by the National Security Agency included information about the phone numbers involved, the length of the calls and other identifying information, but not the content of the conversations." It was further reported that the NSA and FBI also received information from the nine leading Internet companies in a program known as PRISM, in which movements were tracked through audio, video, photographs, e-mails, and other means. Yahoo! also takes a look at the debate.

►The first class of FEMA Corps members graduated this week. FEMA Corps was established as a new unit within the existing AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, and it is made up of young adults volunteering 10 months of service on disaster response and recovery projects. Among the projects this first class assisted in was Hurricane Sandy recovery. The group of volunteers worked in several states over the 10 months.

►Also in the news, Reuters reports that "The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a $39 billion Department of Homeland Security spending bill for next fiscal year that would boost its funding by nearly $1 billion." And in separate story, also from Reuters, President Obama will meet with the Chinese President Xi Jinping at a summit today where cybersecurity will be discussed. Reuters reports that President Obama is expected to "complain" about Chinese hacking of Americans. According to the article, "'All nations need to abide by international norms and affirm clear rules of the road," a U.S. official told reporters in previewing the summit. "That's the backdrop to the discussions that the two presidents will have.'"


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