WASHINGTON (CNN) - U.S. intelligence officials said Thursday they have added new safeguards to prevent the government from unlawfully spying on U.S. citizens after a routine check of the system "detected issues that raised concerns."
Intelligence officials declined to specify the nature of the problem. But in a prepared statement, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said that on occasion, the National Security Agency "has made mistakes and intercepted the wrong communications."
Officials characterized the wrongful intercepts as inadvertent and not nefarious. But some lawmakers said the matter reveals holes in the systems Congress established last year to ensure the country's vast intelligence gathering bureaucracy would not be used unconstitutionally to collect information about U.S. citizens.
"These are serious allegations and we will make sure we get the facts," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Feinstein said she will hold a hearing on the matter.
As President Obama travels to Mexico, the U.S. continues to grapple with the spill over violence from Mexican drug cartels and the enormous problem of illegal immigration. So - in typical government style - the administration has decided to add another layer of bureaucracy in the hopes of solving these problems.
They’ve named a so-called "border czar" to oversee the efforts of ending drug cartel violence that killed almost 7,000 people last year; and slowing the tide of people illegally crossing north into the U.S. A border czar. Why don’t they just close the damn border?
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano named Alan Bersin to be the czar. He’s a former Justice Department official who worked on cracking down on illegal immigration in the 1990s. And judging by the number of illegal aliens in the country, that wasn’t exactly a home run.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - U.S. nuclear experts prepared to leave North Korea as the United States vowed consequences on Pyongyang for kicking them out - along with U.N. nuclear inspectors - after the United Nations condemned North Korea's missile launch.
Four U.S. experts monitoring North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear plant were preparing to depart the country in the next several days after North Korea ordered them to leave, State Department acting spokesman Robert Wood said. A small team of experts has been rotating into the facility since November 2007.
Wood said the U.S. has talked with Pyongyang about the expulsion and insisted the North Koreans would face consequences for "kicking these personnel out."
"We'll have to see what those consequences are," he said. "We are going to continue to work with our partners, both on the Security Council and outside of the Security Council, to bring consequences upon the North for the actions that it's taken."
(CNN) - New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand issued a strong endorsement Thursday of the legalization of same-sex marriage in her state.
"New York and the nation are ready to start a new chapter. The time has come for full marriage equality," she said in an issued statement. "I commend the Governor for his leadership on this important issue. If Iowa can do it, so can we."
Her comments come the same day Gov. David Paterson announced plans to introduce legislation seeking to add New York to the growing list of states where same-sex couples can legally get married.
Gillibrand did not endorse same-sex marriage when she was a congresswoman from New York's 20th District. Earlier this year, she indicated that she would back it as a senator.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, New York's other senator, has also declared his support for same-sex marriage, after initially opposing the idea.
(CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry isn't ruling out the possibility his state may one day secede from the nation.
Speaking to an energetic and angry tea party crowd in Austin Wednesday evening, the Lone Star State governor suggested secession may happen in the future should the federal government not change its fiscal polices.
"There's a lot of different scenarios," Perry said. "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot." (Video below: Tea party fires up debate)
Perry, who is beginning to gear up for what could be a challenging re-election race, rejected more than $500 million in federal stimulus funds earlier this year and has been highly critical of President Obama's stimulus package. (Related: Joe "The Plumber" speaks at Michigan tea party)
His comments come a week after endorsing a resolution in the Texas state House reasserting state sovereignty over federal mandates.
Specifically it states that "all compulsory federal legislation that directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or that requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed."
Texas, America's second biggest state in area and population, was its own nation for 10 years before joining the United States in 1845.
Should Texas one day secede, one man may already be vying to be its president. Actor Chuck Norris said last month he may be interested in the post.
“I may run for president of Texas,” Norris wrote in a column posted at WorldNetDaily. “That need may be a reality sooner than we think. If not me, someone someday may again be running for president of the Lone Star state, if the state of the union continues to turn into the enemy of the state.”
(CNN) - Floridians message to their governor appears to be "we love you just the way you are," according to a new poll of Sunshine State voters.
Forty-two percent of people questioned in a Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday they they'd prefer that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist seek re-election next year rather than run for the U.S. Senate. That's 16 points higher than the 26 percent who would like Crist to forgo a re-election bid and run for the Senate seat opening up by the retirement of incumbent senator and fellow Republican Mel Martinez. That sentiment is consistent among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.
Sixty four percent of Florida voters questioned in the poll have a favorable opinion of Crist and 53 percent approve of the way the governor is handling the economy.
If Crist does decide to give up his current job and run for the Senate, the survey indicates he's far ahead of any other possible Republican primary contender.
A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday suggests that 58 percent of voters believe the governor should be re-elected if he chooses to run for a second term.
(CNN) - In an op-ed running in several newspapers throughout Latin America, President Obama said it's time for the United States to "move in a new direction" regarding policies affecting the Americas.
"Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities, and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas," Obama wrote. "My Administration is committed to the promise of a new day. We will renew and sustain a broader partnership between the United States and the hemisphere on behalf of our common prosperity and our common security."
The op-ed - in English, Portugese and Spanish - ran in the following newspapers: Trinidad Express (Trinidad & Tobago), St. Petersburg Times, Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald.
It also ran in Grupo De Diarios America (GDA) affiliate newspapers across the world, such as La Nacin (Argentina), O Globo (Brazil), La Nacin (Costa Rica) and El Universal (Mexico).
Obama, who is in Mexico Thursday, heads to the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago this week, where issues affecting Latin American-U.S. relations will be on the table - as well as broader themes of parternship and leadership.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama faces a full agenda as he heads south of the border Thursday to attend the Summit of the Americas, his third trip abroad since being sworn into office in January.
So far, Obama has been to Canada, spent a week in Europe, and now heads to this meeting of Latin American countries to focus on issues of importance to that region.
But first, the president makes a stop in Mexico, where growing violence by drug traffickers has caused the U.S. government to look closely at the safety of residents who live along the border.
A recently released CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows that 75 percent of Americans support sending a large number of troops to the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
What do you think? Should U.S. troops be deployed to the border? What other options should be considered to ensure that the violence is abated. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama unveiled his administration's blueprint for a new national network of high-speed rail lines Thursday, arguing that such an investment is necessary to reduce traffic congestion, cut dependence on foreign oil, and improve the environment.
The president's plan identifies 10 likely high-speed rail corridors for federal funding, including California, the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, and New England.
It also highlights potential improvements in the heavily-traveled "Northeast Corridor" running from Washington to Boston, Massachusetts.
"My high-speed rail proposal will lead to innovations that change the way
we travel in America. We must start developing clean, energy-efficient transportation that will define our regions for centuries to come," Obama said at an event near the White House.
The president cited the success of high-speed rail in European countries such as France and Spain as a positive example for the United States.
NEW YORK (CNN) - Gov. David Paterson announced Thursday he is introducing legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in his state.
"For too long, gay and lesbian New Yorkers, we have pretended, that they have had the same rights as their neighbors and their friends," Paterson said. "That is not the case."
The same bill was defeated in the state senate in 2007 when it was proposed by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Listen: Will New York become the next state to allow same-sex marriage? CNN Radio reports.