March 2014 Current Events: U.S. News
Here are the key events in United States news for the month of March 2014.
Senator Wages War on the CIA (Mar. 11): Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one of the CIA's staunchest defenders, lashes out at the agency, accusing it of spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee, hacking the committee's computer network, covering up the agency's torture and detention program, and potentially violating the constitution. "Besides the constitutional implications" of potentially violating the separation of powers, Feinstein says during her speech on the Senate floor, "the CIA's search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance." After her speech, the Senate Judiciary Committee announces it will investigate the accusations. Many predict that this is just the beginning of a scandal that could become one of the most controversial in recent years.
NSA Reform Plan Is Introduced (Mar. 25): President Obama introduces a NSA reform plan, developed by the Justice Department and intelligence agencies, which will be presented to Congress for approval. The plan reflects many of the proposals he made in January. He goes further, however, saying the NSA will no longer collect phone data from Americans. Instead, the phone companies will collect and store that information for 18 months, as it currently does, and make it available in a standard format. The NSA will have to seek a court order to access the phone records. On the same day, the House Select Committee on Intelligence releases its own reform bill. That bill will not require the NSA to obtain a court order to access phone records. Instead, the government analysts can subpoena the records and get judicial approval later. The records will be expunged if the judge does not approve the request. It is the only major difference between the committee and Obama's proposals.
Abu Ghaith Is Convicted (Mar. 26): Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, is convicted by a federal jury in Manhattan of conspiracy to kill Americans, conspiring to provide support to al-Qaeda, and providing support to al-Qaeda. He is the most senior member of bin Laden's inner circle to be tried in a civilian court in the U.S. since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Kuwaiti-born cleric, a close confidant of bin Laden's, appears in several videotaped messages after the attacks, preaching bin Laden's message of global jihad and recruiting new al-Qaeda fighters. U.S. officials hope his conviction by a civilian jury will silence critics who think suspected terrorists should be tried by military tribunals. "It would be a good thing for the country if this case has the result of putting that political debate to rest," says Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general.