By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will consult intelligence officials and congressional leaders as he nears the final stages of a review over how much to rein in U.S. surveillance practices in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, officials said on Tuesday. Obama later this month is to unveil a series of intelligence reforms, including how the National Security Agency operates, with a view toward giving Americans more confidence that their privacy is not being violated. Administration officials say Obama is open to taking the storing of bulk telephone data out of direct government control. Officials said Obama also wants to make sure civil liberties concerns have greater prominence in the deliberations of the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves law enforcement requests to conduct surveillance of Americans or foreigners.
U.S. President Barack Obama lacked belief in his administration's policy toward the war in Afghanistan and was skeptical it would even succeed, his former defense secretary, Robert Gates, writes in a memoir to be published next week. Gates, who served as Pentagon chief from 2006 to 2011 under Obama and his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, is critical of Obama's leadership on several defense-related issues, especially Afghanistan, according to a review of "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War" in the Washington Post on Tuesday. According to the Post, Gates wrote that he concluded by early 2010 that Obama, who had ordered his own troop "surge" in Afghanistan like Bush's in the Iraq war, "doesn't believe in his own strategy, and doesn't consider the war to be his.
The White House will not consider 2014 a failure if major legislative victories are elusive, senior administration officials said on Tuesday in an effort to play down expectations of a thaw in relations with Congress. President Barack Obama still hopes to pass immigration reform and push other policy priorities, but also will focus on implementation of laws from the earlier part of his tenure, including healthcare and regulatory reform, the officials said. But he was unable to make significant progress with the House of Representatives, which one official described as having the most conservative Republican majority in history. In a background briefing with reporters on Tuesday, officials said a lot of Obama's goals for the new year would not be centered on passing laws.
By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill may need a few more days to resolve differences over a $1 trillion U.S. spending bill, a top Democratic lawmaker said on Tuesday, pushing passage by Congress up against a government shutdown deadline next week. Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski told reporters that her hope to unveil the bill funding thousands of government projects and programs on Wednesday was "a fading dream" amid the unresolved disputes. After meeting with the top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate and House of Representatives Appropriations committees, she said that the "omnibus" spending measure may take until the weekend to complete. Without a new spending bill or a stop-gap funding measure known as a continuing resolution, the government faces a potential repeat of the shutdown that hit federal agencies in October.
By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will hear from intelligence officials and congressional leaders as he nears the final stages of a review over how much to rein in U.S. surveillance practices in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, officials said on Tuesday. Obama later this month is to unveil a series of reforms to how the National Security Agency collects intelligence with a view toward giving Americans more confidence that their privacy is not being violated. Separately, a lengthy internal White House review is nearing completion and will help form the basis of the president's reforms, to be laid out in a speech. White House officials said Obama will hold meetings with people with a variety of perspectives as he nears the final stages of a continuing internal White House review.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has donated $2.5 million to a political action committee that aims to help U.S. Senate Democrats maintain their majority in next year's congressional elections, a Bloomberg aide said on Tuesday. Bloomberg, an independent who stepped down last week after 12 years as New York mayor, gave the money to Senate Majority PAC, according to Howard Wolfson, a former deputy mayor. The news was first reported by Politico, which said Bloomberg developed a close relationship with Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, working on issues from Hurricane Sandy relief to gun safety. Senate Majority PAC is a so-called super PAC, which raised $3 million as of July 15, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican National Committee began running ads in 40 media markets Tuesday, mostly targeting incumbent senators who supported President Barack Obama's health care program. Billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, meanwhile, gave $2.5 million to help Democrats defend their majority in the Senate.