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Philip Bump

Philip Bump is a writer at The Wire.
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Lawmakers' Attitudes Toward NSA Surveillance Are Changing

July 9, 2013 Slowly -- very, very slowly -- attitudes toward NSA surveillance among Congressional representatives appear to be changing. A report from The Washington Post indicating that members of the Democratic leadership are open to reform measures warrants the question: How many total members of Congress currently support reform? To figure that ...

The Easy Way for the Government to Get Around Secrecy Rules Is to Change Them

July 8, 2013 A court redefines "relevant." The Department of Defense ships secret files on the bin Laden killing into the dark corners of the CIA. The NSA broadly interprets the Freedom of Information Act to keep its surveillance private. When secrecy rules make its job hard, the government figures it might as ...

Customs and Border Protection Wants to Arm Drones

July 2, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation from the Homeland Security Department's Customs and Border Protection indicate that the agency is close to finalizing payload standards for its drone aircraft. Among the things the CBP might want to use in its unmanned aircraft: "non-lethal weapons designed to immobilize" targets. In ...

The Troubling Data Behind America's Growing Wildfires

July 1, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow It's hard to process yesterday's deaths of 19 firefighters in Arizona. The tragedy is so stark an outlier that most states haven't seen that many deaths of firefighters due to wildfire in their combined histories. But there is one worrisome trend: fires are getting bigger and often deadlier. The National ...

IG Letter Undermines Claim IRS Also Targeted Progressive Groups

June 27, 2013 A letter sent from the Treasury inspector general to Rep. Sandy Levin of Michigan will undermine the argument that progressive organizations were subject to the same undue scrutiny from the Internal Revenue Service as Tea Party groups. And that's too bad, because the IRS scandal, such as it is, has ...

Snowden Went to Booz Allen to Steal Files

June 24, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Edward Snowden took a job at the intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton specifically to steal American intelligence information, according to a report today in the South China Morning Post quoting the NSA leaker's last major interview before his current international manhunt. But instead of settling the question of where Snowden ...

Supreme Court's Recess Appointments Case Could Upend White House History

June 24, 2013 The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a case that, at its heart, is a question of semantics: When is a Senate recess actually a Senate recess? Stemming from a January 2012 Obama appointment of three officials to the National Labor Relations Board, the case of NLRB v. Noel ...

The NSA Guidelines for Spying on You Are Looser Than You've Been Told

June 21, 2013 FROM NEXTGOV arrow On July 28, 2009, 189 days after Barack Obama became president, Attorney General Eric Holder (himself only six months into office) presented the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) with a list of ways in which the NSA and FBI would try and assure that the data it collected under ...

The Numbers on More Border Patrol Agents Just Don't Add Up

June 20, 2013 The Senate debate over immigration reform, as in the House, increasingly hinges on a desire from Republicans to "tighten" border security, by which they mean the border with Mexico. To that end, a new version of the Senate proposal that's advancing today would nearly double the number of border patrol ...

Oversight Panel Leaders Fight Over Release of IRS Transcripts

June 19, 2013 This is where we are with the Internal Revenue Service scandal: bogged in a subset of a subset of a subset of a war between Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats fired a shot Tuesday, releasing a transcript of an interview in an attempt to get the Republicans to release other ...