By Jeremy Herb and Carlo Muñoz - 06/24/13 10:05 PM EDT
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that officials in Hong Kong had “plenty of time” to resolve questions about the warrant for Snowden's arrest, calling the decision to let him go a “deliberate choice.”
“We are just not buying that this was a technical decision by a Hong Kong immigration official,” Carney told reporters.
“Given our intensified cooperation after the Boston marathon bombings and our history of working with Russia on law enforcement matters — including returning numerous high level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government — we expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.
President Obama weighed in Monday at the top of an immigration meeting, saying that the U.S. is “following all appropriate legal channels.”
“What we know is that we're following all the appropriate legal channels and working with various other countries to make sure that rule of law is observed,” Obama said before his meeting with business leaders.
“And beyond that, I'll refer to the Justice Department that has been actively involved in the case,” he said.
At Monday’s press briefing, Carney avoided any criticism of Russia’s government, while reiterating earlier calls to send Snowden back to the U.S.
“We do expect the Russian government to look at all the options to them to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States,” Carney said.
Lawmakers’ bill would sunset FISA provisions: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and a group of senators on Monday introduced legislation to sunset some surveillance programs two years early.
Leahy said that that Congress must rein in the surveillance programs at the National Security Agency, and his legislation would move up the sunset date for some provisions in Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
"This is an issue of saying, 'We want to know what our government is doing and why,' and as Americans we have the right to know what our government does and why," Leahy said in a speech on the Senate floor.
The legislation is the latest response in Congress pushing back against the NSA’s now-disclosed phone and Internet surveillance programs. It follows a group of House members who proposed a similar measure to limit the scope of the NSA’s authority.
Leahy’s bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Syria says US weapons will prolong civil war: The pending influx of American weaponry into the hands of opposition forces only prolong Syria's three-year civil war, the country's top diplomat said Monday.
Opposition forces "will not be victorious no matter how much they conspire" with Washington and its allies in the region, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told reporters in Turkey.
Earlier this month, President Obama ordered the CIA to begin setting up distribution points in neighboring Jordan and Turkey to start providing American arms to rebel forces fighting to oust embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The decision to arm the rebels came after U.S. intelligence officials concluded the Assad regime had used chemical weapons against opposition forces, crossing a "red line" with the Obama administration.
Al-Moallem's comments come on the eve of a multinational peace summit in Geneva to end the civil war and days after Secretary of State John Kerry met with opposition leaders in Doha, Qatar.
That said, the Assad regime is not entertaining any option of relinquishing control of the country, despite Assad's participation in the upcoming Geneva talks, according to al-Moallem.
"President Bashar Assad will not step down," he said. "If anyone has such illusions on the other side, my advice to them is not to go to Geneva," he said.
Hagel to speak at LGBT ceremony: For the second time since the repeal of the Pentagon's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy was implemented, a Defense secretary will speak at the Pentagon’s ceremony honoring gay and lesbian service members.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will host the Department of Defense Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Pride event at the Pentagon on Tuesday.
White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning will also deliver remarks.
Tuesday's ceremony is the second time the Pentagon has held an event recognizing LGBT members of the armed forces since the DADT repeal. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued a video message to gay and lesbian troops during the department's first ever pride event last June.
“Before the repeal of 'Don't ask, don't tell,' you faithfully served your country with professionalism and courage. And just like your fellow service members, you put your country before yourself,” Panetta said at the time. “And now, after repeal, you can be proud of serving your country, and be proud of who you are when in uniform.”
The military ended the "Don't ask" policy in 2011, which barred gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly, after Congress repealed it in 2010.
In Case You Missed It:
— Navy admiral picked for STRATCOM chief
— Report: Snowden took job for classified access
— ‘Pardon Snowden’ petition crosses threshold
— Graham to Russia: Hand over Snowden
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