By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. spying program that systematically collects millions of Americans' phone records is illegal, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday, putting pressure on Congress to quickly decide whether to replace or end the controversial anti-terrorism surveillance. Ruling on a program revealed by former government security contractor Edward Snowden, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the Patriot Act did not authorize the National Security Agency to collect Americans' calling records in bulk. Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch wrote for a three-judge panel that Section 215, which addresses the FBI's ability to gather business records, could not be interpreted to have permitted the NSA to collect a "staggering" amount of phone records, contrary to claims by the Bush and Obama administrations.
The black iron fence surrounding the White House will be topped with a row of "sharp metal points" in July, the U.S. Secret Service said on Thursday, part of a series of security upgrades for the famous mansion where the president and his family live. The planned changes were sparked by an intrusion last September when an Iraq war veteran carrying a knife scaled the fence, ran across the North Lawn and entered the residence, running through a large ballroom before being tackled by a Secret Service officer. The incident was one of several embarrassing breaches for the agency, which is responsible for the security of President Barack Obama, and led to the resignation of the agency's director. The Secret Service released photos of the new "pencil point" spikes that in July will be bolted to the top of the fence and face outward at a 5 degree angle.
BOSTON (AP) — As lawyers for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev make their final push to persuade a jury to spare Tsarnaev's life, they may call to the stand a Roman Catholic nun and death penalty opponent made famous in the 1995 movie "Dead Man Walking."
WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of delays and vetting, the training of moderate Syrian rebels has started in Jordan as part of a broader effort to build a force capable of fighting Islamic State extremists, U.S. and Jordanian officials said Thursday.
CHICAGO (AP) — A judge has ordered a psychiatric evaluation for a woman with a history of trying to sneak onto planes after she was arrested twice in nine days at Chicago's two international airports.