07 30 2016
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  • Russian hackers likely responsible for hacking attack on Clinton HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Giddy if exhausted, Hillary Clinton embarked on a post-convention Rust Belt bus tour just hours after becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major political party. The celebratory mood quickly evaporated amid fresh revelations that hackers had breached a program used by her campaign and Republican nominee Donald Trump promised to sharpen his barbs. "Remember this," Trump said during a rally Friday in Colorado Springs, Colorado. "Trump is going to be no more Mr. Nice Guy." And for the first time he encouraged his supporters' anti-Clinton chants of "lock her up." "I've been saying let's just beat her on Nov. 8," Trump said, "but you know what? I'm starting to agree with you." About an hour later, Clinton aides acknowledged that a hacking attack that exposed Democratic Party emails also reached into a computer system used by her own campaign. The FBI said it was working to determine the "accuracy, nature and scope" of the cyberattacks. Campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said the newly disclosed breach affected a Democratic National Committee data analytics program used by the campaign and other organizations. Outside experts found no evidence that the campaign's "internal systems have been compromised," Merrill said, but he gave no details on the program or nature of the attacks. Partnerships with modern e-commerce companies can allow sophisticated tracking, categorization and identification of website visitors and voters. President Barack Obama and cybersecurity experts have said Russia was almost certainly responsible for the DNC hack. The House Democratic campaign committee reported Friday that its information had been accessed. The developments followed the leaking of DNC emails earlier in the week that pointed to a pro-Clinton bias by party officials during her primary contest against Bernie Sanders. In the furor that followed, party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz resigned just as Democrats launched their convention. Clinton and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, will attempt to return attention to their positive economic message on Saturday, with campaign stops through economically struggling areas of Pennsylvania and Ohio. "When we take that oath of office next January, we know we can make life better. We know we can create more good jobs," she told voters gathered at an outside market in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Clinton cited an economic analysis by economist Mark Zandi, a former economic adviser to 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, that found more than 10 million jobs could be created in her first term if her economic proposals were put in place. Zandi's analysis of Trump's plans found they would cost the country 3.5 million jobs and lead to a "lengthy recession." Joined on the bus tour by her husband, Bill Clinton, Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, Clinton stopped at a toy and plastics manufacturer in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, where she and Kaine cast Trump as a con artist out for his own gain. "We don't resent success in America but we do resent people who take advantage of others in order to line their own pockets," Clinton said. Trump is also focusing on Ohio and Pennsylvania, two states where he might make headway with blue-collar white men. That group of voters has eluded Clinton and may be a hard sell after a Democratic convention that heavily celebrated racial and gender diversity. Clinton is playing up economic opportunity, diversity and national security. Democrats hammered home those themes this week with an array of politicians, celebrities, gun-violence victims, law enforcement officers and activists of all races and sexual orientation. Their goal is to turn out the coalition of minority, female and young voters that twice elected Obama while offsetting expected losses among the white men drawn to Trump's message. Democrats continued contrasting their optimistic message with the more troubled vision of the state of the nation presented by Trump and others at the GOP convention a week earlier. Kaine called the "very dark and negative" event a "journey through Donald Trump's mind." "That's a very frightening place," he told thousands of supporters in Philadelphia. Clinton told voters that they faced a "stark choice," calling the coming election the most important one in her lifetime. "This is a moment of reckoning for our country. I don't recognize the country that Donald Trump describes," she said.___Lemire reported from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Associated Press writer Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.
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  • SEATTLE (AP) — Genetically modified wheat not approved for sale or commercial production in the United States has been found growing in a field in Washington state, agriculture officials said Friday, posing a possible risk to trade with countries concerned about engineered food. The Food and Drug Administration says genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are safe and little scientific concern exists about the safety of those on the market. But critics say not enough is known about their risks, and they want GMOs labeled so people know what's in their food. Several Asian countries temporarily banned U.S. wheat imports after genetically modified wheat was found unexpectedly in a field on an Oregon farm in 2013. It also popped up in a field at a university research center in Montana in 2014. It wasn't immediately clear how altered wheat cropped up in Washington. But the U.S. Agriculture Department said there is no evidence it has entered the market. If it did, the FDA concluded that "it is unlikely that the wheat would present any safety concerns if present in the food supply," the department said. A farmer discovered 22 plants in an unplanted field, and the wheat was developed to be resistant to the herbicide known as Roundup, created by seed giant Monsanto, the USDA said. An agency spokeswoman did not know where in the state it was found. Federal officials said they were working with the farmer to ensure that none of the modified wheat is sold. Out of caution, the agency said it is holding and testing the farmer's full wheat harvest, but so far it has not found GMOs. The plants are a type of wheat that had been evaluated in limited field trials in the Pacific Northwest from 1998 to 2001 but never commercialized, Monsanto said in a statement. It said the type found in Washington state is similar to the one discovered in Oregon three years ago; it has the same inserted DNA but in a different location. No variety of genetically engineered wheat has been approved for commercial use or production in the U.S. GMOs are plants or animals that have had genes copied from other plants or animals inserted into their DNA. Most genetically engineered crops are corn and soybeans eaten by livestock or made into popular processed food ingredients like cornstarch, soybean oil or high fructose corn syrup. Only a handful of modified fruits and vegetables are available, including Hawaiian papaya, some zucchini and squash and a small percentage of sweet corn. The FDA also has approved for consumption a genetically engineered salmon that would grow faster than traditional salmon, but it's not yet available in grocery stores. South Korea said Friday that it will inspect U.S. wheat imports for genetically modified wheat, the Yonhap News Agency reported. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said it has asked the USDA for information on the unapproved wheat and inspection methods. The USDA said it has validated a test that Monsanto developed for the herbicide-resistant wheat, which would be available to trading partners. "Trading partners will get the tests. I believe that once they have those in place, they'll continue buying," said Glen Squires, CEO of the Washington Grain Commission, a state agency that represents wheat farmers. "We don't anticipate any major disruptions." The USDA also said it has beefed up oversight of genetically engineered field trials and now requires developers to apply for a permit for those involving GMO wheat starting this year. In 2014, genetically modified wheat plants were found at a university research center in Huntley, Montana, where it was legally tested by Monsanto in the early 2000s. The plants in eastern Oregon were found in a field that had never conducted such tests, and the USDA closed its investigation two years ago unable to determine how the wheat got there. Different strains were found in each state. The Washington Association of Wheat Growers and the Washington State Agriculture Department referred questions to federal authorities.
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  • Six current or former state employees were charged Friday with misconduct and other crimes in the Flint water crisis 
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  • Hillary Clinton cast herself as a unifier for divided times, an experienced leader steeled for a volatile world 
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WASHINGTON -- Robert Mueller became FBI director just days before 9/11. And now, nearly 12 years later, he's preparing to step down. CNN's Joe Johns sat down with him to get his thoughts on the war on terror, cyber security, the Boston Marathon bombing, NSA snooping and the Benghazi investigation.

 

CNN: We're coming up on the anniversary of 9/11. We've had embassies overseas close and reopen. Are we bracing for an imminent attack?

MUELLER: I don't think so, although we have to monitor the situation very carefully. We had, the reports of the possibility of an attack on our embassies in the Middle East perhaps a month ago. We took precautions, and by that I mean the administration and the State Department. And it may well be that's been postponed. But we are monitoring the situation very carefully to determine whether that's the case. I don't think, at this particular juncture, we see an imminent attack.

CNN: Is the threat greater now than it was in past years since 9/11? Or is it about the same, has it been constant?

MUELLER: Well, I think it's changed. And there's a different landscape out there. After September 11th, you had core al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan with (Osama) bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed. You have al Qaeda growing in countries like Somalia, but most particularly in Yemen. And there's still substantial threat out of Yemen. And now you have the countries in the Arab Spring: Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Mali; Egypt most recently, where they're breeding grounds for radical extremists who may not stay there, but may present an attack. And, finally, you have, within the United States, the growth of homegrown, radicalized extremists who are radicalized on the Internet and then get their instructions for developing explosives on the Internet, as well.

CNN: If we had the kind of intelligence that we were collecting through the NSA before September 11th, the kind of intelligence collection that we have now, do you think 9/11 would have been prevented?

MUELLER: I think there's a good chance we would have prevented at least a part of 9/11. In other words, there were four planes. There were almost 20 -- 19 persons involved. I think we would have had a much better chance of identifying those individuals who were contemplating that attack.

CNN: By this mass collection of information?

MUELLER: By the various programs that have been put in place since then. ... It's both the programs (under the Patriot Act) but also the ability to share the information that has made such dramatic change in our ability to identify and stop plots.

CNN: One of the great controversies in this country right now is about drones, the use of domestic drones. Do you foresee the day when the United States arms drones to take out individuals who are posing threats to Americans on American soil?

MUELLER: No, I do not. I do not.

CNN: You would rule it out?

MUELLER: I do not see that day. And I will tell you that as well when you talk about (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and there's been some discussion recently about the FBI's use of it. We have used it a handful of times to provide surveillance in tactical situations where we, for instance, have a hostage rescue operation undergoing and for very narrow tactical purposes in limited situations.

CNN: Do you foresee the day when most Americans are surveilled by drones at one time or another?

MUELLER: No. No, I do not.

CNN: The attorney general has even suggested that it would be legal to take somebody out with a drone if they were posing a threat to America.

MUELLER: I'm not familiar with that comment, but I don't see that happening. ... There are a number of ways of accomplishing what you need to accomplish, whether it be in the law enforcement arena or in the national security arena, without resorting to that.

CNN: Are we in the day where Big Brother is now present in Americans' lives?

MUELLER: I wouldn't go so far as to say that at all. No. I would think of the programs (that) have come under scrutiny recently are designed to pick up, for the most part, metadata or to that extent that there is more than metadata, you have to do it by court order. And they're tailored to do that. And the other point I would make, is we are the one country that has a court that has a role of overseer of these programs. If you go to just about any other country in the world, it is the attorney general of that country that has a right to sign a sheet of paper and do the interception. We have inspector general oversight. We have the oversight conducted by the FISA court. We have Congress, the administration. We've got privacy advocates in each of our institutions. And so I do believe that there is a fulsome oversight capability.

CNN: We've given up some civil liberties, though, since 2011. Do you agree?

MUELLER: Well, I would query about what do you mean in terms of civil liberties. ... Do we exchange information in ways we did not before? Absolutely. You can say that that is a -- to the extent that you exchange information between CIA, FBI, NSA and the like -- you could characterize that as somehow giving up liberties. But the fact of the matter is, it's understandable and absolutely necessary if you want to protect the security of the United States.

CNN: How safer, though, has it really made us?

MUELLER: Hugely.

CNN: There has been a Boston bombing, though.

MUELLER: The number of plots that we have disrupted would be in the dozens, and not just disrupted here but disrupted overseas. The ability now to work and exchange information with the CIA, with NSA, with our counterparts in the intelligence services and law enforcement entities overseas has grown substantially. And that makes us all safer.

CNN: Do you think the government botched the Edward Snowden (matter), letting him slip out of the country?

MUELLER: Well, I mean I don't think there was any opportunity to -- that would -- you would look back and say look, 'we botched something like that.' No. I don't think that's accurate at all.

CNN: What about just detecting what he was doing?

MUELLER: I think you will see, without getting into the details, ourselves, the NSA and others, are putting into place measures that would perhaps stop an individual such as this, in the future, undertaking the same activity.

CNN: How much of a hero do you think he is? Has he done anything useful here?

MUELLER: I'm not going to comment on it. All I will tell you is that there are outstanding charges and our expectation is that he can and should be brought to justice.

CNN: You talk a lot about the cyber threat.

MUELLER: A cyber attack would be devastating, on the financial institutions, for instance. ... It could be hospitals, it could be infrastructure, it could be the energy infrastructure. But now we are aware of these potential targets and DHS, ourselves, the NSA, DOD, are all making preparations to prevent that from happening. But an attack will probably slip through at some point in time.

CNN: Do you think the Benghazi investigation was a failure?

MUELLER: No, absolutely not.

CNN: Getting people on the ground so late.

MUELLER: No, no, no, no, no, no. It's not a failure. ... It's a unique situation. I'm not going to tell you it's not, because it is a unique situation and very difficult for us to operate. .. When we had these African bombings of those embassies, we had an intelligence service in there that helped us. We had law enforcement agencies that helped us. We had access. In Libya, you have a government that does not control most of Libya, or a good portion of Libya. And consequently, the ambassador, the State Department, ourselves -- were pushing to get in there at the earliest possible moment. And that ended up being a couple of weeks down the road. But that does not mean that we have not very thoroughly investigated that and are continuing to investigate it. And I do believe the persons responsible will be brought to justice.

CNN: Can you predict when?

MUELLER: No.

CNN: The Boston bombing? Do you think the FBI did everything it could and do you think there's any fix in the way situations like that are handled so that you might be able to prevent something like that from happening?

MUELLER: We got notice from the Russians who looked at this particular individual and the agent who received that on the Joint Terrorism Task Force did a very thorough job in following up that. He ran all the -- all of the traces. (Went) to the college that he had attended (and) interviewed the parents and ultimately interviewed him and could not find any basis to do a further in -- investigation. So I think we did follow up on that.

CNN: Now, in the context of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, are there other things that perhaps could be done?

Yes, one or two.

CNN: Do I think it would have made any difference?

Probably not. It's all speculation. ... We are pretty good at what we do at this point. And so in the future, it may be if you have other attacks, that person may have been on our radar screen. But everybody who comes on our radar screen, we cannot investigate, indict and prosecute.

CNN: What could have been done? Could you have gone to the Russians and been more forceful in asking for more information?

MUELLER: Well, we asked on, what, two, I think three occasions. We got the information back to the Russians and we went to the Russians and said will you -- what more do you have? We couldn't get anything more out of them.

CNN: Would there have been any other things you could have followed up that you didn't?

MUELLER: At that time, the only thing that we could have been alerted to his travel back and forth to Russia. That is the only thing that was different.

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