From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And I'm Robert Siegel. President Obama was at pains today to defend the National Security Agency programs that were uncovered this week by The Guardian and The Washington Post. He said nobody is listening to your telephone calls and he assured the country that these intelligence efforts come with strict government oversight.
Now, for our weekly political conversation. We're going to start with this week's big disclosures of data collection by the National Security Agency. Joining me are columnist David Brooks of The New York Times and sitting in this week for E.J. Dionne, Jane Mayer, staff writer for The New Yorker. Good to see both of you here.
Even in an era of stark political polarization, there are still some issues that can draw Americans together and scramble the normal ideological fault lines.
Recent revelations about the Internal Revenue Service and the National Security Agency are among them.
Unlike the debates over Obamacare or President Obama himself, which tend to be more litmus tests for party affiliation than anything else, the reactions to reports about overreach by the Internal Revenue Service and the National Security Agency have brought normally warring partisans together.
In his most extensive comments so far on the revelations this week about the electronic data that the nation's spy agencies are collecting, President Obama told the American people Friday that "nobody is listening to your telephone calls."
And now it's time for Backtalk, that's the time when we hear from you. Editor Ahmad Omar is with us today. What is going on?
AHMAD OMAR: Celeste, we have a little clarification. In our political chat last week, we talked about a staff shakeup for South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. The co-chair of her reelection committee resigned over connections to the Council of Conservative Citizens. The Southern poverty Law Center calls that a white nationalist group.
N.J. Gov. Chris Christie's political future is affected by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, President Obama dares Republicans to stop his court nominees and Michigan's John Dingell makes history in Congress. NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin review it all in the latest It's All Politics podcast.
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From 'Morning Edition': NPR's Larry Abramson on the nation's secret court
Fresh reports about the massive amount of electronic data that the nation's spy agencies are collecting "raise profound questions about privacy" because of what they say about how such information will be collected in the future, NPR's Dina Temple-Raston said Friday on Morning Edition.
It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
And I'm Linda Wertheimer. Sen. John McCain is pushing the Obama administration to do more for rebels fighting the Syrian government. This follows his trip last week to opposition-held territory in Syria. McCain warns that a failure to act could send the Middle East deep into sectarian conflict.
His comments come as both the rebels, and the likelihood of planned peace talks, appear to be losing ground.NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.
The U.S. Supreme Court, on the brink of issuing two same-sex-marriage decisions, is facing a question that Margaret Marshall had to resolve for her state a decade ago, as chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Her decision became the first to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States.
President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are meeting this weekend at Sunnylands, an exclusive retreat center near Palm Springs, Calif. On top of 11 lakes, a private golf course and a world-renowned art collection, the compound holds more history than even a 200-acre estate should be able to contain. Obama is the eighth U.S. president to have spent time there. Frank Sinatra married his fourth wife there.
It's an overstatement to say that it's beginning to look like President George W. Bush's fourth term.
Still, that characterization by former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer carried the ring of truth Thursday with the report that a National Security Agency telecommunications program that Americans first became aware of under Bush has continued under Obama.