Gen. Michael Hayden, a former director of the National Security Agency, tells NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday that the government's acquisition of phone records and surveillance of Internet activity is lawful and justified by the changing nature of the war on terrorism.
Hayden, who served as NSA chief from 1999-2005 and is also a former CIA director, says NSA's activities are "perfectly legal" and "an accurate reflection of balancing our security and our privacy."
A two-day summit between President Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, is being described as a "unique, positive and constructive" meeting that reportedly produced broad agreement on handling North Korea and put the thorny issue of cybersecurity at the forefront.
It was hoped the summit, which wrapped up Saturday in California, would be an opportunity for the two men to establish a personal relationship weeks after Xi assumed the presidency in China.
In the past several days, there's been a steady flow of leaks about the National Security Agency and its secret surveillance activities, including the gathering of metadata on domestic and foreign telephone calls and the existence of PRISM, described in media reports as a top-secret data-mining program.
New developments are occurring on a daily basis. Here are a few we're watching right now:
There was considerable mouth-dropping from publications such as The New York Times at initial reports this week that NSA programs are gathering both telephone records and information gleaned from large tech companies like Google and Microsoft. But as those reports have settled in, reactions have gotten more complex.
Most aquarium visitors are there to see sharks, sea turtles, fish and other marine life. But at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, there's another star attraction: Coral.
The Aquarium's Blacktip Reef exhibit will open later this summer, and give visitors a look at an Indo-Pacific coral reef. But curators can't just carve a chunk out of a wild reef to put in the vast tank, that would destroy the very ecosystem for which they hope to raise conservation awareness. And corals take hundreds of years to develop into a reef, so the aquarium can't grow its own in-house.
Sarah Murnaghan's spirit can be summed up by her personalized Monopoly character: a three-legged silver pig that can stand on its own.
"Everybody sort of expects her to decline here, and she does, but she fights back every time," says her mother, Janet.
Sarah, who has cystic fibrosis, has a reason to keep fighting: She's another step closer to getting a lung transplant. Sarah has been waiting for a year and a half, and doctors say she could die soon without a transplant.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Saturday said media reporting this week about government surveillance activities amounted to "reckless disclosures" that could hand terrorists a playbook to foil detection.
He said the surveillance measures are legal and said the reporting lacked full context:
A "walk-through" enclosure at the London Zoo apparently allows visitors to get a little too close to resident squirrel monkeys and several people have the bite marks to prove it, according to details of a report published in a U.K. newspaper.
The Camden New Journal says 15 people suffered bites from the black-and-tan monkeys over a 12-month period last year.
Tech companies that cooperated with government intelligence-gathering efforts by allowing access to their databases say they did so only reluctantly and that it never involved 'direct access' to servers, according to The New York Times.
In Southern California, a nuclear power plant that supplied energy to more than a million homes is shutting down for good. As NPR's Ina Jaffe reports, the San Onofre nuclear plant has been idle for repair since January of 2012.
INA JAFFE, BYLINE: The twin, white domes at the San Onofre nuclear power plant have been landmarks on the California coast for more than four decades.