The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

April 4, 2014

'Cuban Twitter' heads to hearings in Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the U.S. government agency that secretly created a "Cuban Twitter" communications network designed to undermine the communist government in Cuba is expected to testify next week before a senator who thinks the whole idea was "dumb, dumb, dumb." The congressional hearing could resolve key questions around the clandestine program, including whether the Obama administration adequately informed lawmakers about its plans.

Administration officials on Thursday defended the program, saying it had been "debated" by Congress and wasn't a covert operation that required White House approval. But two senior Democrats on congressional intelligence and judiciary committees said they had known nothing about the effort.

An Associated Press investigation found that the network was built using secret shell companies and financed through a foreign bank. The project, which lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers, sought to evade Cuba's stranglehold on the Internet with a social media platform.

The program aimed first to build a Cuban audience, mostly young people. Then the plan was to push them toward dissent.

But the Cuban users of the network, called ZunZuneo, were not aware it was created by the U.S. Agency for International Development, overseen by the State Department. They also did not know that American contractors running the program were gathering personal data about them, in the hope that the information might be used someday for political purposes.

U.S. law requires written authorization of covert action by the president. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday he was not aware of individuals in the White House who had known about the program.

Josefina Vidal, director of U.S. affairs at Cuba's Foreign Ministry, said late Thursday that the ZunZuneo program "shows once again that the United States government has not renounced its plans of subversion against Cuba, which have as their aim the creation of situations of destabilization in our country to create changes in the public order and toward which it continues to devote multimillion-dollar budgets each year."

Text Only
AP National
  • Air travel a leap of faith for passengers WASHINGTON (AP) — Airline travel requires passengers to make a leap of faith, entrusting their lives to pilots, airlines, air traffic controllers and others who regulate air travel. Even after a week of multiple tragedies in worldwide aviation, "Ther

    July 25, 2014

  • Pot may be legal, but homeowner agreements can ban DENVER (AP) — Pot may be legal in some states — but the neighbors don't have to like it. Marijuana and hemp have joined wacky paint colors and unsightly fences as common neighborhood disputes facing homeowners' associations. Though a few HOAs have wi

    July 25, 2014

  • Central American leaders convening at White House WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will urge Central American leaders to help slow the influx of unaccompanied children fleeing their countries for the United States, even as Congress remains deeply divided over proposals to stem the crisis at

    July 25, 2014

  • Little sunlight as Obama raises super PAC dollars WASHINGTON (AP) — For years President Barack Obama railed against the surge of unlimited spending flowing into American political campaigns, arguing that average voters were being shut out of a secretive system that lets special interests bankroll el

    July 25, 2014

  • Prosecutor: Man faces charges in hospital shooting DARBY, Pa. (AP) — A man who authorities say fatally shot a caseworker at a hospital complex near Philadelphia and was then shot by his psychiatrist remains listed in critical condition. District Attorney Jack Whelan said Richard Plotts would be arrai

    July 25, 2014

  • Social Security's $300M IT project doesn't work WASHINGTON (AP) — The Social Security Administration has spent nearly $300 million on a new computer system to handle disability claims, but the agency can't get it to work. And officials can't say when it will. Six years ago, Social Security embarke

    July 24, 2014

  • JFK returns to old look in new collectors' coins WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — President John F. Kennedy is getting his old look back on new collectors' coins. The slain president's profile debuted on the half dollar 50 years ago, and the image was subtly tweaked and sharpened in the 1990s. Now the U.S.

    July 24, 2014

  • FAA lifts ban on US flights to Tel Aviv airport WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. flights in and out of Israel. The end of the ban, which the agency had imposed out of concern for the risk of planes being hit by Hamas rockets, was effective at 11:45 p

    July 24, 2014

  • Man run over by own truck during road rage GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A man in Florida apparently got a dose of road rage karma when police say he was run over by his own pickup truck after getting out to bang on another driver's window. It happened Tuesday evening in Gainesville, Florida. The

    July 24, 2014

  • New Jersey sues over Florida pizza shop logo TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey Turnpike Authority wants a Florida pizza shop to pay a big toll for using a logo similar to the Garden State Parkway's green and yellow signs. The agency sued Jersey Boardwalk Pizza Tuesday in federal court over th

    July 24, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National