Paris Attacks Spark Congressional Debate About Freedom From Surveillance vs. National Security

tupungato/iStock/ThinkStock(WASHINGTON) -- The terrorist attacks in Paris, which left 130 dead, have reignited a Congressional debate over how much information the government should be able to access from citizens -- and how to balance national security concerns with individual freedoms.

Some members of Congress are calling for the government to continue a program that collects vast amount of phone data that is set to expire shortly, and others are saying the problem is the existence of smartphone applications and other consumer technology that allows people to carry out conversations that can go completely undetected.

Unless Congress acts, the National Security Agency program that allows the government to collect Americans' phone records in bulk is set to expire on Dec. 1.

Sen. Tom Cotton and a growing number of co-sponsors are now calling for the delay of that program's expiration until at least the end of January 2017.

Powerful Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr and Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain have all signed on as co-sponsors, a Cotton spokeswoman said.

"Now is not the time to sacrifice our national security for political talking points. We should allow the Intelligence Community to do their job and provide them with the tools they need to keep us safe," Cotton said in a statement last week.

But given the program's looming expiration date, the Senate is not likely to have a chance to vote on his bill. The Senate returns to work on the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 30 -- just hours before the program expires.

"The timeline isn't ideal but it seems likely the NSA would be able to turn the bulk collection system back on if it was permitted to after a period of dormancy," Cotton spokeswoman Caroline Rabbitt told ABC.
So far the list of co-sponsors does not include any Democrats.

There is bipartisan support, however, for changes to the burgeoning industry of encryption applications that are marketed to users looking for ways to avoid government surveillance. These readily available apps are believed to be increasingly co-opted by terrorists who use them to shield their communications from government eyes.

"It is likely that end-to-end encryption was used to communication between those individuals in Belgium, in France, and in Syria,” Burr, the Intelligence Committee chairman, said last week after a classified briefing on the Paris attacks.

"It's a black Web and there's no way of piercing it," added the committee's top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, over the weekend.

She said technology companies, many of which are located in her home state of California, must be open to changing their products so that the government can access communications from suspicious users -- what FBI chief James Comey has referred to as a "back door."

"I am hopeful that the companies, most of whom are my constituents -- not most, but many -- will understand what we're facing," she said, adding that she envisions such surveillance requiring a court order - a nod to the difficult balance lawmakers face between ensuring civil liberties and protecting national security.

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First Daughters Gobble Up President Obama's Jokes at Turkey Pardon

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama trotted out his best jokes at the 2015 White House turkey pardon Wednesday afternoon in the Rose Garden, even getting some laughs from his daughters -– who appeared at times disinterested in last year’s proceedings.

“It is hard to believe that this is my seventh year of pardoning turkeys,” Obama said. “Time flies, even if turkeys don’t.”

“That was good, that was good,” Sasha, his youngest daughter, said with a giggle.

“I thought it was good,” the president replied.

This year’s lucky turkey was “Abe,” an 18-week-old, 40-pound turkey raised in California’s Central Valley under the supervision of the National Turkey Federation.

“Abe is now a free bird. He’s TOTUS -– the Turkey of the United States,” Obama said.

“If for some reason Abe can't fulfill his duties to walk around and gobble all day, Honest is in an undisclosed location ready to serve in the TOTUS line of succession,” he continued.

The Obama daughters were criticized after last year's pardoning for looking bored at times. (One former Republican Capitol Hill staffer criticized them for their expressions, and later resigned over the remarks.)
This year, the First Daughters seemed to enjoy this year’s event, joking with each other and their father throughout the ceremony.

In his second-to-last turkey pardon -– potentially his last with both daughters, as Malia will start college next year -– the president thanked Sasha and Malia for their participation.

“They do this solely because it makes me feel good. Not because they actually think that this is something I should be doing,” he said.

“As you get older you appreciate when your kids just indulge you like this, so I'm very grateful,” he continued.

Abe was picked to participate in the Rose Garden ceremony over his alternate, “Honest,” in an online poll. Both turkeys –- who were named by California school children -– will live out their days at a historic Virginia turkey farm after receiving their presidential pardons.

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Obama Shares Homeland Security Status as Holidays Approach

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said Americans should not be concerned that a similar attack to the one in Paris would happen on U.S. soil.

"As we go into Thanksgiving weekend, I want the American people to know is that we are taking every possible step to keep our homeland safe," he said.

The president made those remarks after getting an update from his national security team on the homeland security posture in the wake of the Paris attacks and as the nation enters the holiday season.

"Today’s meeting will provide an opportunity for members of the president's national security team to review efforts to monitor threats, continually evaluate our security posture, and protect the American people. Per his instructions, the president will continue to be regularly apprised of these efforts," a White House official said before the meeting.

The official also noted that the administration is not aware of any credible, specific intelligence that indicates a Paris-like plot on the U.S. homeland.

The president spoke from the Roosevelt Room in the White House, after the approximately hour-long national security meeting in the Situation Room, which included updates from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

The security update came just a day after Obama met with French President Francois Hollande, during which the two called for all western nations to step up their commitments in the fight against ISIS.

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A Look at 'Let the Big Dog Eat' and Other Jeb-Isms

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The famed Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg, South Carolina was packed; Jeb Bush stood amidst an aging crowd, making his pitch on Common Core when he diverged.

“I was all-in on the education subject. I was like the pig in the breakfast experience not the chicken. If you know what I mean...I was the bacon,” he said. Silence filled the air.

“Get it?” he asked.

A few pity-laced chuckles ensued.

“I thought that was funny,” Bush joked, unfazed.

This is just one of Bush’s more bewildering aphorisms. The former Florida governor has a vast catalog brimming with obscure colloquiums (most are animal-focused), some of which he attributes to his Florida residence and all of which may bolster his self-characterization as a “nerd.”

Some amuse, others confuse, but Jeb-isms run in no short supply. These moments may come off as awkward on a great debate stage, but for the voters and reporters who cover him, his phrases can be endearing -- a streak of humanity for a candidate who Donald Trump famously derided as “low-energy.”

Let’s take a look at three of the more common phrases:

“Let The Big Dog Eat”

This phrase is Bush’s most-used on the campaign trail. It commonly makes its way into his lexicon when referring to regulatory and economic reform.

At a recent town hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bush said, “People just need to lighten the load up and let people rise up as we say in North Florida, we just need to let the big dog eat. A big dog is inside of each of us.”

As oft-used as this phrase is, when Bush campaigns in New Hampshire as he often does, this particular saying can be met with a mix of bemusement and bewilderment.

“Unleash the Animal Spirits”

Bush uses this phrase when he’s speaking broadly about his plan to bolster the economy and hit 4 percent growth.

During his energy rollout in Pennsylvania in late September, he said, "This is what makes America so extraordinary and so special. We just have to unleash the animal spirits as Americans and we will be America renewed again."

And in North Carolina, “The animal spirits still exist inside America.”

In Iowa, Bush’s usage of the phrase served to complicate a reference to our previous expression.

A voter asked him what “let the big dog eat” means. “It means releasing the animal spirits of this country, how about that?” Bush answered.

He continued by saying, “This country is extraordinary and it’s because we have this unique ability to take risks, to innovate, to try different things, to dust ourselves off, two-steps-forward one-step-back. We’re a dynamic country and we’re losing our dynamism. That’s what I meant.”

"Frogs…Or Crabs In a Barrel"

In Conway, South Carolina, Bush was asked about Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders’ plan to make college free. He called such tactics “insidious," slamming the notion that the government “can just take care of us.”

And then the metaphor came.

“It’s like the crabs in the, you know, whatever -- the crabs in the boiling water,” Bush began.

A voter tried to help. “Frogs!” she shouted.

“The frogs,” Mr. Bush continued. “You think it’s warm, and it feels pretty good and then it feels like you’re in a whirlpool -- you know, a Jacuzzi or something.”

“And then you’re dead,” he concluded. “That’s how this works.”

The Bush campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

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Meet Hillary Clinton's Old Friends Who Are Hitting the Campaign Trail

Liz Kreutz/ABC News(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- After a recent campaign event in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton slipped backstage at the Nashua Radisson, where 18 of her biggest fans were waiting.

“I’m so happy you all could come,” Clinton said after posing for a photo with the group who had traveled from Arkansas to be there. “Thank you, thank you.”

For the next five minutes or so, Clinton chatted with them about life: the Razorbacks, her granddaughter, husband Bill, general happenings on the campaign trail. They updated her on their plans. She then hugged each of them and said goodbye. It was back to work -- for everyone.

But this was no ordinary group of supporters. These were the “Arkansas Travelers,” a cadre of loyal Democrats -- some of whom are longtime friends and colleagues of the Clintons -- who got together in 1992 to travel the country to campaign for the future president’s first White House bid.

In 1992, the group’s efforts turned out to be a real boon for Bill Clinton, who was still relatively unknown to many across the country (“Travelers” recall knocking on doors in Iowa and meeting person after person who had never even heard of him).

Ever since, the group has become a staple part of a Clinton presidential campaign -- reuniting for Bill Clinton in 1996, for Hillary Clinton in 2008, and now in 2016. And in an election year that’s never seen more of an emphasis on digital campaign strategies, these “Travelers” are doing things the old-fashioned way. After all, it’s worked for them before.

When Hillary Clinton greeted them in Nashua, members of the group had already been out campaigning for five straight days -- door knocking, canvassing, attending house parties and dinners all across the Granite State on behalf of the former secretary of state. And this visit was just the beginning; the “Travelers” plan to campaign for Clinton in additional states over the next year.

The job of getting the band back together fell to Sheila Bronfman, the founder and organizer of the “Arkansas Travelers,” who got to work rallying the troops in April after Clinton officially announced her candidacy. By November, she had recruited more than 400 volunteers -- many of them first-timers.

But some of the old-timers are on the move this year too, including Bronfman, who wears a whistle around her neck, which she uses to gather up her fellow “Travelers.” Ann Henry, 76, and her husband, Morriss, 83, -- the couple who hosted the Clintons' wedding reception in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 1975 -- are also back on the campaign trail.

“We're people that have met her, we know her personally, and the other people around here perhaps have only seen her on TV,” Morriss Henry, a physician who served in the Arkansas state legislature, told ABC News in an interview. “They're interested in finding out who she really is in person, and to talk to somebody that has had that experience, like we have, of knowing both Bill and Hillary. And I've known them for a long time.”

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Barbra Streisand Calls Trump Presidency 'Terrifyingly Scary,' But Thinks Race Against Hillary Would Be Great

Photo by Kris Connor/WireImage(WASHINGTON) -- Barbra Streisand said Tuesday that she’d have a hard time imagining Donald Trump as President of the United States, but thinks a general election matchup between the real estate mogul and Hillary Clinton would be "one of the greatest moments in television history."

The actress and singer, who received the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama at the White House Tuesday evening, said the thought of receiving the nation’s highest civilian honor from Trump was “terrifyingly scary.”

“What if that was Donald Trump up there, I couldn't help but think, ‘what would he say?’” she said. “The president [Obama] is so eloquent, so dignified.”

“I probably would've choked,” she added. “It's terrifyingly scary, but it's funny. But scary.”

Streisand, a vocal supporter of President Obama, is also one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest boosters in Hollywood.

“I want Hillary Clinton to be president,” she said. “We need a woman president, we need compassion, we need to have a person who comes from the heart.”

She said a Clinton/Trump general election matchup would be “one of the greatest moments in television history.”

“Everybody would watch,” she said. “I can’t even imagine. I mean, I’m not worried about her.”

Streisand was one of 17 people awarded the Medal of Freedom by the president, a group that also included director Steven Spielberg, Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays and musician James Taylor.

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Jeb Bush Denounces Donald Trump’s ‘Cheering Muslims’ Claim

ABC News(ROCK HILL, S.C.) -- As GOP candidate Donald Trump doubles down on claims that he saw Americans in New Jersey cheering on 9/11, his rival, Jeb Bush, strongly denounced those comments Tuesday while campaigning in South Carolina.

"I don’t recall that. There was no cheering on any -- it would have been on television, it would have been recorded,” Bush said.

A memory, he said, he instead recalls is that of peaceful Muslim-Americans.

“What I remember were a lot of peaceful Muslims that were disheartened and grieved and sad and angry just as every other American was as well,” the former governor of Florida said.

Trump defended comments he made on Saturday -- that he saw thousands of people in Jersey City, New Jersey cheering when the World Trade Center was destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001.

"There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey where you have large Arab populations,” Trump told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week. "They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down -- as those buildings came down, and that tells you something. It was well covered at the time.”

These claims have been widely debunked. ABC News, among many other news organizations, has investigated and no evidence of such cheering in Jersey City has been found.

While there were images of people cheering the towers’ collapse in parts of the Middle East, there is no record of such celebrations in New Jersey. There were some Internet rumors of Muslims celebrating the towers’ fall in Paterson, New Jersey, but those were discounted by local police at the time.

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Republican Candidates Deny Trump's 9/11 Claims

Ty Wright/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As Donald Trump stands by comments he made about 9/11, other Republican presidential hopefuls deny the claims.

Trump is not backing down after he said he saw people cheering in Jersey City, New Jersey on Sept. 11, 2001. On the campaign trail in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Tuesday, Trump said he's received "hundreds of phone calls" from people agreeing with him since he made the comments in the past few days.

These claims have been widely debunked. ABC News, among many other news organizations has investigated and no evidence of such cheering in Jersey City has been found.

Earlier Tuesday, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he strongly condemned Trump's claims and he remembered "a lot of peaceful Muslims that were disheartened and grieved and sad and angry just as every other American was as well."

In an interview Tuesday with Bret Baier on Fox News, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he didn't recall Muslims celebrating in Jersey City.

“As I said before if that had happened, I'd recall it and I don’t," he told Baier.

Dr. Ben Carson on Monday told reporters he saw "newsreels" of American Muslims cheering in New Jersey during the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, then a few hours later his campaign apologized and said he "doesn't stand behind" what he said and his remarks were "a mistake."

Trump responded to Carson backpedaling from his comments.

"For Ben Carson to make this statement and then deny it, could be the pathological disease that he wrote about acting up again,” he said in a statement.

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President Obama Honors Medal of Freedom Winners at White House

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Tuesday awarded seventeen individuals the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an “extraordinary” group of artists, athletes, and politicians that included Steven Spielberg, Barbara Streisand and Willie Mays.

“Even by the standards of Medal of Freedom recipients, this is a class act,” President Obama said.

The president listed the accomplishments of the seventeen recipients of the nation’s highest civilian honor, comments that revealed his personal connections and relationships with many of the honorees.

“I’m proud to call the next honoree a friend, as well.  The truth is, a lot of people say that about James Taylor.  That’s what happens when you spend four decades telling people, ‘Just call out my name, and I’ll come running,’” he joked in his comments about James Taylor.

Of Willie Mays, he said:  “It’s because of giants like Willie that someone like me could even think about running for President.” 

He also had high praise for former Rep. Lee Hamilton and outgoing Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski – the longest-serving female member of Congress in history. Mikulski, he said, stood next to him when he signed his first bill into law --The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

The ceremony was jovial and celebratory – a marked contrast from the mood in the East Room Tuesday morning for President Obama’s news conference with French President Francois Hollande.

The president appeared to be enjoying himself too, cracking jokes (“I didn’t know you were Jewish, Barbra.”) and mingling with the audience on the way out of the room, as the theme song to Spielberg’s E.T. played over the sound system.

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Melania Trump Makes First Appearance on Campaign Trail

Scott Olson/Getty Images(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) -- Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was joined for the first time by his wife and some of his children on the campaign trail Tuesday night.

Speaking to thousands in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Trump’s wife, Melania, daughters Ivanka and Tiffany and youngest son Barron joined the candidate on stage.

“Isn’t he the best?" Melania Trump asked the crowd to loud cheers. “He will be the best President ever. We love you.”

It was just last week, that the Trumps sat down with ABC News' Barbara Walters. “I encouraged him because I know what he will do and what he can do for America,” Melania told Walters. “He loves the American people and he wants to help them.”

Trump said his family was joining him ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. The family will fly to Trump’s Mar-a-Largo Estate in Florida to celebrate together as Trump takes a few days off the trail.

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