TIME Dating

Geniuses in Love: Mensa and Match.com Partner For a New Dating Site

Heart in a petrie dish
Getty Images

Mensa, the society for people with high IQ, and Match.com are teaming up to create a new dating site for highly intelligent people, reports Match.com.

According to Match, smart is attractive: More than 80% of singles claim a partner’s equal or higher intelligence is a “must have” or “very important.”

“Why do we want a smart partner? Because intelligence is correlated with many benefits, including: higher income; sense of humor; creativity; social skills; coordination; and problem solving. These are sexy,” said Match’s Chief Scientific Advisor Dr. Helen Fisher in an online statement.

The new site only allows users that match Mensa’s requirement of an IQ in above the 98% of the general population. According to Mensa, there are plenty of brainy fish in the sea: an estimated 6 million Americans are eligible to become a part of the organization which now has 57,000 members.

Super smart singles are encouraged to put their best mind forward; through July 6th, Match is inviting them to take the Mensa Home Test for $1 to see if they qualify for this genius opportunity.

TIME intelligence

CIA Planned To Make ‘Demon’ Osama Bin Laden Action Figure

Terrorists Osama bin-Laden
$25 million: Osama bin-Laden was the founder of al-Qaeda, the militant Islamist organization that was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. Bin-Laden was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011 by an American Special Forces unit in an operation ordered by President Obama. Getty Images

The CIA confirmed to the Washington Post that three prototypes of the action figure were created

The CIA started to make Osama bin Laden action figures that were intended to spook children and parents into turning against him, the Washington Post reports.

Citing “people familiar with the project,” the Post reports that in 2005 the CIA began developing bin Laden action figures with heat-dissolving material that would peel off and reveal a red-faced, demon-like bin Laden. A batch of the toys were manufactured in China, though exactly how many is a subject of dispute.

A spokesperson for the CIA told the Post that only three action figures were created as prototypes, and the agency decided against moving forward with the project. But a source told the Post that hundreds of toys were sent to Karachi in 2006.

See the Post‘s images of the terrifying toy here.

[Washington Post]

TIME intelligence

WikiLeaks Teases ‘Very Important Secret Document’ Release

Julian Assange
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London on June 14, 2013. Anthony Devlin—AFP/Getty Images

While Julian Assange gives journalists some World Cup predictions

Two years after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange walked into Ecuador’s embassy in the U.K. seeking asylum, his whistleblowing group says it is set to release new classified documents pertaining to “international negotiations.”

WikiLeaks offered little detail on its forthcoming release except to say it contains information pertaining to around 50 countries, including Canada.

In a conference call with journalists from the Ecuadorean embassy in London on Wednesday, Assange — who remains publisher of the secret-spilling group — offered no indication that he intends to travel to Sweden to submit himself for questioning by prosecutors over allegations of sexual misconduct made roughly four years ago.

Prosecutors have declined offers to meet with Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in the U.K., his attorney said Wednesday. According to WikiLeaks, “new information” pertaining to the Swedish investigation will be revealed next Tuesday, though the group would not offer further details.

Assange has not been guaranteed safe passage to Ecuador, which has granted him asylum amid a presumed U.S. Department of Justice investigation into WikiLeaks, and has spent two years confined to Ecuador’s British embassy.

Assange’s supporters say the U.K. has spent about $10 million just on policing the embassy in order to apprehend Assange should he leave its confines. He admitted to journalists this week that he had managed to watch the World Cup from his embassy home.

“The reception in this building is quite difficult, but perhaps it makes it a bit harder for the bugs to transmit through the walls as well,” he said, apparently referring to surveillance devices. Assange said his sporting loyalties now lie with his hosts, unsurprisingly. “Of course, Ecuador undoubtedly deserves to win the World Cup and has a pretty decent team,” he said. “But I think there’s such prestige riding on the issue for Brazil that they are the most likely victors.”

In his comments Wednesday, Assange called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to drop any investigation into WikiLeaks or resign. He also said he believes Edward Snowden’s asylum in Russia will be renewed should the NSA leaker reapply.

TIME National Security

Army Chief of Staff Promises ‘Thorough’ Review of Bergdahl Capture

The mysterious disappearance of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl into enemy hands would be investigated as soon as he had physically and emotionally recovered, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said

The U.S. Army said Wednesday it would conduct a “thorough, transparent and complete” investigation into the circumstances surrounding Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s capture, as soon as he had recovered from five years of captivity at the hands of Taliban militants.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said the army would probe Bergdahl’s disappearance once he had been “properly reintegrated” into society.

“At the appropriate time, we will conduct a thorough, transparent and complete review of the circumstances surrounding his capture,” Odierno said in a statement.

The disappearance of Bergdahl from his post and subsequent attempts to secure his release have raised a slew of questions for administration officials. Chief among them was whether the decision to release five Taliban leaders in exchange for Bergdahl received proper vetting from security staffers and Congress. Intelligence officials told TIME that they had previously lodged objections to the deal, on the grounds that the Taliban commanders posed too great of a risk to national security. Washington Post reports that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had numbered among the objectors in the past.

The White House declined to describe the details of its decision-making process, arguing that threats to Bergdahl’s life required an urgent decision and that the deal had been approved by consensus among all of the members of Obama’s national security team.

TIME intelligence

NSA Releases Email Snowden Sent Before Leaks

Edward Snowden
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden during a meeting with German Green Party MP Hans-Christian Stroebele (not pictured) regarding being a witness for a possible investigation into NSA spying in Germany, on October 31, 2013 in Moscow. Sunshinepress/Getty Images

A White House spokesman confirmed on Thursday that it will release an email sent by Edward Snowden to the Office of General Counsel but added that "clemency is not on the table" for the former agency contractor

The National Security Agency released an email Thursday from Edward Snowden to its Office of General Counsel, acknowledging for the first time that the former contractor had contacted officials within the agency before leaking information about widespread surveillance activities.

Snowden has long maintained that he repeatedly alerted supervisors and NSA authorities regarding his concerns about the domestic and international surveillance programs he had come across in his work as a contractor for the agency, an allegation denied by the NSA in the past. NBC News confirmed the existence of the one email on Wednesday. But the NSA maintained that the one email hardly amounted to Snowden sounding the alarm about surveillance concerns.

“NSA has now explained that they have found one e-mail inquiry by Edward Snowden to the Office of General Counsel asking for an explanation of some material that was in a training course he had just completed,” NSA spokeswoman Vanee’ Vines said Thursday. “The e-mail did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse, but posed a legal question that the Office of General Counsel addressed. There was not additional follow-up noted. The e-mail will be released later today.”

The email, dated April 5, 2013—more than a month before he released a trove of secret documents to reporters but after he had already been in contact with them—shows Snowden asking the agency’s lawyers whether Executive Orders can trump federal statute and whether regulations from the Department of Defense or Office of Director of National Intelligence can take precedence over the other. An employee of the general counsel’s office replied to Snowden three days later, answering that executive orders have the force of law but cannot override federal law, and that DOD and ODNI regulations are treated with equal weight. But the email was sent months after his initial contacts with Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald when he first showed interest in leaking documents.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed the planned email release earlier Thursday, saying there were other avenues to raise concerns at Snowden’s disposal, beyond email, that he did not avail himself of. Following on Snowden’s interview with NBC News, Carney said the U.S. government’s position with respect to him has not changed. “Clemency is not on the table,” he said.

“There are numerous avenues that Mr. Snowden could have used to raise other concerns or whistleblower allegations,” Vines said. “We have searched for additional indications of outreach from him in those areas and to date have not discovered any engagements related to his claims.”

The full email:

TIME intelligence

Snowden: ‘There Are Some Things Worth Dying For’

The NSA leaker said he sees himself as a patriot in his first interview with a U.S. television network, which aired Wednesday night

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, stands by his decision to leak a huge collection of classified National Security Agency documents that revealed extensive, global U.S. government surveillance programs.

“There are some things worth dying for,” Snowden said in an interview with NBC News’ Brian Williams that aired late Wednesday, “I think the country is one of them.” The interview was his first with a U.S. television network since he fled from Hawaii to Hong Kong a year ago with classified materials.

Snowden has been living for the better part of a year under asylum in Russia and said if given the opportunity he’d like to go home.

“If I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home,” he said. The leaker made similar comments in an interview in January.

Snowden told Williams he attempted to travel to Latin America to seek asylum after leaving Hong Kong, but was left stranded in Moscow airport after the U.S. revoked his passport. The Kremlin granted Snowden temporary asylum, which expires at the end of July and which Snowden says he will ask to extend. He has been charged in the United States with theft and espionage.

Secretary of State John Kerry had harsh words in response to Snowden’s statement that he’d like to return to the United States.

“Edward Snowden is a coward,” Kerry told MSNBC. “He is a traitor. And he has betrayed his country. And if he wants to come home tomorrow to face the music, he can do so.”

In his denunciation of Snowden, Kerry said, “Patriots don’t go to Russia,” but Snowden told NBC that he sees himself as a patriot.

“I’ve from day one said that I’m doing this to serve my country,” he said.

In his lengthy interview Wednesday, Snowden scolded his critics for exploiting the trauma of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to justify the surveillance programs he exposed. Intelligence officials have defended the programs as essential tools in the effort to combat terrorism.

“I’ve never told anybody this. No journalist,” he said. “But I was on Fort Meade on September 11th. I was right outside the NSA. So I remember — I remember the tension of that day. I remember hearing on the radio the planes hitting. And I remember thinking my grandfather, who worked for the FBI at the time, was in the Pentagon when the plane hit it. I take the threat of terrorism seriously. And I think we all do.”

Snowden fired back at assertions made by American officials that he was little more than low-level tech support for the intelligence community, saying he was “trained as a spy” and worked undercover for both the NSA and the Central Intelligence Agency. He also rejected the assertion, made to TIME by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, that he is being controlled by Russian intelligence officials. “I have no relationship with the Russian government at all,” he said.

Despite his stated desire to come back, Snowden brushed off questions about whether or not he would make a deal with the U.S. government in order to return.

“My priority is not about myself,” he said. “It’s about making sure that these programs are reformed — and that the family that I left behind, the country that I left behind, can be helped by my actions.”


White House Accidentally Reveals Name of CIA Chief in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama gestures while speaking to troops at Bagram Air Field north of Kabul, Afghanistan, during an unannounced visit, May 25, 2014.
President Barack Obama gestures while speaking to troops at Bagram Air Field north of Kabul, Afghanistan, during an unannounced visit, May 25, 2014. Evan Vucci—AP

The White House issued a corrected list of officials, without the name of the CIA officer, but only after the initial list had been distributed to more than 6,000 people

The White House inadvertently revealed the name of the top CIA officer in Afghanistan when it provided reporters with a list of officials participating in President Barack Obama’s surprise Memorial weekend visit to troops.

In a press list of 15 officials circulated to up to 6,000 recipients, including TIME reporters, one name appeared next to the title Chief of Station, the title of the top CIA officer in a country. The White House, which received the list from military officials, soon realized the mistake and issued a revised copy without the name.

TIME is withholding his name after Obama officials cautioned The Washington Post, which first reported on the snafu, that the officer and his family could be at risk if his name were published. Given the officer’s prominent role, his identity is probably known by the top echelons of the Afghan government, so it’s still unclear if he will be pulled out of the country, the Post reports.

The CIA and the White House declined to comment to the Washington Post.


TIME intelligence

WikiLeaks Claims Afghanistan Under NSA Surveillance

The secret-spilling group says Afghanistan is the country The Intercept declined to name out of concern that doing so could stoke violence

The National Security Agency records every cell phone call in Afghanistan, claims the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which named the country despite the fact that other news organizations did not out of concern that doing so could lead to violence.

The Intercept, a media organization founded by journalists with access to classified documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, reported Monday that the NSA records all cell phone calls in the Bahamas and one unnamed country. The Intercept chose not to release the name of the country, the outlet said in its report, due to “credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence.” WikiLeaks responded to The Intercept’s report by criticizing the decision to redact the country’s name and said it would do so itself 72 hours later.

That threat led many to wonder if it meant WikiLeaks has obtained access to documents leaked by Snowden or if someone with access to the documents gave someone at WikiLeaks the name of the country in question. As the leak site Cryptome noted earlier, it may be that WikiLeaks simply believes that the mystery country is Afghanistan given the already-public information available.

An earlier report on the documents from The Washington Post did not name any of the countries involved.

TIME intelligence

Bill Curbing NSA Passes House As Advocates Demand More

Boehner NSA Bill
Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, departs after speaking to the media after the House passed the USA Freedom Act, an NSA reform bill aimed at restricting access to American's phone records, at the US Capitol in Washington, May 22, 2014. Jim Lo Scalzo—EPA

Privacy groups unhappy with late changes pulled their support from the bill at the last minute

The House passed legislation Thursday to curtail the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ phone records, but the compromise bill left civil liberties groups and privacy advocates unhappy and vowing to fight for stronger reforms in the Senate.

The vote came a year after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden set off a global debate about American surveillance practices by leaking a trove of documents detailing them. Privacy groups pulled their support for the bill before it came to a vote, but it still passed 303-120.

“The House is the beginning of the conversation,” said Mark Jaycox, a legislative analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The House wanted to pass something quickly and as a result really watered it down. Now we’re at the Senate where we’ll have to present a stronger bill and where hopefully a stronger bill will move.”

In the days before the USA FREEDOM Act passed the House, support for the bill among the civil liberties groups and tech companies that once championed it all but vanished. Groups that had been lobbying hard on behalf of the bill for months, like EFF, The Center for Democracy and Technology, and the Reform Government Surveillance Coalition, a consortium on tech giants including Facebook and Google, all yanked their endorsements at the 11th hour. Reform advocates were steamed about tweaks made in committee that they felt unacceptably broadened the scope of who and what the NSA can monitor, and also by the elimination of a measure that would have created a privacy advocate on the secretive court that oversees the NSA.

“What happened was the bill changed at the last minute,” said Harley Geiger, senior counsel with the Center for Democracy and Technology. “It changed at the last stop before going to the house floor.”

Lawmakers who supported the measure took turns Thursday emphasizing that it would end the “bulk collection” of Americans’ communications. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who chairs the House committee that deals with intelligence matters, called it a “sweet spot” compromise with “strong bipartisan” support. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said the bill had its shortcomings but was a step in the right direction.

“Let me be clear, I wish this bill did more,” he said. “To my colleagues who lament changes, I agree with you. To privacy groups who are upset about lost provisions, I share your disappointment. The negotiations for this bill were intense, and we had to make compromises, but this bill still deserves support.”

But advocates said the changes left too much open to interpretation and that courts could eventually gut many of the reforms.

“What they’re not doing is defining ‘bulk collection,’” Geiger said.

Amendments to the bill were not allowed as it went from the Rules Committee to a floor vote Thursday.

“All the House of Representatives got was an up or down vote on ambiguous reform on an issue that cause a bona fide international scandal,” Geiger said.

The bill will now go to the Senate, where it will be shepherded by one of its original proponents, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

“Today’s action in the House continues the bipartisan effort to restore Americans’ civil liberties,” Leahy said in a statement after the bill passed. “But I was disappointed that the legislation passed today does not include some of the meaningful reforms contained in the original USA FREEDOM Act. I will continue to push for these important reforms when the Senate Judiciary Committee considers the USA FREEDOM Act next month.”

Whether or not Leahy and his allies will be successful in reinserting some of the reforms that originally won civil libertarian support for the USA FREEDOM Act remains to be seen. The Senate has a stronger cohort of establishment Republicans than the House and fewer Tea Party conservatives whose small-government ethos clashes with the notion of expansive domestic surveillance. On the other hand, the measure will have a powerful ally in Leahy.

“At the end,” Geiger said, “it will come down to whether the senate wants to end mass surveillance or not.”

TIME intelligence

WikiLeaks Threatens To Reveal Unnamed Country From Snowden Documents

According to a new report from The Intercept, the NSA records every single cell phone call in the Bahamas and one unnamed country. WikiLeaks says it will name that country in just a few days.

WikiLeaks has threatened to unilaterally release the name of an as-yet unnamed country in which every cell phone call is recorded by the National Security Agency, despite the decision by other news outlets to withhold that information for fear of stoking violence.

That announcement comes after a war of words over Twitter between WikiLeaks and journalists at The Intercept, which reported Monday that the NSA collects cell phone metadata in Mexico, the Philippines and Kenya, and records and keeps for up to a month all cell phone calls in the Bahamas and one unnamed country. The Intercept declined to release the name of that country, the outlet says, due to “credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence.” The Intercept report is based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The Intercept is a media group launched earlier this year by a group of journalists including two of those originally granted access to the Snowden documents, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras. The existence of this specific NSA recording program, code named MYSTIC, was previously reported by The Washington Post, which declined to name any of the countries involved.

WikiLeaks’ threat to publish the identity of the redacted country, if credible, suggests the organization has obtained access to documents leaked by Snowden or has been informed of the country’s identity by someone with access to the documents. Snowden has said he did not leak documents directly to WikiLeaks, but the key players in both organizations—Greenwald, Poitras, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange—are well acquainted with one another.

According to the report, the NSA obtained access to the Bahamas’ cell phone networks by piggy backing on access legally obtained by the Drug Enforcement Agency, with the DEA’s cooperation. The Intercept declined to report the code name for a private firm that allows access to cell phone data in the Bahamas due to “a specific, credible concern that doing so could lead to violence.”

The program, codenamed SOMALGET, is part the NSA’s umbrella program MYSTIC, under which, The Intercept reports, the agency also collects metadata on the telecommunications of “several other countries, including Mexico, the Philippines, and Kenya,” similar to the telecom surveillance the NSA conducts in the United States.

Rather than the anti-terrorism work routinely used to justify the NSA’s surveillance activities, SOMALGET, according to NSA documents quoted by The Intercept, exists primarily as a part of the drug war to monitor “international narcotics traffickers and special-interest alien smugglers.”

In a statement to TIME, NSA spokesperson Vanee’ Vines did not deny the existence of the program but said, “The fact that the U.S. government works with other nations, under specific and regulated conditions, mutually strengthens the security of all.” Vines confirmed that the scope of the agency’s mandate extends well beyond counterterrorism efforts.

“The Agency collects data to meet specific security and intelligence requirements such as counterintelligence, counterterrorism, counterproliferation, cyber security, force protection for U.S. troops and allies, and combating transnational crime.”

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