Public relations. Engaging in his own PR campaign, National Security Administration leaker Edward Snowden is taking to the Guardian’s website today to answer questions from readers about why he revealed details of the U.S. government’s secret surveillance programs. In response to a question about why he went to Hong Kong before releasing the classified documents he held, Snowden had this to say:“First, the U.S. government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason and that the disclosure of secret, criminal, and even unconstitutional acts is an unforgivable crime. That’s not justice, and it would be foolish to volunteer yourself to it if you can do more good outside of prison than in it.” U.S. government officials have confirmed they are building a criminal case against Snowden.
No proof necessary. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that Arizona could notrequire voters to provide proof of citizenship before casting their ballots. Federal law requires people registering to vote to swear to their citizenship, upon penalty of perjury. In 2004, Arizona voters approved a package of immigration reform measures that required voters to provide concrete proof of their citizenship. Four other states—Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, and Tennessee—have similar laws. Speaking for theseven-member majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said the federal law “forbids states to demand that an applicant submit additional information beyond that required by the federal form.” But Scalia also said the state could try a different approach to tightening voter requirements, giving Arizona lawmakers room to take another stab at the law.
Progress in Colorado. Firefighters in Colorado have the Black Forest fire more thanhalf contained, and they are making similar progress on several other blazes that sprang up last week near Colorado Springs. After incinerating 25 square miles and almost 500 homes, the Black Forest fire was declared the most destructive in the state’s history, far outstripping last year’s Waldo Canyon fire. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but high temperatures and gusting winds helped it spread quickly. Crews sent in to assess the damage behind fire lines said it looked “like a nuclear bomb went off.”Some area residents could soon be allowed back to their neighborhoods to see what’s left of their homes.
Losing support. All of the scandals plaguing the White House are taking their toll on the president, according to a CNN/ORC International poll. During the last month, President Barack Obama’s approval rating has dropped 8 points, to 45 percent. But perhaps most worrisome for the administration, the president is losing support among some of his key backers, according to USA Today. “The drop in Obama’s support is fueled by a dramatic 17-point decline over the past month among people under 30, who, along with black Americans, had been the most loyal part of the Obama coalition,” said Keating Holland, CNN polling director. “It is clear that revelations about NSA surveillance programs have damaged Obama’s standing with the public, although older controversies like the IRS matter may have begun to take their toll as well.”