The Wrap: From NSA spying to the Christmas tree tax that won’t die, the week that was

  • ** FILE ** President Obama pauses while speaking in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, June 7, 2013. The president defended his government's secret surveillance, saying Congress repeatedly has authorized the collection of America's phone records and Internet use. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)** FILE ** President Obama pauses while speaking in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, June 7, 2013. The president defended his government's secret surveillance, saying Congress repeatedly has authorized the collection of America's phone records and Internet use. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
  • **FILE** James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, listens March 12, 2013, to testimony at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, where he testified about worldwide threats. (Associated Press)**FILE** James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, listens March 12, 2013, to testimony at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, where he testified about worldwide threats. (Associated Press)
  • ** FILE ** Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the 20th anniversary of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Monday, April 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)** FILE ** Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the 20th anniversary of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Monday, April 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • ** FILE ** First lady Michelle Obama addresses the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 42nd annual Phoenix Awards dinner in Washington on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (Associated Press)** FILE ** First lady Michelle Obama addresses the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 42nd annual Phoenix Awards dinner in Washington on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (Associated Press)
  • President Obama speaks to students at Mooresville Middle School Thursday, June 6, 2013 in Mooresville, N.C.  (Associated Press)President Obama speaks to students at Mooresville Middle School Thursday, June 6, 2013 in Mooresville, N.C. (Associated Press)
  • ** FILE ** Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura appears on Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" in April 2008. (Fox News Channel)** FILE ** Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura appears on Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" in April 2008. (Fox News Channel)
  • ** FILE ** U.S. envoy J. Christopher Stevens attends meetings on April 11, 2011, at the Tibesty Hotel in Benghazi, Libya, where an African Union delegation was meeting with Libyan opposition leaders. (Associated Press)** FILE ** U.S. envoy J. Christopher Stevens attends meetings on April 11, 2011, at the Tibesty Hotel in Benghazi, Libya, where an African Union delegation was meeting with Libyan opposition leaders. (Associated Press)
  • The Robo Raven was developed for the U.S. Army by the Maryland Robotics Center at the University of Maryland.The Robo Raven was developed for the U.S. Army by the Maryland Robotics Center at the University of Maryland.
  • A Chinese paramilitary policeman stands guard on Tiananmen Square while sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference are held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Monday, March 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

A Chinese paramilitary policeman stands guard on Tiananmen Square while sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference are held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Monday, March 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
  • **FILE** John Jackson, co-owner of Capitol City Arms Supply, shows an AR-15 assault rifle for sale at his business in Springfield, Ill., on  Jan. 16, 2013. (Associated Press)**FILE** John Jackson, co-owner of Capitol City Arms Supply, shows an AR-15 assault rifle for sale at his business in Springfield, Ill., on Jan. 16, 2013. (Associated Press)
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It was revealed that millions of innocent Americans have been subjected to NSA wiretaps as part of secret program to uncover terrorists plots. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said that the U.S. would sign an international arms treaty.

On the international stage, China is countering U.S. military strategy in Asia by arming western hemisphere states.

Here’s a recap, or wrap, of the week that was from The Washington Times.

• Scope of phone records seizure causes alarm; data collection goes beyond Verizon

The Obama administration on Thursday defended its secret seizure of the phone records of millions of U.S. citizens as part of counterterrorism efforts, while privacy advocates blasted the move as illegal and a debate erupted in Congress over the intended scope of a key surveillance law.

In a new development, the National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies in real time, obtaining audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails and other information, various news outlets reported. The program is code-named PRISM.

• Crowd stunned after valedictorian rips up speech, recites Lord’s prayer

A South Carolina valedictorian garnered wild applause after he ripped up his pre-approved speech and delivered the Lord’s prayer at his high school graduation on Saturday.

The act was apparently in protest of the Pickens County School District’s decision to no longer include prayer at graduation ceremonies, Christian News reported. Officials said the decision was made after the district was barraged with complaints by atheist groups.

• ‘Prism’ a vital program used to collect personal Web data, Clapper insists

The National Security Agency is gathering Internet users’ personal data from the computer servers of at least nine large Web service providers under a top secret program called “Prism,” the director of national intelligence said Friday.

“Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable foreign intelligence information we collect,” James R. Clapper said in a statement, adding that the program is “subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress.”

• New book: Bill Clinton forges secret deal with ‘incompetent’ Obama

Noted political writer Edward Klein claims in his latest book that former President Bill Clinton dismissed President Obama as inept and incapable of performing the duties of the White House — but that he formed a secret deal to give him an endorsement for office anyway. …

In the book, Mr. Klein writes that several sources attributed Mr. Clinton as saying: “I’ve heard more from Bush, asking for my advice, than I’ve heard from Obama. I have no relationship with the president — none whatsoever. Obama doesn’t know how to be president. He doesn’t know how the world works. He’s incompetent. He’s an amateur.”

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