Feds ask judge to toss case about government snooping during 2002 Olympics

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The National Security Agency asked a judge Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit from a former Salt Lake City mayor who says the agency conducted a mass warrantless surveillance program during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The NSA argues the claims are implausible speculation about a program that may never have existed, but the government faced pointed questions from U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby.

“These plaintiffs allege willful, intentional, unlawful conduct in violation of constitutional rights by our elected representatives at the highest levels and by our government,” Shelby said. A courtroom might be the only place where the matter can be addressed, he said.

Salt Lake City attorney Rocky Anderson, who was the mayor at the time of the games, said he learned about the program from a 2013 newspaper report and has since confirmed it with an unnamed source who worked for the NSA during the Olympics.

“They have not denied these allegations. They just somehow say they are implausible,” he said.

The lawsuit filed in August alleges the NSA collected the contents of text messages and emails and metadata about every phone call in in the Salt Lake City area before and during the games that took place less than six months after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

It says then-President George W. Bush and then-Vice President Dick Cheney authorized the program, and they are also named as defendants in the case. They haven’t responded to the claims and won’t be required to unless Shelby allows the lawsuit to go forward. He didn’t immediately rule Thursday.

The NSA also argues the court can’t address the claims dating back 14 years because they are too old.

Anderson contends the spy agency likely still has data collected during that time, pointing to a massive NSA data storage center about 20 minutes south of Salt Lake City. The government, though, dismisses that argument.

The six plaintiffs include Republican Utah lawmaker Howard Stephenson, who said he signed onto the lawsuit because he’s concerned about citizens’ privacy. “We shouldn’t look the other way and ignore the laws just because there’s a national security issue,” he said.

Anderson served as a Democratic mayor of Utah’s capital city from 2000 to 2008. He was an outspoken leader who led a protest of the Iraq War during Bush’s 2007 visit to Salt Lake City.

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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