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August 21, 2014

Posts in "Intelligence"

August 8, 2014

Feinstein Warns of Risk of ISIL Attack on America, Says Must Be Confronted

feinstein006 011514 445x295 Feinstein Warns of Risk of ISIL Attack on America, Says Must Be Confronted

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein warned Friday of the risk that the insurgent group ISIL could be preparing fighters to attack American and European targets.

“It has become clear that ISIL is recruiting fighters in Western countries, training them to fight its battles in the Middle East and possibly returning them to European and American cities to attack us in our backyard,” the California Democrat said in a statement backing military action authorized by President Barack Obama. “We simply cannot allow this to happen.”

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August 5, 2014

Feinstein Withholds Report on CIA Torture, Writes Letter to Obama

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Brennan and Feinstein (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein isn’t happy with the redactions being demanded by the administration to her committee’s report on torture by the CIA, and she wants the president to intervene.

The California Democrat said she will seek a series of changes to mitigate redactions to the report’s summary made by the White House that have made the document essentially unreadable.

“I am sending a letter today to the president laying out a series of changes to the redactions that we believe are necessary prior to public release. The White House and the intelligence community have committed to working through these changes in good faith,” Feinstein said in a statement. “This process will take some time, and the report will not be released until I am satisfied that all redactions are appropriate.” Full story

August 1, 2014

Feinstein Reviewing Redactions in Senate Torture Report

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Brennan and Feinstein. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 10:26 p.m. | The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report into torture by the CIA is in the panel’s hands but is still under review, Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said late Friday.

Feinstein said in a statement the White House has returned the executive summary of her committee’s report.

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McCain: ‘What Did the Director of the CIA Know and When Did He Know It?’

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have joined the chorus expressing outrage at the bombshell confirmation that the CIA was snooping on the Senate.

The two senators indicated they looked forward to having conversations with colleagues over the August recess about a variety of responses, including congressional inquiries or a special prosecutor.

“This is to me [of] the utmost seriousness. What did the director of the CIA know and when did he know it?” McCain said. Full story

July 31, 2014

Reid: CIA Snooping on the Senate ‘Appalling’

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Majority Leader Harry Reid called the CIA’s snooping on computers used by Intelligence Committee staff “appalling and deeply threatening to our system of checks and balances” and is demanding changes.

The Nevada Democrat issued his statement Thursday after public acknowledgement by the CIA that the agency’s inspector general found improper access to computers utilized as part of the Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the use of torture during the George W. Bush administration.

“What is even more disturbing is that the unauthorized CIA actions come in the context of the Senate’s effort to complete a report of the CIA’s interrogation program. The deeply troubling CIA actions show to what lengths some in the CIA are willing to stoop in order to prevent the report’s release and to avoid accountability,” Reid said. Full story

CIA Confirms Staff Inappropriately Accessed Senate Investigators’ Computers; Udall Calls for Brennan’s Resignation (Updated) (Video)

feinstein 144 012914 1 445x296 CIA Confirms Staff Inappropriately Accessed Senate Investigators Computers; Udall Calls for Brennans Resignation (Updated) (Video)

Feinstein and Chambliss lead the Intelligence panel. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:18 p.m. | The inspector general at the CIA has determined agency personnel gained inappropriate access to computers used by Senate investigators probing torture during the George W. Bush administration.

McClatchy first reported on the results of the investigation Thursday morning, which will likely increase tensions between the intelligence community and overseers on Capitol Hill.

Dean Boyd, a CIA spokesperson, confirmed the news in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

“Director [John O.] Brennan was briefed on the CIA OIG’s findings, which include a judgment that some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between SSCI and the CIA in 2009 regarding access to [a secure network],” Boyd said. “The Director subsequently informed the SSCI Chairman and Vice Chairman of the findings and apologized to them for such actions by CIA officers as described in the OIG report.”

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July 25, 2014

Wyden Ponders Release of CIA Torture Report Without White House Consent

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A senior Senate Democrat is firing a warning shot at the White House against stalling the release of a report about the past use of torture by the U.S. intelligence community.

Sen. Ron Wyden is talking with his colleagues about the possibility of using a seldom-invoked procedure to declassify an Intelligence Committee report on the use of torture in the event the White House does not move ahead quickly.

Speaking with reporters on a variety of subjects Thursday, the Oregon Democrat referred to the Senate’s “Resolution 400″ — the Abraham A. Ribicoff-sponsored resolution that established the Intelligence Committee back in 1976.

Wyden said he was discussing invoking the resolution “in order to move this along if we have to, through the committee process, to get it declassified.”

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July 10, 2014

Justice Department Declines to Open Probe of CIA ‘Spying’ on Senate (Updated)

feinstein002 031114 445x312 Justice Department Declines to Open Probe of CIA Spying on Senate (Updated)

Feinstein (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:37 p.m. | The Justice Department is declining to open a formal investigation into the sparring between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA.

“The Department carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation,” Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement.

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June 30, 2014

Wyden Continues to Blast Obama Administration on ‘Backdoor’ Surveillance (Video)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ron Wyden is raising additional concerns about “backdoor” queries of communications by American citizens by federal intelligence and law enforcement authorities.

“I and other reformers in Congress have argued that intelligence agencies should absolutely be permitted to search for communications pertaining to counterterrorism and other foreign threats, but if intelligence officials are deliberately searching for and reading the communications of specific Americans, the Constitution requires a warrant,” Wyden said in a statement. “The bipartisan, bicameral legislation that I and other reformers have supported would permit the government to conduct these searches pursuant to a probable cause warrant or emergency authorization, and it would include an exception for searches for individuals who are believed to be in danger.”

Full story

June 23, 2014

Senators Seek More Information About Targeted Killings With Drones (Video)

wyden 009 040114 445x308 Senators Seek More Information About Targeted Killings With Drones (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two Senate Democrats want the public to know more about the rules behind the targeted killing of American citizens using drones.

“I believe every American has the right to know when their government believes it is allowed to kill them, and the public release of this memo is a positive step toward reducing the secrecy that surrounds this question,” Sen. Ron Wyden said in a statement. “However, there are many important questions that this memo does not address.”

Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon who serves on the Intelligence Committee, was responding to the disclosure of a redacted form of a controversial 2010 Justice Department memo authorizing a lethal drone strike against Anwar al-Awlaki. The memorandum from the Office of Legal Counsel was released under court order from the New York-based Second Circuit.

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June 12, 2014

Wyden Touts Whistleblower Protections in Intelligence Bill (Video)

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ron Wyden is chastising a recent policy directive while highlighting new whistleblower protections in the intelligence bill that the Senate quietly passed Wednesday evening.

In a widely-reported April directive, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. prohibited intelligence agency personnel from making unauthorized contact with members of the media. In the view of Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has been a longtime skeptic of surveillance programs, the policy could be implemented in far too many circumstances.

“If you’re an employee of an intelligence agency and if you have a family member who likes to post or retweet articles about national security, suddenly having a conversation with that family member about important issues like NSA surveillance or the war in Afghanistan could lead to you getting punished for having unauthorized contact with the media,” Wyden said in a Thursday floor speech, saying the policy could include information that isn’t classified.

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June 11, 2014

Senate Passes Intelligence Authorization Without Debate

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wednesday was a busier day in the Senate than many people know.

The chamber continued a productive Wednesday — following up on a sweeping emergency veterans’ aid bill by passing an intelligence authorization without any fanfare.

The voice vote approval of the fiscal 2014 bill came as part of the customary Senate wrap-up process, passing following a request on the floor from Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., without significant floor debate.

In order for legislation to pass through the unanimous consent process used at the end of each Senate session day, it generally must clear through the Senate’s internal hotline, which in the modern era is an internal email system through which senators and their staffs are notified of measures that the leaders of the two parties would like to advance.

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June 5, 2014

Senators Want Answers From Obama on Alan Gross, Warren Weinstein

metro 03 062110 445x310 Senators Want Answers From Obama on Alan Gross, Warren Weinstein

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the wake of a national debate surrounding the exchange of five Taliban detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, Maryland’s two senators are asking the Obama administration for answers regarding the fate of two Americans civilians held captive abroad — Alan Gross and Warren Weinstein.

“I am concerned that the same energy and resources that we rightfully put into our nation’s prisoners of war are not being extended to our nation’s civil servants and contractors,” wrote Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski in a letter sent to the president on Thursday. Full story

June 4, 2014

Chambliss Makes Formal Request to Release ‘Taliban 5′ Intel (Video)

chambliss 196 031913 445x284 Chambliss Makes Formal Request to Release Taliban 5 Intel (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee has formally asked President Barack Obama to release information about the five Taliban officials sent to Qatar in the prisoner swap for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia made the request for declassification in a letter dated Tuesday that circulated Wednesday morning.

“Although I understand that some of this material needs to remain redacted, much of this intelligence is over a decade old and does not present a threat to current U.S. sources and methods,” Chambliss wrote.

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 10:14 a.m.
Intelligence

May 17, 2014

Unemployment Extension Amendment Offered on Tax Cut Bill

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Reed hopes to add a one-year extension to the Senate’s $85 billion tax cut bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Jack Reed wants to add a one-year unemployment extension to the Senate’s $85 billion tax cut bill, but his amendment is a long-shot to pass the Senate, let alone become law.

The Rhode Island Democrat’s proposal would be retroactive to December — so people who have gone without checks for months would be eligible for a sizable lump sum.

“I am committed to helping job seekers,” he said in a statement. Full story

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