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July 31, 2014

Posts in "Intelligence"

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)

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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.”

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June 23, 2014

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

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(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

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(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)

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(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

May 13, 2014

Democrats Hint DOJ Misled Court on Surveillance

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Udall and Wyden are raising new concerns about the government’s surveillance techniques. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are blasting the Obama administration for potentially misleading the Supreme Court about the scope of surveillance activities back in 2012.

The New York Times reported Tuesday evening that Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado are expressing fresh concerns that the Justice Department Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act may have misrepresented the breadth of collections.

“The Justice Department’s reply [to earlier questions] acknowledges that the government’s collection of communications under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act includes communications that are ‘about’ targeted individuals, as well as to or from targeted individuals, and it also acknowledges that this formerly secret fact was not presented to the Supreme Court during consideration of Clapper v. Amnesty,” Wyden and Udall wrote in a Tuesday letter to Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., the Times reported.

Full story

May 6, 2014

Reid Says There Will Be No Senate Committee to Investigate Benghazi (Video)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will not create a special committee to investigate the 2012 attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya, following Speaker John A. Boehner’s announcement on May 2 proposing a House committee.

“There’s no conspiracy here, it was a tragedy,” the Nevada Democrat said. “It’s my understanding they have 25,000 pages of documents, there’s been numerous hearings on this already, the State Department did an extensive review. … Now the latest smoking gun is a memo preparing people to go on the Sunday shows. Don’t you think everybody gets some preparation before they go on the Sunday shows? So the answer is no, we’re not going to do any select, special committee over here on Benghazi.”

Reid’s comments followed Boehner’s announcement this week that Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a former federal prosecutor, will lead the special committee.

Late Tuesday, Roll Call reported the House committee would consist of seven Republicans and five Democrats.

April 7, 2014

Reid Takes Umbrage at Former CIA Chief Calling Feinstein ‘Emotional’

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, dismissed comments from former Central Intelligence Agency Chief Michael Hayden calling Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., “emotional” regarding a panel report on CIA interrogation.

“This woman has been an outstanding leader of that Intelligence Committee,” Reid said in response to the comments on the Senate floor. “She has been fearless, she has been thorough and fair. And for this man to say that because she criticizes tactics led by Gen. Hayden that was torture she’s being too emotional. I don’t think so. Does this sound like a person or a party that respects women? I don’t think so.”

Reid’s comments were prompted by Hayden’s interview on Fox News Sunday when the issue of a classified committee report on CIA interrogation was discussed. Full story

April 3, 2014

Intelligence Committee Votes to Declassify CIA Report (Updated)

Updated 4:48 p.m. | The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 11-3 Thursday to declassify portions of the committee’s voluminous investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs, after the White House indicated President Barack Obama wanted the public to get a chance to read it.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the White House had not yet read all of the report but said President Barack Obama supports its release.

“He wants the report declassified so the public can see it,” Carney said, noting that Obama shut down many of the CIA’s practices when he took office.

Full story

April 2, 2014

Collins, King Join in Backing Report on CIA Torture

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( Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mainers are well represented in the secretive world of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as Wednesday proved.

Before making a joint announcement that they would support the effort of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to release portions of the Intelligence panel’s report on the CIA’s use of torture, Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Independent Angus King discussed the decision extensively between themselves.

“Both of us spent a great deal of time reviewing the report, the CIA’s rebuttal, interviewing the staff authors, talking to the minority staff, and we actually set up a separate briefing for ourselves with CIA officials,” Collins said. “That was very helpful in educating us on the issues.”

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April 1, 2014

Intelligence Director Appears to Concede NSA Searched Communications (Video)

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Security Agency may have read your communications, albeit under limited circumstances.

That seems to be the takeaway of a newly-released letter from Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. to noted NSA skeptic Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

“There have been queries, using U.S. person identifiers, of communications lawfully acquired to obtain foreign intelligence by targeting non U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the U.S. pursuant to Section 702 of FISA,” Clapper wrote in a March 28 letter to Wyden.

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