WASHINGTON (CNN) – A coalition of liberal activists Monday called for the disbarment of two current CIA officials - and a former one - because of their roles in crafting and implementing Bush administration legal policies on detainee interrogations.
The National Disbar Torture Lawyers Coalition filed formal disciplinary complaints with the Washington, D.C., and New York state bar associations against John A. Rizzo, the current acting general counsel at the CIA; Jonathan M. Fredman, a CIA official currently on loan to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; and Scott W. Muller, the agency's former general counsel, who is now an attorney in the private sector.
The coalition has already filed a dozen similar complaints against former White House and Justice Department officials, including former White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, who also was attorney general in the Bush administration; and former Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Jay S. Bybee, now a federal judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The complaints accuse the three attorneys of "advocating for immoral and unethical 'extended' or 'enhanced' interrogation techniques (amounting to torture), and other policies that resulted in clear violations of U.S. and international law." They were filed the same week that the CIA is expected to release an internal inspector-general report from 2004 criticizing the interrogation program.
CNN was unable to reach the three lawyers for comment, but CIA spokesman George Little responded, "This, to put it mildly, is something with which we do not agree."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says former Vice President Dick Cheney's claims - that classified CIA memos show enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding worked - are wrong.
Levin, speaking at the Foreign Policy Association's annual dinner on Wednesday, said an investigation by his committee into detainee abuse charges over the use of the techniques - now deemed torture by the Obama administration - "gives the lie to Mr. Cheney's claims."
The Michigan Democrat told the crowd that the two CIA documents that Cheney wants released "say nothing about numbers of lives saved, nor do the documents connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of abusive techniques."
"I hope that the documents are declassified, so that people can judge for themselves what is fact, and what is fiction," he added.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to answer questions Friday about her stinging accusation last week that the CIA misled her about the use of waterboarding and Republican demands that she provide evidence.
"I have made the statement that I'm going to make on this. I don't have anything more to say about it," she pointedly told reporters. "I stand by my comment and - and what we are doing is staying on our course, and not be distracted from it."
The speaker changed the format of her weekly press conference Friday. Instead of appearing solo, Pelosi brought in three of her Democratic leadership colleagues. After the leaders gave 25 minutes of statements about their legislative accomplishments, Pelosi took just 5 minutes of questions from reporters, and only answered one about the back-and-forth over enhanced interrogation methods.
Despite repeated efforts by reporters to follow up on the issue, Pelosi dismissed them, saying, "I won't have anything more to say about it."
Pelosi may be ready to turn the page, but Republicans clearly aren't. Just minutes after the press conference, Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee sent out a statement blasting her performance. "Speaker Pelosi stammered and filibustered around the elephant in the room because she knows full well that she has become a political liability to her fellow Democrats in Congress," he said.
"Her obsession with the previous administration and her disdain for America's intelligence officials has reduced her to cheerleader status within the far left wing of her party and a distraction to the substantive debate over how to best move our economy forward."
Updated at 1:00 p.m. with additional on-the-scene details.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter is backing up his new party in the dispute between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the CIA, following up tough comments about the agency's "bad record" on honesty with a call for official transcripts of their congressional briefings to head off future controversies.
The Pennsylvania senator sent letters Thursday to CIA Director Leon Panetta and White House Counsel Greg Craig, as well as the Intelligence Committee’s Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Silvestre Reyes, and GOP Sen. Judd Gregg and Pete Hoekstra, with remarks panning the agency's record on congressional briefing accounts.
"From my experience on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which I chaired in the 104th Congress, I found there were frequent disputes as to whether the CIA did the requisite briefings; and, if they did, whether the briefing was adequate. While those disputes did not reach the level of controversy involving Speaker Pelosi and the CIA today, they were significant," the Republican-turned-Democrat said in excerpts of the letters released by his office Thursday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Waterboarding was not used to produce intelligence that linked Iraq to al Qaeda in the run-up to the war in Iraq, former Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter said Sunday.
A former top State Department official, Lawrence Wilkerson, told CNN last week that finding a "smoking gun" linking Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network became the main purpose of the "alternative" interrogation program the Bush administration authorized in 2002 - a program critics say amounted to the torture of prisoners in American custody.
But Liz Cheney, who served in the State Department during the Bush administration, told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that "Nobody who is talking about this in the press has any knowledge of specific detainee treatment."
"The people that claimed to have been waterboarded in these articles are not any of those people," she said.
Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel, was former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff during the Bush administration's first term. Since leaving office, he has become an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq.
In an online essay Thursday, he wrote that al Qaeda captive Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was "waterboarded" by Egyptian intelligence until he told interrogators that Baghdad trained terrorists to use chemical and biological weapons - a key element in the Bush administration's case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
But Liz Cheney told ABC that Wilkerson "has made a cottage industry of out of fantasies about the vice president," and pointed out that al-Libi was not among the three al Qaeda figures the United States has admitted to subjecting to waterboarding.
And she said the former vice president - who has been publicly defending the interrogation program in recent weeks - "would not substitute his own judgment for the professionals at the CIA."
"I think that it's important for us to have all the facts out - and the first and more important fact is that the vice president has been absolutely clear that he supported this program, this was an important program," she said. "It saved American lives."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) performance at Thursday's press conference received a harsh evaluation from Reliable Sources’ political panel Sunday morning.
Pelosi said Thursday that the CIA "was misleading the Congress."
Roger Simon, chief political columnist for The Politco, told CNN's Howard Kurtz that Pelosi may have dug herself in an even deeper hole.
"If she had hung a sign around her neck saying 'I am lying,' she could not have done worse...She was terrible."
Pelosi has been under fire this week for conflicting statements she made on whether or not she was briefed by the CIA about so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques," such as waterboarding, being used on terror suspects.
Simon said the media's performance wasn't any better than Pelosi's.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – House Minority Leader John Boehner turned up the heat Sunday in the escalating war of words between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, congressional Republicans, and the CIA over Pelosi’s knowledge of enhanced CIA interrogation techniques including water boarding.
Last week, Pelosi claimed that the CIA had misled herself and other members of Congress about whether it was actually using water boarding to obtain information from high-profile detainees during 2002 intelligence briefings.
The Ohio Republican said Pelosi should provide evidence that she was misled or apologize to the country’s intelligence community.
“Lying to the Congress of the United States is a crime,” Boehner said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “And if the Speaker is accusing the CIA and other intelligence officials of lying or misleading the Congress, then she should come forward with evidence and turn that over to the Justice Department [for possible prosecution].”
“And if that’s not the case, I think she ought to apologize to our intelligence professionals around the world.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The CIA rejected former Vice President Dick Cheney's request to declassify records of abusive interrogations of suspected terrorists, a spokesman for the spy agency said Thursday.
In a written statement, CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said the two documents Cheney requested are the subject of a pending lawsuit and cannot be declassified.
Cheney has said he wants the documents released so there can be a more "honest debate" on the Bush administration's approval of "alternative" interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists. He argued that those techniques provided valuable intelligence that saved American lives, but critics say they amounted to the illegal torture of prisoners in U.S. custody.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Minority Leader John Boehner commented Thursday on Speaker Pelosi and the CIA's interrogation techniques.
Related video: Pelosi denies torture briefing
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The contentious debate over so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" took center stage on Capitol Hill Wednesday as a former FBI agent involved in the questioning of terror suspects testified that such techniques - including waterboarding - are ineffective.
Ali Soufan, an FBI special agent from 1997 to 2005, told members of a key Senate Judiciary subcommittee that such "techniques, from an operational perspective, are ineffective, slow and unreliable, and harmful to our efforts to defeat al Qaeda."
His remarks followed heated exchanges between committee members with sharply differing views on both the value of the techniques and the purpose of the hearing itself.
Soufan, who was involved in the interrogation of CIA detainee Abu Zubaydah, took issue with former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has argued that enhanced interrogation techniques helped the government acquire intelligence necessary to prevent further attacks after September 11, 2001.
The techniques, which were approved by the Bush administration, are considered torture by many critics.
"From my experience - and I speak as someone who has personally interrogated many terrorists and elicited important actionable intelligence - I strongly believe that it is a mistake to use what has become known as the 'enhanced interrogation techniques,'" Soufan noted in his written statement.