Washington (CNN) – House Republicans were still hammering away at Democrats on Friday, one day after pressuring the majority to withdraw a controversial amendment to an intelligence funding bill that would have criminally punished intelligence officers for conducting harsh interrogations.
On the House floor, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, called the provision "deplorable," and said it was symptomatic in how some in Congress and the administration view intelligence officials. "Their reflex action is to blame the intelligence community first," he said.
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said he was glad the Democrats decided to take what he called a "lousy" amendment out of the bill, but criticized them for "sneaking" it into the overall money bill without any debate or hearings.
Earlier this week, the House Rules Committee added several amendments to the intelligence funding bill, including an 11-page provision that specifies criminal penalties for "any officer or employee of the intelligence community who, in the course of or in anticipation of a covered interrogation, knowingly commits, attempts to commit, or conspires to commit an act of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment."
The two men who led the 9/11 Commission appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee Tuesday. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Washington (CNN) - The man who led the investigation into the 9/11 terrorist attacks said Tuesday he was shocked and upset when he heard the intelligence community was not consulted before the decision was made to read the suspected underwear bomber his rights.
That decision came only hours after authorities say the would-be bomber attempted to blow up a plane on Christmas Day.
Former 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean told the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday it "made no sense whatsoever" to give Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab all of his rights and a lawyer before he could be questioned fully.
AbdulMutallab was interviewed twice by FBI agents before they read him his Miranda rights approximately 10 hours after the failed bombing incident. Officials said AbdulMutallab did provide some intelligence during the
questioning but stopped talking once he was Mirandized - read his rights under U.S. law.
Kean said there may be other plots and details about al Qaeda leadership in Yemen that will never be known.
"This is not just about prosecuting an individual, it's about protecting the American people," said Kean.
Lee Hamilton, the former vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, told the committee there appears to be no government policy on how to handle suspected terrorist detainees. "There has to be a policy, it has to be clarified," he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Seven former CIA directors are urging President Barack Obama to stop the criminal investigation of people involved in the CIA's harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists.
In a letter sent to the president Friday, the former directors called on Obama to reverse Attorney General Eric Holder's decision last month to reopen an investigation that they say would put intelligence officers in "continuous jeopardy" and make them risk averse.
The letter was signed by former directors who served both Democratic and Republican presidents, including three who worked in the most recent Bush administration.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The nation's chief intelligence official says the Obama administration moved back the deadline of its review of the government's terrorist detention and interrogation policies because it wants to get it right.
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said Wednesday the delay is "a mark of the seriousness with which we are taking it and have really taken the time to get the answer right."
The White House announced on Monday that it would take another six months to complete a report detailing its policy on detentions and an additional two months to finish the review of its interrogation procedures. The reports were to have been completed this week, according to the executive orders signed by President Barack Obama shortly after taking office in January.
A decision on how to handle the suspected terrorists detained in the detention facility in the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is a critical component of the administration's plan to close the facility by January.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Justice Department has once again delayed the release of the CIA's internal investigation of its controversial interrogation and detention program.
The government had intended to complete its review of the 2004 Inspector General report two weeks ago. But continued interagency debate about how much of the secret report could be made public pushed back the deadline. Last week the Justice Department sent a letter to the Judge overseeing the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit saying it needed until July 1 to complete the process.
A Justice Department official told reporters on Wednesday the lawyers were still pouring through the material. White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said it was doubtful the inter-agency review would be completed this week.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama is expected to announce Friday the creation of the position of cyber czar, a person who will coordinate the nation's efforts to protect government and private computer systems from hackers, criminal gangs, terrorists and spies, people familiar with the plan said Thursday.
The czar will report to both the national security adviser and the head of the National Economic Council, the sources said.
Obama will not name anyone Friday to the post because the selection process is ongoing, they said.
In addition, the White House will release a 40-page report that sets broad goals for combating cyber intrusions, but does not spell out in detail how to do so, said the sources, who would not agree to be identified because the report has not been released.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – CIA Director Leon Panetta has carried through on his pledge to prohibit independent contractors from conducting interrogations of terror suspects.
In a message to Agency employees on Thursday, Panetta said he had notified the Congressional oversight committees about the current CIA policy regarding interrogations.
Besides discontinuing the use of contractors, the director outlined the other steps taken in response to the executive orders issued by President Obama in January.
The harsh interrogation techniques authorized by the Bush administration will no longer be used. Panetta said questioning of suspected terrorists will follow the approaches authorized in the Army Field Manual. The Director said the Agency will "not tolerate, and will continue to promptly report, any inappropriate behavior or allegations of abuse." He added that the guidelines applied both to suspects held by Americans and to those who might have been transferred to other countries.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell has resigned effective immediately, DNI spokesman Ross Feinstein said Tuesday.
Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, the No. 3 official in the DNI's office, will serve as acting director until a new one is confirmed, Feinstein said.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama nominated retired Adm. Dennis Blair to be chief of intelligence.
Blair's confirmation hearing was held last week, and the Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to recommend approval as early as Wednesday, sending the nomination to the full Senate for a final vote.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - When Mike McConnell began his final news briefing as Director of National Intelligence, he joked with reporters he might have to wake up a few of us, because what he does is "dull stuff."
It might be dull, but McConnell and supporters of intelligence reform would argue the work of the DNI's office is a critical part of keeping Americans safe - addressing the reasons intelligence community failed to prevent the 9/11 terrorist attacks: its failure to connect the dots, the existence of too many "stovepipes" and a lack of information-sharing.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama apparently has a hearty appetite for intelligence.
The president-elect is receiving intelligence briefings every day of the week, exceeding the six days given to President Bush, according to Michael McConnell, the director of national intelligence.
At an appearance Tuesday at Harvard University, McConnell jokingly wondered aloud whether "there's a little bit of competition" between the men.
He said he was amazed at how much and information the two men absorb and how quickly they do it. "The speed with which these two particular gentlemen absorb information and move on is astounding," said McConnell.