WASHINGTON (CNN) - Asked during his confirmation hearing Thursday whether the president has an "inherent authority" to engage in warrantless surveillance, Attorney General designate Eric Holder said the president would be "well advised" to work "within the dictates" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Holder indicated that a president's power to conduct surveillance is "at its zenith" when the president acts in concert with the intent of Congress as laid out in FISA.
He also said that the U.S. Army Field Manual would be a "good place to start" for the purpose of establishing a uniform standard for torture techniques. He indicated that he did not believe that restricting interrogations to the rules of the Field Manual would impair the ability of the government to successfully combat terrorism.
Holder noted that law enforcement tools like the Patriot Act had to be enforced in a manner consistent with the country's values and "great tradition" of supporting civil liberties.
When asked whether he would support a criminal investigation of Bush administration officials for possible violations of national security and civil
liberties laws, Holder responded that while "nobody is above the law," he also didn't "want to criminalize policy differences that may exist" between the outgoing and incoming administrations.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Attorney General designate Eric Holder said Thursday that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will be closed after President-elect Obama takes office, but not as soon as the administration would like.
The physical act of closing the facility isn't a problem, noted Holder. The more pressing question, he said, is the fate of the roughly 250 inmates currently being held at Guantanamo Bay.
Some of the inmates, Holder said, can be sent to other countries, while others can be prosecuted.
A third group of inmates, Holder indicated, can't be tried "for a variety of reasons" but also can't be released because they are too dangerous.
For that reason, the Obama administration won't be able to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility "as soon as we'd like."
Holder also pledged to only support interrogation techniques that are "consistent with who we are as Americans" and don't "serve as recruiting tools for the enemy." He promised that, if confirmed, the Justice Department would approve of techniques that don't violate "current treaty obligations... but (are)effective."
He cited the claims of military officials who have said that certain so-called "enhanced (interrogation) techniques" don't always produce reliable intelligence.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - During his confirmation hearing Thursday, Attorney General designate Eric Holder conceded that he "made mistakes" during the Marc Rich pardon incident that were "not typical" of his conduct over the bulk of his career.
Holder said he "made assumptions that turned out not to be true" during the Rich pardon process, which turned out to be the "most intense" and "searing" experience he "ever had as a lawyer."
Holder said that he learned from the Rich pardon incident and will "be a better attorney general" as a result.
One of the lessons of the Rich case, Holder said, was the need for "full consultation with all lawyers in the pardon process." Holder said there was a need to improve the pardon process, which seems to experience a "deterioration... at the end of every administration."
Holder, in response to a question from Sen. Arlen Specter, said he did not recommend that former Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn, who served as Rich's lawyer during the pardon process, circumvent the Justice Department and go "straight to the White House" with the pardon application.
Holder admitted he made a mistake by being inadequately informed about Rich's criminal background.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - After weeks of talks with President-elect Barack Obama's top aides, House Democrats on Thursday released a summary of an $825 billion economic recovery package that calls for $275 billion in tax cuts and $550 billion in spending and aid to states.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., again expressed confidence that Congress would reach the mid-February deadline for getting a bill to Obama's desk.
But, she noted, "this [package] is just the first step."
(CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton is delivering her farewell address to the Senate this hour.
Watch the event on CNN.com/live
(CNN) – Rick Warren offered an olive branch to another minister delivering an inaugural invocation — an openly gay Episcopal bishop who had been critical of the evangelical pastor over his support for California’s Proposition 8.
The California minister praised President-elect Obama’s selection of Eugene V. Robinson to deliver the invocation at the kickoff inaugural event.
Obama “has again demonstrated his genuine commitment to bringing all Americans of goodwill together in search of common ground," Warren said in a statement released Wednesday. "I applaud his desire to be the president of every citizen.”
Warren, who is delivering the invocation at the Tuesday swearing-in ceremony, drew fire from some Obama supporters over his opposition to same sex marriage and abortion rights.
Robinson had called Warren’s inclusion “really, really unfortunate” because of his support for Proposition 8, which barred same-sex marriage.
“It's about this particular venue and the role that he has in praying for all of America, and I'm just not sure he'd pray to God the same way I would,” Robinson told Beliefnet last month.
“…This particular choice [of Warren] is not about having everyone at the table for a discussion or some sort of general forum. Every choice related to who does what at the inauguration is highly symbolic, and I think the transition team failed to ask the question of what, symbolically, this might say to some of our citizens.”
Robinson said at the time his disappointment would not affect his plans to attend President-elect Obama’s inauguration.
(CNN) - Sen. Joe Biden is delivering his farewell address to the Senate this hour.
Biden formally resigns his seat Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET. He was first elected to the Senate in 1972, at age 29.
Watch the event on CNN.com/live
(CNNMoney.com) - After weeks of talks with President-elect Barack Obama's top aides, House Democrats on Thursday released a summary of an $825 billion economic recovery package that calls for $275 billion in tax cuts and $550 billion in spending and aid to states.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said on Wednesday that she is more confident that Congress would reach the mid-February deadline for getting a bill to Obama's desk.
Obama is scheduled to promote the bill on Friday in Ohio, where he'll speak with workers at a wind turbine factory. The package calls for $54 billion to double production of alternative energy.
Top economic advisers to Obama have estimated that the stimulus plan they laid out, which is largely reflected in the House Democrats' bill, could create between 3 million and 4 million jobs by 2010 across a broad array of industries.
But members of Obama's team and other economists acknowledge that if close to 4 million jobs are created that won't be a panacea for the economy. Rather, it would lead to a lesser rate of unemployment than would otherwise be the case if there was no economic recovery package.
- CNN congressional producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Attorney General designate Eric Holder said Thursday "waterboarding is torture" and a violation of the Geneva Conventions during his
confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Watch: Holder on waterboarding
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It's a day of four farewells and a hello here in the nation's capitol.
President Bush goes in front of cameras in prime time tonight to give a farewell address to the country.
This morning Joe Biden says goodbye to the chamber where he's served for 36 years. The senior Senator from Delaware is stepping down in advance of his inauguration Tuesday as Vice President of the United States. Also giving farewell speeches today on the Senate floor are Senators Hillary Clinton of New York and Ken Salazar of Colorado. Clinton's in line to serve as Secretary of State in the incoming Barack Obama Administration and Salazar to serve as Interior Secretary. Both Clinton and Salazar are expected to be confirmed by the Senate.
Amid all these farewells is a hello. Roland Burris is scheduled to be sworn in this afternoon as the junior Senator from Illinois. Burris will be replacing Obama, who stepped down from his seat in November after winning the presidential election. Burris was named to the seat by embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who faces federal corruption charges and has been impeached by state lawmakers. Among the allegations is that Blagojevich tried to sell Obama's vacant Senate seat. Senate Democrats initially tried to keep Burris out of the Senate because of Blagojevich's legal and political troubles.