Senator's questions about CIA program may hold up nomination
December 17th, 2013
09:11 PM ET

Senator's questions about CIA program may hold up nomination

By Evan Perez, CNN Justice Reporter

A new congressional fight is brewing over the Central Intelligence Agency's controversial use of harsh interrogations almost decade ago.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colorado, is threatening to block the nomination of President Barack Obama's choice for CIA general counsel unless the agency provides an internal report that he says bolsters findings made by a congressional investigation of the interrogation program.

The Senate Intelligence Committee produced a 6,300-page report on the program, which used methods such as waterboarding on prisoners held by the CIA in the years after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
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October 25th, 2013
06:05 PM ET

EU leaders warn U.S. spying scandal may hamper fight against terror

European leaders warned Friday that reports of widespread spying on world leaders by the U.S. National Security Agency have raised "deep concerns" among Europeans and could affect the cooperation needed for effective intelligence gathering.

"A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field," the leaders said in a joint statement issued at the conclusion of a two-day European Union summit in Brussels, Belgium.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced that Madrid has summoned U.S. Ambassador James Costos over the matter. The U.S. Embassy in Madrid declined to comment, saying that Rajoy's statement stands for itself.
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U.S. may end drone strikes in Pakistan
August 1st, 2013
04:39 PM ET

U.S. may end drone strikes in Pakistan

The US is looking to end drone strikes in Pakistan, Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday. Kerry told a Pakistani television station that President Barack Obama has "very real timeline".

"We hope it's going to be very very soon," according to a transcript of the interview provided by the State Department.

"I believe that we're on a good track. I think the program will end as we have eliminated most of the threat and continue to eliminate it," Kerry said. He added that the cessation depends on "a number of factors" and the US is working with the Pakistani government.

After ramping up strikes in the tribal region in the first few years of Obama's presidency, the number of drone strikes in Pakistan has dropped significantly, in part due to the deterioration of al Qaeda in the country and more focus on threats from al Qaeda groups in other countries like Yemen.

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Filed under: Central Intelligence Agency • CIA • drones • Pakistan • Security Brief
Controversial officer passed over for CIA spy chief post
May 7th, 2013
05:55 PM ET

Controversial officer passed over for CIA spy chief post

By Pam Benson

The undercover officer temporarily running the CIA's spy division who had ties to the agency's controversial interrogation program will not get the job permanently.

CIA Director John Brennan said on Tuesday the first female to lead the National Clandestine Service will be replaced by a man, a nearly 30-year veteran who served covertly overseas, including a stint as station chief in Pakistan.

The identities of these undercover officials were not made public.

Whether the acting director would get to keep the job was in question due to opposition from a number of senior lawmakers concerned about her ties to the CIA's controversial interrogation and detention program.

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Filed under: Brennan • Central Intelligence Agency • CIA • Congress • Intelligence • Security Brief • Terrorism
March 12th, 2013
04:02 PM ET

Cyberattacks, N. Korea, jihadist groups top U.S. threats

By Mariano Castillo and Chelsea Carter

Cyberattacks pose more of an eminent threat to the United States than a land-based attack by a terrorist group, while North Korea's development of a nuclear weapons program poses a "serious threat," the director of national intelligence told Congress on Tuesday.

The warning by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper came in his annual report to Congress of the threats facing the United States. It was one of the rare times since the September 11, 2001, attacks that terrorism was not the leading threat facing the nation.

"Attacks, which might involve cyber and financial weapons, can be deniable and unattributable," Clapper said prepared remarks before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "Destruction can be invisible, latent and progressive."

The Internet is increasingly being used as a tool both by nations and terror groups to achieve their objectives, according to Clapper's report.

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Who's the spy boss?
CIA Director Nominee John Brennan and DNI James Clapper
January 14th, 2013
12:01 AM ET

Who's the spy boss?

By Pam Benson

Creating the office of the director of national intelligence in 2005 was meant to improve the management of the nation’s intelligence gathering in the wake of 9/11, but it has often led to turf wars between national intelligence directors and directors of the CIA.

Now President Barack Obama’s nomination of his trusted counterterrorism aide, John Brennan, as CIA director may leave the impression the CIA director is the top spy, even though the director of national intelligence technically would be his boss.

The problem, past directors in both posts and other experts say, is that the DNI’s role is ambiguous.

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January 8th, 2013
05:25 PM ET

Obama's CIA Pick & Movie Torture Controversy

Torture allegations in 2008 derailed CIA director nominee John Brennan from getting the same job four years ago. Now as Brennan prepares for his confirmation hearing the movie Zero Dark Thirty opens nationwide and the issue of "enhanced interrogation" techniques are front and center again. CNN's Chris Lawrence reports on the controversy.

Senator threatens to hold up Brennan nomination
January 8th, 2013
01:37 PM ET

Senator threatens to hold up Brennan nomination

Saying he has "not forgotten about the Benghazi debacle," Sen. Lindsey Graham called for a delay in the confirmation process of John Brennan, the president's choice for CIA director, as investigations still continue surrounding the September 11, 2012 U.S. consulate attack in Libya.

"I do not believe we should confirm anyone as Director of the CIA until our questions are answered," Graham said in a statement.

The Republican senator from South Carolina has helped lead congressional efforts to address the deadly attack in Libya. He was one of several Republican senators who sharply questioned U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice and her role in the aftermath of the violence.

Days after the incident, Rice appeared on television news shows and described on the violence as a spontaneous attack spurred by outrage over an anti-Islam film. The intelligence community, however, later called it a terrorist attack.

Rice used unclassified talking points from the intelligence community in her television appearances, which apparently went through multiple drafts before landing in her hands. In briefings to Congress, intelligence officials said the initial draft was more specific in linking individuals to 'al Qaeda.' But when the document was sent to the rest of the intelligence community for review, there was a decision to change 'al Qaeda' to a broader term of 'extremists' for the final version.

Read the story on CNN's Political Ticker


Filed under: Benghazi • Brennan • Central Intelligence Agency • Congress • Graham • Intelligence • Libya
January 7th, 2013
06:57 PM ET

Obama makes telling foreign policy picks

President Barack Obama said Monday he will nominate former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican, to become Defense Secretary and tapped his chief counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency. CNN's Barbara Starr reports on the message Obama is sending about foreign policy in his second term with these two top national security post nominations.

January 6th, 2013
01:41 PM ET

Hagel nomination announcement planned for Monday

By CNN Political Unit

President Barack Obama plans to announce former Sen. Chuck Hagel as his nominee to become the next defense secretary on Monday, administration officials told CNN on Sunday.

Two sources close to Hagel have also been told to expect the defense secretary announcement on Monday, and additional sources – a senior administration official and a source familiar with the nomination – said Obama spoke to Hagel Sunday by telephone.

The White House was calling senators' offices Sunday to inform them Hagel's nomination is imminent and to help build support for it, a source familiar with the nomination said. CNN reported Friday that the White House had told some senior members of Congress to expect the tapping of Hagel, and another source with knowledge of the nomination called it "locked down." FULL POST

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