Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday stopped short of entirely ruling out a drone strike against an American citizen on U.S. soil—without trial.
Holder’s comment came in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul. Paul had sent a letter to President Obama’s CIA director nominee John Brennan asking for the administration’s views on the president’s power to authorize lethal force.
In the letter, Holder said “It is possible I suppose to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. “
In a separate letter, Brennan told Paul that the CIA has no such authority.
The nomination passed its first hurdle Tuesday with the Senate intelligence committee voting to approve the nomination in a 12-3 vote. Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said he voted against the nomination because of inconsistencies in Brennan's testimony.
Earlier in the day, the White House agreed to provide legal documents written by Justice Department officials explaining the legal rationale for targeting Americans overseas who are involved in terror-related activities that threatened America or American interests.
By Barbara Starr
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta approved a request from the FBI for high-tech military detection equipment to assist in surveillance on the underground bunker in Alabama where a 5-year-old boy was held hostage, CNN has learned.
The hostage situation ended Monday when FBI agents entered the bunker and freed the boy. The 65-year-old hostage-taker is dead, law enforcement officials on the scene said.
The military detection equipment was delivered on site, according to a military official, but it could not immediately be determined if the equipment was used before or during the rescue.
Three Defense Department officials tell CNN that the equipment requested was similar to the technology used in war zones to detect buried explosives. Some small number of troops would have been needed to operate the equipment on-site.
“Panetta personally approved it” said one senior Defense official, emphasizing the military was prepared to offer whatever it could to assist in rescuing the child. That official emphasized the involvement of the military was strictly limited to offering technical assistance and gear not readily available to civilian law enforcement.
U.S. military personnel would have played “no role” in the assault, the official said, as U.S. troops are not permitted to undertake civilian law enforcement action.
By Pam Benson
The Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to approve an exhaustive study on the CIA's controversial detention and interrogation program that critics have charged was akin to torture.
By a 9-6 vote, the committee signed off Thursday on a 6,000-page classified report that has been in the works for nearly four years. The report is based on the study of six million, mostly CIA, documents and includes 35,000 footnotes and 20 findings and conclusions.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee chairwoman, said after the vote that the study was one of the most significant oversight efforts in the history of the United States.
By Jennifer Rizzo
Federal prisons and Defense Department correctional facilities in the U.S. would need myriad operational changes if detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were transferred into the country, according to a Congressional investigative report released Wednesday.
However, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who ordered the report in 2008, touted it as proof the U.S. prison system could handle the detainees, many of whom are accused of terrorist acts.
"This report demonstrates that if the political will exists, we could finally close Guantanamo without imperiling our national security," Feinstein said.
According to the Government Accountability Office report, there are six Defense Department facilities within the U.S. and more than 2,000 facilities holding individuals convicted of federal crimes that could hold Gitmo detainees.
The report found that many issues would need to be considered if those detainees were transferred to one of the facilities located in the U.S.
By Terry Frieden
The Justice Department on Thursday closed its criminal investigation of the deaths of two prisoners in CIA custody, ending a controversial investigation that Attorney General Eric Holder had approved more than a year ago.
The investigation, conducted by veteran Justice prosecutor John Durham, examined alleged CIA interrogation abuses in connection with prisoner deaths at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003 and at a secret prison in Afghanistan in 2002.
If the probe had led to criminal charges against CIA officers or contractors, it could have ignited a firestorm of objections by Republican lawmakers and the national security community.
Holder acknowledged that he made a controversial decision to appointed Durham in 2009 to examine allegations of CIA interrogation abuses in about 100 cases. His aides say he was aware the Obama White House wanted the torture controversies put behind it, but Holder pressed on. Republican lawmakers and the CIA were upset about the new review of alleged detainee mistreatment. FULL POST
By Bill Mears
A one-time American-based Islamic group cannot sue the government over claims it was targeted by the government's once-secret Terrorist Surveillance Program, a federal court has ruled.
The San Francisco-based 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday unanimously tossed out a lawsuit by the now-closed Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation. The federal government had listed the Ashland, Oregon, chapter as a supporter of terrorism in 2004.
The group sued, saying its private overseas communications were unconstitutionally being monitored under the Bush administration's warrantless wiretap program. That spy program was unveiled in a 2005 New York Times article that said government officials were working with private telecom companies to secretly monitor telephone and e-mail traffic of targeted individuals and groups, both domestic and international.
Federal officials later publicly acknowledged the existence of the program, which was then officially authorized by Congress in 2008.
"This case effectively brings to an end the plaintiffs' ongoing attempts to hold the Executive Branch responsible for intercepting telephone conversations without judicial authorization," said the appeals court.
A federal grand jury has indicted two people for their alleged attempts to supply Iran with U.S. materials for gas centrifuges to enrich uranium, the Justice Department said Friday.
The indictment charges Parviz Khaki, an Iranian citizen, and Zongcheng Yi, a resident of China, each with one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by conspiring to export the goods without the required license.
Both also face one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, two counts of smuggling, two counts of illegally exporting U.S. goods to Iran in violation of IEEPA and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, the Justice Deaprtment said.
Khaki, 43, was arrested in the Philippines in May. Yi remains art large.
By CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears
The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a federal law making it a crime to falsely claim military medals earned.
The 6-3 ruling was a free speech victory but perhaps in name only - for a onetime California public official who publicly lied about winning the prestigious Medal of Honor.
At issue is the constitutional value of false statements of fact, and whether Congress went too far when passing the Stolen Valor Act in 2006.