Holder appoints new head for Office of Legal Counsel
March 25th, 2014
12:58 PM ET

Holder appoints new head for Office of Legal Counsel

By Evan Pérez

Attorney General Eric Holder appointed a lawyer in his office to lead the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which provides advice to the President on constitutional issues and in recent years has been at the center of political fights over presidential power and national security.

Holder on Monday elevated Karl Thompson to acting assistant attorney general post. He also will serve as principal deputy assistant attorney general, which is a senior legal post in the Justice Department hierarchy.

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Contractor agrees to plead guilty in D.C. leak probe
February 7th, 2014
02:43 PM ET

Contractor agrees to plead guilty in D.C. leak probe

By Evan Perez

A former State Department contractor has agreed to plead guilty to leaking classified information to a television reporter, bringing to an end a case that became the center of controversy over the Obama administration's aggressive leak investigations.

Stephen Kim was accused of the unauthorized disclosure of national defense information to James Rosen, a Fox News journalist.

The Justice Department subpoenaed Rosen's phone records as part of its probe, a revelation that became public last year, three years after it occurred.

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A spat over Justice Department national security job
December 11th, 2013
08:32 AM ET

A spat over Justice Department national security job

By Evan Pérez

President Barack Obama's pick for the Justice Department's national security prosecutor is expected to be among several nominations to move in the coming weeks as Senate Democrats start wading through the presidential appointments backlog built up amid partisan fights.

John Carlin's nomination to head the Justice national security division had come under fire in recent days after some critics groused in a Foreign Policy magazine article that Attorney General Eric Holder's pick, his former aide Amy Jeffress, was passed over by the White House.

Jeffress, who recently was posted to the U.S. Embassy in London, had long been the assumed choice for the national security job among Justice officials. That is until Carlin, a career prosecutor who helped coordinate the department's cyber security and intellectual property efforts, became the pick.
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Documents detail congressional notice on NSA phone program
October 28th, 2013
08:35 PM ET

Documents detail congressional notice on NSA phone program

By Evan Perez

The Obama administration declassified a new batch of National Security Agency documents on Monday, many of which deal with the effort to inform members of Congress about NSA programs that collect call data on nearly every U.S. telephone user.

The documents released by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper date mostly to 2009, when the administration was pushing lawmakers to reauthorize sections of the Patriot Act that were set to expire.

One document from 2011, notifies the House and Senate intelligence and judiciary committees, of the NSA's testing in 2010-11 of a program to collect cell phone tower data that could track mobile phone users. The NSA earlier this month acknowledged it tested such collection but discontinued it.
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Obama to nominate Carlin as DOJ’s chief national security lawyer
September 10th, 2013
07:00 PM ET

Obama to nominate Carlin as DOJ’s chief national security lawyer

By Evan Perez

President Barack Obama nominated John Carlin as the Justice Department’s chief national security lawyer.

Carlin has held the post of acting assistant attorney general for national security since March when Lisa Monaco left to become the president’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser.

The nomination requires Senate approval.
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Source: Justice Dept. investigates former vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff
June 27th, 2013
10:11 PM ET

Source: Justice Dept. investigates former vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff

By Barbara Starr

The former vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff is under investigation by the Justice Department regarding material in a book by David Sanger, a correspondent for The New York Times, a source directly familiar with the situation said Thursday.

The source could not confirm that the investigation involving Retired Marine Gen. James Cartwright is specifically about the Stuxnet computer virus, which Sanger writes about in his 2013 book "Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power."

NBC News reported Thursday, citing legal sources, that Cartwright has been told he's under investigation for allegedly leaking classified information about Stuxnet, a complex virus that infected computers in Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010.

That leak was one of a series of national security-related leaks last year and had details of how the United States and Israel were behind the Stuxnet attack.

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Holder: Drone strike against Americans in the U.S. possible
March 5th, 2013
04:46 PM ET

Holder: Drone strike against Americans in the U.S. possible

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.

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Filed under: CIA • Congress • Intelligence • Justice Department
Justices block lawsuit over foreign intelligence surveillance
February 26th, 2013
12:31 PM ET

Justices block lawsuit over foreign intelligence surveillance

By Bill Mears

The Supreme Court rejected an effort by a group of attorneys, journalists and others to proceed with a lawsuit over the federal government's sweeping electronic monitoring of foreigners suspected of terrorism or spying.

The 5-4 conservative majority on Tuesday concluded that the plaintiffs lacked "standing" or jurisdiction to proceed, without a specific showing they have been monitored. The National Security Agency has in turn refused to disclose monitoring specifics, which detractors call "Catch-22" logic.

Justice Samuel Alito said plaintiffs "cannot demonstrate that the future injury they purportedly fear is certainly impending."

The justices did not address the larger questions of the program's constitutionality, and this ruling will make it harder for future lawsuits to proceed.

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High-tech military detection gear delivered to aid in Alabama hostage surveillance
Jimmy Lee Dykes
February 4th, 2013
06:40 PM ET

High-tech military detection gear delivered to aid in Alabama hostage surveillance

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.

Senate committee adopts interrogation techniques report
December 13th, 2012
07:47 PM ET

Senate committee adopts interrogation techniques report

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.
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