Senators press CIA for information on 'Zero Dark Thirty'
Osama bin Laden
January 3rd, 2013
09:30 PM ET

Senators press CIA for information on 'Zero Dark Thirty'

By Pam Benson

The Senate Intelligence Committee wants to know exactly what the CIA told the makers of a controversial movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden that might have contributed to the film's suggestion that the harsh interrogation of a suspected terrorist helped find the al Qaeda leader.

A bipartisan group of senior senators said in a statement Thursday that they had written two letters to CIA Acting Director Michael Morell asking for all information and documents the agency provided to the makers of "Zero Dark Thirty." They also want Morell to provide proof for comments he made saying that harsh interrogations played a role in finding bin Laden.

Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin and Republican Sen. John McCain said they are concerned that the CIA may have provided information that might have misled the movie's director Kathryn Bigelow and its writer Mark Boal. Morell and other CIA officers met with the filmmakers shortly after the May 2011 raid.


Congress Wars: Battle for the defense budget
May 28th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Congress Wars: Battle for the defense budget

By Mike Mount, Senior National Security Producer

In what is shaping up to be a classic congressional right vs. left fight over defense and war funding, both the House and Senate are gearing up to battle over some expected and not-so-expected items in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the bill, showing its hand to members of the House of Representatives on what it felt should be authorized for military spending.

The act authorizes spending limits and sets defense policy, but it does not actually appropriate the funds.

The committee version must still pass a full Senate vote. The House signed off on its bill this month. While a date has yet to be announced, both the final House and Senate versions will go through extensive negotiations to hammer out a final version of the legislation, expected in the fall.

Both bills have numerous amendments that will be debated and fought over in the coming months. Keep an eye on these five if you like political fireworks.


April 25th, 2012
04:02 PM ET

McCain: Cartagena briefing was a "waste of time"

Two veteran senators complained Wednesday that military officials may have been slow to react to an alleged prostitution scandal in Colombia and have not been forthcoming with Congress so far in reporting exactly what happened.

The incident this month before President Barack Obama's trip to the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena involved Secret Service and U.S. military members who allegedly consorted with prostitutes.

After their first briefing by military officials on the investigation, Senate Armed Services Committee veterans Carl Levin of Michigan and John McCain of Arizona expressed dissatisfaction Wednesday with the military's response. FULL POST

Filed under: Colombia • Levin • McCain • Military • Senate Armed Services Committee
January 31st, 2012
05:27 PM ET

Dronegate: McCain, not Carney, offers best defense

By Adam Levine

The White House awkwardly tried to explain away the fact that the president publicly talked about U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, a covert program that officials never publicly acknowledged previously, during an online chat.

In a surreal White House press conference, spokesman Jay Carney tried to play down Obama's comments but at the same time the way he answered demonstrated that sensitive information was indeed at stake.

In multiple questions, Carney would not even say the word drone, instead referring to the "supposedly covert programs"

Carney would only answer the question based on a statement he had printed out. The statement reiterated president's comment that the strikes were surgical and avoided civilian risk, but did not speak to the issue of revealing what had been information that the administration was loathe to talk about. FULL POST

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Filed under: CIA • drones • Levin • McCain • Pakistan • Security Brief
White House drops veto threat over detainee legislation
December 14th, 2011
03:58 PM ET

White House drops veto threat over detainee legislation

By Adam Levine

After initially threatening a veto, the White House has issued a statement saying changes made by the House and Senate regarding controversial detainee provisions are sufficient and advisors will no longer advise the president to veto the 2012 Defense Authorization bill if it passes the House and Senate.

The detainee provision sought to codify rules that would mandate that the military would hold in custody and try terror suspects.  That concerned the White House and many lawmakers who think the responsibility belongs, in part, to law enforcement agencies and the federal courts and warned that Americans could possibly be detained indefinitely by the military.

The White House reversal comes on the same day that the FBI Director Robert Mueller told a Senate committee hearing that while some of the changes are helpful, the provisions regarding what happens at the time of an arrest "lack clarity" and did not address all of his concerns about the ability to gain cooperation after an arrest.

"It lacks clarity with regard to what happens if - we had a case in Lackawanna, New York, and an arrest has to be made there and there's no military within several hundred miles," Mueller said.

Mueller said it is an issue too when FBI and military can both be on the scene.

"My concern is that you do not want to have FBI agents and military showing up at the scene at the same time on a covered person or with a covered person. There may be some uncovered persons there with some uncertainty as to who has the role and who is gonna do what," Mueller noted. FULL POST

Controversial detainee provision passes senate
November 29th, 2011
05:58 PM ET

Controversial detainee provision passes senate

By Ted Barrett

The Senate Tuesday easily defeated an amendment that would have removed from a defense policy bill new rules for the detention and due process of suspected terrorists.

The bipartisan 61-37 vote was a defeat for the Obama administration, which opposes the proposed changes and has suggested it would veto the bill unless they are removed.

The new rules would require suspected al Qaeda terrorists – even those captured in the U.S. - to be held in military, not civilian, custody.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colorado, said if the controversial provisions weren’t stripped from the bill they would “give the military the power to indefinitely detain accused enemy combatants – including Americans captured on U.S. soil.”

Filed under: Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Congress • Gitmo • Levin • Living With Terror • McCain • Terrorism
November 17th, 2011
01:33 PM ET

Veto threat over detainee provisions in defense authorization

As the Senate prepares to consider the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012, the Office of Budget Management has issued a statement saying senior advisors would recommend a veto if the bill because it constrains the president's "critical authorities to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists".

The OMB criticizes the provisions as restricting counter terrorism and injecting "legal uncertainty and ambiguity" that complicates the detention process.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Al Qaeda • Congress • Gitmo • Levin • McCain • Obama • Senate Armed Services Committee • Taliban • Terrorism
Senate panel passes controversial detainee provisions
November 15th, 2011
09:50 PM ET

Senate panel passes controversial detainee provisions

By Adam Levine

A controversial provision to require the military to retain custody of terror suspects affiliated with Al Qaeda, Taliban or allied groups has been approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee and will be voted on by the Senate.

The provision mandates that the military hold those captured attacking or planning to attack the U.S. or allies, even if captured in the United States. It does not apply to U.S. citizens.

In addition, the bill would not allow the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to any country where there was a "confirmed case" of a released Guantanamo detainee who "subsequently engaged in any terrorist activity."

The provisions have held up for months the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012, which outlines spending defense spending priorities. In a compromise reached in committee, several provisions were amended after objection from the Obama administration but still includes military custody for those captured in the US, which the administration objects to. FULL POST