With changes, U.S.-based prisons could handle Gitmo detainees, GAO finds
November 28th, 2012
11:16 PM ET

With changes, U.S.-based prisons could handle Gitmo detainees, GAO finds

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.


Justice Department won't prosecute CIA interrogators in two prisoner deaths
August 31st, 2012
11:18 AM ET

Justice Department won't prosecute CIA interrogators in two prisoner deaths

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

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Filed under: Afghanistan • CIA • Iraq • Justice Department • Legal • Petraeus
August 8th, 2012
03:10 AM ET

Appeals court dismisses lawsuit over warrantless wiretap program

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.

Read the full CNN.com story here.

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Filed under: Justice Department
July 13th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

2 indicted for allegedly trying to supply Iran with nuclear-related materials

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.


Filed under: Iran • Justice Department • Nuclear
First on CNN: Scoop on inside discussions over proposed leak provisions
Top leadership of Senate and House intelligence committees discuss concerns over leaks
July 5th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

First on CNN: Scoop on inside discussions over proposed leak provisions

by Suzanne Kelly

Discussions are ongoing over just how stringent new provisions should be as the Senate targets leakers in its upcoming Intelligence Authorization bill, according to a government source.

Many of the options up for consideration put far stricter limits on communications between intelligence officials and reporters, according to the source, who told CNN that early proposals included requiring government employees who provide background briefings to reporters to notify members of Congress ahead of time.

Such background meetings are not widely seen as opportunities to discuss classified programs. Reporters routinely use background briefings to gather contextual information on stories they are covering.

According to the government source, there were also discussions about consolidating some of the press offices within the intelligence community, limiting the number of people who are available to answer common media inquiries.


Justices dismiss law making lying about military honors a crime
June 28th, 2012
11:25 AM ET

Justices dismiss law making lying about military honors a crime

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.

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Filed under: Justice Department • Medal of Honor • Military
McCain blasts Democrats' 'hypocrisy' in leaks case
June 13th, 2012
05:03 AM ET

McCain blasts Democrats' 'hypocrisy' in leaks case

By Ted Barrett

Sen. John McCain on Tuesday accused Democrats of "hypocrisy" for opposing the appointment of a special counsel to investigate recent national security leaks, saying they supported such independent investigations in the past when Republicans were in the White House.

McCain's comments came on the same day he pushed for a Senate vote calling for a special counsel but was blocked by Democrats. He spoke to reporters after being told Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-California, preferred the investigation be carried out by two U.S. attorneys appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder.

"I am shocked, shocked. I am shocked to hear Sen. Feinstein now opposes" a special counsel, McCain said in a voice thick with sarcasm.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, defended the Democrats' handling of the leaks and said it was the actions of Republicans like McCain that are "strictly political."

Read the full CNN.com story here.

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Filed under: Congress • Intelligence • Justice Department • McCain
Insider view of New York's terror hunt
June 6th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

Insider view of New York's terror hunt

by Suzanne Kelly

As director of intelligence for the New York City Police Department, Mitch Silber has had a front row seat to events that many of us only ever see unfold in a movie theater: thwarted terrorist plots, jockeying for position among government agencies and the story of an inside leak of sensitive law enforcement documents that has had a reeling effect on the NYPD.

Now, as he announces his decision to leave the department to go to work in the private sector, Silber describes the city's fight against terrorism as serious and complex.


Filed under: 9/11 • Al Qaeda • FBI • Intelligence • Justice Department • Security Brief • Terrorism
Supreme Court to review government's foreign surveillance program
May 21st, 2012
12:31 PM ET

Supreme Court to review government's foreign surveillance program

By Bill Mears

The Supreme Court said Monday that it will tackle a major national security and privacy dispute involving the government's little-known foreign surveillance program.

The justices announced they would hear an appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union, representing a coalition of "United States persons" - attorneys, journalists and labor, legal, media and human rights organizations.

Oral arguments will be heard this fall.

The larger issue involves the constitutionality of the federal government's electronic monitoring of targeted foreign people. A federal appeals court said the domestic plaintiffs who deal with overseas clients and co-workers reasonably feared the government was reading and hearing their sensitive communications, and those groups had taken costly measures to avoid such intrusions.

That New York-based three-judge panel last year ruled against the Obama administration proceeding.

The specific question now to be addressed by the high court is whether certain Americans have "standing" to challenge the federal law, without a specific showing they have been monitored. Plaintiffs say the National Security Agency has in turn refused to disclose specifics. The ACLU calls that "Catch-22" logic.

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Filed under: Clapper • Intelligence • Justice Department • NSA
March 5th, 2012
05:30 PM ET

Holder: Not 'assassination' to target Americans in terror hunt

By Terry Frieden

Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday defended the targeted killing of U.S. citizens abroad who are suspected of plotting to kill Americans, rejecting critics' arguments that those strikes amount to assassinations.

While not referring directly to the government's drone attack on U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen last year, Holder was unflinching in providing publicly for the first time the Justice Department's legal justification for using lethal force, saying attacks like the strike that killed al-Awlaki fell within "our laws and values."

RECOMMENDED on GPS blog: Evaluating Holder's speech on targeted killings

"Let me be clear: An operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated force, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful," he said. FULL POST

Filed under: Al Qaeda • Anwar al-Awlaki • AQAP • drones • Intelligence • Justice Department • Living With Terror • Terrorism • Yemen
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