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Why CIA Interrogators Unlikely to Be Prosecuted for Torture

Why CIA Interrogators Unlikely to Be Prosecuted for Torture

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite the release of a Senate report detailing the extensive use of enhanced interrogation techniques by the CIA after 9/11, it remains highly unlikely that American interrogators who allegedly went beyond legal limits of the permitted methods will be prosecuted.The White House Tuesday deflected any questions about who, if anyone, should be held accountable, saying those decisions are up to the Department of Justice.“Questions about the legality or about the decision to prosecute are made entirely at the DOJ, as it should be,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One.As a senior administration official explained, “It's not our place to insert ourselves in that process.”The Justice Department has already conducted a three-year review of the interrogation program and decided not to bring any criminal charges.In August 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder explained in part that “the department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”President Obama, who banned torture shortly after taking office, has pledged not to prosecute those who carried out the enhanced interrogation techniques, saying “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.”“It is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution,” the president said in April 2009. “The men and women of our intelligence community serve courageously on the front lines of a dangerous world. Their accomplishments are unsung and their names unknown, but because of their sacrifices, every single American is safer. We must protect their identities as vigilantly as they protect our security, and we must provide them with the confidence that they can do their jobs.”

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Elizabeth Warren Says No to Latest 2016 Draft Moves

Elizabeth Warren Says No to Latest 2016 Draft Moves

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Progressive groups are hoping to change Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s mind and convince her to run for the presidency in 2016, but the Massachusetts senator is still saying no.The liberal group MoveOn launched an online member poll Tuesday to gauge their interest in drafting the liberal favorite for 2016. The result of that vote will be released at 11 a.m. Wednesday.MoveOn is also hosting a petition in support of the draft campaign. In just over the first three hours, 25,000 members signed their petition.Another group, Democracy for America, said they would join forces for the “Draft Warren” movement if a majority of MoveOn’s eight million members vote yes. Democracy for America said it would hold a similar vote of its members this week.The developments are a clear sign that the liberal wing of the Democratic party are unhappy with the way the current Democratic field is shaping up -- namely just Hillary Clinton.Warren’s press secretary Lacey Rose said on Tuesday, "As Senator Warren has said many times, she is not running for president." Warren has said the same repeatedly herself, but she’s always been careful to phrase it in the present tense.MoveOn asked their eight million members to vote on whether they think Warren should run in 2016. If members vote yes they will launch a "Run Warren Run" campaign to convince Warren to get into the race.

MoveOn says this is the first time they are conducting a vote of this kind in their 16-year history. If members vote yes -- the vote will be announced at 11 a.m. Wednesday -- MoveOn says they will set up offices in Iowa and New Hampshire and assemble a "national volunteer army" on behalf of Warren. They will also run ads and invest at least $1 million in the first phase of the launch.In a statement, MoveOn’s executive director of political action Ilya Sheyman said if the members “vote to move forward, we’ll go all out to encourage Senator Warren to take her vision and track record of fighting tooth-and-nail for working people and the middle class to the White House.”“There is too much at stake to have anything other than our best candidates in the debate,” Sheyman said. “We are prepared to show Senator Warren she has the support she needs to enter -- and win -- the presidential race.”Sheyman added they would “move quickly” in response to a positive vote and their “national team-based organizing strategy” is “inspired by President Obama’s powerhouse grassroots campaign.”Democracy for America, another progressive group, will join MoveOn in their Draft Warren effort if MoveOn members vote in support of Warren. DFA’s Executive Director Charles Chamberlain described Washington consultants explaining why Warren shouldn’t run as “beltway blather” and says the Democratic Party “need(s) Warren's voice in the 2016 presidential debate.” In a 2016 presidential poll of its one million members last month, Warren came out on top.Those two groups are not alone. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has already begun organizing with local activists in early-voting states to promote the “Warren wing” with progressive Democrats. They announced earlier this month that they deployed a Democratic organizer to meet with local Democratic Party leaders, county chairs, union leaders, elected officials, and PCCC activists in New Hampshire to begin organizing a local coalition ahead of 2016.Warren gave an address Tuesay at the “Managing the Economy” conference in Washington that is sure to endear herself with these activists even more. She expressed her disapproval over the president’s choice for the Treasury Department’s under secretary for domestic finance, Antonio Weiss, and strongly criticized Weiss while diving into a larger critique of the relationship between Washington and Wall Street, describing their relationship as too cozy and hurting average Americans.Warren said the “revolving door rips the heart out of independent government service,” noting it rewards Wall Street financiers for serving in government with the implicit understanding they will help them when they are in the private sector.“As long as the revolving door keeps spinning, government policies will continue to favor Wall Street over Main Street,” she said. “I hope you will join me in saying enough is enough.”

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CIA Torture Report: The Most Stunning Findings

CIA Torture Report: The Most Stunning Findings

The Central Intelligence Agency(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday released a controversial report on the CIA’s interrogation practices -- claiming the "brutal" techniques the agency used on detainees in the wake of the 9/11 attacks “were not effective.”Below are highlights from the report:Interrogates Threatened FamiliesCIA officers threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families that included threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee and a threat to "cut" a detainee's mother's throat.Interrogates Admitted to Sexual Assault"Numerous CIA interrogators and other CIA personnel associated with the program had either suspected or documented personal and professional problems that raised questions about their judgment and CIA employment. This group of officers included individuals who, among other issues, had engaged in inappropriate detainee interrogations, had workplace anger management issues, and had reportedly admitted to sexual assault."Humus, Pasta, Nuts and Raisins Rectally InfusedOne detainee's “lunch tray,” consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins, was "pureed" and rectally infused.

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Former CIA Directors: Interrogation Program ‘Saved Thousands of Lives’

Former CIA Directors: Interrogation Program ‘Saved Thousands of Lives’

The Central Intelligence Agency(WASHINGTON) -- Six former directors and deputy directors of the CIA fired back Tuesday at the Senate Intelligence Committee with a vehemence rarely seen in the intelligence community.The former CIA leaders -- including George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden -- blasted the Senate report, which harshly criticizes post-9/11 enhanced interrogation techniques, as “one-sided and marred with errors” and called it “a poorly done and partisan attack on the agency that has done the most to protect America after the 9/11 attacks.”Their 2,500-word rebuttal was posted as an op-ed on the Wall Street Journal website once the report was released. The former intel chiefs are also launching their own website to respond to the attacks on the CIA’s post-9/11 activities.The former directors argue that the CIA interrogation program “saved thousands of lives” by helping lead to the capture of top al Qaeda operatives and disrupting their plotting."A powerful example of the interrogation program’s importance is the information obtained from Abu Zubaydah, a senior al Qaeda operative, and from Khalid Sheik Muhammed, known as KSM, the 9/11 mastermind,” the former directors wrote. "We are convinced that both would not have talked absent the interrogation program.”As for Osama bin Laden, the former directors outlined the steps that led the Navy SEALs to bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan."The CIA never would have focused on the individual who turned out to be bin Laden’s personal courier without the detention and interrogation program,” they wrote. “So the bottom line is this: The interrogation program formed an essential part of the foundation from which the CIA and the U.S. military mounted the bin Laden operation."This is the first opportunity for these former intelligence chiefs to respond to the allegations made in the report.  None of them were interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee for its report, nor were any current or former CIA officials.The former directors argue that the Senate report's release will do long-standing damage to the United States because it will make foreign intelligence agencies less willing to cooperate with the CIA, give terrorists a new recruiting tool, and make current CIA operatives fearful of future political attacks.“Many CIA officers will be concerned that being involved in legally approved sensitive actions can open them to politically driven scrutiny and censure from a future administration,” they said.The CIA, they insist, should instead be praised for protecting the United States."The al Qaeda leadership has not managed another attack on the homeland in the 13 years since, despite a strong desire to do so,” they wrote. "The CIA’s aggressive counterterrorism policies and programs are responsible for that success."

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Senators Take Aim at “Rolling Stone” Rape Story

Senators Take Aim at “Rolling Stone” Rape Story

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who are pushing a bill to reform how campus sexual assaults are handled, said Tuesday they hope reform efforts can overcome a recent Rolling Stone story and subsequent apology from the magazine that have sparked criticism and discussion about campus rape and survivors.“I am saddened and angry about the bad journalism in the Rolling Stone [sic] concerning an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia,” McCaskill said. “I am sad and angry because it is a setback for survivors in this country.”Gillibrand said she hopes “this story will not ultimately outshine the story of thousands of brave women and men telling their stories. I refuse to let this one story become an excuse for Congress not to fix a broken system.”

In November, Rolling Stone published an explosive story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, relying on the victim's account. The magazine later apologized to readers after some aspects of the story were challenged, revealing it believed the victim's story contained inaccuracies.

Gillibrand said the story’s possible inaccuracy does not change the fact that UVA “has admitted that they have allowed students who have confessed to sexually assaulting another student to remain on campus” and noted that the problem has never been about just one school.

In late July, McCaskill and Gillibrand introduced as co-sponsors the Campus Safety and Accountability Act, a bill that would create new resources on college campuses, implement new training standards for school staff, and delineate penalties for schools that do not adequately report crimes and supply resources to students and victims.  McCaskill and Gillibrand formerly took the lead on introducing legislation to confront sexual assault in the military.The senators testified Tuesday as witnesses at a sparsely-attended hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism on campus sexual assault and the role of law enforcement.

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Senate Report Reveals CIA’s ‘Brutal’ Interrogation Tactics

Senate Report Reveals CIA’s ‘Brutal’ Interrogation Tactics

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released an exhaustive and explosive report Tuesday on the CIA’s interrogation practices, saying the agency repeatedly misled Americans and deeply mismanaged the program that was secretly put into place after the 9/11 terror attacks.The controversial, five-year study by the committee, which was conducted after reviewing more than six million pages of internal CIA records, found that the interrogation techniques used on more than 100 detainees “were not effective” and the management of the program “was inadequate and deeply flawed.”The report also indicates the techniques used in the CIA program were “far more brutal” than was relayed to lawmakers and the public.“It shows that the CIA's actions a decade ago are a stain on our value and on our history," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on the Senate floor. "The release of this 500-page summary cannot remove that stain but it can and does say to our people and the world that America is big enough to admit when it's wrong and confident enough to learn from its mistakes. Releasing this report is an important step to restore our values and show the world that we are in fact a just and lawful society.”The report examines 20 specific cases, in which the CIA claimed some type of success in retrieval of information from the interrogation procedures, but the report says those examples were found to be wrong.The report also says the management of the interrogation program was flawed, pointing to an example from November 2002 when a detainee who had been held partially nude and chained to a concrete floor and wall died from suspected hypothermia. A junior CIA officer was in charge of this facility, which is identified with the pseudonym COBALT. According to the report, senior leadership at the CIA had no knowledge of operations at COBALT.The report also details techniques that were allegedly “far more brutal” than previously revealed. The report highlights one interrogation session with the CIA’s first detainee, Abu Zabaydah, in which he became “completely unresponsive with bubbles rising through his open full mouth.” Additionally, at least five detainees were subjected to “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration.”President Obama said the techniques detailed in the report "did significant damage to America's standing in the world.""The report documents a troubling program involving enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects in secret facilities outside the United States, and it reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests," Obama said. "Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners. That is why I will continue to use my authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again."Along with the majority report led by Feinstein, Republicans on the committee released a report opposing the release of the study.“As we have both stated before, we are opposed to this study and believe it will present serious consequences for U.S. national security,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, ranking member of the committee, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. “Regardless of what one’s opinions may be on these issues, the study by Senate Democrats is an ideologically motivated and distorted recounting of historical events.”“The fact that the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program developed significant intelligence that helped us identify and capture important al-Qa’ida terrorists, disrupt their ongoing plotting, and take down Osama Bin Ladin is incontrovertible. Claims included in this report that assert the contrary are simply wrong,” they continued.

But some Republicans did support release of the report, like Arizona Sen. John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam."I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good intelligence. I know that victims of torture will offer intentionally misleading information if they think their captors will believe it. I know they will say whatever they think their torturers want them to say if they believe it will stop their suffering,” McCain said. “Most of all, I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights, which are protected by international conventions the U.S. not only joined, but for the most part authored."

In a response to Tuesday's report, several former CIA directors argue that the CIA interrogation program “saved thousands of lives” by helping lead to the capture of top al qaeda operatives and disrupting their plotting."A powerful example of the interrogation program’s importance is the information obtained from Abu Zubaydah, a senior al Qaeda operative, and from Khalid Sheik Muhammed, known as KSM, the 9/11 mastermind,” the former directors wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. "We are convinced that both would not have talked absent the interrogation program.”

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Capitol Hill’s Craigslist: How DC’s Unemployed Find Jobs After Election Losses

Capitol Hill’s Craigslist: How DC’s Unemployed Find Jobs After Election Losses

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — For every member of Congress who lost his or her job in the midterm elections, there are multiple Capitol Hill staffers also out of work.And that’s where Tom Manatos comes in.The former Democratic aide learned first-hand how hard it can be to find work after a new party comes to power. He now makes it his business to help other unemployed workers get back on their feet. His web-based D.C. jobs board, Tom Manatos Jobs, is known among Washington's ambitious as the place to find jobs in the halls of power. In the last month alone, since the midterm elections, Manatos has gained nearly 100 new clients freshly out of work.“Especially when, at the end of a campaign cycle, people have lost their job, I think you have a camp of people who are proactively looking before just in case their boss lost, and a camp of people who are so loyal to their boss that they didn't even want to start looking,” Manatos told The Fine Print. “And you've got to help these people walk through the next steps in their career. It's where do you want to be in two to five years and what next job is going to get you there.”For a $5 monthly fee, job seekers get access to the listings on his site, which includes a collection of jobs from Capitol Hill, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. But as Manatos advises his clients, finding the job is only the first step.“Networking to get that job is the key,” he said. “So, once they find out about the job via my website, or other websites out there, they've got to figure out who they know, who knows folks in that office, to pass along their resume.”In a town full of young and ambitious rising stars, the importance of connections cannot be underestimated.“Chiefs of staff usually tell me that on entry-level jobs they get 200-300 resumes in the first 24 hours after they post it,” Manatos said. “So, you've got to pick that stack of 300 resumes. How does your resume land on the top? It's your friend who you've worked with in a previous office, knows the chief of staff, knows the communications director, knows a member of Congress, [and] recommends you for that job. Your resume lands on top, and you get that interview.”After a bruising wave of Democratic defeats in November's midterm election, Manatos is currently helping more out-of-work Democrats than Republicans. But the site does not discriminate by party.“My list is bipartisan, because I am bipartisan by marriage,” Manatos said. “My wife worked for President Bush…and she's the one who encouraged me. She said, ‘Hey, you're helping all these people find jobs on the Democratic side. Why not the Republican side?’ Even actually at the end of the Bush administration, it was very hard for Republicans to find jobs, and what we were doing is trying to get as many jobs as possible out there to as many people as possible, regardless of party, because there are a lot of non-profits or private sector jobs that could be a Democrat or Republican job, it doesn't matter. It's who's the most qualified.”In addition to helping those looking for a job, Manatos offers consultation for ambitious planners looking to plot out the next move in their careers.“In 2013, I had people saying, 'Okay, where am I going to get my job? Where should I go to get this campaign job? Because I want to work for Hillary in 2016,'” Manatos recalled. “I have advised a couple of people, go to the primary states. Go work for Bruce Braley in Iowa. Go work for Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, because those are where the jobs are going to be. And if, whether it be Hillary or somebody else from the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, they're going to be hiring within those states, and they see you have campaign experience in that state, that's going to be good for you.”Despite the fact that Manatos has found a blissfully bipartisan match of his own, don’t expect Tom’s List to branch out into dating or other non-career related sectors. “Despite having married a Republican, we're not into that,” Manatos said.“No dating, no real estate, even though we've been encouraged to say 'I have an opening in my apartment can you advertise it?' We're just jobs," he said. "We do career development. There's a whole networking portion of our site that we advertise on our free daily email. But it's jobs, internships, fellowships. We're not getting into dating or real estate.”To get more career advice from Manatos, check out this episode of The Fine Print.

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What You Need to Know About the Senate’s CIA Torture Report

What You Need to Know About the Senate’s CIA Torture Report

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence is expected to make public Tuesday a redacted version of the executive summary of its comprehensive investigation of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. The comprehensive report has come to be known in shorthand as the “CIA Torture Report."The committee’s investigation began in 2009 and three years later morphed into a 6,300-page report with 35,000 footnotes. The CIA’s security concerns about releasing the full report resulted in a compromise earlier this year by the White House and the committee to release a redacted version of the executive summary that was 500 pages in length.The report is expected to provide details about the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and use of stress positions that human rights groups have described as torture. Concerns that the report’s contents could incite violence overseas have led the Obama administration to raise security precautions at U.S. embassies worldwide.THE BACKSTORYIn 2002, the CIA began a program to seize al Qaeda members and hold them in secret prisons overseas that became known as “black sites." At those locations, the CIA conducted interrogations of those detainees to learn more about al Qaeda, prevent future plots and eventually find Osama bin Laden. The list of detainees included Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-professed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, one of the 9/11 plotters.In 2002, the Justice Department secretly authorized the use of specific “enhanced interrogation techniques” that would enable CIA interrogators to extract more information from uncooperative detainees. These techniques -- or EIT’s as they became known -- included the use of stress positions, waterboarding and prolonged sleep deprivation designed to coerce detainees into providing more information.In September 2006, President Bush publicly revealed the existence of the CIA’s secret prison program and announced that detainees under the agency's control would be transferred to the detention facility at Guantanamo. Upon taking office in January 2009, President Obama issued an executive order banning the use of the enhanced interrogation techniques.THE REPORTIn March 2009, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence undertook what it expected to be a year-long investigation to review the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. A committee press release said that in addition to researching the program’s history, committee investigators were also tasked with determining “Whether the CIA accurately described the detention and interrogation program to other parts of the U.S. government, including the Office of Legal Counsel and the Senate Intelligence Committee.”It would also compare the intelligence gathered through both standard and enhanced interrogation techniques. The CIA established a secure facility with its own computer network where Senate investigators eventually reviewed more than 6.2 million pages of relevant classified CIA documents. This arrangement would later lead to further delays following allegations that CIA employees had improperly accessed the senate investigators’ computer system.At the same time, Republican members of the committee withdrew from the investigation in September 2009 because they felt that an ongoing Justice Department probe would hobble the committee's investigators. Committee Republicans are expected to release their own response to the committee report.WHAT’S IN THE REPORT?Some of the report’s conclusions have leaked out over the past year, but committee members have provided significant insights through press releases or public statements to counter what they saw as foot dragging by the CIA. In April 2012, Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., issued a press release saying the "enhanced interrogation techniques" had not provided the information that led to finding bin Laden as former CIA officials had claimed.Instead, the senators said that key information about the courier that eventually led the agency to find bin Laden’s compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan came from sources other than the CIA detainees. They also said that when EIT’s were used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Faraj al-Libi to gather more information about the courier they provided “false and misleading information." And they said that the “the CIA detainee who provided the most significant information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques."By December 2012, the committee’s investigators had concluded their work and sought comments from the White House and the CIA. The CIA eventually provided a response in June 2013 in which Feinstein said the agency “disagrees and disputes important parts” of the committee report.WHAT’S SCANDALOUS?A secret 2004 CIA Inspector General report, made public in 2009, listed incidents early in the EIT program where CIA officers went beyond the authorized enhanced interrogation techniques. The report detailed how in some cases CIA officers used a power drill, mock executions and threats against children in efforts to get detainees to provide information.The committee’s report is expected to expand on the previously reported details of the harsh interrogation methods, as well as provide new details on other incidents. The report to be released Tuesday reportedly says that the CIA misled Congress and the White House about how well the enhanced interrogation techniques were working.An official familiar with the report’s contents says the it concludes the opposite, that the enhanced interrogation techniques produced zero actionable intelligence. The report appeared to be ready for release this past August, but the CIA requested further redactions to protect the identities of CIA officers cited in the report. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough became personally involved in talks with the committee to resolve the matter.

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President Obama Plays Comedian with Stephen Colbert

President Obama Plays Comedian with Stephen Colbert

Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — When President Barack Obama wasn't defending his executive actions on immigration or his economic record to Stephen Colbert, he was discussing some of the more normal parts of being president -- leaving socks on the floor and having his wife and teenage daughters mock his big ears."When I go home, Michelle, Malia and Sasha give me a hard time," the president told Colbert. "They tease me mercilessly for my big ears or my stodgy suits."President Obama made his first in-person appearance on The Colbert Show at George Washington University on Monday, coming out a few minutes early to the surprise of the host. Colbert was about to begin "the Word," a regular feature in which he rants as snarky phrases appear for the audience.Instead, they traded places -- Obama sitting behind Colbert's desk as the host scurried off -- and the president gave the segment a more presidential name -- "the Decree" -- as he read the script intended for Colbert.The audience laughed as Obama said people in both parties like some parts of "Obamacare" while the text accompanying him read: "Everything but the 'Obama.'"During the interview, the president noted how powerful he felt sitting at Colbert's desk before discussing the midterms and the most recent jobs report."You've employed a lot of people -- mostly as secretary of defense," cracked Colbert, referencing the president's latest nomination for the post at the Pentagon."That's boosted our numbers a little bit," Obama replied.Colbert later questioned Obama about whether he exceeded his authority on immigration."When did you decide to burn the Constitution and become emperor?" he asked."Actually, Steve, everything that we have done is scrupulously within the law and has been done by previous Democratic and Republican presidents," Obama replied.The appearance by the president marked the final two weeks for the program on Comedy Central. Colbert will succeed David Letterman on CBS' Late Show next year.President Obama has appeared on the Colbert Report twice before -- once as president in 2009 and as a senator in 2008.

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State Department Denies White House is Considering Sanctions Against Israel

State Department Denies White House is Considering Sanctions Against Israel

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department on Monday denied that the White House is contemplating sanctions against Israel in relation to alleged airstrikes into Syria or in regards to Israeli settlement activity in Palestine.State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said at a Monday press briefing that she had seen the reports, but had no comment on the airstrikes in question. Additionally, she said, "reports that we might be contemplating sanctions against Israel are completely unfounded and without merit."Calling Israel "an important partner," Psaki said that the administration has spoken out when concerns exist, but sanctions are, "simply not something being considered."

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Dick Cheney Defends CIA, Dismisses Senate Report in “New York Times” Interview

Dick Cheney Defends CIA, Dismisses Senate Report in “New York Times” Interview

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney defended the CIA on Monday in an interview with the New York Times, one day before a Senate Intelligence Committee report detailing CIA interrogation techniques is expected to be released.The actions, which are believed to include waterboarding and sleep deprivation, were "absolutely, totally justified," Cheney told the Times. "What I keep hearing out there is they portray this as a rogue operation and the agency was way out of bounds and then they lied about it," Cheney explained, "I think that's all a bunch of hooey. The program was authorized...and it was also reviewed legally by the Justice Department before they undertook the program."Cheney also said that the CIA deserves praise, not criticism. The program, he says, was, "the right thing to do, and if I had to do it over again, I would do it."

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State Department, Pentagon Urge Preparation Overseas in Advance of Release of Senate Report on CIA Activities

State Department, Pentagon Urge Preparation Overseas in Advance of Release of Senate Report on CIA Activities

Pool Photo by David Burnett/Newsmakers(WASHINGTON) -- Both the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon have issued advisories urging U.S. missions abroad to prepare in advance of the release of a Senate report on CIA interrogation techniques.The report is expected to be released on Tuesday, and detail now-banned procedures used by CIA interrogators against terrorism suspects that included both waterboarding and sexually demeaning detainees. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that the Obama administration "strongly supports release of this declassified report," but acknowledged that actions were taken to ensure security. The State Department said Monday that it had "reiterated" a request to mission chiefs in the Middle East to review their security posture. Spokesperson Jen Psaki also noted that Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to discuss the implications of the report's release. Kerry's message, she said, was that the timing of the release would be Feinstein's choice, but that Kerry had hoped to discuss the potential results.The Pentagon also sent out an advisory recently telling its military commands to undertake safety measures in advance of the report's release. Spokesman Col. Steve Warren spoke about the importance of protecting American personnel and facilities around the world. Earnest did say on Monday that the president believes that "the vast majority of men and women in our intelligence community are true patriots" who "contribute significantly" to the safety of Americans.

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Prince William Makes First Ever Visit to Washington

Prince William Makes First Ever Visit to Washington

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Prince William has made his first ever visit to the Oval Office.President Obama and the Duke of Cambridge met Monday morning to discuss the illegal wildlife trade, a cause William is promoting on his brief trip to the U.S., and which will be the subject of his address to the World Bank later in the day.The two sat talking quietly in the Oval Office as the crush of U.S. and foreign press swarmed into the room, snapping photos and shouting questions. The president was heard to say the words "very important" but he ignored all other questions.Obama and William met before in 2009 on the president’s state visit to the United Kingdom, and again this year at the D-Day anniversary ceremony. The Obamas have sent an alpaca baby blanket and a custom-made rocking horse as gifts for Prince George, the son of Prince William and Kate Middleton.William is also expected to meet separately with Vice President Joe Biden while at the White House.While brief, the White House last week posed the future British king's visit to the Oval Office as a symbolic one, "underscoring the special relationship" between the U.S. and Britain, as White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. For his part, William is seen as taking on an expanded role in foreign affairs with this trip, burnishing his diplomatic credentials by taking on the wildlife-trade issue.

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Introducing the CRomnibus: Capitol Hill’s Less-Delicious Version of the Cronut

Introducing the CRomnibus: Capitol Hill’s Less-Delicious Version of the Cronut

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — By combining the appetizing allure of a tasty croissant with the sweet decadence of a doughnut, New York pastry chef Dominique Ansel unveiled the cronut in 2013, setting off a flurry of copycat knockoffs.But the crown jewel of hybrid phrases on Capitol Hill right now is the “CRomnibus,” a legislative concoction lawmakers hope will win enough support to stave off another government shutdown this week.You might think the CRomnibus mashup was inspired by the cronut, but the politicians actually may have come up with the concept on their own. Then-House Minority Leader John Boehner’s press office may have first coined the buzzword CRomnibus in January 2007, croaking over a Democratic spending proposal of the time “for cramming roughly half the entire federal discretionary budget and assorted policy changes into one [legislative] vehicle.”Now, those crocodile tears have turned to croons as Republicans consider a CRomnibus as their most favorable option to keep the government open for business.So what exactly is a CRomnibus?A continuing resolution, or CR for short, is a temporary spending bill that extends the current rate of spending, while an omnibus is a package of appropriations bills dictating new terms to fund any number of federal agencies.House Republicans are considering acting on a crossover of the two -- crowding 11 subcommittee appropriations bills to fund most federal agencies through the end of FY 2015 together with a short-term spending bill for Department of Homeland Security.By incorporating the attributes of each, lawmakers have crafted a crooked mechanism they hope will provide enough cover for a feisty cadre of conservatives who are crowing over the president’s executive actions on immigration reform.Since a CRomnibus would only fund the Department Homeland Security for a couple months, conservatives would be able to revisit the spending debate next year after the GOP takes majority control of the Senate.The House voted Thursday to narrowly approve legislation to effectively undo Obama’s executive action on immigration and allow Republicans to voice their outrage without sparking a government shutdown. That measure, however, is likely to die in the Democratic-controlled Senate, causing some conservatives to question the point of going forward with leadership’s plan.Boehner now stands at congressional crossroads that could test his ability to crochet together support from every wing of his conference, or risk relying on Democratic votes to help pass the measure through the House.Some influential conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are resisting the GOP leadership’s plan to crouch down until reinforcements arrive for the 114th Congress, complaining that some candidates aren’t fulfilling their campaign pledges to oppose executive amnesty.“Do what you promised,” Cruz urged during a rally outside the Capitol last week. “Doing what you promised doesn’t mean as it so often does in Washington sending a really stern letter and having a meaningless show vote.”Congress must send a bill to the president by Dec. 11 or the government will once again shut down.

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Obamas’ Personal Chef, White House Beer Maker to Bid Farewell

Obamas’ Personal Chef, White House Beer Maker to Bid Farewell

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The personal chef of President and Mrs. Obama, who is also a close adviser on nutrition issues and founder of the White House beer-making operation, is leaving his post after six years.Sam Kass, who is also executive director of the First Lady's "Let's Move!" initiative, will move to New York City at the end of the year, the White House announced. Kass recently married MSNBC anchor Alex Wagner, who resides in New York.“From constructing our Kitchen Garden to brewing our own Honey Brown Ale, Sam has left an indelible mark on the White House,” President Obama said in a statement. “And with the work he has done to inspire families and children across this country to lead healthier lives, Sam has made a real difference for our next generation."Earlier this year, Kass gave ABC News a tour of the White House kitchen garden, a project he helped start back in 2009. “It inspires everything that we cook,” he said.In addition to boasting a hearty variety of vegetables, herbs, and fruits, the garden also helps support pollinators, like bees and butterflies.Honey from the first-ever White House bee hive has been used to brew craft ales and packaged as gifts.“It's amazing,” Kass said of the honey. "We got about 200 pounds out of our hive last year.”

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Explosive Senate Report on CIA Activities Could Incite Violence

Explosive Senate Report on CIA Activities Could Incite Violence

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — U.S. embassies are bracing for possible retaliation when a Senate report on post-9/11 CIA interrogation techniques is released Tuesday.The long-awaited exposé supposedly details now-banned procedures CIA interrogators used against terrorist suspects that included waterboarding and sexually demeaning detainees, even after concluding that no more information could be gleaned.Since the Muslim world has erupted before when the West has been accused of religious and cultural offenses, all U.S. facilities around the world are being urged to review security and prepare for possible violence, with concern particularly high in the Middle East and North Africa. At least one high-level Republican is calling for the Senate to delay the release of the report: House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers.He told ABC’s This Week Sunday that whether the information is accurate or not, terror groups that include the Islamic State will “believe it's true and they will take advantage of that. We know that ISIL propaganda operations will -- this is the mother lode for them."Although the Obama administration supports the release of the report, Secretary of State John Kerry recently asked California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to consider the timing of the release.Meanwhile, Rogers says it’s not just U.S. lawmakers warning about the potential for trouble, adding, “You have foreign leaders saying this report in its current form will incite violence. You have liaison partners in the intelligence community saying this will incite violence.”

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DOJ to Announce New Limits on Racial Profiling

DOJ to Announce New Limits on Racial Profiling

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Justice is announcing Monday new limits on racial profiling, and the department's hope is that other law enforcement agencies will follow the example.Although the process of drawing up the new limits on profiling began in 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder pushed diligently over the last several weeks to have the policy finalized before he leaves office, a DOJ official said."During the last two weeks in particular, it has been the first item on the agenda each day in his morning senior staff meetings," the official said. "It will be one of the signature accomplishments of his tenure."The announcement comes as demonstrators have taken to the streets in cities across the country, angered by the deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers."Holder intends for the Justice Department to be an innovator in aggressively imposing these curbs," the official said. "His goal is for federal law enforcement agencies to 'model' these new policies, proving to state and local authorities that successful policing does not require profiling."The attorney general plans to have a conference call with local law enforcement leaders from across the country Monday to brief them on the new policy and encourage local authorities to adopt it, the official said.He will continue this call in a series of appearance in the coming weeks, starting Tuesday at a speech in Memphis.Though the policy is directed at Justice Department agencies, it will also apply to local police that take part in joint task forces, so the example of the federal policies is directly imparted, the official said.A formal memo implementing the policy is expected to be posted on the DOJ website later Monday."As Attorney General, I have repeatedly made clear that profiling by law enforcement is not only wrong, it is profoundly misguided and ineffective -- because it wastes precious resources and undermines the public trust," Holder said. "Particularly in light of certain recent incidents we've seen at the local level -- and the widespread concerns about trust in the criminal justice process which so many have raised throughout the nation -- it's imperative that we take every possible action to institute strong and sound policing practices."The policy will implement enhanced training, oversight and accountability to federal law enforcement, Holder said, "so that isolated acts of discrimination do not tarnish the exemplary work that's performed by the overwhelming majority of America's hard-working law enforcement officials each and every day."According to the official, the revised policy will:

Expand the characteristics it protects to include prohibitions on profiling on the basis of gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, in addition to race and ethnicity; Apply not only to federal law enforcement officers, but also state and local law enforcement officers while participating in federal law enforcement task forces; Eliminate the broad carve-outs for law enforcement activities related to protecting national security or the integrity of the borders; Maintain the stringent 2003 standard governing routine or spontaneous law enforcement decisions; Require that in making routine or spontaneous law enforcement decisions like traffic stops, federal law enforcement officers may not use race, ethnicity, gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity to any degree, except that officers may rely on a listed characteristic in a specific subject description.

The Department of Homeland Security has also indicated that it will be conducting a separate and full review of all activities not covered by the policy to insure that there are appropriate standards and safeguards in place to protect civil rights and civil liberties.

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NYC Mayor Praises Cops but Says Relations with Minorities Must Improve

NYC Mayor Praises Cops but Says Relations with Minorities Must Improve

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The epicenter for protests against alleged police violence against minorities has become New York City following last week's decision by a grand jury not to return an indictment against an NYPD cop in the apparent choke hold death of Eric Garner.Appearing on ABC's This Week Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the NYPD for its measured reaction to demonstrators who have snarled traffic and created some other minor disturbances in the nation's largest city.But while de Blasio says cops have acted "in a very intelligent and agile manner," he also argued that more needs to be done to improve the relationship between police and the communities they serve.The mayor told This Week, "The underlying issues aren't going away. That's why we're retraining our police force; that's why we're moving towards body cameras and a lot of other reforms."Addressing the larger picture, de Blasio said, "We have to have an honest conversation in this country about the history of racism. We have to have an honest conversation about the problem that has caused parents to feel their children may be in danger in their dynamics with police, when in fact police are there to protect them."

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Hagel Says 10,800 US Forces Will Remain in Afghanistan Next Year

Hagel Says 10,800 US Forces Will Remain in Afghanistan Next Year

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — In what will likely be his last visit to Afghanistan as defense secretary, Chuck Hagel announced over the weekend that as many as 10,800 U.S. soldiers will remain next year once most coalition forces have pulled out of the country.Although the Taliban has been more active in recent weeks ahead of the predicted winter lull in attacks, the reason for the added presence of American forces has more to do with the delayed signing of the bilateral security agreement between Washington and Kabul due to President Ashraf Ghani taking office late in the year.Meanwhile, Hagel, who is stepping down as defense chief, says that despite the Taliban remaining a threat to Afghanistan's fragile democracy, the security situation is much improved compared to just a few years ago, thanks in part to the Afghan forces taking over the fight from American soldiers.As for what the U.S. role in Afghanistan will be in the future, Hagel remarked, "It's planning. It's training. It's transitioning. It's in agreement with everybody, knowing what the objectives are every month, as we transition out and help build their capacity."Hagel, who served in Vietnam with the 9th Infantry Division and was wounded twice, added that he still feels a deep kinship with soldiers.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio: Rudy Giuliani Fundamentally Misunderstands the Reality

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Rudy Giuliani Fundamentally Misunderstands the Reality

Kena betancur/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani “fundamentally misunderstands the reality,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday on This Week in response to Giuliani’s recent comments about the relationship between African-American communities and law enforcement.

“I think he fundamentally misunderstands the reality,” de Blasio told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos while also addressing other comments the former mayor made about de Blasio’s statement after a New York grand jury voted not to indict police officers in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

“We’re trying to bring police and community together. There is a problem here, there is a rift here that has to be overcome.

“You cannot look at the incident in Missouri, another incident in Cleveland, Ohio, and another incident in New York City, all happening in the space of weeks and act like there’s not a problem,” de Blasio added.

De Blasio was responding to comments made by Giuliani on Fox News last Sunday in which he said, “I think just as much, if not more, responsibility is on the black community to reduce the reason why the police officers are assigned in such large numbers to the black community. It’s because blacks commit murder eight times more per capita than any other group in our society.”

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Giuliani, who had strained relations with many black New Yorkers during his tenure as mayor from 1994 to 2001, later said in separate comments that de Blasio’s response to the Garner case this week contributed to tearing down respect for the criminal justice system.

De Blasio’s appearance on This Week came after a grand jury decided not to indict New York City police officers in the death of Garner, who died earlier this year during a physical encounter with law enforcement in the New York City borough of Staten Island. The decision, like the one in Ferguson, Missouri, not to indict Darren Wilson in the death of teenager Michael Brown, sparked nationwide protests.

In an emotionally fueled news conference earlier this week, the mayor, who is married to an African-American woman  and has a biracial son, Dante, discussed the challenges his son has faced.

“A good young man, a law-abiding young man, who would never think to do anything wrong, and yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face – we’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him,” de Blasio said at a news  conference Wednesday.

Stephanopoulos asked the mayor whether he thought his son was at risk from his own police department.

“I’m just saying what people are actually experiencing and have been for decades,” de Blasio responded. “I’ve talked to a lot of families of color, well before this time, because I’ve said things like this before. And they’ve said to me over and over again that they appreciate someone finally acknowledging that they have that conversation with their sons. It’s a painful conversation. You can sense there’s a contradiction in that conversation.”

The mayor, who said he has “immense” respect for those who serve in law enforcement, said his city can “transcend” problems of bias between police and minority communities through improved training and communication.

“Our police keep us safe, and yet there’s been, as I said not just decades of problems, a history of centuries of racism that undergird this reality,” de Blasio said. “We can transcend that. We believe in New York City. Retraining our entire police for. It’s going to make a huge difference.

“This is something our commissioner Bill Bratton is fundamentally a believer, in that if you train the police in a different approach to the use of force, in a different approach to communication with the community, a different approach to building relationships with the community, you won’t see these tragedies,” he said.

Earlier in the conversation Sunday, the mayor said he respected the “process” when asked by Stephanopoulos whether he respected the grand jury’s decision in Garner’s death.

De Blasio on Democratic Losses in 2014

During his interview on This Week, de Blasio also offered an explanation for why the Democratic Party took a large hit this year in midterm elections, saying the party did not directly enough address issues of economic fairness.

“In the 2014 cycle, Democrats did not speak bluntly about it,” he said. “They did not honestly say to the people of this country, here’s a crisis and we’re going to do very specific things about it. We’re going to be willing to take on those who are wealthy and ask them to do their fair share. We’re going to be willing to take on corporations that are not being fair to their workers.

“If the people of this country heard Democrats enunciate a clear vision for economic fairness, I think you would have seen a very different result in 2014,” he added.

The mayor, who ran former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign in New York, offered praise for the potential 2016 presidential candidate, but reiterated that Democrats have to be “blunt” about economic issues in the next election.

“I think the world of Hillary Clinton. I think she’s an extraordinarily capable person,” de Blasio said. “I would say this to all Democrats running for any office — that we have to talk about economic reality and we have to talk about economic fairness.”

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