Intel chair says White House withholding info in interrogation probe

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), accused the White House on Wednesday of withholding documents showing it authorized the CIA to use waterboarding and other tough interrogation tactics on suspected terrorists.

Rockefeller was reacting to a report in Wednesday’s editions of The Washington Post that two White House memos, in 2003 and 2004, gave the CIA written approval for using specific interrogation techniques on al-Qaida suspects.

“If White House documents exist that set the policy for the use of coercive techniques such as waterboarding, those documents have been kept from the committee,” Rockefeller said in a statement.

The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, called the report old news, and the White House declined to comment.

A former senior Bush administration intelligence official told The Associated Press that the White House “definitely, without a doubt” authorized the CIA’s interrogation techniques. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly, was not aware of the memos but said the CIA sought approval for specific methods to protect it from any questions later about their legality.

In March, President Bush vetoed legislation that would have outlawed the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques during CIA interrogations of terror suspects.

Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate claims of questionable eavesdropping

From the New York Times:

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, said Thursday that the committee would investigate claims by two military eavesdroppers that they routinely listened in on private calls home from American military officers, aid workers and journalists stationed in Iraq.

The two former intelligence officers, Adrienne Kinne, an Army reservist, and David Murfee Faulk, a Navy linguist, spoke Thursday to ABC News. They also were interviewed for a book on the National Security Agency by James Bamford, a former ABC producer and author of two earlier books on the agency, that is scheduled for publication next week.

Mr. Faulk said that when another eavesdropper protested that they were personal calls and should not be transcribed, a supervisor replied, “My orders were to transcribe everything.”

It was unclear whether the intercepts the two former intelligence officers described were part of the program of surveillance without warrants that President Bush approved shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks. He and other officials said that program intercepted only calls of people believed to be linked to Al Qaeda.

A statement issued by the NSA on Thursday night said, “Some of these allegations have been investigated and found to be unsubstantiated; others are in the investigation process.”

The statement said the agency operated within the law and took accusations of wrongdoing seriously. “When we find misconduct, we take swift and certain remedial action,” the statement said.

DOJ tweaking new rules on national security cases

The Justice Department, in a nod to concerns that Americans could be investigated in terrorism cases without evidence of wrongdoing, said Tuesday it will tweak still-tentative rules governing FBI national security cases before they are issued.

The Justice Department says the guidelines will merely streamline existing authorities used in criminal and national security investigations. But critics call them a broad expansion of FBI powers that could result in racial, ethnic or religious profiling without any evidence of a crime.

Not all of the planned changes were outlined during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, but Assistant Attorney General Elisebeth Cook said they would include limits on the length and kinds of investigative activities used in monitoring demonstrations and civil disorders.

The short hearing came as three Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded “bare-minimum” civil rights protections for U.S. citizens and residents as the FBI expands its power to seek out potential terrorists.