News/Campaigns/Homeland Security

News/Campaigns/Homeland Security

Cheney blasts prosecutor appointment in CIA cases

Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to appoint a prosecutor to investigate allegations of detainee abuse by the CIA serves as a reminder of why "many Americans" doubt President Obama's ability to keep the country safe, former Vice President Dick Cheney said late Monday night.

Cheney, a longstanding critic of the Obama administration's policies -- especially on domestic security -- since leaving office, blasted the current administration's recent work on intelligence issues.

"President Obama

Ex-DNC official to top DHS post

As Director of Party Affairs and Delegate Selection, angry Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama supporters directed their rage at Phil McNamara during the 2008 Democratic primaries.

Now, McNamara -- a decade-long Democratic National Committee veteran -- will serve a different constituency as executive secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

Appointed in June, McNamara will oversee correspondence and briefings flowing to and from Secretary Janet Napolitano's office. It would be a daunting task for anyone, but perhaps less so for McNamara.

A long-time party rules expert, McNamara was a driving force behind the 2008 delegate selection plan that added Nevada and South Carolina to the early primary roster occupied by Iowa and New Hamshire. Since coming to the DNC in 1998, McNamara has overseen delegate selection twice and coordinated key committees at national conventions in 2000, 2004 and 2008.

During his time coordinating one of those committees, last year's platform committee, he worked with then-Arizona Gov. Napolitano, who headed the body.

His new job promises a lot of interaction with bureaucrats and time sentenced to endless meetings. Perhaps most impressive about his resume, McNamara was perhaps the only person to sit through every minute of every Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting during the 2008 primary.

This writer sat through most of them, and we can attest that McNamara's endurance is a thing of wonder.

-Reid Wilson

Treasury Dept. designates N. Korean bank as WMD proliferator

On Tuesday, the Treasury Department designated Korea Kwangson Banking Corp. (KKBC) as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The firm provided financial services to two other companies known to participate in North Korea's WMD and missile programs.

KKBC is based in North Korea and has at least one overseas branch in China.

"North Korea's use of a little-known bank, KKBC, to mask the international financial business of sanctioned proliferators demonstrates the lengths to which the regime will go to continue its proliferation activities and the high risk that any business with North Korea may well be illicit," Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey said in a statement.

The two other companies are Tanchon Commercial Bank (Tanchon) and Korea Hyoksin Trading Corporation (Hyoksin), a subordinate of the Korea Ryonbong General Corporation (Ryonbong).

The George W. Bush administration identified Tanchon and Ryonbong as weapons proliferators in 2005. The Treasury Department identified Hyoksin as a subsidiary of Ryonbong in June.

Treasury designated KKBC under an executive order that allows the department to freeze their assets and prohibit U.S. companies from engaging in business transactions with them.

The department said that since 2008, KKBC has assisted the three other companies in transferring funds to other munitions companies and arms dealers.

Feingold challenges intelligence chief on CIA program

The standoff between Congress at the executive branch over a secret CIA assassination program is heating up.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) is challenging Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair's assertion that the program was legal. This follows an announcement on Friday by Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.) that the House Intelligence Committee would investigate whether the CIA acted illegally by keeping Congress in the dark about the program.

In a letter to Blair, obtained by Greg Sargent, Feingold calls out the intelligence chief's comments in a Washington Post story, in which he claimed the program was within the bounds of the law.

Feingold is now challenging Blair to get DNI lawyers to back up that claim:
According to a story on Thursday in the Washington Post, you stated that the failure to notify the congressional intelligence committees about a program recently cancelled by CIA Director Leon Panetta did not violate the law. I disagree and believe that the program in question fit squarely within the notification requirements of the National Security Act. I therefore request that you provide me with your analysis, and any analysis by the DNI General Counsel, supporting your conclusion.

Feingold sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, raising the prospect that panels in both chambers will now bring pressure against the intelligence agencies.

Intel Committee to investivate CIA program

The House Intelligence Committee will investigate whether the CIA acted illegally by keeping Congress in the dark about plans for a secret assassination program, the committee's chairman announced today.

House leaders learned about the program in late June, when CIA Director Leon Panetta personally briefed them. Panetta had learned about the program just one day earlier.

"After careful consideration and consultation with the Ranking Minority Member and other members of the Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will conduct an investigation into possible violations of federal law, including the National Security Act of 1947," Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), the committee chairman, said in a statement.

The plan to assassinate top Al Qaeda leaders was shut down by then-CIA Director George Tenet in 2004, but re-activated by his successors. Leon Panetta once again cancelled the program the day he learned about it.

Uighurs hope to open restaurant

Four Uighurs recently released from Guantanamo Bay hope to open a restaurant in their new home, Bermuda.

According to the (London) Times Online, the four are enjoying life so far on the island--"We did not think we were going to be this happy"--and have plans to open the first Uighur restaurant:
The four former Guantanamo inmates--members of China's Muslim Turkic-speaking Uighur minority--are dreaming of opening the first Uighur restaurant, serving noodles and lamb in the millionaires' playground. "Uighur food is delicious. These kind and generous people of Bermuda, we want to do something for them. Of course, we want to have a Uighur restaurant," Mr Abdulqadir said.

Panetta: Cheney wishes for U.S. to be attacked again

Former Vice President Cheney wishes for the U.S. to suffer another terror attack so as to vindicate his arguments on national security, CIA Director Leon Panetta said in an interview.

"I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue," Panetta told the New Yorker in an interview. "It's almost, a little bit, gallows politics."

Cheney has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration, especially on national security issues, which the former VP has said has made the country less safe.

Panetta accused Cheney of hoping for another attack for the sake of vindication.

"When you read behind it, it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point," he said. "I think that's dangerous politics."

Lieberman to Obama: Consider keeping Gitmo open

Joe Lieberman said today that President Obama "should seriously consider" keeping Guantanamo Bay open, becoming the highest profile non-Republican to cast doubt on the administration's plan to close the controversial facility.

Lieberman made the remarks in an NPR interview that will air later today. (The Weekly Standard first reported Lieberman's comments, which Greg Sargent then confirmed from the Senator's office.)

With the Obama administration reportedly backing off its plan to bring some detainees to the United States, Lieberman's comments may increase Capitol Hill skepticism about what to do with suspected terrorists held at Gitmo.