In brief | Nation & world | 7-31-14


Some ambassadors who knew of brutal CIA interrogations told not to discuss them

WASHINGTON — A Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation and detention practices after the 9/11 attacks concludes that the agency initially kept the secretary of state and some U.S. ambassadors in the dark about harsh techniques and secret prisons, according to a document circulating among White House staff.

The still-classified report also says some ambassadors who were informed about interrogations of al-Qaida detainees at so-called black sites in their countries were instructed not to tell their superiors at the State Department, says the document, which the White House accidentally emailed to an Associated Press reporter.

The 6,300-page Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation program has been years in the making. The findings are expected to reveal additional details about the CIA’s program and renew criticisms that the U.S. engaged in torture as it questioned terrorism suspects after the 2001 attacks.

A congressional official who has read the Senate report confirmed that it makes the findings outlined in the document. A former senior CIA official said the secretary of state at the time, Colin Powell, eventually was informed about the program and sat in meetings in which harsh interrogation techniques were discussed. But Powell may not have been informed when the techniques were first used in 2002, the official said. A spokeswoman Wednesday said Powell would not comment.

The former CIA official said it would be standard practice for ambassadors informed about a covert operation to be instructed not to share it with others who did not have a “need to know,” as determined by the National Security Council. Ambassadors in countries in which the CIA set up black sites to interrogate prisoners were usually told about it, said the official, who, like others interviewed for this story, would not be quoted by name because some of the information remains classified.

Peace Corps evacuates for Ebola as 2 volunteers isolated; Liberia closes schools as fears soar

MONROVIA, Liberia — The largest recorded Ebola outbreak in history has led the U.S. Peace Corps to evacuate hundreds of volunteers from three affected West African countries, and a State Department official on Wednesday said two volunteers were under isolation after having contact with a person who later died of the virus.

Meanwhile, Liberia’s president ordered the nation’s schools to shut down and most civil servants to stay home as fears deepened over the virus that already has killed more than 670 people in West Africa.

The Peace Corps said it was evacuating 340 volunteers from Liberia as well as neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The State Department official said the two volunteers were not symptomatic and were under observation. The official was not authorized to discuss the cases for attribution, and declined to say where the volunteers were serving or when they were exposed.

Ebola has no vaccine and no specific treatment, with a fatality rate of at least 60 percent.

Vacation in sight, Congress eases veterans cleanup toward passage but keeps up other fights

WASHINGTON — Eager to begin a monthlong break, Congress leavened its customary heavy partisanship on Wednesday with a pinch of compromise, advancing legislation to repair the deeply troubled Department of Veterans Affairs and working to clear funds for highway construction at home and missile defense in Israel.

Yet old habits proved unbreakable less than 100 days before elections with control of Congress at stake. On a party-line vote of 225-201 Republicans pushed legislation through the House authorizing an official lawsuit accusing President Barack Obama of failing to enforce the health care law, denying they had impeachment in mind.

And gridlock loomed on the administration’s call for billions to cope with a surge in young immigrants pouring into the U.S. illegally from Central America.

“Stop being mad all the time. Stop just hating all the time,” Obama lectured lawmakers from afar in Kansas City, Missouri, in a speech that was particularly harsh on Republicans. “Come on. Let’s get some work done together.”

There was a modest amount of progress on compromise legislation during the day, and hopes in both parties for considerably more before a scheduled adjournment on Thursday.

By wire sources