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Thursday, Apr 24th

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Senator goes to wrong hearing, blames Moscow

Senator goes to wrong hearingSenator Dan Coats had a quick explanation for how he ended up speaking at the wrong hearing - the Russians made him do it.

The Indiana Republican went to what he thought was an appropriations hearing on the defense budget on Wednesday and was posing an appropriate question on that subject when someone handed him a piece of paper.

"I just got a note saying I'm at the wrong hearing," Coats said.

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Senate committee votes to declassify parts of CIA torture report

Dianne FeinsteinAfter years of inquiry, $40m in expenses and an unprecedented clash with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Senate intelligence committee voted on Thursday to declassify portions of a study into the agency's use of torture on detainees suspected of being involved in terrorism.

The landmark 11-3 vote now places the Obama administration back at the center of an inherited controversy that it has sought for over five years to escape.

That controversy has immediate implications for the military tribunals of the 9/11 defendants at Guantánamo Bay, several of whom were subjected to the abuse.

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U.S. Intel Committee Chiefs Blast Deal for Israeli Spy

Jonathan PollardBoth the Democratic and Republican heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee are staunchly opposed to a proposal floated by the Obama administration to release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from prison as part of a deal for continued Israeli participation in ongoing Mideast peace talks.

Obama administration officials confirmed Monday to The Daily Beast that Pollard’s release after three decades of incarceration was being discussed between Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a carrot to entice Netanyahu to agree to an extension of negotiations with the Palestinians.

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CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says

CIAA report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.

The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document.

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Senate Report: Torture Didn't Help Capture Osama bin Laden

seante report on tortureFor those who want to defend the CIA's torture program, the link between the interrogation programs and the capture of bin Laden has been both a frequent argument and a crown jewel. But there is no link — at least, not according to congressional aides and experts familiar with the controversial Senate Intelligence Committee report that is due to be released imminently.

It has been regularly suggested that torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed led to information about a figure named Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, who provided a critical link to bin Laden. The Senate report, however, indicates that the al-Kuwaiti information only emerged well after the torture took place, the Associated Press reports. What's more, even then it was of more limited value than has been suggested, and did not not include his real name. The CIA has also suggested that information from the torture of Abu Faraj al-Libi introduced the connection to al-Kuwaiti; the report also discredits that idea.

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Congress reacts to spate of killings by Border Patrol agents

borfer patrol killingsA wave of Border Patrol shooting deaths of unarmed civilians along the U.S.-Mexico line has drawn bipartisan scrutiny to the nation’s largest federal law enforcement agency.

As attention increases on the deaths of nearly two dozen people in the past four years _ including that of a teenager shot in the back of the head _ some in Congress say the border agency needs more training and more accountability.

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Senate Reaches Deal To Extend Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Unemployment benefits extendedThe Senate has reached a bipartisan deal to extend expired unemployment insurance benefits for five months, breaking a months long deadlock over the expired program.

The agreement, between five Republican and five Democratic members, should make it possible for the bill to clear the 60-vote threshold needed to avoid a filibuster. They include Sens. Dean Heller, Susan Collins, Rob Portman, Lisa Murkowski, and Mark Kirk.

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