Congressional Correspondent
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Jun 17, 2015
via Tales from the Trail

Candidates vote to curb torture in interrogations

U.S. senators came out overwhelmingly against torture on Tuesday, in a vote that, if largely symbolic for now, marked a strong departure from the era of “enhanced interrogation techniques” under former Republican President George W. Bush.

The Senate voted 78-21 for an amendment to an annual defense policy bill that would codify an executive order Democratic President Barack Obama signed shortly after taking office in 2009. The measure’s main co-sponsors were Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who spearheaded a years-long investigation into the CIA’s use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” and Republican Senator John McCain, a former presidential nominee who was tortured in Vietnam as a prisoner of war.

Jun 16, 2015

U.S. Senate passes ban on torture

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to ban the use of torture, a landmark vote intended to bar any further use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on detainees and put into law an executive order President Barack Obama signed in 2009.

The Senate voted 78-21 for the amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill offered by Republican Senator John McCain and Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

Jun 16, 2015

U.S. government agency thwarts hackers 10 million times per month

WASHINGTON, June 16 (Reuters) – Attacks such as the one that
exposed the personal data of millions of U.S. federal workers
will continue and are likely to increase, said the head of one
agency that thwarts 10 million attempted hacks every month.

Katherine Archuleta, who leads the U.S. Office of Personnel
Management (OPM), came under fierce attack during a
congressional hearing on Tuesday over the data breach revealed
last week.

Jun 16, 2015

U.S. official says hacking problem ‘decades in the making’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The data breach exposing the personal data of millions of federal workers reflects decades of neglect of the U.S. government’s computer systems and could have been much worse, the head of the Office of Personnel Management said on Tuesday.

Katherine Archuleta said two security breaches OPM detected in the spring were discovered and contained because of new security measures the agency has taken in the last year, according to prepared testimony.

Jun 15, 2015
via Tales from the Trail

Bush, Wolfowitz and Iraq redux


Jeb Bush formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during a kickoff rally in Miami, Florida June 15, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

At the same time Jeb Bush was in Miami vowing to “fix” Washington as he launched his White House run, an anti-war Democratic senator in Washington was tying the prospect of another Bush presidency to the prospect of another war in Iraq.

Jun 15, 2015

Key U.S. senator ‘alarmed’ by reports on Iran talks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee told President Barack Obama on Monday he was alarmed by reports that negotiators may be making too many concessions in nuclear talks with Iran, a sign of the stiff fight a final deal faces winning approval in Congress.

“It is breathtaking to see how far from your original goals and statements the P5+1 have come during negotiations with Iran,” Republican Bob Corker said in a letter to Obama, a day after Israel also expressed new concerns about the talks.

Jun 11, 2015

House rejects measure to force vote on Islamic State fight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House of Representatives rejected an amendment to a defense bill on Thursday that would have forced lawmakers to vote on a formal authorization for the use of military force against Islamic State.

The House voted 231 to 196 to defeat the amendment sponsored by Representative Adam Schiff. Republicans, who control a majority of seats in the House, largely voted against the amendment and Schiff’s fellow Democrats generally backed it.

Jun 10, 2015

U.S. senators say OPM data breach appears state-sponsored

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said on Wednesday that a massive theft of data last week from U.S. government computers appears to have been state-sponsored, although they stopped short of pointing the finger at China.

The breach of Office of Personnel Management (OPM) computers was disclosed on Thursday by the Obama administration, which said records of up to 4 million current and former federal employees may have been compromised.

Jun 9, 2015

U.S. Senate preserves funding plan for Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republicans on Tuesday successfully defended their bid to avoid across-the-board budget caps by using some $38 billion in “emergency” war funding to expand military spending.

Senators voted 51-46, along party lines, to defeat an amendment to an annual defense policy bill that would have barred a Republican-led plan to use the special war funds to avoid the spending cap, but only for the Department of Defense.

Jun 4, 2015

U.S. Democrats to block spending bills over Pentagon funds

WASHINGTON, June 4 (Reuters) – Senior U.S. Senate Democrats
said on Thursday they would block spending bills for the fiscal
year starting on Oct. 1 to press their case for scrapping
mandatory spending limits that have been in place for the past
two years.

The move represented an early gambit in what is expected to
be a difficult partisan clash over U.S. budget and tax policy in
the next four to five months. Congress must pass a series of
fiscal 2016 appropriations bills, or a stopgap measure, by Sept.
30, to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

    • About Patricia

      "Patricia Zengerle covers foreign policy and national security on Capitol Hill for Reuters. She recently covered the 2012 campaign and the White House and had been an editor in Washington, D.C., an editor in London, and a correspondent in Miami, Pittsburgh and New York. You can follow her on Twitter @ReutersZengerle"
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