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Coming clean on CIA war-on-terror torture?

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.

Sen. Mark Udall asks Obama administration to make a commitment on transparency

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — While some government officials would like nothing better than to sweep the details of the CIA’s brutal detention and interrogation program under the rug, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) continues to push for a full and transparent accounting of the agency’s actions.

As part of the so-called war on terror, the CIA was authorized by the Bush administration to torture prisoners in order to try and prevent terrorist attacks. Some legal experts say those actions violated international law, including the Geneva Convention, and some former Bush administration officials have been indicted in absentia by courts in other countries.

Udall has long claimed that the U.S. needs to come clean about its actions in order to rebuild credibility and trust in the international community. In a Jan. 6 letter to President Barack Obama, Udall said he wants the CIA to release documents needed by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to complete its report on the agency’s activities under the Bush administration. Continue reading

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Senators want more info on U.S. counter-terrorism policies

Policies that allow lethal targeting of U.S. citizens at issue during confirmation hearings

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A Justice Department white paper outlines legal rationale for use of deadly force against U.S. citizens.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including Colorado Democrat Mark Udall, said this week they want more information on U.S. policies that permit the government to kill American citizens during counter-terrorism operations.

Udall joined Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) in asking President Obama for details of the secret legal opinions that enable the president to target Americans if, for example, they are working as operatives for Al Qa’ida.

In their Feb. 4 letter, the senators likened the situation to the Civil War, when President Lincoln had authority to order Union troops to fire on Confederate forces. They acknowledged that, if Americans choose to take up arms against their own country, that there is a justification for targeting them with deadly force. Continue reading

Does Pres. Obama support indefinite detention, or not?

President Barack Obama.

Activists seek to overturn controversial provisions in defense spending bill

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — President Obama is taking some heat from civil liberties activists over what some say is his apparent support for provisions in the defense spending bill that enables the indefinite military detainment of civilians, including American citizens, without charge or trial.

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is also seeking to remove the provisions from the defense bill, saying that they could actually hinder the government’s ability to fight terrorism.

In a telephone press call last week, Udall said the provisions are not needed because law enforcement officials have adequate tools already in place. He is seeking bipartisan support for an amendment that would bar the practice.

According to Udall, the provisions would allow anyone to be locked up indefinitely simply if they’re suspected of terrorism. He said the recent court decision in New York shows he’s on the “right side” of the argument.

“President Obama’s support for indefinite detention is utterly tone deaf. His position flies in the face of our Constitution, our basic civil rights, and our common sense.” Said Tangerine Bolen, director of RevolutionTruth. Continue reading

Udall helps block new military detention powers

Civil liberties versus anti-terror powers

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Sen. Mark Udall once again was a stalwart advocate for civil liberties this week as the U.S. Senate voted for an unprecedented expansion of military police power as part of the National Defense Authorization Act — all in the name of fighting terror.

According to military officials and national security experts some of the provisions included in the spending bill would give the military the power to indefinitely detain accused enemy combatants — including Americans captured on U.S. soil. You can watch Sen. Udall speak at the hearing here.

Continue reading

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall presses for Patriot Act reform

Sen. Mark Udall.

Colorado lawmaker quizzes intelligence agency leaders on civil liberties and U.S. torture policy during joint committee hearing

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Invoking a famous Benjamin Franklin  quote on liberty and security, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) this week called on the Obama administration to finalize membership of a watchdog group formed to guard against over-zealous intrusion into the privacy of citizens in the name of the war on terrorism.

Udall’s comments came during a joint hearing of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees about the lessons of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and follows his earlier calls for more transparency about how intelligence officials interpret anti-terrorism laws including the Patriot Act.

The Senate has failed to confirm two key appointments to the independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a delay that has drawn criticism from the co-chairs of the 9/11 commission. Last year, President nominated two members for the five-member board, but they have not yet been confirmed by the Senate, and one additional member needs to be nominated and confirmed for a quorum. The ACLU’s Patriot Act page is online here. Continue reading

Colorado: Udall seeks more transparency on spying laws

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall.

Two senators ask for an unclassified explanation of the government’s geolocation collection authority and Details on FISA Amendments Act interpretations

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Government should be more transparent about how it uses existing intelligence laws to spy on people, Sen. Mark Udall said in a recent letter to the James R. Clapper, Jr., director of national intelligence.

Along with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, Udall said the Senate should take a close look at how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has been interpreted and implemented. The act was signed into law in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter. It was passed by Congress partly as the result of investigations into espionage abuses by the Nixon administration.

We believe that the debate over these initiatives will be better informed if Congress and the public are provided with more unclassified information about how these initiatives will affect current intelligence authorities and activities,” Wyden and Udall wrote in the letter.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden.

The two Democrats requested unclassified information that will be at issue as Congress debates the FISA Amendments Act, due for extension in 2012. They want more information on a 2007 statement by the Office of Management and Budget’s that it would “likely be impossible” to count the number of people whose communications were reviewed by government agents.

There have also been recurring violations of the FISA Amendments Act, and Wyden and Udall also want to determine whether or not the law has been used to collect communications of law abiding Americans. Wyden and Udall earlier this year called for the declassification of secret interpretations of the Patriot Act.

The Senators also asked for information on another increasingly talked-about area of surveillance law involving the use of geolocation data. Taking into account recent advances in geolocation technology, the increasing ease in secret tracking capabilities of individuals on an ongoing, 24/7 basis and law enforcement’s utilization of this technology, Wyden and Udall identified conflicting judicial rulings on the legality of the government surreptitiously tracking an individual’s movements using a mobile electronic device.   Continue reading

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