Blog Posts by Olivier Knox

  • Feinstein puts Obama on the spot over CIA's ‘torture report’ edits

    The chief author of the Senate’s “torture report” urged President Obama on Tuesday to make more of the document available to the public, over the objections of the CIA. She charged that the intelligence agency’s edits “eliminate or obscure key facts” about controversial interrogation practices during the George W. Bush administration.

    “I am sending a letter today to the president laying out a series of changes to the redactions that we believe are necessary prior to public release,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement. The letter itself was not made public.

    “The White House and the intelligence community have committed to working through these changes in good faith,” she said, adding that “this process will take some time, and the report will not be released until I am satisfied that all redactions are appropriate.”

    Feinstein’s comments came one day after White House press secretary Josh Earnest defended the redactions, which the

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  • Obama: Senate report will show ‘we tortured some folks’

    President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Connor Radnovich)President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Connor Radnovich)
    President Barack Obama somberly warned on Friday that a forthcoming Senate Intelligence Committee report will show that the United States “tortured some folks” before he took office. But he dismissed “sanctimonious” calls to punish any individuals responsible and rejected calls for CIA Director John Brennan’s resignation.

    “When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques — techniques that I believe, and I think any fair-minded person would believe, were torture — we crossed the line,” Obama declared in the White House briefing room.

    “And that needs to be understood. And accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that hopefully we don’t do it again in the future,” the president said.

    Obama said the White House and CIA process of declassifying portions of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Rendition, Detention, Interrogation was complete and that the document would now be made public “at the pleasure” of the committee.

    The report is

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  • US tracked missile that brought down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17

    The United States detected the launch of the “specific missile” that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last week, a senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday.

    U.S. intelligence followed “this specific missile” as it was fired from “a geographic area” controlled by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, said the official, who requested anonymity. It followed the near-vertical flight path characteristic of an SA-11 surface-to-air missile launch.

    “We did pick up a launch. We were able to have the ability to track this specific launch,” the official said. It was not clear whether the official was referring to real-time monitoring, or whether U.S. intelligence had gone back through surveillance data after learning of the attack.

    The official spoke as the United States ramped up efforts to convince skeptics that Moscow-backed rebels armed and trained by Russia shot down the passenger jet, killing all 298 people aboard. Russia has disputed the largely

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  • Obama: Pro-Russia separatists stealing Malaysia Airlines crash evidence

    President Obama on Monday bluntly accused pro-Moscow separatist fighters in Ukraine of stealing evidence and improperly removing bodies from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and pressed Russia to compel the rebels to stop blocking an international investigation.

    “What exactly are they trying to hide?” Obama asked in a hastily arranged statement on the south lawn of the White House. “The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence.”

    The president noted that it has been four days since the passenger jet went down, killing all 298 people aboard. The United States blames a surface-to-air missile fired from territory controlled by the rebels, who have extensive support from Moscow, including advanced weapons and training.

    International investigators — including an American team — have traveled to Ukraine to carry out a full investigation.

    “Unfortunately, the Russian-backed separatists who control the area continue to block the

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  • Inside The Secret CIA Museum

     Osama bin Laden’s assault rifle. A singed al-Qaeda training manual. A desiccated rat corpse designed to pass secret messages. A letter from an American operative on a sheet of Adolf Hitler’s personal stationery. A painting of the real story behind “Argo.” And a remote-controlled robotic dragonfly that may be the ancestor of today’s drones.

    These are some of the things on display at the Central Intelligence Agency’s astonishing private museum in Langley, Va.

    Yahoo News got an exclusive on-camera guided tour of what could be the coolest collection you’ll probably never get to see. It’s burrowed deep inside CIA headquarters just outside Washington, DC, secreted away behind the thick layers of security that stand between the George Bush Center for Intelligence and the public, protecting America’s top secrets from prying eyes.CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: Artifacts from the Central Intelligence Agency Museum. (Courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency)CLICK IMAGE for slideshow: Artifacts from the Central Intelligence Agency Museum. (Courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency)

    As part of being allowed a rare look inside, Yahoo News had to rely on a CIA crew to film the building’s exterior. Cell phones and wireless microphones – that is to

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  • Obama hits reset button on wobbly public response to Malaysia Airlines shootdown

    President Obama on Friday called the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 an “outrage of unspeakable proportions,” declared it a “wake-up call” for timid European leaders, and all but laid blame for the tragedy directly at the doorstep of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Obama’s blunt language, delivered in the White House briefing room from behind a lectern with the presidential seal, offered a stark contrast to his muddled public handling of the disaster a day earlier.

    As the news broke on Thursday, the White House signaled that the president had first learned about the world-shaking events from Putin at the tail end of a telephone call arranged at Moscow’s request. With grisly details coming in, Obama went ahead with a heavily partisan public schedule: A speech in Wilmington, Delaware, where he hit Republicans over infrastructure funding, followed by a brace of Democratic fundraisers in New York City.

    Obama had begun his speech in Delaware with just seven sentences on the attack,

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  • Obama warns Russia, Ukrainian separatists over downed airliner

    President Barack Obama delivered an unmistakable warning to Russia and Moscow-backed Ukrainian separatists on Thursday not to tamper with the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet apparently shot down over rebel-controlled territory.

    With no hope for the roughly 300 people board the Boeing 777, Obama discussed the tragedy with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko by telephone and offered “all possible assistance immediately” to figure out what happened, the White House said in a summary of the call.

    Poroshenko “welcomed the assistance of international investigators to ensure a thorough and transparent investigation of the crash site,” according to the summary.

    “The presidents emphasized that all evidence from the crash site must remain in place on the territory of Ukraine until international investigators are able to examine all aspects of the tragedy,” the White House said.

    That amounted to a warning to Ukrainian separatists who control the area – as well as to their patrons

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  • Obama may extend high-stakes nuclear talks with Iran

    Hunting for a badly needed second-term foreign policy victory, President Barack Obama strongly suggested on Wednesday that he will seek to extend negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program past their initial July 20 target date for a comprehensive deal.

    “It's clear to me that we've made real progress in several areas and that we have a credible way forward,” Obama told reporters in a hastily arranged statement in the White House briefing room.

    But “there are still some significant gaps between the international community and Iran. And we have more work to do,” the president underlined. “So, over the next few days, we'll continue consulting with Congress,  and our team will continue discussions with Iran and our partners as we determine whether additional time is necessary to extend our negotiations.”

    Apart from the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, the president has no greater foreign policy priority than forging a deal to ensure that Tehran does not develop a nuclear weapon.

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  • Inside President Obama’s secret schedule

    There’s what the White House announces to the world he’s doing. And then there’s what he really does.

    On May 29, President Barack Obama had lunch at the White House with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The likely 2016 presidential contender has been to hundreds of West Wing meetings, first as first lady, then as senator, and finally as the top American diplomat.

    But this face-to-face was unusual. Unlike dozens of presidential meetings every week — and a similar Obama-Clinton meeting in July 2013 — it was not announced in advance.

    Instead, reporters who cover Obama learned about the secret visit from a People magazine tweet, and ultimately managed to wring a terse sentence from an anonymous White House official grudgingly confirming that the world’s most powerful person had met with the woman who is arguably the front-runner to succeed him. The topic of their discussion was not revealed.

    This is how the White House works. A week before the secret lunch, the schedule failed to mention that the president was hosting a bipartisan delegation of senators for what one Republican

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  • Obama’s war on ISIS could reach beyond Iraq into Syria

    Even before President Barack Obama announced a limited escalation of America’s military role in battling al-Qaida-inspired extremists in Iraq, one of his top allies in Congress openly worried that the U.S. involvement could spiral out of control.

    “You have to be careful sending special forces, because it's a number that has a tendency to grow,” Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters.

    Pelosi, one of four top congressional leaders who heard Obama’s Iraq plans on Wednesday at the White House, said, “I'd like to see the context, purpose, timeline and all the rest for anything like that.” She added, “I would say let's proceed cautiously in that regard, without thinking that a hundred is a hundred.”

    Obama, who has built much of his presidency on American war-weariness, acknowledged those concerns a few hours later in the White House briefing room as he unveiled plans to send up to 300 elite U.S. troops to Iraq as “advisers.”

    “We always have to guard against mission

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