News/Campaigns/Homeland Security

News/Campaigns/Homeland Security

Cheney blasts prosecutor appointment in CIA cases

Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to appoint a prosecutor to investigate allegations of detainee abuse by the CIA serves as a reminder of why "many Americans" doubt President Obama's ability to keep the country safe, former Vice President Dick Cheney said late Monday night.

Cheney, a longstanding critic of the Obama administration's policies -- especially on domestic security -- since leaving office, blasted the current administration's recent work on intelligence issues.

"President Obama

Ex-DNC official to top DHS post

As Director of Party Affairs and Delegate Selection, angry Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama supporters directed their rage at Phil McNamara during the 2008 Democratic primaries.

Now, McNamara -- a decade-long Democratic National Committee veteran -- will serve a different constituency as executive secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

Appointed in June, McNamara will oversee correspondence and briefings flowing to and from Secretary Janet Napolitano's office. It would be a daunting task for anyone, but perhaps less so for McNamara.

A long-time party rules expert, McNamara was a driving force behind the 2008 delegate selection plan that added Nevada and South Carolina to the early primary roster occupied by Iowa and New Hamshire. Since coming to the DNC in 1998, McNamara has overseen delegate selection twice and coordinated key committees at national conventions in 2000, 2004 and 2008.

During his time coordinating one of those committees, last year's platform committee, he worked with then-Arizona Gov. Napolitano, who headed the body.

His new job promises a lot of interaction with bureaucrats and time sentenced to endless meetings. Perhaps most impressive about his resume, McNamara was perhaps the only person to sit through every minute of every Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting during the 2008 primary.

This writer sat through most of them, and we can attest that McNamara's endurance is a thing of wonder.

-Reid Wilson

Treasury Dept. designates N. Korean bank as WMD proliferator

On Tuesday, the Treasury Department designated Korea Kwangson Banking Corp. (KKBC) as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The firm provided financial services to two other companies known to participate in North Korea's WMD and missile programs.

KKBC is based in North Korea and has at least one overseas branch in China.

"North Korea's use of a little-known bank, KKBC, to mask the international financial business of sanctioned proliferators demonstrates the lengths to which the regime will go to continue its proliferation activities and the high risk that any business with North Korea may well be illicit," Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey said in a statement.

The two other companies are Tanchon Commercial Bank (Tanchon) and Korea Hyoksin Trading Corporation (Hyoksin), a subordinate of the Korea Ryonbong General Corporation (Ryonbong).

The George W. Bush administration identified Tanchon and Ryonbong as weapons proliferators in 2005. The Treasury Department identified Hyoksin as a subsidiary of Ryonbong in June.

Treasury designated KKBC under an executive order that allows the department to freeze their assets and prohibit U.S. companies from engaging in business transactions with them.

The department said that since 2008, KKBC has assisted the three other companies in transferring funds to other munitions companies and arms dealers.

Feingold challenges intelligence chief on CIA program

The standoff between Congress at the executive branch over a secret CIA assassination program is heating up.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) is challenging Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair's assertion that the program was legal. This follows an announcement on Friday by Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.) that the House Intelligence Committee would investigate whether the CIA acted illegally by keeping Congress in the dark about the program.

In a letter to Blair, obtained by Greg Sargent, Feingold calls out the intelligence chief's comments in a Washington Post story, in which he claimed the program was within the bounds of the law.

Feingold is now challenging Blair to get DNI lawyers to back up that claim:
According to a story on Thursday in the Washington Post, you stated that the failure to notify the congressional intelligence committees about a program recently cancelled by CIA Director Leon Panetta did not violate the law. I disagree and believe that the program in question fit squarely within the notification requirements of the National Security Act. I therefore request that you provide me with your analysis, and any analysis by the DNI General Counsel, supporting your conclusion.

Feingold sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, raising the prospect that panels in both chambers will now bring pressure against the intelligence agencies.