TRNS News Notes is brought to you by Victoria Jones. Victoria Jones is the Chief White House correspondent and global analyst of the Washington DC based Talk Radio News Service, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.

In the News

  • Sexual threats, power drill in CIA torture report
  • Cromnibus bogs down: Does shutdown loom?
  • Shutdown: Risks grow higher with each hour
  • Obama: Protests “necessary”
  • LeBron James T-shirt / Protests
  • Tamir Rice family wants criminal charges
  • New curbs on racial profiling by feds
  • Obamacare consultant to be grilled on Hill
Sexual Threats, Power Drill in CIA Torture Report
• The CIA torture report, which the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Democrats are expected to release today, describes how senior al Qaeda operative Abdel Rahman al Nashiri, suspected mastermind of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, was threatened by his interrogators with a buzzing power drill, sources said. The drill was never actually used on Nashiri

• In another instance, the report documents how at least one detainee was sexually threatened with a broomstick, the sources said. Intel committee Democrats are expected to post the report on the panel’s website today, along with lengthy critiques of it by committee Republicans and the CIA (Reuters, me)

• Preparing for a worldwide outcry, and possibly even violence, from the publication of graphic details, the WH and U.S. intel officials said on Monday they had taken steps to shore up security of U.S. facilities worldwide, including in Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Iraq

• Some interrogation tactics meant to force detainees to divulge info on terrorist plots and cells went beyond the harsh techniques authorized by WH, CIA and DoJ lawyers working for President George W. Bush’s Justice Dept, according to the sources familiar with the report

• Meanwhile, U.S. intel officials have secretly circulated a bulletin warning of possible violent reactions overseas, a senior intel official said. The Pentagon has also warned field commanders they should take appropriate steps to protect U.S. troops and bases overseas

• Former VP Dick Cheney said to the NYT that he hasn’t read the report, but from news reports, the reported conclusion by the Senate Intelligence Committee that the CIA misled the WH “is just a crock.” “The program was the right thing to do, and if I had to do it over again, I would do it.” (NYT, me)
• The committee’s bottom-line conclusion is that harsh interrogations didn’t produce a single critical intelligence nugget that couldn’t have been obtained by non-coercive means. That conclusion is strongly disputed by many intel and counter-terrorism officials, who say there’s no question such interrogations led to major breakthroughs (Reuters, me)

• President Obama believes that whether the interrogation methods produced useful information, “the use of these techniques was not worth it because of the harm that was done to our national values and the sense of what it is that we believe in as Americans,” WH spox Josh Earnest said

• Cases in which CIA interrogators threatened one or more detainees with mock executions – a practice never authorized by Bush admin lawyers – are documented in the report, the sources said

• Interrogation practices which the DoJ had authorized were sometimes used to extremes, as in the case of Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian who is alleged to have served as an organizer and de facto travel agent for Afghanistan-based al Qaeda. Abu Zubaydah was kept awake and interrogated for five days without a break

• Citing 20 case studies, committee investigators claim the CIA misrepresented how effective harsh interrogations were in extracting important counter-terrorism information, according to the sources familiar with the document

• Sunday, Rep Mike Rogers (R-MI), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN that the release of the report was a “terrible idea.” “Foreign leaders have approached the govt and said, ‘You do this, this will cause violence and deaths.’ Our own intelligence community has assessed that this will cause violence and deaths.” (NYT)
Cromnibus Bogs Down, Does Shutdown Loom?
• Both the House and Senate want to wrap up the 113th Congress Thursday (don’t we all), the day the govt runs out of cash, with a final vote on the cromnibus, but negotiators hit a host of snags Monday afternoon. Lawmakers were preparing a one- to two-day temporary spending bill to fund the govt until the resolve their differences (Roll Call, NYT, WaPo, me)

• The situation and target adjournment date were fluid late Monday, with the measure’s release likely delayed at least to today, which would push the planned House vote to later in the week. That could mean Senate action on the bill may not come until Friday or the weekend (here we gooo)

• Among the issues remaining are a bevy of EPA riders. Republicans are looking to constrain the agency through a number of provisions, but with Democrats pushing back, negotiators were running into a math question: If you gain five conservatives with this EPA rider, will you lose 10 Democrats?

• It’s precisely the leverage Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has alluded to. But if it goes too far to the left, Republicans could look at a full-scale backlash from conservatives – especially those who want to send President Obama a (horses head) message on his proposed deportation deferments for illegal immigrants

• Some members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus – more than 20 House Dems – are already prepared to say they’ll vote against any spending package that sunsets funding for the Dept of Homeland Security, which would oversee the president’s immigration order, at an earlier date. No final decision yet

Risks Grow Higher With Each Hour
• Monday, the Pro-Choice Caucus wrote to House leaders asking the cromnibus not include a “conscience clause” that would allow businesses to deny some reproductive health insurance benefits. But if that rider’s left out, some conservatives may balk, with pro-life groups already weighing a campaign against the cromnibus if it doesn’t include such language

• Yet another issue is the Terrorism Rick Insurance Act, which needs to be reauthorized by year’s end. TRIA has already caused considerable heartburn for negotiations in both chambers on both sides of the aisle. Late Monday, final touches to continue funding the initiative were still being worked out

• Even with the outstanding issues, aides were confident a shutdown would be avoided. “Timing is fluid, but everyone is committed to preventing a shutdown,” a senior GOP aide said. “When things happen they can happen fast.”

• In any case, the risks of a possible shutdown grow higher and higher with every passing hour: If the House doesn’t vote on the bill until Thursday, the Senate will have only hours to pass it – meaning any one senator could hold up the legislation and send the govt into a shutdown (hmmm: who?)
• Outgoing SecDef Chuck Hagel arrived in Baghdad today to consult with Iraqi govt officials and confer with U.S. commanders about the campaign to defeat ISIS (AP, me)
Obama: Protests “Necessary”
• President Obama said in an interview that aired Monday on BET that the protests sweeping the country after a pair of controversial grand jury decisions are “necessary,” adding that a “country’s conscience has to be triggered by some inconvenience.” When the protests “turn violent, they’re counterproductive,” Obama said

• On the chokehold video of Eric Garner, Obama said, “Even if they haven’t had the same experience themselves – even if they aren’t African-American or Latino, I think there are a lot of good, well-meaning people, I think there are a lot of police officers who might have looked at that and said that is a tragedy.” (Hill, NYDN, me)

• Over the last 15 years, NYPD officers have killed at least 179 people, according to a new investigation. The New York Daily News found that in only three of those incidents, the officer involved was indicted and only once was the cop convicted. That officer didn’t serve any jail time

• Some of the incidents involved the justified use of deadly force by officers. But holding cops accountable when they’re not justified in killing someone is difficult, because often the prosecutors tasked with bringing charges against officers also rely on good relationships with police to do their day-to-day work

LeBron James T-Shirt / Protests
• LeBron James took the court before Monday night’s game in Brooklyn wearing a T-shirt with the words “I can’t breathe,” showing solidarity with protesters nationwide who are speaking out against the police killing of Eric Garner. “As a society we have to do better. We have to be better for one another no matter what race you are,” James said

• Brooklyn Nets players Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams, Jarrett Jack and Alan Anderson, as well as one of James’ teammates, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, also came out wearing the shirt ahead of the game, which was attended by Price William and the Duchess of Cambridge, as well as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (HuffPo, WSJ, me)

• Several hundred protesters massed outside Barclays Center Monday night, blocking traffic and clogging entrances to the Brooklyn arena. Some protesters staged a die-in, lying down outside the arena. Hundreds of demonstrators also streamed into the nearby Atlantic Terminal Mall and staged a second die-in

• Protesters in Berkeley CA descended onto city streets and blocked I-80 Monday on two separate occasions on the third consecutive night of confrontational protests against the recent grand jury decision not to indict white police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men
• President Obama “does not at all regret” ordering the unsuccessful mission to rescue American hostage Luke Somers in Yemen, WH spox Josh Earnest said Monday. “There was a very limited window for action.” Earnest pointed to a video released by AQAP vowing to kill Somers by last Saturday (Hill)
Tamir Rice Family Wants Criminal Charges
• The mother of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old African American boy who was fatally shot by a rookie officer last month in Cleveland, said Monday that she would press for the officer to be indicted on criminal charges (WSJ, BBC, NYT, Fox, CNN, me)

• “I’m really looking for a conviction,” Samaria Rice said at a presser at a Cleveland church Monday morning. A spox for the city of Cleveland said Friday the case hasn’t gone to a grand jury and that it’s still under investigation by the police dept (fills you with confidence – given DoJ’s scathing report on the Cleveland PD last week )

• The estate of Tamir filed a wrongful death lawsuit and civil-rights complaint against the city of Cleveland and its police dept. A lawyer for the family said Monday that the civil suit would take a back seat to the family’s first priority: holding the officer involved in Tamir’s death criminally accountable

• Tamir was playing in a playground with a replica gun that looks like a semiautomatic pistol. Officer Tim Loehmann shot Tamir within two seconds of his patrol car’s arriving on the scene. Police say warnings were issued to Tamir. But it’s hard to see from surveillance video how any real warning could have been issued to and understood by the boy in two seconds

• Separately, New York’s AG, Eric Schneiderman, has asked the governor for the power to investigate and prosecute local police killings of unarmed civilians. “The horrible events surrounding the death of Eric Garner have revealed a deep crisis of confidence in some of the fundamental elements of our criminal justice system,” Schneiderman said in a statement
• Prince William addressed the World Bank on Monday and described the illegal wildlife trade as “one of the most insidious forms of corruption and criminality in the world today.” He said wildlife crime “goes to the heart of our security,” “distorts economic development,” and “fuels sources of conflict.” (BBC)
New Curbs on Racial Profiling by Feds
• The Obama admin on Monday formally announced long-awaited curbs on racial profiling by federal law enforcement, but the new rules will not cover local police depts, which have come under criticism in recent months over allegations that their officers profile suspects (WaPo, Vox, TRNS, me)

• AG Eric Holder expanded DoJ rules for racial profiling to prevent FBI agents from considering gender, national origin, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, in addition to race and ethnicity, when opening cases. The dept is also banning racial profiling from national security cases for the first time

• Holder’s revised policy covers state and local law enforcement officers while they participate in federal law enforcement task forces. But it’s considered only guidance for police officers in state and local depts

• The new rules also apply to many activities at the Dept of Homeland Security for the first time, including all ICE civil immigration enforcement, U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement activities, Border Patrol activities not near the border, DHS officers protecting govt buildings and federal air marshals

• But DHS officials, including the TSA and Border Patrol, will not be covered by the new racial profiling ban when they screen airline passengers and guard the country’s southwestern border. Secret Service activities also will not be covered by the new rules
• 2014 has been one of the worst years on record for the world’s children, the UN said Monday in a report. Up to 15 million children are directly entangled in violent conflicts in the Central African Republic, Iraq, Palestinian territories, South Sudan, Syria and Ukraine. Globally, an estimated 230 million children live in areas riven by armed conflicts, said UNICEF (NYT, me)

Obamacare Consultant to be Grilled on Hill
• Republicans on the House Oversight Committee plan to ask Obamacare consultant Jonathan Gruber about his remarks when he said the law was written in a “very tortured way” to avoid taxes, and passed thanks to “the stupidity of the American voter.” (Hill, Reuters, me)

• Outgoing Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) said of Gruber: “If you can’t trust what he says, and what he says he’ll do, to get votes and trick the American people into voting for something, then how can you trust his analytics?” Rep John Mica (R-FL) wants to know how much money Gruber made working with Democrats on Obamacare

• Democrats have run from Gruber. President Obama referred to him as “some adviser who never worked on our staff” who “expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with.” Rep Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said of today’s hearing, “We’re wasting our time.” He said he’d use the hearing to talk about the benefits of Obamacare

• Republicans will also rip into Marilyn Tavenner, chief of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She testified to the panel in September that 7.3 million people had signed up for coverage, but those numbers were too high by 400,000. She’ll be made today to jump through hoops to explain how that happened

• Rep Mark Meadows (R-NC) is preparing to grill Tavenner on subtle changes in how Obamacare subsidies are calculated that will leave some enrollees owing money to the IRS if they don’t choose a different plan by 15 February. (This one’s major: fire up the grill for some ribs with pumpkin cheesecake on the side)
• Watch President Obama kick Stephen Colbert out of his chair, take over his show and his shtick. Also, a pretty lengthy interview (Vox)

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Victoria Jones

TRNS’ Washington Desk contributed to this report


The Talk Radio News Service is the only information, news booking and host service dedicated to serving the talk radio community. TRNS maintains a Washington office that includes White House, Capitol Hill and Pentagon staffed bureaus, and a New York office with a United Nations staffed bureau. Talk Radio News Service has permanent access to every breaking newsevent in the Washington, D.C. area and beyond.