The Senate voted today to confirm a former U.S. Attorney to sit on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Beverly Martin, who served as a U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia from 1998 to 2000, will hear cases from Georgia, Alabama and Florida on the circuit court of appeals. She previously served as a U.S. District Court judge in Atlanta.
The Senate vote was 97-0. Sens. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) did not vote.
Martin is the fourth circuit court appointee by President Obama to win Senate confirmation. Five other nominees have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and await Senate floor action.
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Republican Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts said today they are blocking ”key” nominees to the Justice and Defense departments, in light of press reports that the Obama administration is mulling a plan to house and try Guantanamo Bay detainees at the military penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
The senators did not specify which nominations they placed legislative holds on, and their offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokeswoman for Roberts told CQ the list does not include U.S. attorney nominations or military promotions.
The administration is said to be considering a court-room-within-a-prison complex. The plans would combine civilian and military detention facilities under one roof. The operation would be jointly run by the departments of the Defense, Homeland Security and Justice. Another possible site is the soon-to-be-shuttered state maximum security prison in Michigan.
Brownback, Roberts, and a raft of Republicans and Democrats have balked at the idea of transferring detainees to U.S. soil. Congress has vowed to withhold funding for the closure of Guantanamo Bay until the Obama administration provides more details of the undertaking.
Brownback and Roberts said they would hold up the nominees until the White House complied with a list of 11 requests, including a briefing by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Attorney General Eric Holder, or other senior officials studying the detention issue. They also demanded analyses of the costs and economic impact of implementing the plan, a ”classified list and background” of every detainee considered for transfer to Fort Leavenworth, and a detailed explanation of where the administration would move the 430 military prisoners currently held at the penitentiary.
A Senate leadership aide told Main Justice yesterday that Senate leaders are still trying to reach a deal that would bring DOJ nominees up for votes before the recess. There are four nominees to key Justice Department posts awaiting a vote:
- Dawn Johnsen, Office of Legal Counsel (Reported out of committee: March 19)
- Thomas Perez, Civil Rights Division (Reported out of committee: June 4)
- Mary Smith, Tax Division (Reported out of committee: June 11)
- Christopher Schroeder, Office of Legal Policy (Reported out of committee: July 28)
Apparently, they’ll be waiting a bit longer.
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Former Vice President Dick Cheney has become an outspoken advocate of the harsh interrogation methods used against suspected terrorists since he has left office, but that is old hat for the former veep who led four of the infamous lawmaker briefings on the techniques, The Washington Post reported today.
He was not listed in the CIA chart that lists the briefings, but sources told The Post he oversaw meetings in 2005 with Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), then-Sens. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and a particularly contentious one with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), according to The Post. At the time, McCain was pushing for an amendment that would have stopped interrogation methods like waterboarding.
The Post said:
“An official who witnessed one of Cheney’s briefing sessions with lawmakers said the vice president’s presence appeared calculated to give additional heft to the CIA’s case for maintaining the program. Cheney left it to the professional briefers to outline the interrogation practices, while he mounted an impassioned defense of the program.”
We previously reported that Rockefeller, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have disputed the accuracy of the CIA chart on the briefings. Pelosi has gone as far as saying that she was misled by the CIA, while Rockefeller and Graham have said they weren’t briefed on the full extent of the harsh interrogation methods.
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House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appears to have known more about the harsh interrogation methods used against terrorism suspects than she previously let on, ABC News reported last night.
Pelosi was told about the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used on alleged terrorist Abu Zubaydah in September 2002, according to a Director of National Intelligence report sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee members among other members of Congress and obtained by ABC News. Although it is unclear what interrogation methods were discussed with Pelosi, one of the “torture memos” released last month said Zubaydah was waterboarded at least 83 times.
The House speaker previously said she was only aware of the Bush administration’s authorization of the interrogation methods described as torture by many Democrats. She was, however, not aware of the actual use of the techniques, she said.
“In that or any other briefing . . . we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used,” Pelosi said at an April news conference. “What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel . . . opinions that they could be used, but not that they would.”
Pelosi spokesperson Brendan Daly disputed the report to The Los Angeles Times.
“As this document shows, the speaker was briefed only once, in September 2002,” he told the L.A. Times. “The briefers described these techniques, said they were legal, but said that waterboarding had not been used.”
The L.A. Times went on to say there were 40 briefings with members of Congress including then-Senate Intelligence Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and then-Senate Intelligence ranking member Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) about the authorized interrogation methods.