Thursday, February 22, 2018
Politics

White House backs off draft order to revive CIA prisons

WASHINGTON — The Trump White House appears to have backed off for now on its consideration of reopening overseas "black site" prisons, where the CIA once tortured terrorism suspects, after a leaked draft executive order prompted bipartisan pushback from Congress and Cabinet officials.

On Thursday, the White House circulated among National Security Council staff members a revised version of the draft order on detainees that deleted language contemplating a revival of the CIA prisons, the New York Times reported, speaking to several officials familiar with its contents.

The draft order retains other parts of the original that focus on making greater use of the military's Guantanamo Bay prison, which the Obama administration had tried to close. Those sections, reflecting repeated vows from President Donald Trump, include a call to bring newly captured terrorism detainees there and to freeze plans for any more transfers.

After news outlets reported details of the original draft on Jan. 25, lawmakers erupted in outrage, and both the defense secretary, Jim Mattis, and the CIA director, Mike Pompeo, disavowed any prior knowledge of the contemplated order.

Elisa Massimino, president of Human Rights First, who had been among those who criticized the original draft, praised the revisions.

"It sounds like a smart reaction to the reaction to the leaked draft," she said. "Transparency is a good corrective to overreach, and it provides the opportunity for more careful consideration of the broader implications of an order like this."

In addition to the change on CIA prisons, the revised draft, unlike the original, would not revive a 2007 executive order issued by President George W. Bush, and later rescinded by President Barack Obama, that laid out a limited understanding of which torture techniques count as war crimes under the Geneva Conventions.

The revised draft would also not revoke two executive orders governing detainees that Obama issued in January 2009, as the original would have. The first bars the CIA from operating prisons and requires all interrogators to adhere to techniques approved in the Army Field Manual. The other was Obama's ill-fated directive to close the Guantanamo prison within a year.

Comments
Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Gun advocates are absolutely right about this:A ban on assault weapons will not end school shootings.How do we know?Because there was a federal ban on assault weapons for 10 years, and mass killings persisted. That’s because a ban deals only with fut...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

Focused on Cuba’s future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

TAMPA — One highlight of a congressional delegation’s visit to Cuba this week was an impromptu meeting with President Raul Castro.But not for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.The Tampa Democrat joined five other Democrats on the trip, in part to investigate th...
Published: 02/21/18
Melania Trump’s parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions on ‘chain migration’

Melania Trump’s parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions on ‘chain migration’

The parents of first lady Melania Trump have become legal permanent residents of the United States and are close to obtaining their citizenship, according to people familiar with their status, but their attorney declined to say how or when the couple...
Published: 02/21/18
Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governor’s race

Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governor’s race

We’ll take "surprising side gigs" for $1,000! "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek will moderate a debate among Republican hopefuls vying for the Pennsylvania gubernatorial nomination.The longtime game show star will be questioning candidates at an Oct. 1 for...
Published: 02/21/18
Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

SPRING HILL — A Hernando County woman new to the political arena has filed as the fifth Democrat to run against longtime Florida lawmaker U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster for his spot in the U.S. House of Representatives.Dana Cottrell, 49, has lived in Sprin...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/21/18
St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

The 2017 St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race was celebrated as more than a competitive regatta to Cuba’s capital city of Havana.The relaunch of the maritime competition canceled since 1959 was hailed as a reflection of the detente started under former P...
Published: 02/20/18
Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election charged an attorney Tuesday with lying to federal investigators about his interactions with a former Trump campaign official. A charging document filed in federa...
Published: 02/20/18
Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina man with a felony conviction for indecent liberties with a child was one-half of the poster couple for a new "Trump Dating" website.News outlets reported Monday that visitors to the dating site geared toward suppor...
Published: 02/20/18
Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Associated PressST. PETERSBURG, Russia — While Russian officials scoff at a U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, several people who worked at the same St. Petersburg, Russia, "troll factory" say t...
Published: 02/19/18
Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Associated PressWEST PALM BEACH — From the confines of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, President Donald Trump offered support Monday for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases while staying largely mum in the past few days ab...
Published: 02/19/18