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Judge says CIA can cover up destruction of interrogation tapes

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NEW YORK — A judge cited national security concerns in ruling Wednesday that the CIA does not have to release hundreds of documents related to the destruction of videotapes of Sept. 11 detainee interrogations that used harsh methods.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said he believed he had an obligation to let the CIA director decide what should be released when it pertains to methods used to make uncooperative detainees divulge information.

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“The need to keep confidential just how the CIA and other government agencies obtained their information is manifest, and that has to do with the identities of the people who gave information and who were questioned to obtain information,” the judge said from the bench.

He ruled after reviewing in private 65 of roughly 580 documents sought by the American Civil Liberties Union, including 53 field reports to CIA headquarters about interrogations.

An ACLU lawsuit already has forced the release of legal memos authorizing harsh methods, including waterboarding, a type of simulated drowning, and slamming suspects into walls, techniques described by critics as torture.

The judge said he expects to order the release of six pages of written notes from a CIA field officer who spoke about the interrogation videotapes with a CIA lawyer, but he gave the government two weeks to submit new arguments opposing the release.

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He said it was only important that he decide whether the issue before him was a fit subject for intelligence gathering, not whether it was legal.

“If so, my job is to defer to the extent appropriate — and that is substantial — to the decision of the director of the CIA,” he said.

CIA Director Leon Panetta had told the judge in court papers that releasing documents about the agency’s terror interrogations would gravely damage national security.

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Kellyanne Conway accused of violating Hatch Act at least 50 times this year — on Twitter alone

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According to a report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway has "surpassed 50 violations of the Hatch Act on Twitter alone this past year."

Explaining the numbers, the report states, "CREW’s report on Conway’s continued violations outlines five categories of tweets that violate the Hatch Act: attacking or mocking Democratic presidential candidates, attacking the Democratic Party, promoting President Trump's re-election, promoting the Republican Party, and attacking President Trump's political adversaries. Conway has multiple violations in each category," before noting that Twitter's Terms of Service indicates one of Trump's closest aides is in violation and should have her account suspended.

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Turkey’s foreign minister bursts out laughing as he mocks Trump’s erratic tweets

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Speaking to the BBC's HARDtalk this Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu scoffed at the Trump administration's threat of sanctions over his country's military operation in northeast Syria, saying that the threat is the result of erratic confused messaging that's not doing anything to help the situation.

Cavusoglu laughed and mocked Trump for his constant tweeting about various issues, including Turkey.

"Different voices, different positions are coming from the United States, because of the differences between the administration, the State Department, Pentagon, and this and that," he said.

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GOP lawmaker hammers Trump for Ukraine server conspiracy theory: ‘Are we trying to exculpate Russia?’

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Rep. Francis Rooney (R-OK) on Friday signaled that he was taking House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump far more seriously than many of his Republican colleagues.

During an interview with CNN's Poppy Harlow, Rooney said he was very disturbed at the president's efforts to prove a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine purportedly being behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee in 2016, despite the fact that all evidence that has been uncovered points directly to Russia as the true culprit.

Harlow then asked him what he made about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) comment that "all roads" in the Ukraine scandal lead back to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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