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House passes intelligence appropriations bill for 2012

The US House of Representatives [official website] Friday voted 384-14 to pass a bill [roll call vote] authorizing appropriations for intelligence activities for the next year after removing two provisions under a veto threat from the Obama Administration. The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 [HR 1892 materials] passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support [Washington Post report] after after receiving a memo from the White House objecting to two provisions, including one that would have made the administration give State Department cables related to the transfer of detainees and other potentially sensitive information to the committees. The White House also objected to a provision requiring the Senate to confirm the director of the National Security Agency [official website], citing concerns that the position may remain unfilled for longer than necessary as a result of the difficulty involved in obtaining such a confirmation. The bill would also require a report on the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. It must still be approved by the Senate before being sent to the President. However, leaders of the House and Senate have already met to work out differences between their respective bills.

US intelligence-related activities have been controversial. Last month, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] ruled that former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld [JURIST news archive] can be sued [JURIST report] by a former US military contractor who claims he was tortured while imprisoned in Iraq. The man, whose identity remains concealed and who worked in Iraq as an intelligence officer, said the US military accused him of passing information to the enemy and abducted and tortured him without formally charging him with a crime under orders from Rumsfeld. Upon release and return to the US, the former intelligence officer filed a suit demanding compensation for property lost and rights violated. This is the second time Rumsfeld, currently represented by the Justice Department, has been allowed to be sued personally in a torture case. The other suit, which Rumsfeld is now appealing, was allowed last year [JURIST report].

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