Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nominee Withdraws Bid for Key CIA Post

The White House's pick for the CIA's top legal job withdrew his candidacy yesterday after running into opposition from Democrats who questioned his views on the agency's methods of interrogating terrorism suspects.

John A. Rizzo's decision to drop his bid to be CIA general counsel ended a month-long stalemate that began when Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) vowed to block the nomination indefinitely.

Rizzo, a career CIA lawyer who has been serving as acting general counsel since 2004, said in a letter to President Bush that "because I hold this agency and the people that work with me in the Office of General Counsel in the highest regard, I have decided it is in the best interests of both to withdraw from the process."

In his letter, Rizzo defended the policies that have drawn criticism from congressional Democrats as well as human rights groups. "Even though the American people cannot often see what we do, I know that the actions carried out by CIA officers have been lawful," he said.

During his confirmation hearing in June, Rizzo described as "reasonable" a written guideline for interrogation that permitted the use of harsh techniques up to the point at which the pain was "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of body function, or even death." He also said the CIA does not condone torture.

-- Joby Warrick

Bill Unveiled to Tide Government Over

Congressional Democrats unveiled legislation to keep the government running until mid-November, giving them more time to bridge big differences with President Bush over the budget.

The stopgap legislation is needed because the Oct. 1 start of the next fiscal year is looming with none of the 12 annual spending bills, which fund government agencies and departments, passed and enacted.

Only four of the annual appropriations bills have passed both the House and the Senate, and Democrats do not seem eager to start a protracted veto fight that would underscore the vulnerability of their position. Some lawmakers are already worried that the battles with Bush could keep Congress in session until Christmas.

New Pennies for '09 To Honor Lincoln

A penny for your thoughts will have extra meaning in 2009 -- the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth and the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the Lincoln penny.

To commemorate the event, the U.S. Mint, at the direction of Congress, will introduce for that year four rotating designs on the 1-cent coin depicting different aspects of Lincoln's life.

Those designs will replace the engraving of the Lincoln Memorial on the "tails" side of the coin. The famous profile of Lincoln will remain on the "heads" side.

-- From News Services

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