CIA's Harsh Interrogations Detailed In New Report Raise Criminal Probe Chances

Good Morning. Here are some of Monday, Aug. 24, 2009's most important or most interesting headlines and some of what we'll be following today.

The Obama Administration is expected to release a report detailing the use of extreme interrogation techniques some have called torture against terrorist suspects by interrogators working for the Central Intelligence Agency during the Bush era's war on terror.

Some details have leaked out in recent days, including the use of mock executions to get some detainees talking.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the Justice Department will recommend that investigations be reopened into a dozen cases of reported abuse of terrorist suspects, raising the possibility that a prosecutor would be named, that the CIA would come under new pressure and contradicting President Barack Obama's stated intention to move forward.

In a related story, the Washington Post reports that the Obama Administration has approved the creation of a new interagency group to interrogate the highest value terrorist suspects. A response to alleged CIA abuses and to be based out of the FBI and managed by the National Security Council, the new group would effectively move responsibility for such interrogations into the White House and out of the CIA's hands.

Millions of ballots have yet to reach the counting stations, potentially slowing the final determination of a winner in last week's presidential elections, according to a two-way discussion between NPR's Morning Edition host Renee Montagne and correspondent Jackie Northam. Meanwhile, substantial vote fraud has been alleged in Afghanistan by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the main challenger to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

More on the Afghanistan front: The New York Times reports that U.S. military forces in Afghanistan are inadequate in number to complete the mission of bringing much-needed security to the Afghan population, according to military sources, despite the additional 17,000 troops added by President Obama to bring the U.S. force level to about 60,000. The photo accompanying the NYT web story shows a U.S. soldier firing a mortar and the photographer used such a fast shutter speed, you can actually see the mortar shell leave the tube. Superb photo.

NPR's Mary Louise Kelly begins a series this week that examines the question of how soon Iran might get a nuclear weapon and what responses, practically speaking, are available to the U.S. which has vowed that it would stand in Iran's way from achieving nuclear-power status.

For instance, the series which starts on Morning Edition Monday examines the question of whether there be the political will in the U.S. to militarily attack Iran, especially given growing U.S. commitments to Afghanistan and its remaining military duties in Iraq and whether destroying Iran's nuclear capability is even possible.

The release of a critical study six months ago that raised questions about the scientific bases underpinning forensic science which includes the use of fingerprint and legal analysis in making criminal cases, has left the field searching for a way forward. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports on Morning Edition that scientists would like to see more research while crime labs want more funding.

President Obama has filled just 43 percent of the 500 top posts in his administration, according to a New York Times piece. It's a problem other presidents have faces and have vowed to fix but it remains, hampering the ability of the administration to transform policy across the government as quickly as it would like.

Bernie Madoff, the convicted Ponzi scam artist extraordinaire, the New York Post reports, been telling fellow inmates in the Butner, N.C. federal prison where he is serving a 130 year sentence, that he doesn't have long to live because he's dying from cancer. The NYP reports he's taking 20 pills a day.

Miss Venezuela won the Miss Universe contest for the second consecutive year. This year it was 18-year-old Stefania Fernandez who received the crown from the reigning Miss Universe beauty queen, compatriot Dayana Mendoza. Miss Dominican Republic was this year's runner up.

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