The Central Intelligence Agency(WASHINGTON) — Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan addressed the revelations contained in a comprehensive report released this week about the agency’s use of enhanced interrogation methods from 2002 to 2009, in an unusual live press conference Thursday.

The report, written over five years by the Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the CIA of using unauthorized interrogation techniques to extract information from detainees, including using power drills, mock executions, forced-feeding and threats against their families.

In his opening remarks, Brennan said that the United States looked to the CIA to provide guidance on how to deal with al Qaeda in the chaotic days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“There were no easy answers. And whatever your views are on EITs, our nation and in particular this agency did a lot of things right during this difficult time to keep this country strong and secure,” he said.

The study also asserted that the torture methods did not yield information from detainees that could not have been acquired in other ways, and that the CIA misled the Bush administration about what exactly the enhanced interrogation program was.

Most of the Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee signed on to a minority report that disputed many of the majority’s conclusions, saying that enhanced interrogation techniques did lead to actionable intelligence in key terrorism cases like the capture of the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Brennan’s defense Thursday was a reversal from comments he made at his confirmation hearing in 2013 after reading a version of the report that had not yet been released to the public. At the time, he questioned the efficacy of the CIA’s torture methods.

“Reading this report from the Committee raises serious questions about the information that I was given at the time, and the impression I had at the time,” he said. “Now I have to determine, based on that information, as well as what CIA says, what the truth is.”

Now, in defending the CIA’s interrogation program, Brennan joined former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden, who wrote a 2,500-word rebuttal in the Wall Street Journal this week.

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The Central Intelligence Agency(WASHINGTON) — Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan addressed the revelations contained in a comprehensive report released this week about the agency’s use of enhanced interrogation methods from 2002 to 2009, in an unusual live press conference Thursday.

The report, written over five years by the Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the CIA of using unauthorized interrogation techniques to extract information from detainees, including using power drills, mock executions, forced-feeding and threats against their families.

In his opening remarks, Brennan said that the United States looked to the CIA to provide guidance on how to deal with al Qaeda in the chaotic days after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“There were no easy answers. And whatever your views are on EITs, our nation and in particular this agency did a lot of things right during this difficult time to keep this country strong and secure,” he said.

The study also asserted that the torture methods did not yield information from detainees that could not have been acquired in other ways, and that the CIA misled the Bush administration about what exactly the enhanced interrogation program was.

Most of the Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee signed on to a minority report that disputed many of the majority’s conclusions, saying that enhanced interrogation techniques did lead to actionable intelligence in key terrorism cases like the capture of the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Brennan’s defense Thursday was a reversal from comments he made at his confirmation hearing in 2013 after reading a version of the report that had not yet been released to the public. At the time, he questioned the efficacy of the CIA’s torture methods.

“Reading this report from the Committee raises serious questions about the information that I was given at the time, and the impression I had at the time,” he said. “Now I have to determine, based on that information, as well as what CIA says, what the truth is.”

Now, in defending the CIA’s interrogation program, Brennan joined former CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden, who wrote a 2,500-word rebuttal in the Wall Street Journal this week.

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Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — New Jersey voters don’t want their governor to run for the White House, a new Quinnipiac University poll out Thursday finds.

Among those surveyed, 53 to 40 percent say that Chris Christie would not make a good president.

Fifty to 44 percent of voters don’t even want to see him run and, if he does, Christie should resign from office, say 62 to 32 percent of voters.

The survey also asks quite a unique question: Are American voters ready for a “Jersey Guy” president like Christie? Garden State voters say no, 49 to 43 percent.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has more support in the state, beating Christie in a hypothetical match up, 50 to 39 percent.

“Even Jersey guys, actually Jersey girls, don’t think the nation will go for a Jersey guy like Gov. Christopher Christie,” Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said.

“Besides that, we’d sooner vote for the girl from New York, Hillary Clinton. She beats all the probable Republican candidates, including the governor. He does better than the other Republicans but he still loses his home state,” Carroll added.

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Tom Pennington/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Former Vice President Dick Cheney continued his assault on the critical review of the CIA’s interrogation program, saying the report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is “full of crap.”

Cheney, who used the word “hooey” when interviewed by The New York Times before the report’s release, told the Fox News Channel Wednesday that partisan Democrats have “thrown the professionals under the bus” by claiming the CIA received no worthy intelligence from controversial interrogation methods following the 9/11 attacks.

An ardent defender of the program that he helped oversee, Cheney seemed to suggest that Democrats wanted to coddle “the murderers of 3,000 people on 9/11.”

While the report detailed the harsh treatment 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed underwent while in CIA custody, Cheney asked incredulously, “What are we supposed to do? Kiss him on both cheeks? “

Cheney also disputed allegations that then-President George W. Bush was somehow left out of the loop about CIA practices, claiming, “He knew everything he needed to know and wanted to know about the program. He did know certainly the techniques. He did discuss the techniques.”

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State Dept photo(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said on Wednesday that he intends to hold more hearings on the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in the coming months.

“We should not move on until there is a complete understanding of why requests for additional security were denied, by whom they were denied, and why an ambassador trusted to represent us in a dangerous land wasn’t trusted to know what security he needed to do his job,” Gowdy said at a hearing Wednesday.

“There are those on both sides of the aisle who have concluded that all questions have been answered; there is nothing left to do, no more witnesses to talk to, no more documents to review,” Gowdy added. “It is worth noting that some of those very same folks did not think that Benghazi should have been looked at in the first place.”

Gowdy also told ABC News Wednesday that Hillary Clinton “is a witness that we would still like to talk to.”

The House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is chaired by Gowdy, is scheduled to expire when Congress ends in January. But the House is expected to reauthorize it for another term. Gowdy said he planned on holding hearings in January, February and March.

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US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, urging him to review a California law that would mandate all toy guns be painted a bright color to ensure they are not confused for actual weapons.

The death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland last month is just the most recent example of what can happen when a police officer mistakes a play weapon for a real firearm, Boxer wrote. In the November shooting, police mistook a toy airsoft gun that Rice was playing with for a real gun. Some reports indicated that the orange safety tip meant to identify the gun as a toy had been removed.

“We don’t need another child’s death to remind us that we need to change the current laws regulating imitation firearms,” Boxer urged. She proposed that toy guns be painted white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright pink or bright purple.

The California law was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September.

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Toting two giant bags of toys, President Obama had a simple holiday message as he arrived to sort gifts at the Marines Corps’ Toys for Tots event on Wednesday: “Ho, ho, ho.”

“That’s a pretty serious ‘Ho ho ho,’” the first lady remarked, before introducing the special “helper” she brought along this year.

“I don’t know how good he’ll be with sorting. He doesn’t usually deal in shopping in any kind of way,” Michelle Obama said of her husband. “But we’ll watch him closely to see if he can figure out which ones are zero-to-two or unisex. It gets really complicated, so watch him because he could really make your work harder.”

The president was confident he was up to the task. “I’m the big elf. I’m like Will Ferrell,” he said.

“I’m positive that girl’s zero-to-two, that’s perfect for the Call of Duty video game,” he joked to the first lady. “See, she didn’t even get the joke. She wasn’t listening to me.”

After thanking the Marine Corps for organizing Toys for Tots, which has given away more than 469 million toys to more than 216 million children since its inception, the president took off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and got to work sorting toys for little girls and boys.

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The Central Intelligence Agency(WASHINGTON) — It’s not only the contents of the Senate’s CIA report that are causing controversy. It’s also the cost.

The five-year review, which examined more than six million CIA documents, came with a price tag of $40 million. That eye-popping figure, costly even by Washington standards, has been seized upon by Republican critics of the report.

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Select Intelligence Committee, says the vast majority of the cost is attributed to the CIA, which insisted on renting a separate building for the review.

“Rather than provide documents for the committee to review in its own secure Senate office, as is standard practice, the CIA insisted on establishing a separate leased facility and a stand-alone computer network for committee use,” Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement Wednesday. “The CIA hired teams of contractors to review every document, multiple times, to ensure they were relevant and not potentially subject to a claim of executive privilege. Only after those costly reviews were the documents then provided to committee staff.”

Feinstein said the CIA insisted on hiring outside contractors to review every document, often multiple times. She said she wrote several letters to the CIA over the years, raising questions about the cost.

The unusual arrangement of working in a separate facility, rather than at CIA headquarters or in a secure room on Capitol Hill, led to the allegations that the CIA was spying on Senate computers. Feinstein accused the CIA of obscuring the committee’s investigation and gaining access to Senate computers, which led CIA Director John Brennan to apologize.

The CIA has not commented on the cost of the study.

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Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama has condemned what he calls “torture” of detainees by CIA interrogators at black sites overseas in the dark days after 9/11.

But the White House is not taking a position on whether any of the information gleaned from those sessions — putting questions on the propriety of the tactics aside — actually helped to save lives.

The administration also refuses to say whether Obama shares the view of his own CIA director, John Brennan, who said on Tuesday that intelligence gained from enhanced interrogation techniques did in fact help to “thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives.”

“The most important question is: Should we have done it? And the answer to that question is no,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on Wednesday.

“The president does not believe that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques was good for our national security. He does not believe that it was good for our moral authority. In fact, he believes that it undermined our moral authority, and that is why he banned them,” Earnest said.

Under repeated questioning, Earnest refused to answer whether those interrogations ultimately saved lives as current and former CIA officials allege. He did say the White House believes the tactics were “not worth it.”

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Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Is Bridgegate sticking to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie?

According to new Quinnipiac University poll out Wednesday, 48 percent of Garden State voters approve of Christie’s job performance while nearly the same amount — 47 percent — disapprove.

The results compare to a 46 to 45 percent approval rating on Oct. 1 and, according to Quinnipiac, continue an 11-month slump that began when the Bridgegate scandal broke.

The latest survey took place on Dec. 3-8, so part of the polling would have covered the new results from an interim state committee Bridgegate report, which in some ways cleared the potential 2016 presidential candidate of any wrongdoing, although the report is not final.

But with some key issues, Christie is under water. On handling economy and jobs, he gets 41 to 51 percent. As for handling the state budget, he gets 42 to 48 percent and for education he gets 39 to 50 percent.

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