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Guantanamo Hunger Strike Numbers Continue To Rise

Ryan J. Reilly   |   April 17, 2013    9:27 AM ET

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- The number of detainees the military has recognized as hunger strikers rose again on Wednesday, days after a raid forced many of the prisoners who had been in communal settings back into individual cells.

As of Wednesday morning, 52 of the 166 detainees being held at Guantanamo were classified as hunger strikers, meaning they had skipped at least nine consecutive meals and lost substantial body weight.

The number jumped up seven from the 45 detainees who were considered hunger strikers on Tuesday. Navy spokesman Robert Durand said in an email that 15 detainees were now being force fed, up from 13 on Tuesday. Three of those prisoners were being observed in the detainee hospital.

Reporters here from the Associated Press, The New York Times, the Miami Herald and The Huffington Post are scheduled to see detainee food being prepared on Wednesday morning and get a tour of Guantanamo's Camp V.

FBI Requests Millions Of Dollars To Enhance Cyber Snooping Capabilities

Ryan J. Reilly   |   April 12, 2013    4:44 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- The FBI has requested more than $41 million to improve the bureau’s ability to collect and analyze cyber information and address “critical gaps” in its capability to monitor web activities.

As part of an overall $86 million budget request for a "Next Generation Cyber Initiative," the FBI wants to hire 36 employees, including 10 agents, to improve its cyber collection and analysis capabilities. The justification for that $41 million request, which includes over $33 million in nonpersonnel spending, was submitted in a classified report to Congress as part of the bureau’s 2014 budget request.

The FBI said it would use the new initiative to “help promote a whole of government approach to cybersecurity, as well as address critical gaps in the FBI’s current ability to investigate computer intrusions and identify, mitigate, and disrupt cyber threat actors."

The FBI has long had concerns that new technologies are not “wiretap friendly” and create blind spots for law enforcement when targets use certain methods of communication. Last year, the FBI privately pressured Internet companies to create backdoors for government surveillance.

A spokeswoman referred The Huffington Post to an FBI official's testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security in September, which said the agency must ensure its ability to obtain communication under a court order wasn’t eroded.

“The increasingly mobile, complex, and varied nature of communication has created a growing challenge to our ability to conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance of criminals and terrorists,” Associate Deputy Director Kevin L. Perkins testified. “Many communications providers are not required to build or maintain intercept capabilities in their ever-changing networks. As a result, they are often not equipped to respond to information sought pursuant to a lawful court order.

“Because of this gap between technology and the law, law enforcement is increasingly unable to access the information it needs to protect public safety and the evidence it need to bring criminals to justice,” he said.

The FBI, Perkins testified, would be working with the law enforcement and intelligence communities as well as private-sector partners to “find a long-term solution to this growing problem” and “ensure that the laws by which we operate keep pace with new threats and new technology.”

DOD: Prosecutors Didn't See Guantanamo Defense Emails

Ryan J. Reilly   |   April 12, 2013    3:11 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department is denying that military prosecutors saw privileged emails belonging to defense attorneys representing Guantanamo detainees.

Pre-trial hearings in the case against the man charged in connection with the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole that had been scheduled for next week were delayed because of lost data. The Chief Defense Counsel told defense attorneys to stop using emails to transit any confidential or privileged information because of the concerns.

The military contends the story is overblown. Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a spokesman for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, sent reporters this statement:

Perhaps the biggest myth in the current reporting is that US government prosecutors saw defense e-mails.

I can tell you unequivocally that NO prosecutor and no member of the privilege review team saw the content of any privileged communications. Only one prosecutor and only one member of the privilege review team each actually saw a single defense communication. To be clear: there were a series of searches for a particular piece of information in which both prosecution and defense took part. One prosecutor saw the email when reviewing results generated from the first search. The privilege-review attorney saw the email when reviewing the results generated from the second search. However, in both cases, they only saw the "To," "From," and "CC" lines, and the one prosecutor saw the opening salutation of the email (it was "team," or some similar word) and saw NOTHING ELSE. As soon as that prosecutor realized the search results included privileged material, the searches completely ceased, and, upon agreement of defense counsel in Qosi, the IT department deleted all the search results from the two searches.

But more generally - though terrifically more importantly - the attorney-client privilege ranks among the oldest and most established evidentiary privileges known to our law, and we take this seriously. The fact that this arose from a defense-initiated petition, was promptly dealt with due to a PROSECUTION report, and that it is receiving appropriate focus to identify corrective measures, confirms that. All attorneys, including both our professional corps of defense and prosecuting attorneys, are duty-bound to safeguard privileged material. Attorneys are obligated to scrupulously avoid reviewing the other side's privileged material. Specifically, the attorneys in the office of the chief prosecutor have demonstrated their respect for the attorney-client privilege and they diligently work to protect it.

In any complex litigation, privileged material sometimes accidentally ends up in the wrong place - from both 'sides.' For example, just last week, a member of the defense counsel mistakenly sent to a number of prosecutors an ex parte filing that was meant to be sent only to the court. Defense counsel notified the prosecution, and actions were immediately taken to protect the confidentiality of the filing. This sort of human error is unfortunate but not out of the ordinary in complex litigation in both civilian and military systems, and both sides work together to resolve any issues that arise.

Meanwhile, encryption--which is the recommended means of communication--would have precluded even this inadvertent and fully contained disclosure that involved no content.

So, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to offer some point-for-point responses to some of the growing myths that are out there.

"[I]t was revealed that hundreds of thousands of defense e-mails were turned over to the prosecution."
"In the latest controversy, the prosecution gained access to about 540,000 emails from defense teams."

[Ed note: see update] -- This is patently FALSE. First, no one knows from where this "540k" number comes and I would direct you to the defense counsel who allege this number. The Enterprise Information Technology Services Directorate (EITSD) did not turn over any of the those emails to any attorneys--prosecution or otherwise. IT has maintained possession of these emails and the prosecution attorneys do not have access to them. Because no one has reviewed these emails, we simply do not know whether any of the emails included any defense emails.

"Defense attorneys said military IT personnel unsuccessfully tried to refine their search parameters two more times--and in each case discovered more confidential material."

-- The court wanted communications between the prosecution and the defense regarding waiver of appellate review. The office of the Chief Prosecutor (OMC-P) asked their IT professional, he relayed to them that they had to go through OMC Security Department (now part of Washington Headquarters Services), and OMC Security relayed that they would have to contact the search technicians with OMC-P's search request. OMC-P gave the search parameters to OMC Security (including the names of the relevant prosecutors and defense attorneys, identifying who was a prosecutor and who was a defense attorney), and OMC Security was supposed to properly communicate them to the search technicians. The representative from OMC-Security miscommunicated the search parameters, which we asses is the likely reason it caused OMC-P to receive the privileged communications which, again, were never read by the prosecutors.

-- The IT search that generated 540,000 emails was the third search. Again: no one has reviewed these emails, so we do not know if they include confidential material. After the first search, prosecutors directed IT to deliver any search results to a privilege review team composed of attorneys from the DOD OGC who had no involvement in the Qosi case before the United States Court of Military Commission Review or the Cole and 9/11 trials. IT has deleted the search results from the first two searches.

-- Finally, the Office of Military Commissions (OMC), in toto - including both defense and prosecution - suffered from a nearly catastrophic server 'crash,' that affected not only the main server, but both of its back-up servers. The server 'crash,' coupled with the satellite latency issues that exist between computers here in the US and those at Guantanamo Bay, have caused losses of indiscriminate data across the OMC spectrum. Of the nearly 400 gb of data originally 'lost,' there remain some 7 gb yet to be accounted for. To be sure, this data loss - which affects the whole of OMC - is indeed indiscriminate and appears to be mostly affecting updates to pre-existing documents and new documents that were saved to the server and not e-mailed.

UPDATE: Breasseale retracted part of his statement regarding the 540,000 number, which came from one of the prosecution's pleadings. He stands by the rest of the statement.

Guantanamo Political Stalemate Is 'Untenable,' Red Cross Says After Obama Meeting

Ryan J. Reilly   |   April 11, 2013    2:10 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday he believed President Barack Obama remained committed to shutting down the U.S. prison camps at Guantanamo Bay after discussing the issue with Obama at the White House on Wednesday.

"The issue of Guantanamo is politically blocked in this country," Peter Maurer told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington. "One important message I brought to all my U.S. interlocutors over the past few days was also that this is an untenable blockage, that they should put their energy and political energy into finding a new compromise that will move the delicate issues forward."

Maurer declined to go into details about his discussions with Obama. He also passed on an opportunity to condemn the use of force feedings during the ongoing hunger strikes at the prison camps.

"If we see a hunger strike today, we interpret this as a symptom, as an indicator about the lack of perspective that those detainees have, the impression of an American government which does not follow up on promises, promises that have been made on transfers," Maurer said.

While ICRC investigators visited Guantanamo during the hunger strikes, Maurer declined to discuss what they saw, saying such information was part of the confidential conversation his organization was having with U.S. officials.

Maurer's remarks came the same day as pre-trial hearings were cancelled in the military commissions case against a man charged in connection with the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. Defense lawyers had lost over seven gigabytes of data because of issues with the Pentagon's computer system. In response, the head of the Pentagon's Office of Chief Defense Counsel issued an order instructing attorneys to discontinue using e-mail communications to transmit confidential or privileged information, and to stop using personal or common drives to store such information.

Activists also organized protests against the Guantanamo prison camps in D.C., New York, Chicago and San Francisco on Thursday, the same day a group of 25 human and civil rights organizations wrote a letter to Obama, calling on the president to "take immediate steps to end indefinite detention without charge and begin closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay."

Eric Holder: Martin Luther King Jr. 'Would Not Yet Be Satisfied' With Voting Rights

Ryan J. Reilly   |   April 4, 2013    8:00 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Martin Luther King Jr. "would not yet be satisfied" with the progress the nation has made on protecting voting rights, Attorney General Eric Holder said on the 45th anniversary of the civil rights icon's death, according to prepared remarks.

Holder said King would be "proud of the country he helped recreate" and encouraged to see that his work goes on every day.

"At the same time, I know Dr. King would not yet be satisfied," Holder said in a Thursday evening speech at the National Action Network Convention. "And he would be the first to remind us that –- although segregation is no longer the law of the land; although bigotry and discrimination are not as pervasive as they once were; and although a direct beneficiary of his legacy now sits in the Oval Office, and another humbly serves as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States –- even today, in 2013, our struggle to bridge divisions, to eradicate violence, and to combat disparities and disenfranchisement remains far from over. And nowhere is this clearer than in the national debate about voting rights that has captured recent headlines from coast to coast."

Holder said there was a still a need for a key provision of the Voting Rights Act which may be struck down by the Supreme Court. There's "long been a national consensus, a bipartisan consensus, that the Voting Rights Act was not only necessary, but good for our nation," he said.

"Let me be clear: while this country has indeed changed, and real progress has been made –- we are not yet at the point where the most vital part of the Voting Rights Act can be described as unnecessary or a product of a flawed political process," Holder said. "That’s why today’s Justice Department has vigorously defended Section 5 as an indispensable –- and constitutional –- tool for eradicating discriminatory electoral processes."

Holder said that no matter what the outcome of the Supreme Court case, DOJ "will remain committed to the aggressive and appropriate enforcement of all voting and civil rights protections, including every part of the Voting Rights Act." The Justice Department is "eager to work with elections administrators and elected leaders throughout the country to consider policies aimed at making more fair –- and modernizing –- our voting systems; ensuring that all eligible citizens have equal access to the ballot; and preventing and punishing fraudulent voting practices –- however rare," Holder said.

"Long lines are unnecessary. Shortened voting periods are unwise and inconsistent with the historic ideal of expanded participation in the process. Recent proposed changes in how electoral votes are apportioned in specific states are blatantly partisan, unfair, divisive, and not worthy of our nation," Holder said. "Let me be clear again: we will not sit by and allow the slow unraveling of an electoral system that so many sacrificed so much to construct."

Ryan J. Reilly   |   April 4, 2013    3:02 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric Holder will take a symbolic pay cut if Justice Department employees are furloughed as a result of sequestration, a spokesperson said Thursday. The announcement came after Holder said on a radio show that he'd consider taking a pay cut if any DOJ employees were furloughed.

"Should it come to pass, the Attorney General intends to take a pay cut equivalent to the maximum amount any Justice Department employee has to take as a result of the sequestration, which is up to 14 days this fiscal year, so that those funds can go back into the Treasury," a Justice Department spokesperson said in a statement to The Huffington Post. "The Attorney General is working hard to minimize the possibility that any Justice Department employee has his or her salary impacted this fiscal year."

The news of a possible DOJ furlough was first reported by Time.

Some reports suggested Holder would stick around for about a year into President Barack Obama's second term, but the attorney general hasn't specified his plans. Holder brushed off a question Thursday morning on how long he planned to stay on.

"I don't know, we'll see," Holder said on the Tom Joyner radio show when asked whether he would remain in the post. "I'm happy, I'm still enjoying what I'm doing, there's still work to be done. I'm still the president's wingman, so I'm there with my boy. So we'll see, we'll see."

Eric Holder Accused Of Going Soft On Porn

Ryan J. Reilly   |   April 3, 2013    7:06 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Forget big banks. In the eyes of one conservative group, Attorney General Eric Holder has failed in his duty to take down big porn.

Morality in Media put Holder at the top of its “Dirty Dozen List” of “top pornography facilitators” this week, placing the nation’s leading law enforcement official in the company of Comcast, Facebook, the American Library Association, Twitter, Wikipedia and even the Department of Defense.

“Holder’s actions keep the porn industry thriving,” Patrick A. Trueman, president of Morality in Media, said in a press release. “He not only refuses to enforce obscenity laws currently on the books that prohibit the distribution of hardcore pornography, but he even disbanded the office charged with enforcement.”

Trueman, who headed the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section until 1993, is referring to Holder’s 2011 decision to shut down the Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, which was formed in 2005. Obscenity prosecutions dropped during the Clinton administration after Trueman left the department. The Obama administration hasn’t brought a new obscenity case since taking office in 2009, and during the Bush administration, Trueman acknowledges, obscenity prosecutions were at relatively low levels.

Trueman had some hope that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would reverse that trend, with his team promising it would crack down on porn during the presidential campaign. But while some politicians, including a handful of Democrats, have called on the DOJ to step up prosecutions of adult pornography, First Amendment advocates are just fine with the lull.

“It’s tough to imagine a bigger waste of taxpayer money than using limited prosecutorial resources to target porn depicting legal acts between consenting adults,” wrote Think Progress.

Larry Walters, a First Amendment lawyer who has represented the adult industry, told HuffPost that enforcing obscenity laws didn't seem to be a priority for the Obama administration. "I suspect that is based largely on public sentiment,” he said. “We’ve become much more tolerant of exotic material as a society in the United States, as has much of the world with the ready access of erotic material and explicit material on the Internet.”

The DOJ acknowledges that obscenity cases haven’t been at the top of its to-do list. In a statement issued to The Huffington Post in response to the Morality in Media list, a spokeswoman emphasized the DOJ’s pursuit of cases that protect “women, families and children,” adding that the department would use “all the prosecutorial tools available to us, including federal obscenity statutes” to protect the public.

“As with any federal matter, the Department focuses its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources on the most egregious cases, particularly those that facilitate child exploitation or involve the sexual abuse of children,” spokeswoman Nanda Chitre wrote. “This prioritization is critical given the dramatic increase in the sexual exploitation of children and the increasing severity of the images in child pornography cases, with more images depicting prepubescent children and infants and more images depicting violence and sadism.”

Walters said it’s a good sign that the Obama administration has not gone after pornographers producing content between consenting adults.

“I don’t think that the administration is friendly with the industry or that the industry is necessarily happy with the Department of Justice. There’s a quiet detente is how I would describe it right now,” Walters said.

“With the juries reading 50 Shades of Grey, it’s going to be pretty tough to argue that material that’s erotic in nature should result in someone being put in a cage,” Walters added. “We’re a cash-strapped nation, and we have to be very careful of where we devote our law enforcement dollars. There’s a lot of financial corruption, there’s a lot of fraud, there’s all kinds of valid use of law enforcement dollars, and I don’t think the public has the appetite to see widespread obscenity prosecutions.”

Ryan J. Reilly   |   April 3, 2013   11:11 AM ET

U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, the federal judge in Montana who sent an email last year suggesting that President Barack Obama's mother had sex with a dog, has retired following an investigation into his conduct.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit announced Tuesday that Cebull had submitted his retirement letter, effective May 3. A special committee had conducted a "thorough and extensive investigation" and submitted their report to the circuit's Judicial Council, which issued a confidential order and memorandum on March 15, according to the court.

In the email forwarded by Cebull, a young Obama asks his mother why he's black and she is white. "Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!" his mother replies. Cebull told recipients of his email that he hoped it "touches your heart like it did mine."

Cebull, nominated by President George W. Bush, stepped down as chief U.S. district judge in October and took a reduced caseload. He apologized for sending the letter back in the spring.

Gay-Rights Group To John Roberts: Everyone's Not 'Falling Over Themselves' To Back Gay Marriage

Ryan J. Reilly   |   March 28, 2013    6:08 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- The way Chief Justice John Roberts sees it, gay rights advocates have it pretty easy.

Referring to the "sea change" in public opinion about gay marriage, Roberts said during oral arguments on Wednesday in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case that politicians were "falling over themselves" to endorse gay marriage.

"I suppose the sea change has a lot to do with the political force and effectiveness of people representing, supporting your side of the case?" Roberts asked attorney Roberta Kaplan, who is representing Edith Windsor. "You don't doubt that the lobby supporting the enactment of same sex-marriage laws in different states is politically powerful, do you?"

Brian Moulton, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, said it's important to take a step back when taking a look at the political power held by gay-rights supporters, calling Roberts' comments "frustrating."

"When you look at the court looking at protections for women in the late 70s, the court still concluded they were not politically powerful despite the fact that they had succeeded in passing laws to prohibit sex discrimination in employment nationwide," Moulton told The Huffington Post. "They really looked at, well, how well-represented are women in Congress and in state legislatures and really looked at it together with this history of discrimination."

"You hear the term political power and you think, OK, that means are people getting their voices heard, are they on the news. Maybe your immediate thought is, oh, well come to think of it, look at all this news around the Supreme Court, all the change on marriage in the last several years, if not the last couple of weeks, that does seem like a lot of political power," Moulton said.

"But then you step back and think, OK, well in 30 states, LGBT people have been unsuccessful in stopping their legislators and their neighbors from voting their families out of those state constitutions and are still a minuscule proportion of any legislature or Congress," Moulton added. "These are the kind of people who are never going to be able to achieve power in the decision-making bodies to be able to vindicate their rights on their own."

Former American Soldier Conspired With Terrorist Group In Syria, U.S. Charges

Ryan J. Reilly   |   March 28, 2013    4:03 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Eric Harroun, a 30-year-old former U.S. soldier, has been charged by federal authorities in Virginia with conspiring to use a rocket propelled grenade while fighting with the al-Nusrah Front in Syria. Harroun has posted YouTube videos and Facebook posts that showed him working alongside the group, which is commonly referred to as "al Qaeda in Iraq."

Harroun made his initial appearance in federal court in Alexandria, Va. and will face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted. Federal authorities said that the terrorist organization he worked with has claimed responsibility for almost 600 terrorist attacks in Syria.

When interviewed by the FBI on Wednesday, Harroun said he was part of an "RPG Team" and carried three rockets in a backpack along with an AK-47, according to the FBI. Harroun allegedly stated that he hit a tower with a rocket and other members of the team fired rockets that hit Syrian targets.

Foreign Policy reported in a story titled "The Jihadist from Phoenix" that Harroun "doesn't appear to strictly follow the tenets" of Islam. From the report:

While observant Muslims tend to shun alcohol, Harroun appears to enjoy drinking. A lot.

Alcohol and women came up in the majority of our conversations with Harroun. He stated openly that he drinks beer. While talking to us from what he said was a disco in Turkey, Harroun wrote he was "trying to bang some Turkish girl right now lol." He then referenced the eighth-century Abbasid ruler Harroun al-Rashid, explaining that he was "a Caliph of Baghdad and a womanizer." On another occasion he lauded the pleasures of Istanbul as "good beer and nice women."

The FBI affidavit is embedded below, followed by a slideshow of photos and videos Harroun posted on Facebook.

Harroun_complaint

Bigmouth Congressman Spills Secret In Capture of Bin Laden Son-In-Law

Ryan J. Reilly   |   March 22, 2013    8:48 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Peter King's (R-N.Y.) public thanks to Jordan this month for helping capture Osama bin Laden's son-in-law has upset a delicate U.S. government agreement to keep Jordan's role in the operation secret, U.S. officials told The Huffington Post.

King, a member of the House Intelligence Committee and until recently the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, was the first U.S. official to confirm the arrest of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. In a March 7 statement several hours before the indictment against Ghaith was unsealed, King thanked "our allies in Jordan" for help capturing Abu Ghaith, who served as a spokesman for al-Qaeda.

The effort to capture Abu Ghaith required work between the State Department and the United States national security apparatus as well as cooperation from foreign allies. While Jordan is one of the closest U.S. allies in the region, it would have preferred not to have its role mentioned because cooperating with the U.S can be politically toxic in the Middle East. The Jordanian embassy in D.C. did not respond to a request for comment, while the U.S. has yet to officially acknowledged its role.

King told The Huffington Post he was never notified of the operation to capture Abnu Ghaith through official channels. King said he learned of Jordan's assistance informally, from calls from reporters following up on foreign reports and from friends in New York's law enforcement community.

"Local law enforcement people knew about it in New York, it was no secret," King said of Jordan's role in the operation. Members of the New York City Police Department are on the FBI's New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which played a major role in the arrest.

King -- who once authored a barely veiled novel called Vale of Tears about a Long Island Republican congressman who saved New York City from a terrorist attack -- said his sources never told him to keep his mouth shut.

"I was never briefed on it, never told not to say anything. I just thanked everybody involved," King said. "I didn't go into any of the details, which were all over the media within hours."

A Justice Department lawyer said at Abu Ghaith's arraignment that he was taken into custody on Feb. 28. The U.S. never said where the arrest took place.

Abu Ghaith apparently was taken into custody in a luxury hotel in Turkey, but that country did not want to send him directly to the U.S. because he could face the death penalty . The suspect was reportedly being taken to Kuwait when he was apprehended by U.S. law enforcement on a stopover in Jordan.

It wasn't clear whether any of King's colleagues in Congress were informed of Abu Ghaith's arrest before King made his announcement. The White House said the day after the announcement that "relevant" congressional leadership "were informed about the indictment of Abu Ghaith and the decision to try him in New York," but did not say when those notifications took place.

King's March 7 statement was sent out shortly after 10 a.m. The Justice Department press release didn't hit reporters' inboxes until nearly 5 p.m. In the intervening hours, government officials across several agencies scrambled to explain the breach, according to several government officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Elise Foley and Joshua Hersh contributed reporting.

New Guantanamo Prison Plan Shows U.S. To Stay A While

Ryan J. Reilly   |   March 21, 2013   10:19 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is weighing a proposal to build a new $49 million prison for special detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- another sign that the base President Barack Obama promised to shut down will remain open indefinitely.

The new prison proposal is in an early stage, unlike proposed upgrades that include a new dining hall, hospital and barracks for prison guards, which are more advanced. A spokesman said all of the facilities proposed for replacement are deteriorating because they were never intended to be permanent.

"Most of the buildings and infrastructure were built for a short-term mission," said Lt. Cmdr. Ron Flanders, a spokesman for the U.S. Southern Command. "We got down there in 2002, but never thought in a million years we would still have this in 2013 with no end in sight."

The prison proposal wasn't originally included in the $150 million budget that Gen. John F. Kelly, the Southcom commander, discussed in congressional testimony this week. But after after Kelly mentioned it during his testimony, Flanders disclosed the estimated cost to members of the media, as Charlie Savage at The New York Times first reported.

The prison is likely to replace Camp 7, the secretive facility that houses so-called high-value detainees like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, though government officials wouldn't discuss that facility.

Journalist Denies Charges In Anonymous Case

Ryan J. Reilly   |   March 20, 2013    8:24 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Matthew Keys, the Reuters social media editor indicted last week on charges of helping hackers affiliated with the group Anonymous deface his former employer's website, denied Wednesday that he ever turned over a username and password for The Tribune Co. network.

"I did not give a username and a password to anyone," Keys wrote in a Facebook post. "I did not 'conspire' to 'cause damage to a protected computer.' I did not cause 'transmission of malicious code,' and I did not 'attempt' to cause 'transmission of malicious code.'"

Federal authorities alleged that Keys told members of the hacker group Anonymous to "go fuck some shit up" after handing over a username and password that allowed hackers to temporarily change a headline on a story published on the Los Angeles Times website.

"My attorneys have said much of the same over the past few days, but I feel it might mean more coming from me directly," Keys said in his Facebook post.

Keys, who was suspended from Reuters with pay after his arrest, is due in federal court in Sacramento, Calif., on April 12. His attorneys told The Huffington Post that he was acting as a journalist when he joined an Anonymous chat room.

“This is a guy who went where he needed to go to get the story," lawyer Jay Leiderman said. "He went into the sort of dark corners of the Internet. He’s being prosecuted for that, for going to get the story.”

Steven Reich To Depart Justice Department

Ryan J. Reilly   |   March 20, 2013    4:06 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- Associate Deputy Attorney General Steven Reich, who has overseen the Justice Department's handling of congressional investigations into Fast and Furious and Aaron Swartz, will depart the Justice Department on April 1. Reich, formerly senior associate White House counsel for President Bill Clinton, joined the Justice Department in June 2011.

"I am grateful to Steve for his tireless advocacy on behalf of the Department of Justice over the last two years," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement released by the Justice Department. "He has been an invaluable advisor to me on a range of subjects during his time at the Department. He has provided thoughtful counsel with grace and good humor and I wish him all the best as he and his family return to New York."

"No one at the Department is irreplaceable, but Steve comes close," Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole said in a statement. "He has served the Department with honor and dedication, and I have come to rely on his counsel. Steve has a well-earned reputation for his ability to navigate difficult issues with integrity, wit, and the appearance of ease, while instilling calm and confidence in those around him. I will miss Steve, but I know he will be successful in all future endeavors."