World News Brief, Thursday March 13

CIA accused of violating US Constitution; Chinese are using popular bank card to smuggle money out of country; middle class expands in North Korea; Swedish journalist killed in Kabul; Obama shows support for new government in Kiev; and more 

Top of the Agenda

Senate-CIA Row Goes Public

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the Intelligence Committee Chair, accused the Central Intelligence Agency of searching a computer network set up for lawmakers to investigate allegations of torture of terrorism suspects by the CIA, exposing to the public the tense relationship between Capitol Hill and the nation's spy agencies (AP). CIA Director John Brennan, in remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday, denied the charge. Feinstein said the CIA's alleged search may have violated the Constitution as well as a federal law that prohibits the agency from conducting domestic searches, an accusation that may prompt a new investigation into the CIA's alleged actions (CSMonitor).


"This dispute between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA is, in fact, part of a much larger dispute about the Intelligence Committee's investigation of the agency's post-9/11 secret overseas prisons housing al Qaeda detainees and the CIA interrogation program for those prisoners, some of whom were subjected to coercive techniques such as waterboarding," writes Peter Bergen in CNN.

"The exasperation with Ms Feinstein is that she directs her sense of outrage only at the CIA. It seems restricted to issues that impact on her. She is outraged when the CIA allegedly hacked into her committee's computers. She is upset over the alleged intrusion into the privacy of her own staff. And yet this is the same senator who could not empathize with Americans upset at the revelations in the Snowden documents of millions of citizens whose personal data has been accessed by the NSA," the Guardian writes in an editorial.

"It's possible the investigations will vindicate Brennan. But Feinstein has a very different view of the facts and that could put pressure on Obama to let one of his closest advisers go. If Obama decides to do that, though, he could face the same kind of political problems that many observers believe besieged the George W. Bush administration after the invasion of Iraq," writes Eli Lake in the Daily Beast.


Pacific Rim

Chinese Use Government Bank Card to Smuggle Money

UnionPay, the world's second-largest card brand and payment system after Visa, is becoming an important money laundering tool to illegally smuggle more than $200 billion dollars a year out of China, Reuters reports.

NORTH KOREA: Growing trade with China is helping North Korea's economy open up, and has made life in Pyongyang more tolerable for the country's expanding middle class (FT).

Swedish journalist killed in Kabul
Obama shows support for new Kiev government