World and Nation

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Destroying CIA tapes was not opposed, memos say

WASHINGTON — At a closed briefing in 2003, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee raised no objection to a CIA plan to destroy videotapes of brutal interrogations, according to secret documents released on Monday.

The senator, Pat Roberts, R-Kan., also rejected a proposal to have his committee conduct its own assessment of the agency’s harsh interrogation methods, which included wall-slamming and waterboarding, the documents say.

But Roberts, through a spokesman, denied having approved the destruction of the videotapes, which is under criminal investigation, and defended his record in overseeing the interrogation program.

His assertions were backed by his former staff director on the Intelligence Committee, William D. Duhnke, who said that while the senator had not objected to the tapes’ destruction, he was “in receive mode” and was simply listening to get the facts about the interrogation program, which he was learning about for the first time.

At least 23 dead in Iraq attacks

BAGHDAD — A series of bombings, beheadings and shootings rippled through Iraq on Monday, leaving at least 23 people dead, including nine children, and intensifying concern about a spike in violence with less than two weeks until national elections.

The authorities detected no discernible pattern to the violence, with rockets exploding in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, car bombings aimed at government buildings, assassinations of security officers and government officials and the killings of two families in their homes in Baghdad.

The killings of the families were reminiscent of the attacks common during the height of the bloodletting between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq a few years ago.

In the largely Shiite town of Madaen, south of Baghdad, a gang of gunmen stormed a home of a family and killed all eight people there, including six children.

“The criminals have beheaded some of the victims,” according to a brief statement from Baghdad Operations Command.

Beheading is considered a trademark of Al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, a largely domestic insurgent group with some foreign leaders created in the aftermath of the American-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in April 2003.

Report seeks sole agency to oversee rebuilding in Iraq

The government agency responsible for monitoring American reconstruction work in Iraq has proposed the creation of a single organization to oversee future rebuilding to avoid the fraud and waste that has marred this work in the past.

The report, released Monday by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, said an organization with sole authority for reconstruction would eliminate much of the confusion and interagency rivalries that have hampered rebuilding in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The $53 billion reconstruction effort in Iraq is the largest such effort by the United States since the Marshall Plan, though many Iraqis complain that the spending has made little difference in a country where electricity, clean water, health care and housing remain insufficient.

The proposed organization, the U.S. Office for Contingency Operations, would oversee every aspect of rebuilding, including contracting and budgeting, according to the plan outlined in the report. The agency would be established by Congress, but would be independent. By contrast, 62 different agencies have been involved in rebuilding efforts since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.