You are hereObama Administration
The Obama administration on Thursday marked a clear break with George W. Bush’s policy of isolating Iran by declaring its intention to invite the Islamic republic to an international conference on stabilising Afghanistan.
Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, announced in Brussels that Tehran was likely to be invited to a meeting that would bring together all “interested parties” on Afghanistan. Administration officials later confirmed Iran would be on the guest list.
Iran has already signalled its willingness to attend. A firm date for the conference has not been fixed. Italy, as holder of the G8 presidency this year, has proposed hosting such a conference in Trieste in June.
Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman said he hopes the U.S. House Judiciary Committee will aggressively question former White House aide Karl Rove, who has agreed to testify about possibly influencing his prosecution.
But Siegelman, a Democrat who was convicted in a government corruption probe, also wants the panel to seek sworn testimony from another Republican political operative, Bill Canary, the husband of the U.S. attorney whose office prosecuted him.
In an e-mail to supporters and news reporters, Siegelman commended the committee for securing Rove's agreement to testify under oath. He said he hopes its investigation doesn't end with Rove.
On Wednesday, the Obama administration released guidelines on its plan to stem the collapse of the housing market with its "Making Home Affordable" initiative, or Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan (HASP). The plan claims to offer "assistance to as many as 7 to 9 million homeowners."
Part of the program, costing $75 billion, pertains to private lenders, providing funds to them if they agree to renegotiate home loans. A separate $200 billion component will make funds available to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two federally-backed mortgage lending giants, so that they can modify a share of the home loans they control.
Fresh off a U.S. victory over Swiss bank UBS AG, which admitted in a recent plea deal with the Justice Department that it aided tax evasion by wealthy American clients, Congress and the White House are trying to press a wider crackdown on the lucrative tax haven business.
UBS last month agreed to pay $780 million in fines as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors. The bank is outing clients attached to about 250 accounts that the Justice Department alleges were set up as shell entities in tax avoidance schemes. The bank admitted to violating regulations set under a treaty that requires banks to submit information about their U.S. clients' tax obligations.
Lawmakers Debate Establishing “Truth Commission” on Bush Admin Torture, Rendition and Domestic Spying
On Capitol Hill, debate has begun over forming a truth commission to shed light on the Bush administration’s secret polices on detention, interrogation and domestic spying. A hearing on the issue was held Wednesday, two days after the Obama administration released a series of once-secret Bush administration Justice Department memos that authorized President Bush to deploy the military to carry out raids inside the United States. We speak to human rights attorney Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights. [includes rush transcript, below]
President Obama wants, quite reasonably, to "reset" relations with Russia. He also said, quite reasonably, he would "go through the federal budget line by line, programs that don't work, we cut."
Our relations with Colombia also need to be reset. "Plan Colombia," which was supposedly going to cut the flow of Colombian cocaine into the U.S., doesn't work, neither to reduce the flow of illegal drugs, nor to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Colombia. Since Plan Colombia doesn't work, it should be cut.
An October report from the Government Accountability Office found that coca-leaf production in Colombia had increased by 15% and cocaine production had increased by 4% between 2000 and 2006, and recommended cutting funding. Plan Colombia has cost U.S. taxpayers over $6 billion.
Exclusive: White House Counsel Greg Craig Asked to ‘Step Down’
Jill Simpson Alleges Conflict of Interest by Obama’s Attorney
by Glynn Wilson | Locust Fork News Journal
North Alabama attorney and GOP whistle-blower Jill Simpson is asking that White House Counsel Greg Craig recuse himself from consulting with President Obama on his legal position over executive privilege in the case of Karl Rove, the former political adviser to President Bush who is still defiance of a Congressional subpoena to testify about his role in the political prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and other crimes.
Obama DOJ Defies Federal Judge
Despite Ninth Circuit Decision, Lawyers Refuse to Release Document in Wiretapping Case
By Daphne Eviatar | Washington Independent | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
A heated confrontation is brewing between the Obama administration and the federal judiciary.
Late on Friday, the Justice Department’s lawyers filed a brief with a federal district court in California challenging the court’s power to carry out its own order. The government lawyers insisted that the court has no right to make available to the opposing lawyers in the case a classified document regarding the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, even though the document is critical to the lawsuit, the lawyers can obtain the necessary top-secret security clearances, and the document would not be released publicly.
US Justice Department memos: the specter of military dictatorship
By Bill Van Auken | WSWS
A set of nine secret memos released by the US Justice Department Monday reveal that in the weeks and months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks the US government began erecting the legal scaffolding for a full-blown military dictatorship.
Attorney General Eric Holder declared that the release of the documents, which were posted on the Justice Department's web site, signaled a new era of "transparency and openness." The actions of the Obama administration in recent weeks, however, including the invocation of national security and state secrets to quell lawsuits challenging the worst abuses of the Bush era, make it clear that the threat revealed in these memos is far from over.
A front page article in the New York Times starts out with the sentence: “The budget that President Obama proposed on Thursday is nothing less than an attempt to end a three-decade era of economic policy dominated by the ideas of Ronald Reagan and his supporters.” Not so much.
DOJ Memos Reveal Legal Thinking Behind Controversial Bush Terrorism Policy
Legal Guidance Gave U.S. Military Broad Domestic Authority
By Ariane De Vogue, Pierre Thomas and Jason Ryan | ABCNews
The Justice Department today released nine national security legal opinions written by the Bush administration, and revealed that in the weeks before President George W. Bush left office, an administration attorney had disavowed all of them.
The newly released memos deal with warrantless wire tapping, executive power and the seizure of terrorism suspects, all of which were issues on which the Bush administration received criticism from civil liberties advocates.
The Political Committee
The Republic of Iraq
Statement in Response to President Obama’s Remarks made on the 27th or February 2009 regarding the proclaimed ending to the occupation of The Republic of Iraq.
Obama seeks major change in federal contracting
By Phillip Elliott | Yahoo!News
President Barack Obama approved an order Wednesday to overhaul the way the U.S. government awards contracts for work to be done by the private sector, reversing a Bush administration policy.
Obama joined Republican Sen. John McCain, his presidential campaign rival, and other congressional figures to announce an executive memorandum that commits his administration to a new set of marching orders for awarding contracts. Obama said "the days of giving government contractors a blank check are over" and said changes could save up to $40 billion a year.
One area in particular that is targeted is no-bid contracts, which the administration is seeking to change so that there will be more competition for government-paid work.
"Even if these were the best of times, budget reform would be overdue in Washington," Obama said.
If you're inclined to believe Igor Panarin, and the Kremlin wouldn't mind if you did, then President Barack Obama will order martial law this year, the U.S. will split into six rump-states before 2011, and Russia and China will become the backbones of a new world order.
Panarin might be easy to ignore but for the fact that he is a dean at the Foreign Ministry's school for future diplomats and a regular on Russia's state-guided TV channels. And his predictions fit into the anti-American story line of the Kremlin leadership.
Two Wisconsin lawmakers on the opposite sides of the political aisle are teaming up to help get rid of wasteful government spending.
Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold will introduce a bill giving the president the power to line-item veto.
Ryan and Feingold will talk about the bill Wednesday morning at a news conference in Washington along with Sen. John McCain.
Both the U.S. and Russia are denying that any secret deal is in the works concerning missile defense and Iran.
The denials follow a front-page story in Tuesday's New York Times reporting that President Obama sent a "secret letter" to Moscow, suggesting he would back off deploying a missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing its nuclear weapons program.
At the White House on Tuesday, President Obama was quick to throw cold water on the Times story.
"I think that the report that was in the New York Times didn't accurately characterize the letter," Obama said.
Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films writes:
Watch the video Many of you reading this e-mail worked diligently to support President Obama and his call for change.
Many of you reading this e-mail worked diligently to support President Obama and his call for change.
By Dave Lindorff
The dithering and ducking going on in the Obama White House and the Holder Justice Department over the crimes of the Bush administration are taking on a comic aspect.
On the one hand, we have President Obama assuring us that under his administration, there will be respect for the rule of law, and on the other hand we have this one-time constitutional law professor and his attorney general declaiming that there is no need for the appointment of a prosecutor to bring charges against the people in the last administration, in the CIA, in the National Security Agency and in the Defense Department and the military who clearly have broken the law in serious and felonious ways.
What gets silly is that America is either a nation of laws…or it isn’t. It is either a place where “nobody is above the law”…or it isn’t.
There is really no middle ground here.
Note: Although this article is dated, it is republished here to honor a mother's sacrifice of her son, and in support of the March 18th Cluster Bomb Treaty Signing at the United Nations. Learn how to take action here and here.
More than half the world's nations are meeting in Oslo on Wednesday to sign a global treaty banning cluster bombs. Although my government won't be there, I will.
I have a personal stake in this treaty. My son, Travis, a corporal in the Marines, was killed by one of our own cluster bomblets in July 2003. He was clearing an Iraqi farmer's field near Karbala of unexploded ordnance when one of the men from his unit mishandled a cluster submunition. It exploded, killing Travis and taking an eye and an arm from the Marine who touched it.
The Department of Justice today released two previously undisclosed Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memoranda and seven previously undisclosed opinions.
"Americans deserve a government that operates with transparency and openness," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "It is my goal to make OLC opinions available when possible while still protecting national security information and ensuring robust internal executive branch debate and decision-making."
We all know that President Obama has a lot on his plate. On the other hand, as candidate Obama reminded us, "words matter," especially the words spoken by the President of the United States, and with El Salvador facing a watershed Presidential election on March 15, President Obama could do a lot for the people of El Salvador and the future of U.S. relations with Latin America simply by saying something along the following lines between now and March 15:
"The United States government will remain neutral in El Salvador's March 15 presidential race, will respect the election results, and will work toward a positive relationship with whichever party is elected."
If you haven't been following the recent history of U.S. relations with Central America in general and El Salvador in particular, that might seem like a pretty banal statement. But in the context of the actual history of massive U.S. interference in the region's political processes, such a statement would be revolutionary.
“The Last Picture Show”: President Barack Obama’s Fiscal Year 2009 Budget
by Richard C. Cook
Greenbacks and programs like the Alaska Permanent Fund are part of what I call Dividend Economics. It’s why I’ve proposed the “Cook Plan,” which would be a system of vouchers for the necessities of life in the amount of $1,000 a month for any adult citizen who applied. A smaller amount would be provided as an allowance for children.
The vouchers would be taxed like any other income and would supplement other entitlements such as unemployment compensation, Social Security, etc. But taxes would be low for those who would use the vouchers as a main source of income. Under the plan, the vouchers would then be accepted as deposits at a new network of community savings banks that would lend at one percent interest to consumers, students, small businesses, local manufacturing establishments, and family farms.
Iran has enough nuclear material to build a bomb, the United States' most senior military commander has said.
"We think they do, quite frankly," Adm Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN.
"And Iran having a nuclear weapon, I've believed for a long time, is a very, very bad outcome for the region and for the world," he said.
Iran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful, but the West suspects it is seeking nuclear weapons.
Thanks to a defense contractor's errant use of a peer-to-peer file-sharing network, President Obama's helicopter may not be as safe as it looks.
A Pittsburgh-area company that monitors peer-to-peer networks accessed with file-sharing software like LimeWire and Napster says it has identified a potentially serious security breach involving Marine One and an IP address in Tehran, Iran.
The company found a file detailing the helicopter's blueprints and avionics package, which it then traced to its original source, Tiversa CEO Bob Boback told NBC affiliate WPXI, which reported the story Saturday.
Karl Rove spars with Katrina vanden Heuvel on ABCNews' "This Week with George Stephanopoulous." Watch the complete roundtable here.
This is Rove's first time on ABCNews. Should Rove get a paycheck from ABCNews while ignoring Congressional subpeonas?
Why wasn't Rove arrested?
Conservatives might be seeking a spiritual leader, organizing principle and fresh identity, but they at least seem to have settled on a favorite rhetorical ogre: socialism.
As in, Democrats are intent on forcing socialism on the "U.S.S.A" (as the bumper sticker says, under the words "Comrade Obama").
President Barack Obama this week is laying out the road home from the war in Iraq during the next 19 months. More or less.
The President has indicated that he'll order the withdrawal of upward of 100,000 American troops from a war that began six years ago and has cost us more than 4,200 American dead, well over 70,000 wounded or injured and nearly a trillion dollars in national treasure.
This withdrawal, however, will leave tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq to train and advise Iraqi security forces, safeguard American facilities and personnel and continue tracking down and eliminating the worst al Qaida in Iraq terrorists.
The Obama administration has lost its argument that a potential threat to national security should stop a lawsuit challenging the government's warrantless wiretapping program.
A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Friday rejected the Justice Department's request for an emergency stay in a case involving a defunct Islamic charity.
Yet government lawyers signaled they would continue fighting to keep the information secret, setting up a new showdown between the courts and the White House over national security.
A United Nations special investigator has concluded in a report scheduled for release Friday that foreign intelligence agents sent to question U.S.-held terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay had violated international human-rights laws.