The L.A. Times reports White House officials may have known more about the botched Fast and Furious federal gunrunning operation than previously reported. Emails obtained by the Times show senior White House national security official Kevin O’Reilly discussing details of the gun-tracking investigation with the operation’s supervisor William Newell, before the program became public:
The supervisor of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation in Phoenix specifically mentioned Fast and Furious in at least one email to a White House national security official, and two other White House colleagues were briefed on reports from the supervisor, according to White House emails and a senior administration official. …
The emails were sent between July 2010 and February of this year before it was disclosed that agents had lost track of hundreds of guns. Many are thought to have fallen into criminal hands, and some have turned up at crime scenes in Mexico and the United States, including at the fatal shooting of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
According to Yale University’s 2010 endowment report, Yale has upwards of $16 billion in its investment portfolio. While that’s not $16 billion the university can spend—Yale lives off the interest of its investments and its donations—it’s still a sizeable chunk of chump change which gives the university a lot of flexibility to determine what it wants to spend, where and how.
With so much money in the bank, it is somewhat outrageous that the university appears to have been receiving federal stimulus spending (in addition to other federal aid). According to the Yale Daily News:
Nobody would ever mistake Paul Ryan as a Mitt Romney fan, but since last March, he’s avoided pointed criticism of the candidate. That will probably be changing soon, and Ryan seems to take a shot at the Massachusetts governor in his latest CNN interview:
“We have had a history in this party of kind of giving it to the next person in line. That is not the kind of nomination we need to have. This needs to be an election as great as the problems that we have which is it needs to be a referendum election on the American idea.”
Having just returned from the back of the moon (otherwise known as Hurricane Irene), with no power or phone for five days and still no Internet (I’m writing this at the local ambulance corps on my laptop), I’m a little behind.
The kerfuffle over the president’s request to speak before a Joint Session of Congress is quite a remarkable display of political incompetence. Even the New York Times calls the administration “maladroit politically, to put it mildly.”
For the second time this week, the Obama administration backed down from a terrible idea, after receiving a written request from John Boehner. Maybe the Speaker should send the president letters more often:
The White House announced Friday that it is shelving a major planned EPA regulation that would have tightened smog standards, dealing a huge blow to environmentalists that had pushed the Obama administration to resist industry pressure to abandon the regulation.
President Obama announced that the rule is being shelved in a statement that says the White House is wary of imposing regulatory burdens during the economic recovery.
On “The Last Word,” MSNBC contributor Richard Wolffe, in the context of Speaker John Boehner asking President Obama to give his address to a Joint Session on a night other than the one during which a GOP presidential debate will be held, said this:
The interesting question is: What is it about this president that has stripped away the veneer of respect that normally accompanies the office of the president? Why do Republicans think this president is unpresidential and should dare to request this kind of thing? It strikes me that it could be the economic times, it could be that he won so big in 2008 or it could be, let’s face it, the color of his skin. This is an extraordinary reaction to a normal sequence of events.
Chalk up another historic feat for the Obama presidency: the U.S. gained zero jobs in August, the first time this has happened since February 1945:
The U.S. jobless rate was unchanged at 9.1 percent in August, marking the first time in more than 50 years that the net job gain/loss was unchanged for a month, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday morning.
The Labor Department says total payrolls were unchanged in August, the weakest report in almost a year. It’s the first time since February 1945 that the government has reported a net job change of zero.
Pundits decrying the level of rancor between the Obama White House and Congress should hold onto their hats–it’s about to get worse, if the New York Times is right about the president’s planned jobs speech to a Joint Session of Congress.
Most of the story is filled with the standard tsk-tsking of those obstructionist Republicans, and in fact is more blatant in this regard than usual. But buried late in the article is a window into the two-part strategy the president will deploy at the speech: blame his captive audience, then announce he will be enacting policies that don’t require congressional approval. On the first, he will propose legislation the White House admits Congress won’t pass:
Greg Miller and Julie Tate have a must-read article in the Washington Post today detailing the CIA’s post-9/11 transformation from an agency focused on simply gathering intelligence to one that is playing a large role in actually killing and capturing terrorists.
The article contains numerous revelations about this top-secret world, including the fact the CIA operates about 30 Predator and Reaper drones which have “killed more than 2,000 militants and civilians since 2001″; that the Counter-Terrorism Center, which operates the drones, has ballooned from 300 to 2,000 employees or about 10 percent of the agency’s workforce (a number which is supposed to be classified!); that 20 percent of CIA analysts are working as “targeters”; that last year there were 118 drone strikes, or roughly one every three days; and that Special Operations units working with the CIA had ventured into Pakistan least five times before the Osama bin Laden attack, while Counterterror Pursuit Teams–comprised of Afghan militias recruited by the CIA–have made many more penetrations of Pakistani territory. Moreover, these activities are set to intensify: major drone campaigns are already expanding in Yemen and Somalia.
In recent weeks, Senators Daniel Akaka and Joseph Lieberman have pushed forward the “Civilian Service Recognition Act” to treat civilian civil servants killed in government service in the same manner as soldiers killed in the line duty in terms of the formal presentation of the American flag at their funeral.
On the one hand, the sentiment is honorable: Civilians killed in the Pentagon on 9/11 or in Oklahoma City served their country honorably and were killed because they were Americans working for the U.S. government. On the other hand, Akaka and Lieberman’s bill, as written, covers not only law enforcement but potentially every civilian employee killed on the job.
Apparently, USA Today founder Al Neuharth thinks so. In his latest column, Neuharth writes:
Cheney was frequently at odds with Powell and Rice, so it’s no surprise that he’s scapegoating them now. But the fact that both are African Americans raises other questions. Cheney was a kid in Nebraska and grew up as a teenager in Wyoming. Both of those states had overwhelmingly white populations. Some individuals never outgrow the suspicions about people of color that develop in that environment, and Cheney may be one of them.
We learned from the Labor Department this morning the U.S. economy created no jobs in August. That’s right, zero, which is about the same amount of confidence the president is inspiring in an increasingly anxious and unhappy citizenry. This is more (alarming) evidence America may be heading for another recession.
It’s of course hard to know who and what Obama will blame for this depressing jobs report. But here are some oldies but goodies to choose from: the Arab Spring, the Japanese tsunami, events in Europe, ATMs, the Tea Party, the GOP, S&P, Congress, the separation of powers, and his predecessor. Just to freshen things up a bit, the president might add Hurricane Irene to the list.
The New York Times has obtained a leaked copy of the UN’s long-awaited report investigating Israel’s raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship seeking to break Israel’s blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza. During the raid, nine Turks were killed, one of whom was a dual U.S. citizen. The UN report, however, has reportedly found Israel’s blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza, as well as Israel’s actions against the Mavi Marmara, to be legal. The report did find that Israel used excessive force, but few officials take such criticism seriously. After all, the basis of the Powell Doctrine is to use overwhelming force against opponents.
Turkey’s Islamist leadership has now responded with another temper tantrum, expelling Israeli diplomats and suspending most economic and military ties. This is no surprise, though: It is the reason why Turkish authorities sponsored the Mavi Marmara in the first place.