Political Highlights May 9, 2011: Week in Review Osama bin Laden Captured & Killed — Republicans Debate

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama tapes the Weekly Address at Allison Transmission in Indiana, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 5/6/11

STATS & POLLS

  • NBC poll: Nearly two-thirds back decision not to release bin Laden photos: The latest NBC News poll finds that nearly two-thirds of Americans back President Obama’s decision not to release the photos taken after Osama bin Laden’s death.
    Fifty-two percent said they strongly believe the Obama administration should not release the photos, and an additional 12 percent agreed, although not as strongly. By comparison, 24 percent said they strongly believe the photos should be released, and 5 percent more agreed not so strongly…. – MSNBC, 5-8-11
  • Polls: worry about attacks, confidence in Obama up: Americans are concerned about retaliatory terrorist attacks following Osama bin Laden’s death but also have more confidence in President Barack Obama’s leadership as commander in chief, according to three polls taken after American forces killed the terror leader. Still, the surveys show that people divide sharply along partisan lines when choosing whether to credit Obama, a Democrat, or former President George W. Bush, a Republican, for bin Laden’s death.
    There is near universal acclaim for the military action that killed bin Laden — 93 percent approve according to a USA Today/Gallup poll — and a Washington Post-Pew Research Center survey finds most feel relieved, proud or happy about the death of the al-Qaida leader.
    A CNN/Opinion Research Center poll also finds Obama’s ratings as a “strong and decisive leader” rose after an April dip following a standoff with Congress over the federal budget. In the new poll, 58 percent said he is a strong leader, up 5 percentage points overall and 14 percentage points among independents. The USA Today/Gallup survey finds a narrow majority feel more confident in Obama’s abilities as commander in chief.
    But voters divide along partisan lines over the roles of Obama and Bush in bringing an end to the decade-long manhunt. Though 76 percent in the Post-Pew poll give Obama at least some credit for bin Laden’s death, that dips to 61 percent among Republicans. Likewise, while 51 percent overall give Bush some of the credit, just 35 percent of Democrats do…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Nielsen: 56 million watch Obama’s bin Laden speech: Despite the late hour in the East, President Obama’s speech announcing the death of Osama bin Laden had an audience of 56.5 million viewers. The Nielsen Co. says Sunday’s audience was larger than Obama’s recent prime-time addresses, including his March 28 speech on Libya. The Wall Street Journal reports that Nielsen says it was Obama’s biggest audience since election night in 2008. On that night, about 70 million people were watching election coverage during the period that included Obama’s speech…. – AP, 5-3-11

IN FOCUS: OSAMA BIN LADEN CAPTURED & KILLED

President Obama places a wreath at the site of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 5/5/11
  • President Obama on the mission to kill bin Laden: Whether we like it or not, Osama bin Laden changed America. With that September morning in 2001, he introduced fear and ingrained the threat of terrorism into the daily lives of anyone who lives in a big city, travels by air or enters a federal building. For more than a decade, bin Laden managed to elude the U.S. military and intelligence establishments, and he taunted three U.S. presidents. That finally ended last Sunday, and the last thing bin Laden saw was a Navy SEAL in the third floor bedroom of his compound in Pakistan.
    Now, for the first time, we hear the story from President Barack Obama, who spoke with us on Wednesday at the White House. He explains how the plan was prepared and carried out, what was going through his mind as he watched it unfold, and the secrecy leading up to his historic announcement last Sunday night. “Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaida,” the president announced in a televised address to the nation late Sunday night…. – CBS News, 5-8-11
  • Obama: ‘Getting our man’ outweighed risks of raid: President Barack Obama ordered the commando raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after deciding the risks were outweighed by the possibility “of us finally getting our man” following a decade of frustration, he said in a Sunday broadcast interview. The helicopter raid “was the longest 40 minutes of my life,” Obama told CBS’ “60 Minutes,” with the possible exception of when his daughter Sasha became sick with meningitis as an infant.
    Monitoring the commando raid operation in the White House Situation Room a week ago, Obama said he and top aides “had a sense of when gunfire and explosions took place” halfway around the world, and knew when one of the helicopters carrying Navy SEALs made an unplanned hard landing. “But we could not get information clearly about what was happening inside the compound,” he said…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Obama: bin Laden had support network: Osama bin Laden benefited from “some sort of support network” inside Pakistan, President Barack Obama said in a Sunday broadcast interview, but he added it is not clear whether government officials knew the terrorist leader was living inside their country when U.S. commandos killed him in a raid last weekend.
    “We don’t know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that’s something that we have to investigate and, more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate,” Obama said in an interview for CBS’ “60 Minutes.”…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Obama on bin Laden: The full “60 Minutes” interview: On Wednesday, May 4, 2011 – three days after he announced that American troops had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan – President Barack Obama talked with “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Below is a transcript of that interview. The video of this i NYT, 5-8-11
  • AP Interview: Petraeus on bin Laden-Taliban link: The killing of Osama bin Laden may weaken al-Qaida’s influence on the Afghan Taliban, the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan said Sunday. Even so, Gen. David Petraeus warned that Afghanistan is still a potential refuge for international terror groups, and al-Qaida is just one of those. He also warned that the April 29 U.S. raid that killed the al-Qaida leader in his Pakistani compound did not spell the end of the NATO battle in Afghanistan, which began just one month after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington with the aim of wiping out al-Qaida and bin Laden.
    NATO officials have said that they do not intend to speed up their withdrawal just because al-Qaida’s leader is gone, but the military feels it may bring the Taliban closer to negotiations with the Afghan government.
    Interviewed aboard his helicopter by The Associated Press, Petraeus said the strong link between al-Qaida and the Taliban was personal, not organizational.
    “The deal between the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida was between Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, not the organizations,” Petraeus said as he visited U.S. troops in eastern Afghanistan…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Michelle Obama lauds US forces in bin Laden raid: “Just imagine, a small group of brave men, dropped by helicopter, half a world away in the dead of night into unknown danger inside the lair of the most wanted man in the world,” Mrs. Obama told the graduating class at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls. “They did not hesitate, risking everything for us, for our freedom and security. And they did it not just as Navy SEALs. They did it as husbands, as fathers, as sons. Their families were back here, with no idea of their mission or whether their loved one would ever come home.”… “Now, that’s the very essence of the word ‘service,'” she said of the military action. “And the least we can do is give something back to these troops and their families who have given us so much.”… – AP, 5-7-11
  • After Bin Laden: What might come next: After an extraordinary week of events in the United States and abroad, one thing is clear: Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of American forces has the potential to ripple out into global affairs in many ways — political and military, diplomatic and cultural, and of course U.S. national security…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Bin Laden death reignites debate over CIA tactics: The government’s hunt for Osama bin Laden has left the country questioning whether the tactics used to interrogate suspected terrorists were successful and lawful. With his death, both sides of the debate have regrouped along familiar lines, claiming they were right all along. But America’s greatest counterterrorism success does not represent a victory for either camp. Rather, it paints a clearer picture of the CIA’s interrogation and detention program, revealing where it was successful and where its successes have been overstated…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Candid videos show rare view of unkempt bin Laden: From a shabby, makeshift office, he ran a global terrorist empire. The world’s most wanted man watched newscasts of himself from a tiny television perched atop a rickety old desk cluttered with wires. For years, the world only saw the 54-year-old Osama bin Laden in the rare propaganda videos that trickled out, the ones portraying him as a charismatic religious figure unfazed by being the target of a worldwide manhunt. On Saturday, the U.S. released a handful of videos, selected to show bin Laden in a much more candid, unflattering light. In the short clips, bin Laden appears hunched and tired, seated on the floor, watching television wrapped in a wool blanket and wearing a knit cap. Outtakes of his propaganda tapes show that they were heavily scripted affairs. He dyed and trimmed his beard for the cameras, then shot and reshot his remarks until the timing and lighting were just right…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Key role in bin Laden raid for secret choppers: Secret until now, stealth helicopters may have been key to the success of the Osama bin Laden raid. But the so-far- unexplained crash of one of the modified Black Hawks at the scene apparently compromised at least some of the aircraft’s secrets.
    The two choppers evidently used radar-evading technologies, plus noise and heat suppression devices, to slip across the Afghan-Pakistan border, avoid detection by Pakistani air defenses and deliver two dozen Navy SEALs into the al-Qaida leader’s lair. Photos of the lost chopper’s wrecked tail are circulating online — proving it exists and also exposing sensitive details.
    President Barack Obama traveled Friday to Fort Campbell, Ky., and met privately with the elite Army pilots who flew the daring mission. They are members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, nicknamed the Night Stalkers, and he saluted them in public remarks afterward…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Pentagon chief: Bin Laden death a game-changer: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the killing of Osama bin Laden could be game-changer for the U.S. military in Afghanistan by splitting the native Taliban from the al-Qaeda terror network. Gates took questions for about 35 minutes Friday from about 300 airmen at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Analysis: Reimagining Obama after gutsy raid: It was just a firehouse chat with the guys of Engine 54 in lower Manhattan. But President Barack Obama delivered a message he hopes will also hit home with every American in this week of national catharsis: “You’re always going to have a president and an administration who’s got your back.” In the denouement to the daring raid that brought down Osama bin Laden, the president has in effect been reintroduced to the nation. While taking care to strike the right tone — trying to savor the success of the dramatic covert operation without appearing to gloat — Obama has offered himself as a decisive leader willing to take bold risks…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Source: Bin Laden directing al-Qaida figures: The wealth of information pulled from Osama bin Laden’s compound has reinforced the belief that he played a strong role in planning and directing attacks by al-Qaida and its affiliates in Yemen and Somalia, senior U.S. officials said Friday. And the data further demonstrates to the U.S. that top al-Qaida commanders and other key insurgents are scattered throughout Pakistan, not just in the rugged border areas, and are being supported and given sanctuary by Pakistanis, a senior defense official said. U.S. counterterrorism officials have debated how big a role bin Laden and core al-Qaida leaders were playing in the attacks launched by affiliated terror groups, particularly al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen, and al-Shabab in Somalia…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama to bin Laden assault team: ‘Job well done': Brimming with pride, President Barack Obama on Friday met and honored the U.S. commandos he sent after terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, saluting them on behalf of America and the world and capping an extraordinary week for the country. “Job well done,” the president declared. Obama addressed roughly 2,000 troops after meeting privately with the full assault team — Army helicopter pilots and Navy SEAL commandos — who executed the dangerous raid on bin Laden’s compound and killed the al-Qaida leader in Pakistan early Monday. Their identities are kept secret.
    Speaking to a sweltering hangar full of cheering soldiers, Obama said: “The terrorist leader that struck our nation on 9/11 will never threaten America again.”… – AP, 5-5-11
  • Bin Laden eyed US rails from his secret compound: Holed up in a compound in Pakistan, Osama bin Laden was scheming how to hit the United States hard again, according to newly uncovered documents that show al-Qaida plans for derailing an American train on the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Details of the plan emerged Thursday as some of the first intelligence was gleaned from the trove of information found in bin Laden’s residence when Navy SEALs killed the al-Qaida leader and four of his associates. They took his body and scooped up computers, DVDs and documents from the compound where U.S. officials think he had been living for as long as six years…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Ground zero crowd voices hope, apprehensionAP, 5-6-11
  • Indian Country network calls for Geronimo support: A media network aimed at Native Americans is urging social network users to change their profile pictures to an image of Geronimo in honor of the legendary Apache warrior. Indian Country Today put out the call to its Facebook and Twitter followers Thursday in response to the U.S. military’s use of Geronimo as a code name for Osama bin Laden. It asks followers and others to use the photo for the next two days to “honor the true spirit” of the 19th century warrior…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama to meet some from bin Laden raid: A White House official says President Barack Obama will meet with some of those involved in the military assault that killed Osama bin Laden when he visits Fort Campbell, Kentucky, on Friday…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Families mourn US troops amid swirl of emotions: As mourners filed out of the church, two by two, the organist struck up an unusual tune for a funeral: “America the Beautiful.” Outside, military pallbearers in ceremonial dress carried the flag-draped casket of 1st Lt. Omar Vazquez to the waiting hearse, while a dozen retired servicemen saluted, flags in hand. About 60 miles away, President Barack Obama was laying a wreath at ground zero — another dramatic moment in a week of celebration and somber reflection that began with news of the death of Osama bin Laden. Families and friends of U.S. troops recently killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan face a swirl of emotions as they bury their dead while the nation marks the killing of the terrorist mastermind of 9/11…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Bush skips 9/11 event, keeps low public profile: In the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush famously grabbed a bullhorn while speaking to those gathered at ground zero, telling them: “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”
    Almost 10 years later, the now former president declined an invitation from President Barack Obama to attend a somber remembrance Thursday at New York’s ground zero to mark the killing by U.S. forces of Osama bin Laden. Bush’s decision is consistent with his desire to keep a low profile.
    “He’s made the real decision not to enter into politics or the public eye,” former first lady Laura Bush told The Associated Press on Thursday after appearing at a Dallas elementary school to announce grants from her foundation to school libraries…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Pentagon: No firm evidence of Pakistani complicity: The U.S. has no “definitive evidence” that Pakistan knew Osama bin Laden had been living in the compound where Navy SEALs killed him, but the Pakistanis must now show convincingly their commitment to defeating the al-Qaida terrorist network, a senior Pentagon official said Thursday…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • 1st responders see Obama visits as sign of hope: As President Barack Obama visited with firefighters and police officers in New York City on Thursday, some saw a glimmer of hope that Osama bin Laden’s death may help bring an end to the decade of war and grief that began on Sept. 11, 2001.
    “Every day is a memory of that day,” said detective Steven Stefanakos, who was among the officers Obama met on his way to a wreath-laying ceremony at ground zero. “The difference now is we have an end, which means we can have a new beginning, a chance to move forward past this.”
    The president’s visit to New York — part somber, part celebratory — began with a stop at a Manhattan firehouse that suffered grave losses on 9/11…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Congressmen differ on releasing bin Laden photo: A New York Democrat is backing President Barack Obama’s refusal to release photos of the slain Osama bin Laden, while a California Republican says making the pictures public would bring closure for the relatives of 9/11 victims…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Islamic world quiet as bin Laden age closes: In life, Osama bin Laden was ingrained in the Muslim consciousness in countless ways: the lion of holy warriors, the untouchable nemesis of the West, the evil zealot who soiled their faith with blood and intolerance. In death, however, the voices across the Islamic world are now relatively muted in sharp counterpoint to the rage and shame — or hero-worship — that he long inspired…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Clinton: ‘No idea’ about timing of iconic photo: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday she has “no idea” what she and the rest of President Barack Obama’s national security team were watching at the precise moment that a photographer snapped what has become an iconic image of the operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
    “Those were 38 of the most intense minutes,” Clinton said of the raid on bin Laden’s compound by U.S. Navy SEALs. “I have no idea what any of us were looking at at that particular millisecond when the picture was taken.”
    “I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs,” she said. “So, it may have no great meaning whatsoever.”… – AP, 5-5-11
  • When a terrorist dies, is it OK to gloat?: It’s one thing to be satisfied that the world’s most wanted terrorist has been killed by a U.S. Navy SEAL unit in Pakistan. But where does satisfaction end and gloating begin? It’s a question being posed online by ordinary Americans, religious figures, various commentators and several 9/11 widows. And it’s bound to be on President Barack Obama’s mind as he treads that fine line in a visit Thursday to ground zero.
    Could Obama’s visit in itself be interpreted as gloating? The president, who decided Wednesday not to release gruesome death photos of bin Laden so as not to “spike the football,” seems well aware of the dangers. He planned a somber and quiet New York visit — no speech, the White House said, just laying a wreath at the World Trade Center site and meeting privately with families and first responders.
    “The president thinks it’s entirely fitting and appropriate to visit the site … in the wake of this significant and cathartic moment for the American people,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama to visit Fort Campbell, Ky., on Friday: The White House says President Barack Obama will travel to Fort Campbell, Ky., on Friday to speak with service members who recently came home from Afghanistan. Fort Campbell is home to several units, including the 101st Airborne Division. The division has several Brigade Combat Teams that recently returned from Afghanistan…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Inside bin Laden’s lair with SEAL Team Six: So much could have gone wrong as SEAL Team Six swept over Pakistan’s dark landscape, dropped down ropes into a compound lined by wall after wall, exchanged gunfire and confronted “Geronimo” face to face. The vital things went right. Just about every contingency the 25 commandos trained for came at them, rapidly, chaotically and dangerously, in their lunge for Osama bin Laden…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Spy chief, not Pentagon, led raid on bin Laden: Has anyone noticed that CIA Director Leon Panetta has said a lot more about the Navy commandos’ killing of Osama bin Laden than has the Pentagon chief, who, after all, is second in the military chain of command behind President Barack Obama? The reason Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said exactly nothing about the raid is that the CIA, not the Pentagon, ran the operation. That fact speaks volumes about the government’s rarely noticed post-9/11 melding of military might with intelligence craft…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Indians say bin Laden code name another insult: The U.S. military’s use of Geronimo as a code name for Osama bin Laden tarnished the achievement of the raid by insulting an American ethnic group, Native American tribal leaders and advocates told Congress on Thursday. Comparing the legendary Apache leader to a terrorist and enemy of the United States was deeply insulting and did real damage to Native Americans of all ages, said Suzan Shown Harjo, president of the Morning Star Institute, a Washington-based Native rights organization.
    “It is shocking, really shocking, that this happened,” said Harjo, a member of the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Why the US had it wrong about bin Laden’s hideout: The dramatic raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in a Pakistani suburb this week capped a decade-long manhunt, but it also revealed just how wrong the U.S. had been about where the world’s most wanted terrorist was hiding. Time and again, the nation’s top national security officials told each other and the world that their best intelligence suggested that bin Laden was living along the mountainous, ungoverned border of Pakistan and Afghanistan…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Bin Laden death prompts questions about legality: The legality of U.S. forces shooting an unarmed Osama bin Laden hinges on a highly contentious and long-debated question: Is anti-terrorism part of a military campaign or a law-enforcement effort? In war, enemy combatants who don’t explicitly surrender are considered legitimate targets, international experts said. Bin Laden’s killing in a military context would be legal under the scenario officially put out by the White House Wednesday — that bin Laden was unarmed but tried to resist being taken in. In contrast, international human rights law dictates that police must use the greatest possible effort to capture suspects alive, barring direct threats to the lives of officers or civilians.
    “There is a higher obligation not to use lethal force,” said Andrea Prasow, senior counsel in Human Rights Watch’s Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program. “We don’t have enough facts to know whether the killing was justified under international law,” Prasow told AP. “We look forward to the U.S. government disclosing further information so we can understand exactly what happened. It may well have been a lawful killing in an armed conflict situation or it may have been a lawful killing in a law enforcement context.”… – AP, 5-4-11
  • Americans yearn to talk to SEALs in bin Laden raid: Patrons in bars across the country are raising toasts in the air, hoping the gesture of gratitude would somehow reach the clandestine Navy SEAL team that took down Osama bin Laden. Millions of others are turning to social networks with their thoughts. For many of them, it feels frustratingly incomplete to be deprived the chance to see the faces of those they consider heroes for killing the world’s most-wanted terrorist…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • US lawmaker says risk of photo release too high: A top Republican who has seen the death photo of Osama bin Laden says releasing the picture publicly could endanger U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.
    Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, says the picture could inflame anti-U.S. sentiments around the world and hamper intelligence cooperation with the United States. He says conspiracy theorists won’t be persuaded no matter what the U.S. does…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama will not release photo of bin Laden: President Barack Obama says the White House will not release a photo of Osama bin Laden’s body. Obama made the remarks during an interview Wednesday with CBS’ “60 Minutes.”… – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama to lay wreath at Ground Zero: President Barack Obama will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Ground Zero and meet with 9/11 families and first responders when he visits Thursday…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Bin Laden mission was risky business for Obama: No guts, no glory. The nail-biting, 40-minute clandestine operation that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s death could have been a calamitous political and military failure; a bloodbath in Pakistan that left U.S. forces and scores of civilians dead or captured by America’s most ferocious enemy.
    Or, as it happened, it could unfold largely in textbook fashion — delivering a stunning success for the often maligned intelligence community, a political and national security coup for a struggling president and revenge for Americans still carrying vivid memories of Sept. 11. By secretly sending a team of special operations forces into an enemy fortress in a suburban neighborhood of a sovereign country, President Barack Obama chose the path of greatest risk, but also greatest reward…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Raid poses narrative challenge for White House: For President Barack Obama, the test now is in the telling. The White House has struggled to craft its account of the audacious raid that killed Osama bin Laden for both a jubilant American public and a skeptical Muslim world, correcting parts of its narrative, withholding others and, after internal debate, deciding not to release photos that could be considered too provocative. “We review this information and make these decisions with the same calculation as we do with so many things — what we’re trying to accomplish and does it serve or in any way harm our interests, not just domestically but globally,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Officials: SEALs thought bin Laden threatening: President Barack Obama ordered grisly photographs of Osama bin Laden in death sealed from public view on Wednesday, declaring, “We don’t need to spike the football” in triumph after this week’s daring middle-of- the-night raid. The terrorist leader was killed by American commandos who burst into his room and feared he was reaching for a nearby weapon, U.S. officials said…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Mayor: Obama will be in NYC for 9/11 anniversary: President Barack Obama will mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11 in New York City at the formal opening of the national memorial to the nearly 3,000 people who died in the terrorist attacks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.
    “I certainly think it’s terribly important for him to come on 9/11/11. And he will be there. At least the staff has told me that he will come,” Bloomberg said at an unrelated City Hall news conference. “It’s a very emotional moment in the country now. And I think it’s perfectly appropriate for him to come.”… – AP, 5-3-11
  • Bin Laden was unarmed when SEALs stormed room: Osama bin Laden was unarmed when Navy SEALs burst into his room and shot him to death, the White House said Tuesday, a change in the official account that raised questions about whether the U.S. ever planned to capture the terrorist leader alive. The Obama administration was still debating whether to release gruesome images of bin Laden’s corpse, balancing efforts to demonstrate to the world that he was dead against the risk that the images could provoke further anti- U.S. sentiment. But CIA Director Leon Panetta said a photograph would be released.
    “I don’t think there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public,” Panetta said in an interview with “NBC Nightly News.” Asked again later by The Associated Press, he said, “I think it will.” Asked about the final confrontation with bin Laden, Panetta said: “I don’t think he had a lot of time to say anything.” The CIA chief told PBS NewsHour, “It was a firefight going up that compound. … I think it – this was all split-second action on the part of the SEALs.”
    Panetta said that bin Laden made “some threatening moves that were made that clearly represented a clear threat to our guys. And that’s the reason they fired.”…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • White House struggles to get story right on raid: Killing Osama bin Laden was a big victory for the U.S., but how exactly the raid went down is another story — and another, and another. Over two days, the White House has offered contradictory versions of events, including misidentifying which of bin Laden’s sons was killed and wrongly saying bin Laden’s wife died in gunfire, as it tries to sort through what the president’s press secretary called the “fog of combat” and produce an accurate account. Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that officials were trying to get information out as quickly as possible about the complex event witnessed by just a handful of people, and the story line was being corrected.
    “We provided a great deal of information with great haste in order to inform you. … And obviously some of the information was, came in piece by piece and is being reviewed and updated and elaborated on,” Carney said…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • With bin Laden gone, will US stick to war plan?: The demise of Osama bin Laden complicates what was already a tough call for President Barack Obama: how to wind down the nearly decade-old war in Afghanistan. Now the symbolic reason for staying in the fight — to get al-Qaida’s leader and avenge 9/11 — has been undercut. Momentum had been building in Congress and elsewhere for a shift to a narrower, less costly military mission in Afghanistan even before the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden.
    This could suit Obama’s desire to put Afghanistan behind him by beginning a phased troop pullout this summer along with NATO partners. But it also could put him at sharper odds with his military commanders, who argue for a slower drawdown and a longer-term military commitment that they believe would lessen the chances of Afghanistan again falling apart…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • White House: bin Laden photo ‘gruesome': The White House says the photograph of a dead Osama bin Laden is “gruesome” and that “it could be inflammatory” if released…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • White House: Bin Laden death won’t affect drawdown: The White House says Osama bin Laden’s death won’t affect plans to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan this summer. Spokesman Jay Carney says the plan is on track to begin pulling out troops in July and turning responsibility for security in certain areas over to the Afghans…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Newspapers see big demand from bin Laden news: When big news breaks, newspapers are in demand despite the immediacy of online news. Newspaper across the country including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The News & Advance in Lynchburg, Va., printed extra copies in anticipation of higher demand Monday, when headlines heralded the death of Osama bin Laden.
    Some newspapers stopped their presses to update their front pages with late Sunday’s developments. The Washington Examiner, a free daily newspaper, ran a special edition Monday afternoon under the headline, “We Got Him!”
    The website for the Newseum, a museum in Washington devoted to journalism, was inaccessible for many visitors Monday as thousands of people flocked to it to see how newspapers around the world handled coverage of the terrorist leader’s death. The website posts digital replicas of front pages of hundreds of newspapers every day…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • White House: US determined to destroy al-Qaida: White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan says U.S officials hope to build on the killing of Osama bin Laden to destroy the al-Qaida terrorist organization. Brennan tells NBC’s “Today” show the Obama administration is determined “to pummel the rest of al-Qaida.” He said the organization already has suffered “severe body blows.”… – AP, 5-3-11
  • Analysis: Bin Laden-fed unity may be short-lived: Republicans and Democrats heaped praise on the Obama administration’s role in killing Osama bin Laden. But few expect the goodwill to ease the path for tough domestic issues, such as taming the federal debt. “No way,” said Mike McKenna, a veteran Republican strategist and lobbyist. Everyone is pleased by the terrorist leader’s death, he said, “but it provides zero additional credibility on debt and deficit issues” for President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Fabled SEAL Team 6 ends hunt for bin Laden: The raid that killed Osama bin Laden will go down in history as the most important covert operation since 9/11, earning the elite Navy SEAL team that carried it out permanent bragging rights for finishing off the most-wanted terrorist on Earth. It was a near-textbook operation, despite the near-failure of one of the helicopters carrying the raiders. They all made it into Osama bin Laden’s high-walled compound in Pakistan, sliding down ropes in darkness, as they’ve done on so many raids hunting militants since al-Qaida declared war on the United States…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Phone call by Kuwaiti courier led to bin Laden: When one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted aides picked up the phone last year, he unknowingly led U.S. pursuers to the doorstep of his boss, the world’s most wanted terrorist. That monitored phone call, recounted Monday by a U.S. official, ended a years-long search for bin Laden’s personal courier, the key break in a worldwide manhunt. The courier, in turn, led U.S. intelligence to a walled compound in northeast Pakistan, where a team of Navy SEALs shot bin Laden to death…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Obama golf shoes could have been clue to bin Laden: Golf shoes in the Oval Office could have been a clue. President Barack Obama usually goes to the residence quarters of the White House after putting in a few weekend hours on the links. But he made an unusual beeline for his West Wing office last Sunday that raised eyebrows only in retrospect. He was headed for a top-secret meeting to review final preparations for a military operation he’d approved two days earlier, the one involving a raid by Navy SEALs that would end with the death of Osama bin Laden, one of the world’s most hunted men. But only a few insiders knew the real deal.
    In a remarkable 72 hours of his presidency, Obama carried around a momentous secret and gave no hint of it as he went about his duties consoling tornado victims, delivering a college commencement address and cracking jokes at a black-tie dinner…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Lawmakers: Did bin Laden hide in plain sight?: Incredulous lawmakers are pressing Pakistan for answers to two simple questions: What did its army and intelligence agents know of Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts and when did they know it? The al-Qaida terrorist leader behind the Sept. 11 attacks lived and died in a massive, fortified compound built in 2005 and located on the outskirts of Abbottabad, some 60 miles from the capital of Islamabad. It stood just a half- mile from the Kakul Military Academy, Pakistan’s equivalent of West Point, and close to various army regiments. Amid the high praise Monday for the successful U.S. military operation, congressional Republicans and Democrats questioned whether bin Laden was hiding in plain sight, with Pakistani military and intelligence operatives either totally unaware of his location or willfully ignoring his presence to protect him…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Obama urges continuation of national unity: President Barack Obama urged lawmakers Monday to “harness some of that unity” washing over the nation after Osama bin Laden’s death and carry it into the contentious debates awaiting them over federal spending, the debt and other issues. At a White House dinner for members of Congress, Obama acknowledged past disagreements and predicted future ones. But he said bin Laden’s demise was a reminder that what the country can achieve transcends party labels.
    “Last night, as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden, I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11,” he said, urging that that spirit continue.
    Upon hearing bin Laden’s name, lawmakers of both parties interrupted the president with a standing ovation and whistles. Among the Republicans who rose to their feet were House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Obama has been sharply critical of Ryan’s 2012 budget plan.
    “We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for and what we can achieve that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics,” Obama said.
    Obama said he knows the unity that permeated the country after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks orchestrated by bin Laden has “frayed a little bit over the years” and said he has “no illusions” about the difficulties of the debates awaiting them. He noted other moments this year that brought the country together, including the January assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
    He added bin Laden’s death to that list. “So tonight, it is my fervent hope that we can harness some of that unity and some of that pride to confront the many challenges that we still face,” he said…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Obama keeps poker face after bin Laden order: In a remarkable 72 hours of his presidency, Barack Obama carried a momentous secret and gave no hint of it as he consoled tornado victims, delivered a college commencement address and cracked jokes at a black-tie dinner. What few insiders knew was that Obama gave the go-ahead Friday for the military operation that would end with the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, target of the world’s most intense manhunt…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Tension as White House Situation Room watched raid: From halfway around the world, President Barack Obama and his national security team monitored the strike on Osama bin Laden’s compound in real time, watching and listening to the firefight that killed the terrorist leader. Gathered in the White House Situation Room, members of the group held their breath and barely spoke as they waited to see whether a carefully crafted yet extremely risky plan would succeed, said White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan. Obama had been playing golf but returned to the White House for the suspenseful watch Sunday.
    Brennan said he would not reveal details “about what types of visuals we had or what type of feeds that were there but it was — it gave us the ability to actually track it on an ongoing basis.” Typically, members of the Navy SEAL team that conducted the operation wear helmet cameras that transmit sound and video to their operation centers and that data can be fed live to the White House and Pentagon. As the SEALs lowered themselves from helicopters into bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the president and his advisers could only wait.
    “It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled here yesterday,” Brennan told reporters. “The minutes passed like days, and the president was very concerned about the security of our personnel.”…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Delivering on vow to kill bin Laden boosts Obama: As a candidate, Barack Obama pledged “we will kill bin Laden” by striking in Pakistan, if necessary, without that country’s consent. He drew intense criticism from all corners, even from Joe Biden, the Delaware senator who became his vice president, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, his chief rival for the Democratic nomination who is serving as his secretary of state. But Obama didn’t waver. And as president, he delivered.
    Now, in the early days of his re-election campaign, Obama is in a clear position of political strength as Americans finally are able to savor the death of the man responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Republicans who have long and successfully painted Democrats as weak on national security face a far tougher task in making that case against a triumphant Democratic incumbent.
    “The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden,” Obama said Monday in a statement certain to become a staple of his speeches in the presidential race…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Phone call by Kuwaiti courier led to bin Laden: When one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted aides picked up the phone last year, he unknowingly led U.S. pursuers to the doorstep of his boss, the world’s most wanted terrorist. That monitored phone call, recounted Monday by a U.S. official, ended a years-long search for bin Laden’s personal courier, the key break in a worldwide manhunt. The courier, in turn, led U.S. intelligence to a walled compound in northeast Pakistan, where a team of Navy SEALs shot bin Laden to death. The violent final minutes were the culmination of years of intelligence work. Inside the CIA team hunting bin Laden, it always was clear that bin Laden’s vulnerability was his couriers. He was too smart to let al-Qaida foot soldiers, or even his senior commanders, know his hideout. But if he wanted to get his messages out, somebody had to carry them, someone bin Laden trusted with his life…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Bin Laden’s demise: US rejoices after a decade: After nearly a decade of anger and fear, America rejoiced Monday at the demise of Osama bin Laden, the terror mastermind behind the horrific 9/11 attacks. Navy SEALs who killed the world’s most-wanted terrorist seized a trove of al-Qaida documents to pore over, and President Barack Obama laid plans to visit New York’s ground zero. Bin Laden, killed in an intense firefight in a daring raid at his fortified hideout in Pakistan, was hunted down based on information first gleaned years ago from detainees at secret CIA prison sites in Eastern Europe, officials disclosed…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • NY imam: Bin Laden death paves way for healing: The Muslim leader behind plans for a controversial mosque near the World Trade Center site is praising President Barack Obama after the death of Osama bin Laden. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (rah-OOF’) said Monday that Obama’s actions help support “people in the Arab world who are also fighting against terrorism by their own rulers.” Rauf said bin Laden’s death can bring “closure and healing around 9/11.”… – AP, 5-2-11
  • Govt borrowing goes on under GOP, Obama plans: It’s all but impossible to glean from the political rhetoric, but government borrowing will grow by trillions of dollars over the next decade if the budget backed by House Republicans translates into law. And by a few trillion more if President Barack Obama gets his way. Call it the unpleasant truth behind a political struggle over raising the debt limit that is expected to intensify as lawmakers return Monday from a two-week break…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • US: bin Laden must have had some Pakistani support: President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser says it is inconceivable that Osama bin Laden did not have some support in Pakistan, the country where he was hiding when he was killed in a firefight with U.S. forces…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Not everyone believes bin Laden really is dead: Knowing there would be disbelievers, the U.S. says it used convincing means to confirm Osama bin Laden’s identity during and after the firefight that killed him. But the mystique that surrounded the terrorist chieftain in life is persisting in death. Was it really him? How do we know? Where are the pictures? Already, those questions are spreading in Pakistan and surely beyond. In the absence of photos and with his body given up to the sea, many people don’t believe bin Laden — the Great Emir to some, the fabled escape artist of the Tora Bora mountains to foe and friend alike — is really dead. U.S. officials are balancing that skepticism with the sensitivities that might be inflamed by showing images they say they have of the dead al-Qaida leader and video of his burial at sea. Still, it appeared likely that photographic evidence would be produced…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Islamic scholars criticize bin Laden’s sea burial: Muslim clerics said Monday that Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea was a violation of Islamic tradition that may further provoke militant calls for revenge attacks against American targets. Although there appears to be some room for debate over the burial — as with many issues within the faith — a wide range of senior Islamic scholars interpreted it as a humiliating disregard for the standard Muslim practice of placing the body in a grave with the head pointed toward the holy city of Mecca. Sea burials can be allowed, they said, but only in special cases where the death occurred aboard a ship.
    Bin Laden’s burial at sea “runs contrary to the principles of Islamic laws, religious values and humanitarian customs,” said Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand Imam of Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque, Sunni Islam’s highest seat of learning…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • McChrystal praises courage of bin Laden mission: The raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan took extraordinary courage not only from the service members who carried it out, but from the “decision makers” behind the operation, the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Monday.
    “Think of what would have happened if the mission had not been successful, and all of the second-guessing that would have happened,” Ret. Gen. Stanley McChrystal told a meeting of the American Iron and Steel Institute in Colorado Springs. “This mission sends a message about our will to stand up for what is right.”…. AP, 5-2-11
  • Clinton: bin Laden death doesn’t end war on terror: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is not the end of the war on terrorism and warned the network’s members that the United States would be relentless in its pursuit of them. Clinton said bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. forces in Pakistan nearly a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks proved the United States was committed to tracking down the perpetrators of extremist violence and bringing them to justice.
    “Even as we mark this milestone, we should not forget that the battle to stop al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Laden,” she said…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Man unknowingly liveblogs Bin Laden operation: A computer programmer, startled by a helicopter clattering above his quiet Pakistani town in the early hours of the morning Monday, did what any social-media addict would do: he began sending messages to the social networking site Twitter. With his tweets, 33-year-old Sohaib Athar, who moved to the sleepy town of Abbottabad to escape the big city, became in his own words “the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.”
    Soon the sole helicopter multiplied into several and gunfire and explosions rocked the air above the town, and Athar’s tweets quickly garnered tens of thousands of followers as he apparently became the first in the world to describe the U.S. operation to kill one of the world’s most wanted militants. Athar did not respond to an Associated Press request for comment — he explained in another tweet that a filter he set up to stop his email box from flooding could be culling out requests for interviews. He was up to more 70,000 followers by Monday evening.
    “I apologize for reporting the operation ‘unwittingly/unknowingly’ — had I known about it, I would have tweeted about it ‘wittingly’ I swear,” he tweeted after realizing what he had witnessed….
    Soon, however, the rumbling of international events far beyond the confines of this quiet upscale suburb began to dawn on Athar, and he realized what he might be witnessing.
    “I think the helicopter crash in Abbottabad, Pakistan and the President Obama breaking news address are connected,” he tweeted.
    Eight hours and about 35 tweets later, the confirmation came: “Osama Bin Laden killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan,” Athar reported. “There goes the neighborhood.”… – AP, 5-2-11
  • Egypt’s al-Zawahri likely to succeed bin Laden: For years, Osama bin Laden’s charisma kept al-Qaida’s ranks filled with zealous recruits. But it was the strategic thinking and the organizational skills of his Egyptian right hand man that kept the terror network together after the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and pushed al-Qaida out. With Bin Laden killed, Ayman al-Zawahri becomes the top candidate for the world’s top terror job…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Analysis: Bin Laden death gives US reason to cheer: At last, something big to celebrate and lift America’s mood. A nation surly over rising gas prices, stubbornly high unemployment and nasty partisan politics poured into the streets to wildly cheer President Barack Obama’s announcement that Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, had been killed by U.S. forces after a decade-long manhunt.
    The outcome could not have come at a better time for Obama, sagging in the polls as he embarks on his re-election campaign. For now, at least, he is assured of a big political boost, something that could strengthen his hand as he heads into a big battle over federal spending with Republicans who control the House…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Inside the raid that killed bin Laden: Helicopters descended out of darkness on the most important counterterrorism mission in U.S. history. It was an operation so secret, only a select few U.S. officials knew what was about to happen. The location was a fortified compound in an affluent Pakistani town two hours outside Islamabad. The target was Osama bin Laden. Intelligence officials discovered the compound in August while monitoring an al-Qaida courier. The CIA had been hunting that courier for years, ever since detainees told interrogators that the courier was so trusted by bin Laden that he might very well be living with the al-Qaida leader…. – AP, 5-2-11
  • Palin asks whether Pakistan helped bin Laden: Did Pakistani leaders help harbor Osama bin Laden? Sarah Palin wants to know. Speaking at a fundraiser the day after bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, the former Republican vice presidential nominee praised the Navy SEALs who killed the man believed to have been the architect of 9/11. But she said Monday’s military operation raises “many serious questions” about Pakistan.
    “He was killed in an affluent city outside Islamabad. It wasn’t in a dark cave in some remote mountains,” Palin said. Palin said “many retired Pakistani military officers live in the area” near where bin Laden was living in “relative luxury.” She went on, “How was the most wanted man in the world able to live in relative comfort out in the open?” Palin concluded, “Perhaps some of the Pakistani leaders were helping him.”… – AP, 5-2-11
  • Americans feel both joy and fear over bin Laden: Americans awoke on Monday to a world without Osama bin Laden, and many felt jubilation, a surge of patriotism and a sense that their prayers had been answered and that the U.S. had finally avenged the nearly 3,000 people killed nearly a decade ago on Sept. 11, 2001. But to many — including some of the same Americans glad to see bin Laden dead — the news didn’t make them feel safer. It led to uncertainty and fear…. – AP, 5-1-11
  • Obama’s remarks on killing of Osama bin Laden: Text of remarks by President Barack Obama Sunday night announcing the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, as transcribed by the White House…. – AP, 5-1-11
  • Bush hails bin Laden death as victory for America: Officials in George W. Bush’s administration joined the former president Monday in expressing gratitude that with the death of Osama bin Laden, justice had finally been served. Bush said in a statement issued late Sunday night that President Barack Obama had called to tell him of bin Laden’s death. “I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission,” he said. “They have our everlasting gratitude.”… – AP, 5-1-11
  • Obama: Bin Laden’s death a ‘good day’ for America: Declaring the killing of Osama bin Laden “a good day for America,” President Barack Obama said Monday the world was safer without the al-Qaida terrorist and mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. His administration used DNA testing to help confirm that American forces in Pakistan had in fact killed bin Laden, as U.S. officials sought to erase all doubt about the stunning news. A U.S. official says Osama bin Laden went down firing at the Navy SEALs who stormed his compound. “Today we are reminded that as a nation there is nothing we can’t do,” Obama said of the news bound to lift his political standing and help define his presidency. He hailed the pride of those who broke out in overnight celebrations as word spread around the globe…. – AP, 5-1-11

REVOLUTIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

  • US welcomes EU decision on Syria sanctions: The White House is welcoming the European Union’s decision to sanction Syrian officials for cracking down on anti-government protesters. An EU official said the organization next week will freeze the assets of 13 Syrian government officials and ban them from traveling anywhere in the European Union. Syrian President Bashar Assad will not be affected.
    Last week, President Barack Obama imposed financial penalties against three top Syrian officials, Syria’s intelligence agency and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard over the violent crackdown on demonstrators in Syria. On Friday, the White House warned that the U.S. and its allies will take additional steps to register its disapproval with Syria’s behavior…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • US to use frozen Gadhafi assets for Libyan people: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the Obama administration is moving to free up some of the more than $30 billion it has frozen in Libyan assets to support opponents of Moammar Gadhafi…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Accord Brings New Sense of Urgency to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A day after Palestinian leaders signed what many called a landmark reconciliation accord, the antagonists in the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their international mediators in Europe staked out positions in a rapidly shifting political and diplomatic landscape on Thursday. Khaled Meshal of Hamas speaking in Cairo on Wednesday. His group’s agreement with Fatah has changed the dynamics of the situation with Israel.
    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, travelling to Rome for a meeting focused on Libya, refused to slam the door on negotiations that could include Hamas as part of a larger Palestinian authority, even as Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshal, said he was fully committed to working for a two-state solution.
    But Mr. Meshal was in no mood for concessions. In an interview in his Cairo hotel suite, he declined to swear off violence or to agree that a Palestinian state would produce an end to the conflict — key demands of Israel, the United States and Europe. He defined his goal as “a Palestinian state in the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital, without any settlements or settlers, not an inch of land swaps and respecting the right of return” of Palestinian refugees to Israel itself.
    Asked if a deal honoring those principles would produce an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, Mr. Meshal declined to elaborate. “I don’t want to talk about that,” he said. He added: “When Israel made agreements with Egypt and Jordan, no one conditioned it on how Israel should think. The Arabs and the West didn’t ask Israel what it was thinking deep inside. All Palestinians know that 60 years ago they were living on historic Palestine from the river to the sea. It is no secret.”… – NYT, 5-5-11

INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

  • Insurgents’ fight halted on 2nd day in Kandahar: Afghan security forces on Sunday killed a few insurgents who had barricaded themselves inside a hotel in the southern city of Kandahar, ending a two-day battle that left more than two dozen militants dead, officials said. The battle raised new questions about the effectiveness of a yearlong campaign to secure Afghanistan’s south and Kandahar in particular. The city was the birthplace of the Taliban and is the economic hub of southern Afghanistan…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Obama’s pledged trip to Pakistan less certain: President Barack Obama’s promised trip to Pakistan this year, once seen as a reward for a key ally in the fight against terrorism, is now a looming headache for the White House as it tries to determine whether the government in Islamabad was complicit in allowing Osama bin Laden to live for years within the country’s borders. Obama told Pakistani officials in the fall that he planned to travel there in 2011, in part to soothe concerns that the president was favoring Pakistan’s neighbor and archrival, India, by visiting there first. White House spokesmen questioned this week by The Associated Press refused to say whether Obama still planned to go.
    In the hours after bin Laden’s killing by a U.S. special forces team in Pakistan, John Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, left the topic open. “I’m not going to address the president’s schedule,” he said. “I think there’s a commitment that the president has made that he is intending to visit Pakistan. A lot depends on availability, scheduling.”… – AP, 5-7-11
  • US Ambassador to Mexico sets date to depart: U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual will leave Mexico by May 18 as a result of his resignation two months ago amid furor over leaked diplomatic cables that angered the Mexican government. Pascual will take a job on that date as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs, U.S. Embassy spokesman Alex Featherstone said Thursday night. “One of his first tasks will be designing a new Bureau for Energy Resources that will integrate energy security with the conduct of U.S. foreign policy,” Featherstone wrote in a message announcing the plans…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Top US diplomat for Latin America resigning: The Obama administration’s senior diplomat for Latin America is stepping down, and the top Republican on the House foreign affairs committee is happy to see him go. The State Department said Friday that Arturo Valenzuela will leave this summer to return to a teaching post at Georgetown University after serving since 2009 as the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs. Spokesman Mark Toner said the administration will start looking for a successor and that it was deeply appreciative of Valenzuela’s service…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Analysis: US-Pakistan relations troubled: Osama bin Laden’s death has Congress pointing fingers at Pakistan and many in the Obama administration expressing thinly veiled exasperation. But it probably won’t mean the breakup of a marriage of convenience that is maddening to both the U.S and nuclear-armed Pakistan. The alternative would be worse. “It is not always an easy relationship,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledged Thursday, but it is useful for both countries. “We are going to continue to cooperate between our governments, our militaries, our law enforcement agencies,” she said…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • White House advances US-Colombia trade agreement: The White House said Wednesday that it was ready to start talks with Congress on a free trade deal with Colombia, setting the stage for lawmakers to move ahead on similar agreements with South Korea and Panama, as Republicans had demanded. Administration officials said they expected technical discussions to begin Thursday with congressional aides, the first step in the approval process. President Barack Obama has made boosting U.S. trade an integral part of his economic agenda. The White House had hoped for quick approval of the largest deal, the Korean pact signed in December, but GOP lawmakers threatened to block it unless the White House also finalized agreements with Panama and Colombia…. – AP, 5-4-11

THE HEADLINES….

President Barack Obama delivers remarks to troops at Fort Campbell, Ky., May 6, 2011. Vice President Joe Biden stands at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

  • Health care costs a hefty price tag for Pentagon: A military built for fighting wars is looking more and more like a health care entitlement program. Costs of the program that provides health coverage to some 10 million active duty personnel, retirees, reservists and their families have jumped from $19 billion in 2001 to $53 billion in the Pentagon’s latest budget request. Desperate to cut spending in Washington’s time of fiscal austerity, President Barack Obama has proposed increasing the fees for working-age retirees in the decades-old health program, known as TRICARE. After years of resisting proposed increases for the military men and women who sacrificed for a nation, budget-conscious lawmakers suddenly are poised to make them pay a bit more for their health care, though not on the president’s terms…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Automatic budget cuts have spotty record: Congress and President Barack Obama are proposing ways to automatically trigger budget savings if they can’t rein in deficits the old-fashioned way, by enacting laws to cut spending or raise taxes. Similar efforts in the past have a spotty record.
    The last quarter-century has seen plenty of missed deficit and spending targets and inventive evasions of budget curbs. This is because the same legislators who put in place those budget constraints can pass laws to ignore them.
    This year’s expected record deficit of $1.5 trillion and a cumulative national debt topping $14 trillion have snowballed into a major political issue that probably will color presidential and congressional elections in 2012. As a result, Washington is awash with proposals from Obama, lawmakers and anti-deficit groups such as the Bipartisan Policy Center to automatically trigger budget savings if ceilings on spending, the national debt or other benchmarks are pierced…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Obama tries to reassure public on economy, jobs: President Barack Obama is reassuring the public that jobs and the economy are his top priority. At the end of a historic and emotionally charged week that began with his nationally televised announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan during a raid by U.S. special forces, Obama on Saturday returned to promoting his energy agenda…. The news of bin Laden’s demise dominated the week’s headlines.
    “So although our economy hasn’t been the focus of the news this week, not a day goes by that I’m not focused on your jobs, your hopes and your dreams,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Feds drop Bush era endangered species policy: The Obama administration has discarded a Bush administration policy that considered state boundaries when determining endangered species protections. Under the policy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could require special protection for a species in one state but not in another, even though the species’ habitat exists in both states…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama to participate in town hall meeting on CBS: CBS News says it will be holding a town hall meeting on the economy with President Barack Obama on Wednesday. “Face the Nation” anchor Bob Schieffer and “Early Show” anchor Erica Hill will join Obama before a live audience at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., the network announced Friday. Questions also will come from a nationwide online audience. The one-hour event will be broadcast on Thursday during the 8-to-9 a.m. Eastern hour of “The Early Show.”… – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama to speak on immigration policy in Texas: The White House says President Barack Obama will deliver a speech on immigration when he visits El Paso, Texas, next Tuesday. It will be the latest in a string of events the White House has devoted to immigration policy despite an unfavorable climate on Capitol Hill for passing the kind of comprehensive legislation Obama favors. The president wants to see a path to legalization for the millions of illegal immigrants in this country, something opposed by Republicans who control the House…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Colin Powell: Obama blew away the birthers: Colin Powell told graduates of South Carolina’s premier historically black university that they were graduating during a tumultuous time that saw a royal wedding, a pope’s beatification and a U.S. military assault that killed Osama bin Laden, “the worst person on earth.” But the former secretary of state and Joint Chiefs chairman told South Carolina State University’s 400 graduates on Friday that he particularly enjoyed another recent event: “That was when President Obama took out his birth certificate and blew away Donald Trump and all the birthers!”… – A, 5-6-11
  • Obama visit highlights Ind. as tough state to hold: President Barack Obama, the first Democrat to win Indiana in a presidential election in four decades, could find it tough to hold on to in 2012 even if Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels decides not to enter the presidential race. And a White House run by Daniels from a state that’s recently become a showcase for conservatives could make a repeat victory by Obama impossible, one political expert said.
    The president made a stop in Indiana on Friday to tout his energy policy, his fifth visit since taking office. Daniels met him on the tarmac at the Indianapolis airport, a meeting his Republican supporters hoped would foreshadow a matchup to come…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Businesses now hiring at fastest pace since 2006: American companies are on a hiring spree. Businesses delivered a jolt of strength to the economy by creating 268,000 jobs in April, the biggest monthly total in more than five years. The gains were solid across an array of industries, even beleaguered construction. It was the third month in a row of at least 200,000 new jobs. The private sector has added jobs for 14 consecutive months. Even a slight rise in the unemployment rate to 9 percent appears to be a quirk….. – AP, 5-6-11
  • School in rural Wash. town vies for Obama speech: This rural farm town tucked amid Washington’s apple and cherry orchards seems an unlikely stop for a U.S. president. Yet Bridgeport High School is one of three national finalists for a commencement address by President Barack Obama, thanks to an on-time graduation rate that exceeds the national average and a college push that beats some of the ritziest public schools. All 37 seniors will graduate next month. All are headed to college or to a technical school. And the possibility of a presidential visit has them and their whole town buzzing…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Obama talks immigration at Cinco de Mayo event: President Barack Obama says it will take changing minds, hearts and votes to fix a broken immigration system. He also told celebrants at a Cinco de Mayo reception at the White House that their help will be needed to make it happen…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Poetry night at the White House next Wednesday: President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, will celebrate American poetry and prose with a gathering of poets, musicians and artists at the White House next Wednesday night. Professionals Elizabeth Alexander, Billy Collins, Common, Rita Dove, Kenneth Goldsmith, Alison Knowles, Aimee Mann and Jill Scott will read, sing and highlight poetry’s influence on American culture…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama helps kick off Wounded Warriors’ bike ride: With a 1-2-3 and the sound of a horn, President Barack Obama has kicked off a regional bicycle tour to help raise money for wounded service members. Many of the riders had lost one or both legs and rode hand-cranked bicycles. Obama told the riders they are an inspiration…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Obama to meet with Prince Charles: President Barack Obama will meet with Britain’s Prince Charles on Wednesday. It’s the prince’s first trip to the U.S. visit since 2007…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Some White House records may not be preserved: The nation’s archivist said Tuesday he’s uncomfortable with allowing White House staff members to decide whether their tweets, emails and Facebook messages from personal accounts are work-related and must be saved. David Ferriero, archivist of the United States, told a House hearing that official communications sent from a presidential employee’s personal device, using personal accounts, must be preserved under the law. However, a staff member gets to determine what is official.
    Brook Colangelo, the Obama administration’s chief information officer, said there’s no way to automatically capture communications from personal accounts unless they are accessed through a government-issued computer or personal device, such as an iPad or BlackBerry. He said the administration relies on periodic training to help employees make the right decision…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Obama honors national teacher of the year: President Barack Obama is honoring Michelle Shearer of Maryland as the 2011 National Teacher of the Year. Shearer teaches chemistry at Urbana High School in Frederick, Md. In a Rose Garden ceremony, Obama says Shearer represents all teachers who are committed to improving their own skills in order to better educate their students…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Obama honors 2 Army privates killed in Korean War: When President Barack Obama expressed his pride in America’s men and women in uniform, he was speaking about those who hours earlier had killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and those who six decades earlier had given their lives in the Korean War. During a somber ceremony Monday in the White House East Room, Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor posthumously on two Army privates — Anthony T. Kaho’ohanohano of Pukalani, Hawaii, and Henry Svehla of Belleville, N.J.
    “Today we remember them with the highest military decoration that our nation can bestow,” Obama said, describing the pair as “hometown kids who stood tall in America’s uniform.” The commander in chief also reflected on the news of bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. forces during a raid in Pakistan, saying “I think we can all agree this is a good day for America.”… – AP, 5-2-11

112TH CONGRESS

  • Boehner Is Boxed In by Republican Party’s Anti-Tax Pledge: Jonathan Alter: Can the Republicans find sweet harmony? On the deficit debate, party frontman John Boehner is boxed in. “Why would you cut a deal before 2012?” asks one tax hard-liner. “It’s Paul’s idea,” House Speaker Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told ABC News in an April 25 interview. “Other people have other ideas.” If you get the sense that John is distancing himself from Paul, don’t blame Yoko. Boehner is worried that Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare — which passed the House with all but four Republican votes on April 15 — isn’t playing so well at town hall meetings. The speaker is in a box…. – Bloomberg, 5-5-11
  • Senate GOP won’t vote for consumer protection head: Almost every Senate Republican said Thursday they will vote against any Obama administration choice to head a new agency designed to protect consumers from harmful financial activities unless changes are made in the agency that Republicans say has been given too much power.
    “No person should have the unfettered authority presently granted to the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” 44 GOP senators wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama. “Therefore we believe that the Senate should not consider any nominee to be CFPB director until the CFPB is properly reformed.”… – AP, 5-5-11
  • House passes bill making it easier to drill: The Republican-controlled House passed the first of three bills Thursday aimed at speeding up offshore oil and gas drilling a year after the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. In a 266-149 vote that included 33 Democrats in its majority, the House approved a bill that would force the federal government to conduct three lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one off the Virginia coast within a year, or by June 2012. Lease sales are the first step in a multi-year process that can culminate in drilling. The Obama administration had postponed the sales after the massive Gulf oil spill, saying it needed time to conduct more thorough environmental reviews, to account for the blowout’s effects on the Gulf ecosystem and to incorporate lessons learned from the disaster…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • GOP seeks common ground with Obama on Medicare: The top House Republican responsible for Medicare says he’s open to other approaches besides privatization to curb the program’s costs. Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan told reporters Thursday he still supports the GOP plan to replace Medicare with a voucher-like payment for future retirees. But Camp said he’s not interested in laying down more political markers and wants solutions President Barack Obama can sign into law…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • House panel moves to revive alternate jet engine: A House panel on Wednesday took a step toward reviving the alternate engine for the next-generation F-35 fighter plane over the objections of President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who consider it wasteful spending. By voice vote, the Armed Services subcommittee overseeing land and air forces approved legislation that would force the Pentagon to re-open competition if it has to ask Congress for more money so Pratt & Whitney can build the chosen engine. Inevitably in military contracting, the Defense Department has to seek more funds for a highly sophisticated warplane. The provision would apply to Pentagon spending in the next budget year…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • House OKs limits on tax breaks for abortions: The House voted Wednesday to limit tax breaks for insurance policies that cover abortions. The bill, which passed 251-175, was the latest Republican effort to chip away at President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and follow through on the GOP’s campaign promise to keep taxpayers from underwriting abortions. “Abortion is not health care,” said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • House panel OKs more money for Special Forces: A House panel on Wednesday approved $10.5 billion for Special Operations Command and its Navy SEALs unit widely praised for the bold mission to take out terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. By voice vote, the House Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities agreed to the amount, an increase of about 7 percent from the current level, with lawmakers marveling at the success of the Navy SEALs. The elite unit infiltrated bin Laden’s Pakistan compound on Monday and killed the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • House leaders seek political points in Yucca fight: Yucca Mountain is a wild expanse of desert brush, red mountains and extracted rock 100 miles outside of Las Vegas where deer, coyote and antelope roam isolated fields and human visitors must pass background checks before they are allowed past heavily guarded fences. Republicans claim this stark landscape is the nation’s best hope for a national nuclear waste dump.
    But with Democrats running the White House and Senate, the Yucca Mountain nuclear site has been shuttered with no chance of reopening. Critics claim the project is dangerous. The half-built nuclear junkyard would require nuclear plants to ship their waste to rural Nevada along the nation’s vulnerable roadways and railways…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Boehner says small US force should remain in Iraq: House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday a small, residual U.S. force should remain in Iraq beyond the end of this year, the final drawdown date for the Americans. Boehner said it was imperative for the Obama administration to talk to the Iraqi government about extending the U.S. presence beyond Dec. 31.
    “It’s pretty clear to me there are gaps in the security arrangement of the Iraqi people beginning the first of next year,” said Boehner, who traveled to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan last month. He said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “made clear to me there are gaps, that there is assistance that they’re going to need. And I would hope that our military and diplomatic officials begin serious conversations with Iraqis about identifying those gaps in security and try to come to an agreement as soon as possible.”… – AP, 5-4-11
  • Hispanic lawmakers press Obama on immigration: Hispanic lawmakers say they have given President Barack Obama several ways his administration can help certain immigrants stay in the U.S. while they await immigration reform in Congress. Several members of the all-Democratic Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with Obama on Tuesday hoping for administrative remedies for young immigrants brought to the country illegally by parents or for other immigrants in danger of being deported…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Senate Democrats eye $4T budget savings plan: The top Democrat in the Senate on budget matters said Tuesday that he’s preparing a fiscal blueprint to slash the deficit by $4 trillion over the upcoming decade — a plan built on the bipartisan findings of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission. Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said the plan calls for a complete overhaul of the tax code — stripping out numerous tax write-offs while lowering income tax rates — but would leave Social Security untouched. The tax reform idea would generate an overall revenue increase in the range of perhaps $1 trillion over the coming decade…. – AP, 5-3-11

COURT AND LEGAL NEWS:

  • Battle Over Health Care Law Shifts to Federal Appellate Courts: A five-week flurry of federal appellate hearings on the constitutionality of the Obama health care law kicks off Tuesday in Richmond, Va., beginning the second round of a race to the Supreme Court among a multitude of litigants eager to strike down the president’s signature domestic achievement. At Tuesday’s hearing, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will consider a pair of contradictory rulings sent up from the lower courts. In one case, filed by Virginia’s attorney general, a federal district judge in Richmond ruled late last year that Congress had exceeded its authority by requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance. In the other, filed by Liberty University, a conservative Christian institution, a district judge sitting 100 miles away in Lynchburg, Va., upheld the insurance mandate…. – NYT, 5-8-11
  • Holder intervenes in gay man’s deportation case: Attorney General Eric Holder took the rare step Thursday of asking an immigration judicial panel to reconsider the case of a gay man they’ve cleared for deportation. Holder set aside the Board of Immigration Appeals ruling allowing the deportation of Paul Wilson Dorman, a gay man illegally in the U.S. Dorman wants to stay in the country with his male partner, with whom he celebrated a civil union in New Jersey… – AP, 5-6-11
  • RI lawyer confirmed as US judge; GOP block fails: A trial lawyer nominated by President Barack Obama to be a federal judge in Rhode Island was confirmed on a party-line vote Wednesday just hours after a Senate GOP filibuster attempt failed. The Senate voted 50-44 to confirm lawyer John McConnell to the bench after a more significant 63-33 tally to advance the nomination past a filibuster orchestrated by GOP leaders…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • States ask US court to overturn health overhaul: More than two dozen states challenging the health care overhaul urged a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday to strike down the Obama administration’s landmark law, arguing it far exceeds the federal government’s powers. The motion, filed on behalf of 26 states, urges the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to uphold a Florida federal judge’s ruling that the overhaul’s core requirement is unconstitutional. The judge, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, said Congress cannot require nearly all Americans to carry health insurance. Allowing the law to go forward, the states argued in the 69-page filing, would set a troubling precedent that “would imperil individual liberty, render Congress’s other enumerated powers superfluous, and allow Congress to usurp the general police power reserved to the states.”… – AP, 5-4-11
  • Appeals court hears arguments in Obama birth suit: Leaders in the so-called “birther” movement argued their case over President Barack Obama’s U.S. citizenship before a federal appeals court Monday in Southern California, claiming the full birth certificate he released last week had been doctored. But it was unclear how far their arguments would go, given the previous failed lawsuits on the issue and concern from the court about whether the latest claim was filed too late to be considered…. – AP, 5-2-11

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

  • Disasters challenge GOP governors of Ala., Miss.: Alabama’s new governor thought his toughest job was going to be making double-digit spending cuts and deciding which state services to eliminate.
    “Then on day 100 of our administration — exactly day 100 — we had this massive outbreak of tornadoes,” Gov. Robert Bentley said.
    The deadly storms that pounded the South on April 27 were a quick initiation for Bentley into the massive task of disaster recovery. They were just another chapter for his colleague next door, fellow Republican and second- term Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Barbour has overseen his state’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and is now bracing for Mississippi River floodwaters. The responses of the two Deep South governors represent the different backgrounds of Bentley, a soft-spoken physician, and Barbour, a savvy, former Washington lobbyist and GOP insider…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • Offensive email sender censured by OC GOP: An Orange County GOP official who sent email depicting President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee was censured Wednesday by the local party’s executive committee. The 12-2 vote to censure 74-year-old Marilyn Davenport, an elected member of the governing Central Committee, is the highest form of disapproval the county GOP could take under its bylaws, Orange County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh said…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • Obama declares emergency in 3 states over flooding: The president has declared an emergency for parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky because of flooding. The White House says the order signed on Wednesday means the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other departments can help the states coordinate all disaster relief efforts in parts of all three states…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Anxiety rises along the flood-swollen Mississippi: People along the lower Mississippi River and its tributaries packed their belongings and emergency workers feverishly filled sandbags as high water pushed its way downstream Wednesday in a slow-motion disaster that could break flood records dating to the 1920s. From Illinois to Mississippi, thousands of people have already been forced from their homes, and anxiety is rising along with the mighty river, even though it could be a week or two before some of the most severe flooding hits…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Daley presides over last council meeting: Richard M. Daley, the longest serving mayor in Chicago history and one of the most powerful mayors in recent American history, presided over his last City Council meeting on Wednesday. With family members in attendance, Daley listened as one alderman after another paid tribute to the man who helped lead the transformation of Chicago from a gritty industrial hub to a sparking metropolis in his 22 years in office. Daley, said longtime Alderman Ed Burke, “made Chicago the most livable city in the nation,” moments before the council gave the mayor a standing ovation…. – AP, 5-4-11

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012…. — FIRST REPUBLICAN DEBATE

  • Campaign 2012: Who’s in and who’s out?: Republicans are beginning to announce whether they will pursue a bid for the presidency…. – WaPo, 5-3-11
  • LIVE-BLOG: The first Republican presidential debatePolitico, 5-5-11
  • Republican Presidential debate in South Carolina: Romney, Huckabee, Palin, Gingrich won’t be there: Republicans are starting their engines for the first presidential debate in South Carolina Thursday — well, some Republicans, anyway. Many of the biggest names in the field won’t be there: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Oh, and Donald Trump.
    So who’s in? The most mainstream candidate attending the debate in Greenville, South Carolina – a key early primary state – will be former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He will be joined by Rep Ron Paul (R-Tex.), former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and former Godfather Pizza CEO and talk radio host Herman Cain.
    Romney, widely seen as the candidate to beat, will skip the debate “because it’s still early, the field is too unsettled and he’s not yet an announced candidate,” according to one of his advisers…. – NY Daily News, 5-5-11
  • GOP Contenders Look to Seize the Moment in First Presidential Debate: The five participants in the first Republican debate of the 2012 presidential race Thursday night are looking to prove themselves to be more than the party’s B-team, as they try to catapult their White House bids into the national spotlight. Fox News and the South Carolina Republican Party are sponsoring the debate, which will feature former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former New Mexico Gov. Gary John and businessman Herman Cain. They are the only candidates who met the sponsors’ criteria to participate: forming a presidential exploratory committee, filing state GOP paperwork and paying $25,000 to get on the state primary ballot. The GOP field is still taking shape, with about a dozen Republicans considering a White House bid or taking initial steps toward full-fledged campaigns. Among the notable absences are Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich…. – Fox News, 5-5-11
  • First GOP debate likely to be a low-key affair: The one to beat in the GOP presidential field, Mitt Romney, won’t attend the first debate of the party’s 2012 nomination race. Neither will any other big-name Republicans weighing bids, like Sarah Palin, or celebrity hopefuls, like Donald Trump. And, with Osama bin Laden’s death commanding the public’s attention, the political spotlight will be turned hundreds of miles to the north as President Barack Obama visits New York’s ground zero days after American forces killed the terrorist behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
    Even so, the lead-off debate of the Republican presidential race is set to go on as planned Thursday night in Greenville, S.C. With only five candidates participating, it’s poised to be a low-key affair much like the sluggish early days of the Republican contest itself.
    “Without any of the front-runners, you really can’t call it a debate,” said Rick Beltram, a former Spartanburg County GOP chairman…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Herman Cain makes splash at first 2012 GOP debate: To get an idea of the strangeness of the first debate of the 2012 presidential cycle – the unofficial kickoff to the 2012 GOP race – consider this: Based on the Fox News focus group conducted immediately following the event, Herman Cain is about to run away with the GOP nomination. If you’re wondering who that is, you’re not alone: The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, who barely registers in national polls, has never held elected office. And he is seen as having virtually no chance to win the GOP nomination.
    \ But the vast majority of the people sitting in with Republican pollster Frank Luntz said Cain had won the debate with his directness and straightforward delivery. (This despite the fact that when asked about what he would do in Afghanistan, he replied that he would rely on “the experts and their advice and their input.” The Fox News debate moderators seemed incredulous that he did not offer a position.) Luntz appeared blown away by the response to Cain, which he cast as unprecedented. “Something very special happened this evening,” he said.
    Perhaps. But the debate was seen as such a non-event inside the beltway that House Speaker John Boehner spent his evening not watching it, opting instead to have a few drinks at a Washington steakhouse. “I’ll read about it tomorrow,” he told Hotsheet…. – CBS News, 5-5-11
  • What You Missed in the Primary Season’s First Republican Debate: The first debate of the Republican presidential primary campaign took place earlier tonight in South Carolina. Because many of the big names sat it out or were ineligible to participate, and the only candidates who showed up were Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Gary Johnson, you would be excused if, instead of watching, you were out downing as many margaritas as your body can physically allow. For you social, fun people, we’ve put together this easily digestible summary of what transpired.
    Nicest Thing Anyone Said About President Obama: “I do congratulate President Obama for the fine job he did …. He did a good job and I tip my cap to him in that moment.” — Tim Pawlenty on President Obama’s role in killing Osama bin Laden….
    Most Crowd-Pleasing One-Liner: Herman Cain, in defending his lack of any political experience, notes that Washington is full of people with political experience, and “how’s that working for you?”… – NY Mag, 5-5-11
  • Bin Laden’s death upends agenda for first Republican presidential debate: Polls show that Americans’ top concern is the economy, but the killing of Osama bin Laden put foreign policy at the top of the agenda in the first Republican candidates debate of the 2012 presidential campaign. In the forum, broadcast by Fox News from Greenville, S.C., a quintet of lesser-known candidates offered their views on the operation that killed the Al Qaeda leader and how it might affect America’s mission in Afghanistan.
    Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, praised President Obama for “being decisive” in launching the raid on Bin Laden’s compound, but attacked his broader foreign policy outlook. “He’s made a number of other decisions relating to our security here and around the world that I don’t agree with,” he said. “If it turns out that many of the techniques that he criticized during the campaign led to Osama bin Laden’s being identified and killed, he should be asked to explain whether he does or does not support those techniques.”
    Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who just announced the formation of an exploratory committee a day earlier, downplayed what he said was simply a “tactical decision” by Obama. “If you look at what President Obama has done right in foreign policy, it has always been a continuation of the Bush policies,” he said. “The issues that have come up while he is president, he’s gotten it wrong strategically every single time.”… – LAT, 5-5-11
  • GOP debate proves an awkward start in the fight against Obama: The opening act in the contest to pick a challenger for President Obama in 2012 proved to be an awkward moment for the Republican Party. Thursday night’s candidate debate did as much to highlight divisions within the party as it did to offer a brief for why the president should be denied a second term. With many of the party’s potentially strongest candidates either choosing not to participate — or still making up their minds about whether to run — the 90-minute debate offered a platform for second-tier candidates to make their case. They took full advantage of the spotlight, but in the process they offered dissonance in the GOP message along with moments of comedic relief to the audience.
    That made for a sometimes-entertaining evening for the audience in the hall and those watching on television. But it probably did little to help Republican voters figure out who has the stature and the strength to take on the president in 2012. The debate, sponsored by Fox News, came at a moment when Obama’s approval ratings are spiking because of the successful mission that killed Osama bin Laden, though there has been no movement in the public’s view of his handling of the economy. The bin Laden death changed the equation for Thursday’s debate, forcing the candidates onto foreign policy turf, rather than being able to focus on the economy and government spending…. – WaPo, 5-5-11
  • 5 G.O.P. Hopefuls (Who?) Flock to First Debate of ’12 Race: A quorum may be needed to follow parliamentary procedure, but not to put on a presidential debate. Five Republican contenders presented themselves here Thursday evening at the first debate of the 2012 presidential campaign, a televised session that may have only amplified the fretting among some Republican leaders that the party needs to recruit more candidates to find a credible challenger to President Obama.
    While candidates in presidential debates often need no introduction, the participants who filed onto the stage at the Peace Center for the Performing Arts offered an exception to that rule. There were two former governors, a member of Congress, a former senator and the former chief executive of a chain of pizza restaurants — all of whom round out the lower rung of an unsettled Republican field.
    The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, sought to allay the worries of party activists who believe Republicans are missing an opportunity to start defining Mr. Obama in their quest to win back the White House. “As we all know, there are numerous other candidates that are looking at it — and thank God,” Mr. Priebus said before the proceedings began. “Quite frankly, I think Americans are sick and tired of two-year, knock-out drag-out contests with a zillion debates and forums.”… – NYT, 5-5-11
  • First GOP presidential debate: Was Pawlenty too ‘Minnesota nice’?: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, considered a top-tier GOP candidate for president, didn’t go after the absent Mitt Romney over health care during a GOP debate Thursday night in South Carolina, but he did condemn the Obama reform…. – CS Monitor, 5-6-11
  • Herman Cain Turns Heads at First Republican Presidential Debate | Hannity: HERMAN CAIN, FORMER RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The immigration issue in America is not one problem. It’s four problems. It’s securing the border, enforcing the laws that are there, promoting the path to citizenship that we already have. We don’t need a new path. We’ve got to clean up the bureaucracy in the process. And then number four, this is where I believe you empower the states to do what the federal government cannot and is not doing. So, no, Arizona did not go too far. They were simply trying to protect themselves. (END OF VIDEO CLIP)
    SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And that was radio talk show host Herman Cain speaking at tonight’s GOP primary debate. Welcome back to the special post-debate edition of “Hannity.” And joining me now is Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain…. – Fox News, 5-5-11
  • Eyes were on Pawlenty at GOP presidential debate: The reviews are coming in about the first GOP presidential debate of the 2012 election season, and there’s a school of thought that Tim Pawlenty did just fine — all things considered. The debate on Thursday night in South Carolina was just as notable for who was missing as for who did appear in Greenville and got precious face time on Fox News, which sponsored the event. Pawlenty, a former Minnesota governor, was among the better-known of the five candidates on the stage, and said going in that he was hoping to introduce himself to a wider audience…. – USA Today, 5-6-11
  • Herman Cain answers Rick Santorum’s slight: Herman Cain’s camp is firing back at Rick Santorum after the former Pennsylvania senator challenged Cain’s electoral viability while on the stump in South Carolina. Slate reported that Santorum, chatting ahead of the question-and-answer portion of an Aiken, S.C. luncheon, challenged the notion that Cain was a viable candidate.
    “He’s never won an election,” Santorum said. “And it’s not that he hasn’t tried. He’s run twice and lost.” Cain spokeswoman Ellen Carmichael, responding to Santorum’s comments, said Republicans shouldn’t attack each other in the run-up to the 2012 primaries.
    “We are disappointed to see Senator Santorum violating President Ronald Reagan’s ‘Eleventh Commandment:’ ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of fellow Republicans,’ Carmichael said in a statement emailed to POLITICO Friday night. “As conservatives, our mission should be to beat President Obama in 2012, not beat each other up in the process.”
    “We are certain that President Ronald Reagan would be proud of the man that Herman Cain is and the class act he remains,” she said…. – Politico, 5-6-11
  • Pawlenty Hopes ‘I’m Sorry’ Is Enough: It’s a question every candidate faces: how to deal with political liabilities. Do you face them head-on and try to get them out of the way, or try to work around them in the hope that voters will lose interest? Thursday night, at the first Republican presidential debate, broadcast live on Fox News, Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, decided on the former. The moderator turned the room’s attention to a old radio ad for an environmental group in which Mr. Pawlenty heartily endorses a cap-and-trade policy — practically apostasy in his party.
    “Do we have to?” Mr. Pawlenty said awkwardly. His voice soon echoed through the auditorium, saying, “Cap greenhouse gas pollution now!”
    “I’ve said I was wrong. It was a mistake, and I’m sorry,” Mr. Pawlenty told the Fox television audience, presumably filled with potential Republican primary voters. “You’re going to have a few clunkers in your record, and we all do, and that’s one of mine. I just admit it. I don’t try to duck it, bob it, weave it, try to explain it away. I’m just telling you, I made a mistake.”… – NYT, 5-6-11
  • Cain: ‘American People Are Anxious for Solutions’ | Your World Cavuto With: Neil Cavuto Special Guests | Herman Cain: This is a rush transcript from “Your World,” May 4, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
    NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Remember, you can watch all five candidates face off in the first presidential primary debate here on Fox News Channel at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow night. My next guest is one of those participating in the debate and what’s at stake in that debate. Herman Cain will be joining us shortly. But think of what Carl just said about who is there, but, more importantly, who is not there, and whether people in that state, Republicans particularly in that state, will feel slighted by those who don’t attend. Well, they needn’t worry with the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, Herman Cain, because he will be there.
    Herman, are you going to make hay of the fact that some of your better-known Republican colleagues are not going to be there?
    HERMAN CAIN, CEO, THE NEW VOICE: Well, Neil, as you know, HermanCain.com is here, as I tell people.
    (LAUGHTER) CAIN: I think that — I think that they’re making a mistake, but, hey, they have to make their own decisions. I wanted to be here primarily because I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity, which is what it is, to share my common sense solutions with a very large audience. And I appreciate Fox doing this. And we are happy to be here. And we’re delighted….. – Fox News, 5-4-11

ELECTIONS — PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2012….

  • Rudy Giuliani: ‘I can probably be talked into’ 2012 run: Rudy Giuliani called for a return to American exceptionalism Friday, telling a group of GOP lawyers gathered in the nation’s capital that Ronald Reagan fundamentally changed how Americans felt about themselves. Before Reagan was elected, Giuliani said, much had been written about America’s decline and how it was a country of “limited possibilities” that had run its course.
    “Sounds familiar, right? There are people who believe that today in America. In fact, some of them are running America,” Giuliani said in a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association, where he appeared to received the group’s highest honor, the Ed Meese Award. “The idea that we’re either no better than anyone else, we’re just another country with our set of problems or our set of assets, or maybe we’re not even as good as others. Ronald Reagan found that to be totally wrong, not a correct view of this country and he changed in a very short period of times how we felt about ourselves.” “That’s the most important thing a leader does,” he added.
    Ticking off a list of his accomplishments while serving as New York’s mayor, Giuliani said he was most proud of making the city a place where people wanted to live, a factor that later helped New York rebuild following the Sept. 11 terror attacks. “I often think that a New York City with the depressed attitude that we had in the early ’90s would have had a much harder time overcoming as quickly the tremendous damage that was done to us by the attacks of September 11,” he said. “It helped New York City that when we were attacked we were a strong city, a confident city, and optimistic city, a city that believed our best days were ahead of us. So the attack was a temporary interruption of that feeling and the city was able to get back on track very, very quickly.”…. – Politico, 5-8-11
  • 3rd Conn. Democrat announces run for US Senate: A third Democrat has announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. State Rep. William Tong of Stamford said Sunday he wants to prove that Americans have better opportunities than previous generations despite a prevailing belief that the American dream is in jeopardy…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Iowa GOP donors court NJ’s Christie: Some of Iowa’s top Republican campaign contributors, unhappy with their choices in the developing presidential field, are venturing to New Jersey in hopes they can persuade first-term Gov. Chris Christie to run. The entreaty is the latest sign of dissatisfaction within the GOP over the crop of candidates competing for the chance to run against President Barack Obama in 2012. Bruce Rastetter, an Iowa energy company executive, and a half-dozen other prominent Iowa GOP donors sought the meeting with Christie, the governor’s chief political adviser, Mike DuHaime, told The Associated Press. The get-together is set for the governor’s mansion in Princeton, N.J., on May 31…. – AP, 5-8-11
  • Huntsman addresses his Obama role in SC speech: Republican Jon Huntsman, weighing a White House bid, used his first formal event after stepping down as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China to confront the line on his resume that conservatives were most likely to declare a deal-breaker. In a high-profile speech to the University of South Carolina, the former Utah governor said patriotism should trump partisanship and defended his two years in Beijing as the Democratic administration’s top diplomat.
    “Work to keep America great. Serve her if asked. I was — by a president of a different political party,” Huntsman said, directly addressing the job that his rivals and critics hope to make disqualifier among the conservatives who hold great sway in the nominating process.
    “But in the end, while we might not all be of one party, we are all part of one nation — a nation that needs your generational gift, energy and confidence,” he told graduates, pitching himself as an above-politics figure and appealing to voters who have grown weary of political bickering…. – AP, 5-7-11
  • Largest US labor union poised to back Obama 2012: The nation’s largest labor union is poised to back President Barack Obama in his bid for a second term. The National Education Association represents 3.2 million schoolteachers, administrators and educators. President Dennis Van Roekel (ROH’-kul) says Obama has proven his commitment to funding public education and keeping Social Security and Medicare intact…. – AP, 5-6-11
  • GOP candidates want to see photo of bin Laden body: Several Republican presidential hopefuls want President Barack Obama to release photos that prove U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden during a covert raid in Pakistan, criticizing the Democrat’s decision-making just days after many praised him for getting the world’s most-wanted terrorist.
    Texas Rep. Ron Paul said Thursday that he sides with transparency when there is public doubt. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said “it would have been OK to release the photos.” And former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin accused Obama of “pussy-footing” on making the photos public. It was a contrast to the initial words of commendation that came from many of Obama’s potential GOP rivals just hours after he announced that American forces had tracked down and shot to death the al-Qaida leader behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • A foreign policy void in GOP 2012 field: The daring nighttime raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan draws a sharp contrast between President Barack Obama and a field of potential Republican challengers who have comparatively scant foreign policy experience. That field includes at least six current or former governors, and three current or former House members. The Senate, an incubator for international affairs expertise, doesn’t have a single member running for president, although one former senator has taken steps toward a run.
    The stunning news of bin Laden’s death has temporarily focused attention on foreign policy over domestic issues, and highlighted the lack of international experience in the prospective GOP field compared with the president, a Democrat who has spent more than two years overseeing two wars and, more recently, military action in Libya…. – AP, 5-5-11
  • A Potential Candidate in No Rush for a Race: Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana called the leisurely pace of the 2012 presidential campaign “a blessing” for voters. Whether he plans to take advantage of it is another question, which he did not answer as he paid a visit here Wednesday. For weeks, the clamor about Mr. Daniels has swelled among Republicans. And for weeks, he has dropped only cursory clues about his intentions, sending mixed signals about whether he was looking for a way out of — or into — the party’s presidential nominating contest…. – NYT, 5-5-11
  • Wasserman Schultz elected chairwoman of the DNC: Democrats have elected Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the new chair of the Democratic National Committee. President Barack Obama picked the four-term lawmaker from South Florida last month to succeed former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who is seeking a Senate seat in his home state…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Daniels wants piece of 2012 policy debate: Make no mistake: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels wants a role in the 2012 presidential campaign. Less clear: Whether that means as a candidate or a commentator.
    Daniels, in a brief interview with The Associated Press, said Wednesday he hadn’t envisioned running for president. “It’s certainly not the way I planned to spend the rest of my working life. … On the other hand, there’s my sincere concern about the condition and direction of the country. I promise you this, if I thought the country was in good shape or even reasonable shape, I wouldn’t give this a thought.”
    Daniels said he was “alarmed about where we are. I hope I’m wrong, but I do want to see the nation make decisions that can guarantee a great future as opposed to risk of a serious setback to the American way of life.” Asked whether he considered President Barack Obama beatable in 2012, Daniels said he sometimes tells people “he’s either unbeatable or unelectable. I just don’t know which it is.” “I think there are things that ought to be said and ideas that ought to be presented to the American people. I think there are answers that can assure us a great future but there are dangers that will have a blighted future if we don’t act. I can’t see what would be at the end of a campaign.”
    “If I decide to do it, I’ll just try to be as straight as I can be and persuasive as I can be and hope that at least if it doesn’t work out, public understanding was improved,” Daniels said…. – AP, 5-4-11
  • Santorum, Huntsman take next steps toward run: Republican presidential contenders Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman on Tuesday took steps toward formally joining a still-forming GOP field. Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, established a presidential exploratory committee and announced he would participate in Thursday’s debate in South Carolina. Huntsman, a former governor of Utah who last week stepped down as the U.S. ambassador to China, filed paperwork that lets him start building a national profile as he weighs a presidential campaign. Meanwhile, two of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s advisers left her side. Foreign policy hands Randy Scheunemann and Michael Goldfarb — who both worked with Palin when she was Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential pick — stepped aside over the weekend. Peter Schweizer, a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is set to advise Palin on foreign policy.
    The early moves from potential candidates come as the Republican field is coming together. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is preparing to formally join the race in the coming weeks, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is planning an announcement tour and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has scheduled fundraisers in the coming weeks. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is more seriously considering a bid as polls show him competitive despite laying none of the traditional groundwork for a campaign. And Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is weighing a bid now that his Legislature has completed its session…. – AP, 5-3-11
  • Bin Laden death not changing GOP hopefuls’ plans: Republicans hoping to unseat President Barack Obama say they see al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s death as a welcome development but no reason to change political strategy. While Obama almost surely will get a boost in his poll numbers, advisers for the still-forming field of GOP candidates expect that it will be temporary and that voters will select a president based on how the economy recovers — or doesn’t — over the next 18 months.
    “This is a major event. I know I woke up the next morning feeling my children are safer, and that’s a key issue,” said Republican pollster Ed Goeas, who no longer is aligned with a presidential candidate now that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has opted out. “The question is whether voters feel safer economically. The focus will return to that fairly quickly. I don’t know that this affects the bottom line except in the short term.”… – AP, 5-3-11
  • Huntsman sets up federal PAC to raise money: Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, seen as a potential presidential candidate, is taking the first steps toward building a national political profile by setting up a committee that will let him raise money, hire staff and travel around the country…. – AP, 5-3-11

QUOTES

President Obama praises those Americans who carried out the  operation to kill Os
White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 5/1/11
  • “We and the Entire Nation Are So Proud Of All Of You”: Mother’s Day with the First Lady and Dr. Biden:
    Dr. Jill Biden: Last summer, I traveled to Iraq with my husband, Joe, to visit our troops during the Fourth of July. I had lunch with several female soldiers, many of whom were mothers. These women were managing all the challenges of parenting — arranging health care, childcare, and education — thousands and thousands of miles away from their homes and loved ones.
    One woman across the table fought back tears as she told me that she was missing out on taking her youngest daughter to college. I was at a loss for words. All I could do at that moment was just reach across that table and grab her hand.
    Michelle and I have both been struck by these women fiercely proud to serve their country and never complaining, but still struggling with some of the everyday challenges we all face in managing a home and a family.
    You here today, and all the women we have met in our travels, are doing your part. The government is working hard to do its part. And each American also has the ability to make a difference in the life of a military family. That’s what our Joining Forces initiative is all about.
    Michelle Obama: We’re joining forces across this country, and we’re calling on all Americans to ask themselves just one simple question: How can I give back to these families who have given me so much?
    We’re joining forces across the federal government, building on over 50 commitments that departments and agencies have made for how they can better serve military families. We’re going to be joining forces with cities and states, encouraging them to adopt policies that will help you all.
    We’re joining forces with organizations like the national PTA and the Military Child Education Coalition, to improve school outreach to military kids. We’re joining forces with businesses and nonprofits, getting commitments from companies like Walmart and Sears to help military spouses find and keep jobs.
    And we’re joining forces with families and communities. We’re urging people to do whatever they can as neighbors, colleagues, and classmates to lend a hand to military families.
    We believe that this is what you deserve from us, because showing our gratitude to those who serve our nation whether it’s on the battlefield or at home, is something that every single American can do. And it’s something that every single American should do. – WH, 5-8-11Transcript
  • Tina Fey as Sarah Palin: “It’s just so great to be back on Fox News, a network that both pays me and shows me the questions ahead of time. And I just hope that tonight, the lamestream media won’t twist my words by repeating them verbatim…. This week we finally vanquished one of the world’s great villains, and I for one am thrilled to say good riddance to Katie Couric.”
  • Former Vice President Dick Cheney: “Well, I think you’ve got to give him a lot of credit for making the decision to have Seal Team Six conduct the raid that got Bin Laden. There is no question that was his responsibility. And I think he handled it well. I give him high marks for it, for making that decision. I still am concerned about the fact that I think a lot of the techniques that we had used to keep the country safe for more than seven years are no longer available. That they’ve been sort of taken off the table, if you will.”
  • Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former governor of Utah: “Work to keep America great. Serve her, if asked. I was — by a president of a different political party. But in the end, while we might not all be of one party, we are all part of one nation, a nation that needs your generational gift of energy and confidence.”
  • President Obama: There were big chunks of time in which all we were doing was just waiting. And it was the longest 40 minutes of my life with the possible exception of when Sasha got meningitis when she was three months old and I was waiting for the doctor to tell me that she was all right. You think about Black Hawk Down. You think about what happened with the Iranian rescue. And I am very sympathetic to the situation for other presidents where you make a decision, you’re making your best call, your best shot, and something goes wrong.”
  • Thomas Donilon, the national security adviser to Mr. Obama: Divided counsel, people recommending different options…. And I’ve served three presidents, as you know. And you watch the president take this in. He chaired five National Security Council meetings in six weeks. Take all that in, say, I’m not going to make my decision now, I’ll tell you my decision tomorrow, stand up, walk out of the Situation Room, go down that colonnade that you know so well by the Rose Garden to his residence, and make that decision. And this is what we ask of our president. And I think in this case the president was well served by the process, and we’re well served by his decision.”
  • Weekly Address: Clean Energy to Out-Innovate the Rest of the World
    Weekly Address: Clean Energy Will Help Us Out-Compete and Out-Innovate the Rest of the World:

    I’m speaking with you today from the Allison Transmissions plant in Indianapolis, Indiana. I came here because this is a place where American workers are doing some big and impressive things.
    The hybrid technology they manufacture here already powers nearly 4,000 buses all over the world – buses that have already saved 15 million gallons of fuel. Soon, they’ll expand this new technology to trucks as well. That means more vehicles using less oil, and that means jobs – more than 200 new workers at this plant alone.
    That’s important because even as the economy is growing after one of the worst recessions in our history; even as we’ve added more than 2 million new private sector jobs over the past 14 months; I still meet and hear from Americans struggling to get out of their own personal recessions.
    A lot of folks are still looking for work. And many folks who do have jobs are finding that their paychecks aren’t keeping up with the rising costs for everything from tuition to groceries to gas. In fact, in a lot of places across the country, like Indiana, gas is reaching all-time highs.
    So although our economy hasn’t been the focus of the news this week, not a day that goes by that I’m not focused on your jobs, your hopes and your dreams. And that’s why I came here to Allison Transmissions.
    The clean energy jobs at this plant are the jobs of the future – jobs that pay well right here in America. And in the years ahead, it’s clean energy companies like this one that will keep our economy growing, create new jobs, and make sure America remains the most prosperous nation in the world.
    Allison Transmissions is also part of the ultimate solution to high gas prices. We know there are no quick fixes to this problem. In the short term, we’re doing everything we can to boost safe and responsible oil production here at home – in fact, last year, American oil production reached its highest level since 2003.
    But over the long term, the only way we can avoid being held hostage to the ups and downs of oil prices is if we reduce our dependence on oil. That means investing in clean, alternative sources of energy, like advanced biofuels and natural gas. And that means making cars and trucks and buses that use less oil. Other countries know this, and they’re going all in to invest in clean energy technologies and clean energy jobs. But I don’t want other countries to win the competition for these technologies and these jobs. I want America to win that competition. I want America to win the future.
    Now, I know that in a difficult fiscal climate like the one we’re in, it’s tempting for some to try and cut back our investments in clean energy. And I absolutely agree that the only way we’ll be able to afford the things we need is by cutting the things we don’t and living within our means. But I refuse to cut investments like clean energy that will help us out-innovate and out-compete the rest of the world. I refuse to cut investments that are making it possible for plants like this one to grow and add jobs across America.
    We can do this. I don’t just believe that because I see it happening in plants like this. I believe that because I believe in the Americans making it happen in places like this. I’m optimistic about our economic future, because for all the challenges we face, America is still home to the most entrepreneurial, most industrious, most determined people on Earth. There’s nothing we can’t accomplish when we set our minds to it. And that’s what we’ll keep doing as long as I have the privilege of being your President. – WH, 5-7-11TranscriptMp4Mp3
  • The President & Vice President at Fort Campbell: “Gratitude”: They’re America’s “quiet professionals” — because success demands secrecy. But I will say this. Like all of you, they could have chosen a life of ease. But like you, they volunteered. They chose to serve in a time of war, knowing they could be sent into harm’s way. They trained for years. They’re battle-hardened. They practiced tirelessly for this mission. And when I gave the order, they were ready.
    Now, in recent days, the whole world has learned just how ready they were. These Americans deserve credit for one of the greatest intelligence military operations in our nation’s history. But so does every person who wears America’s uniform, the finest military the world has ever known. (Applause.) And that includes all of you men and women of 101st. (Applause.)
    You have been on the frontlines of this fight for nearly 10 years. You were there in those early days, driving the Taliban from power, pushing al Qaeda out of its safe havens. Over time, as the insurgency grew, you went back for, in some cases, a second time, a third time, a fourth time.
    When the decision was made to go into Iraq, you were there, too, making the longest air assault in history, defeating a vicious insurgency, ultimately giving Iraqis the chance to secure their democracy. And you’ve been at the forefront of our new strategy in Afghanistan.
    Sending you — more of you — into harm’s way is the toughest decision that I’ve made as Commander-in-Chief. I don’t make it lightly. Every time I visit Walter Reed, every time I visit Bethesda, I’m reminded of the wages of war. But I made that decision because I know that this mission was vital to the security of the nation that we all love. – WH, 5-6-11
  • President Obama Welcomes Outstanding Teachers to the White House: But even after all this time, I still remember the special teachers that touched my life. And we all do. We remember the way they challenged us, the way they made us feel, how they pushed us, the encouragement that they gave us, the values that they taught us, the way they helped us to understand the world and analyze it and ask questions. They helped us become the people that we are today.
    For me, one of those people was my fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Mabel Hefty. When I walked into Ms. Hefty’s classroom for the first time, I was a new kid who had been living overseas for a few years, had a funny name nobody could pronounce. But she didn’t let me withdraw into myself. She helped me believe that I had something special to say. She made me feel special. She reinforced the sense of empathy and thoughtfulness that my mother and my grandparents had tried hard to instill in me — and that’s a lesson that I still carry with me as President.
    Ms. Hefty is no longer with us, but I often think about her and how much of a difference she made in my life. And everybody has got a story like that, about that teacher who made the extra effort to shape our lives in important ways…. – WH, 5-3-11Transcript
  • “Together As An American Family”: A Bipartisan Congressional Dinner at the White House: Obviously we’ve all had disagreements and differences in the past. I suspect we’ll have them again in the future. But last night, as Americans learned that the United States had carried out an operation that resulted in the capture and death of Osama bin Laden, we — (applause) — you know, I think we experienced the same sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. We were reminded again that there is a pride in what this nation stands for, and what we can achieve, that runs far deeper than party, far deeper than politics.
    I want to again recognize the heroes who carried out this incredibly dangerous mission, as well as all the military and counter-terrorism professionals who made the mission possible. I also want to thank the members of Congress from both parties who have given extraordinary support to our military and our intelligence officials. Without your support, they could not do what they do…. – WH, 5-3-11
  • President Obama Presents Medal of Honor: “We’re Reminded That We Are Fortunate to Have Americans Who Dedicate Their Lives to Protecting Ours”: I think we can all agree this is a good day for America. Our country has kept its commitment to see that justice is done. The world is safer; it is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden.
    Today, we are reminded that, as a nation, there’s nothing we can’t do —- when we put our shoulders to the wheel, when we work together, when we remember the sense of unity that defines us as Americans. And we’ve seen that spirit -— that patriotism -— in the crowds that have gathered, here outside the White House, at Ground Zero in New York, and across the country — people holding candles, waving the flag, singing the National Anthem — people proud to live in the United States of America.
    And we’re reminded that we are fortunate to have Americans who dedicate their lives to protecting ours. They volunteer. They train. They endure separation from their families. They take extraordinary risks so that we can be safe. They get the job done. We may not always know their names. We may not always know their stories. But they are there, every day, on the front lines of freedom, and we are truly blessed. – WH, 5-2-11Transcript

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Michael Bowen: Questions linger after death of Osama bin Laden: For the Obama administration, bin Laden’s death represents a significant foreign policy trophy, if not the only one, said Michael Bowen, a visiting professor in the history department at UF. Other instances, such as the Nuclear Arms Reduction Pact signed by the United States and Russia in April 2010 and promises to lessen troop presence in Iraq, have been muddled in controversy. This episode, he said, represents a unequivocal win. Bowen agrees that jobs, not a dead body, will dominate election discussion.
    “We can kill 100 al-Qaida members, but if our employment is still above 9 percent, then it’s still going to be about the economy,” he said…. – The Independent Florida Alligator, 5-10-11
  • Julian Zelizer: GOP finding it hard to make progress: Republicans struggle to appease the right and appeal to the center, resulting in fits and starts in the party’s agenda. Their retreat on Medicare is a prime example.
    “It is true that they are struggling to unite a big tent. That said, it is a common problem for any majority,” said Princeton University historian Julian Zelizer. While noting the House majority had put Obama on the defensive on spending issues, Zelizer said Medicare had backfired on Republicans…. – LAT, 5-8-11
  • Obama’s ‘Gangster Politics': The president is about to order companies that do business with the federal government to disclose their political donations…. – WSJ, 5-6-11
  • Tevi Troy Senior Fellow, the Hudson Institute; Former Deputy HHS secretary Should Bush have gone to ground zero?: Even though President Bush’s efforts in pursuing Bin Laden and the War on Terror earned him the invitation to the ground zero ceremony, Bush is right to stick to his admirable policy of staying out of the limelight. – Arena, Politico, 5-5-11
  • Using History to Mold Ideas on the Right: In an unmarked office building in this ranching town, among thousands of Revolution-era documents and two muskets with bayonets, David Barton might seem like a quirky history buff. But the true ambition of this slender man in cowboy boots is to use America’s past to remake its future, and he has the ear of several would-be presidents. Mr. Barton is a self-taught historian who is described by several conservative presidential aspirants as a valued adviser and a source of historical and biblical justification for their policies. He is so popular that evangelical pastors travel across states to hear his rapid-fire presentations on how the United States was founded as a Christian nation and is on the road to ruin, thanks to secularists and the Supreme Court, or on the lost political power of the clergy…. – NYT, 5-5-11

    First Lady Michelle Obama dances during a Flash Mob Dance at Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

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