- Created on 07 February 2013
Fearful that the confirmation hearings of John Brennan for CIA director would be derailed before they started, President Obama relented and gave Congress a secret legal memo explaining his justification for drone strikes on Americans suspected of working with terrorists.
The issue is sure to be a central question in the Senate hearings today of Brennan, a longtime CIA official who left the agency to become Obama's counterterrorism expert and the czar of the drone program. Obama was coming under increasing criticism from members of Congress for not releasing the memo — which the administration had previously claimed didn't exist.
The president undoubtedly was pressured by the leaking of the memo to NBC News, which released it earlier in the week. The undated 16-page memo is titled "Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen who is a Senior Operation Leader of al Qaeda or An Associated Force." The administration argues that the killing of an American can be ordered even in the absence of an "active plot" to attack the United States.
According to some estimates, the CIA and the U.S. military have undertaken more than 300 drone strikes and killed about 2,500 people — many of them civilians. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates a higher number — that from 2004 to 2013, CIA drone attacks in Pakistan killed up to 3,461 people — up to 891 of them civilians.
Read the full story on Atlanta Black Star - http://atlantablackstar.com/2013/02/07/obama-releases-secret-memo-to-senate-on-drone-program/
- Created on 07 February 2013
(CNN) -- President Barack Obama recently discussed an upcoming spring visit to Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed Tuesday in the daily press briefing.
While overseas, Obama will also visit the West Bank and Jordan "to continue his close work with Palestinian Authority officials and Jordanian officials," Carney added.
The trip to Israel would mark Obama's first visit as president. While Obama traveled to the country in 2008 during his presidential campaign, he did not visit Israel during his first term.
Carney added "additional details, including dates of travel, will be released at a later time."
The president discussed the visit while on the phone with Netanyahu on January 28, shortly after the prime minister was re-elected for the third time in the country's elections last month.
"The start of the president's second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel and to discuss the way forward on a broad range of issues of mutual concern including of course Iran and Syria," Carney said.
Obama campaign aides said last summer that the president would make a trip to Israel should he be re-elected.
Obama's not the first president to go to Israel during his second term. President George W. Bush went to the country in both January and May of 2008. Former President Ronald Reagan did not visit the U.S. ally at all during his two terms.
Meanwhile, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, both Democrats, visited the country during their first four years in office.
CNN's Ashley Killough, Gregory Wallace and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
- Created on 06 February 2013
(AP) — Uncomfortable with the Obama administration’s use of deadly drones, a growing number in Congress is looking to limit America’s authority to kill suspected terrorists, even US citizens. The Democratic-led outcry was emboldened by the revelation in a newly surfaced Justice Department memo that shows drones ca...
- Created on 06 February 2013
(CNN) -- A new poll shows more than seven in 10 Americans support policies that would pave a path toward citizenship or residency for undocumented immigrants.
Seventy-two percent say they favor allowing those here illegally to become legal residents or citizens if they meet certain requirements, according to the Gallup survey released Thursday.
That Gallup poll was conducted at the end of January, shortly after President Barack Obama and members of Congress began resurrecting immigration reform as a top issue on the legislative agenda.
A strong majority of Americans support four other measures of potential reform, including:
- Requiring employers to verify that all new hires are living in the U.S. legally (85% approve)
- Creating a system to track the departure of foreigners who enter the U.S. through airports and seaports (71% approve)
- Increase the number of visas for legal immigrants who have advanced skills in technology and science (71% approve)
- Increase government spending on security measures and enforcement at U.S. borders (68% approve)
Also of note, a majority of Republicans support all five measures asked about in the poll, including 59% who favor a chance to become legal residents or citizens.
The survey comes as Obama and Congress have pushed immigration reform to the forefront of national dialogue in recent days. Obama met with labor leaders and CEOs at the White House Tuesday to discuss the issue and traveled to Las Vegas last week to highlight his own proposals.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders have also been calling for major reform. A bipartisan group of eight senators, including Republican Sens. John McCain and Marco Rubio, last week laid out their framework for immigration reform, which includes a pathway to citizenship.
The so-called Gang of Eight's plan would call for border security measures to a higher priority than building a pathway to citizenship, but the Gallup survey shows that Americans "give roughly equal support to both."
Obama has said he'd like to see legislation pass in the first half of the year and vows to introduce a bill of his own should Congress fail to act. The bottom line is that both parties largely agree reform should take place, though they disagree on the details.
Gallup surveyed 1,019 adults by telephone from January 30-31, with a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.
- Created on 05 February 2013
Mayor Kasim Reed once again asserted his desire to remain mayor of Atlanta and not pursue statewide office.
In an interview on MSNBC this morning, Reed declared himself uninterested in the 2014 race for Georgia's US Senate seat, but had a couple of suggestions as to who might figure in on the Democratic side.
"I'm just loving being mayor; I'm focused on being mayor," Reed said. "I think there's some terrific candidates out there. I think Congressman John Barrow would be terrific. I also think Peter Aman, my former COO would be terrific as well. I'm going to keep being mayor."
The rush for potential new candidates for US Senate was created when Sen. Saxby Chambliss announced he would not be seeking reelection at the end of his term.
Meanwhile, the AJC reports US Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, spent the afternoon at the state Capitol, meeting with Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston.
The paper also reported that in the next few hours, US Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County, will declare himself content with his current congressional seat, and will remove his name from consideration.
US Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, declared himself "very, very interested" in the seat and said he is polling. Like Kingston, he talked up his statewide connections. And Westmoreland officially ruled himself out.
Reed was on MSNBC talking about President Barack Obama's trip to Minnesota and a commercial that supported Obama's anti-gun violence campaign. Reed spoke at length during the interview about last week's shooting in an Atlanta middle school that left one student injured.
"I also have made the proposal to link every single school in the city of Atlanta into our video integration system at police headquarters so that we can have eyes in our schools," said Reed. "And in the event there is a tragedy, it will allow us to deploy our police to the campus much faster, and it will give us eyes on the ground."
Reed made similar comments about seeking a second term as mayor and not seeking higher office at a meeting in February with the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists.