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General McChrystal’s Rolling Stone Interview A ‘Significant Mistake,’ Gates Says

ANNE GEARAN and JULIE PACE | 06/22/10 12:33 PM | AP – Via Huff Po

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the top U.S. general in Afghanistan made “a significant mistake” and used poor judgment in remarks to a magazine reporter.

Gates says Gen. Stanley McChrystal has apologized to him. Gates also says he has recalled McChrystal to Washington to discuss the matter in person. That’s on top of the White House summons that McChrystal appear there Wednesday.

The Pentagon says McChrystal will hold a separate meeting with Gates.

Gates’ statement says nothing about whether McChrystal should keep his job.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the top U.S. general in Afghanistan made “a significant mistake” and used poor judgment in remarks to a magazine reporter.

Gates says Gen. Stanley McChrystal has apologized to him. Gates also says he has recalled McChrystal to Washington to discuss the matter in person. That’s on top of the White House summons that McChrystal appear there Wednesday.

The Pentagon says McChrystal will hold a separate meeting with Gates.

Gates’ statement says nothing about whether McChrystal should keep his job.

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McChrystal’s Rolling Stone Interview: General’s Team SLAMS Key Obama Officials (SLIDESHOW)

Huff Post- First Posted: 06-22-10 10:18 AM   |   Updated: 06-22-10 11:25 AM

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s candid Rolling Stone interview prompted the White House to summon McChrystal, the most senior military commander in Afghanistan, to the capital for a standing meeting. McChrystal usually participates via teleconference.

Below are some of the most notable quotes and details from Michael Hasting’s profile of McChrystal, his staff, and the war that the U.S. is fighting in Afghanistan.

>>>PHOTOS HERE<<<

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White House Briefing Video: Live Stream Of Press Briefing With Robert Gibbs

Huffington Post First Posted: 06-22-10 12:54 PM   |   Updated: 06-22-10 12:55 PM

Visit this page for live streaming video whenever Press Secretary Robert Gibbs gives the White House press briefing.

>>>VIDEO HERE<<<

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Crooks & Liars- By Susie Madrak Monday Feb 22, 2010 7:00am

This will be controversial, to say the least. I wonder on what legal grounds this will be asserted – and how long it will be before the insurance companies lobbyists stop it. (I also wonder why he didn’t support the public option, which would have been less directly interventionist than this, and thus, less politically risky.)

You can read the details here:

President Obama will propose on Monday giving the federal government new power to block excessive rate increases by health insurance companies, as he rolls out comprehensive legislation to revamp the nation’s health care system, White House officials said.

[…] The president’s bill would grant the federal health and human services secretary new authority to review, and to block, premium increases by private insurers, and it would create a new Health Insurance Rate Authority, comprised of health industry experts that would issue an annual report setting the parameters for reasonable rate increases based on conditions in the market.

The legislation would call on the secretary of health and human services to work with state regulators to develop an annual review of rate increases, and if increases are deemed “unjustified” the secretary or the state could block the increase, order the insurer to change it, or even issue a rebate to beneficiaries. States would be eligible for a portion of $250 million in grants to finance premium review and approval.

The new rate board would be composed of seven members, including consumer representatives, an insurance industry representative, a physician, and other experts such health economists and actuaries, the White House said. The board’s annual report would offer guidance to the public and states on whether rate increases should be approved.

The corporatist-friendly RAND think tank issued a 2004 report on a similar proposal in California, warning of unintended consequences:

This issue brief evaluates why health insurance premiums are rising and examines the potential long-term consequences of regulating premium costs, using examples from other insurance products such as automobile coverage and workers compensation. The findings underscore that if health care costs continue to rise while premiums are frozen, stringent rate regulation could lead to undesired consequences. These include:

* In the short term, insurers could balance their losses by reducing the quality or quantity of care — or both.
* Insurers could discourage unhealthy consumers from enrolling in plans, thus increasing the number of uninsured over time.
* If costs continue to rise and premiums are fixed, insurers may exit the market entirely.
* Over the longer term, regulation could discourage expensive treatments and technologies, no matter how beneficial, from coming to market. (A desirable related consequence is that premium regulation could motivate the introduction of cost-saving technologies.)

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Massachusetts Senate Race Results: Scott Brown Defeats Martha Coakley

GLEN JOHNSON and LIZ SIDOTI | 01/19/10 10:50 PM | AP

BOSTON — In an epic upset in liberal Massachusetts, Republican Scott Brown rode a wave of voter anger to win the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Edward M. Kennedy for nearly half a century, leaving President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul in doubt and marring the end of his first year in office.

Addressing an exuberant victory celebration Tuesday night, Brown declared he was “ready to go to Washington without delay” as the crowd chanted, “Seat him now.” Democrats indicated they would, deflating a budding controversy over whether they would try to block Brown long enough to complete congressional passage of the health care plan he has promised to oppose.

“The people of Massachusetts have spoken. We welcome Scott Brown to the Senate and will move to seat him as soon as the proper paperwork has been received,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said he would notify the Senate on Wednesday that Brown had been elected.

The loss by the once-favored Democrat Martha Coakley in the Democratic stronghold was a stunning embarrassment for the White House after Obama rushed to Boston on Sunday to try to save the foundering candidate. Her defeat on Tuesday signaled big political problems for the president’s party this fall when House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates are on the ballot nationwide.

Brown’s victory was the third major loss for Democrats in statewide elections since Obama became president. Republicans won governors’ seats in Virginia and New Jersey in November.

“I have no interest in sugarcoating what happened in Massachusetts,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, the head of the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee. “There is a lot of anxiety in the country right now. Americans are understandably impatient.”

Brown will become the 41st Republican in the 100-member Senate, which could allow the GOP to block the president’s health care legislation. Democrats needed Coakley to win for a 60th vote to thwart Republican filibusters. The trouble may go deeper: Democratic lawmakers could read the results as a vote against Obama’s broader agenda, weakening their support for the president. And the results could scare some Democrats from seeking office this fall.

The Republican will finish Kennedy’s unexpired term, facing re-election in 2012.

MORE HERE

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Thomson Correctional Center To House Some Guantanamo Detainees: White House

HENRY C. JACKSON | 12/14/09 11:49 PM | AP

WASHINGTON — Taking an important step on the thorny path to closing the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Cuba, the White House plans to announce Tuesday that the government will acquire an underutilized state prison in rural Illinois to be the new home for a limited number of terrorist suspects held at Guantanamo.

Administration officials as well as Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will make an official announcement at the White House.

Officials from both the White House and Durbin’s office confirmed that President Barack Obama had directed the government to acquire Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Ill., a sleepy town near the Mississippi River about 150 miles from Chicago.

A Durbin spokesman said the facility would house federal inmates and no more than 100 detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

The facility in Thomson had emerged as a clear front-runner after Illinois officials, led by Durbin, enthusiastically embraced the idea of turning a near-dormant prison over to federal officials.

The White House has been coy about its selection process, but on Friday a draft memo leaked to a conservative Web site that seemed to indicate officials were homing in on Thomson.

The Thomson Correctional Center was one of several potential sites evaluated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to potentially house detainees from the Navy-run prison at Guantanamo Bay. Others included prisons in Marion, Ill., Hardin, Mont., and Florence, Colo., where officials also have said they would welcome the jobs that would be created by the new inmates.

MORE HERE

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SNL Salahi Skit Spoofs Party Crashing Couple, Secret Service (VIDEO)

Huffington Post

First Posted: 12- 5-09 06:47 PM   |   Updated: 12- 6-09 03:32 AM

UPDATE:
The Salahis did not appear on SNL’s opening scene. But the show did begin with a clip lampooning the party crashers and a Secret Service of enablers.

WATCH VIDEO HERE

The party-crashing couple that embarrassed the Secret Service and brought scrutiny to protocol at White House social events by getting into a state dinner may be in on the joke.

According to The Washington Post blog The TV Column, Tareq and Michaele Salahi are slated to appear in tonight’s opening skit of Saturday Night Live:

As of Thursday, the NBC late-night show was planning to open with a skit in which, with cast members playing all the parts, President Obama would give a speech with his cabinet behind him. Suddenly, he’s interrupted by the Salahis, who have crashed the speech — Michaele Salahi in a red,red sari, just like the one she wore when she and her husband allegedly crashed that White House state dinner last month.

The Salahis were asked about a possible SNL appearance on Friday, when the couple arrived in court. They were there over a dispute on a $925 landscaping bill. Tareq Slahi smiled, when he was asked about the appearance, but said nothing, according to The Warren County Report Newspaper.

Gossip Girl‘s Blake Lively is set to host Saturday’s show.

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White House Party Crashers Met President, May Face Criminal Charges (PHOTOS)

Huffington Post |  Alex Leo & Alexander Belenky
First Posted: 11-27-09 11:51 AM   |   Updated: 11-28-09 11:15 AM

The White House released a picture today of Michaele Salahi shaking hands with the president despite earlier reports that the couple who allegedly crashed the state dinner never came in contact with Obama.

This revelation comes just hours after the Secret Service took responsibility for the breech. Director Mark Sullivan told the AP that his agency failed to verify whether the couple was invited to the party and expressed his deep concern and embarrassment. He went on to say that measures have been taken to ensure this will not happen again.

Despite that, the Secret Service has not ruled out bringing charges against Tareq and Michaele Salahi. The agency maintains they were not on the guest list despite protestations from the couple, who are auditioning for the Bravo reality show “The Real Housewives of DC”, that they did not crash the party.

“As this moves closer to a criminal investigation there’s less that we can say,” spokesman Jim Mackin said. “I don’t want to jeopardize what could be a criminal investigation. We’re not leaving any option off the table at this point.”

No specific charges were mentioned but the Salahis lawyer, Paul Gardner, claims the couple were indeed invited and that there is no risk of punishment. He posted a comment on Facebook saying, “My clients were cleared by the White House, to be there.”

PHOTOS HERE

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30 Reasons Fox News Is Not Legit

By Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America. Posted October 28, 2009.

Fox News routinely, and blatantly, breaks the code to which ethical journalists are supposed to aspire.

Why the Beltway press has invested so much time and energy in recent weeks defending Fox News, with one scribe even claiming that the White House’s public critique of the network was “dangerous to press freedom,” and why the press refuses to acknowledge what’s so obvious about the cable channel’s political pursuits, remains baffling.

The facts regarding Fox News’ lack of professionalism seem rather obvious (as I detail below 30 different times). And that ought to be plain for Beltway journalists as well. But whether for reasons having to do with external professional, social, or political pressures, many journalists have opted to pretend that Fox News is a serious outlet, that it’s just like its cable and network TV news competitors.

They insist that any suggestion that Rupert Murdoch’s cable channel isn’t legitimate is completely off-base and that the White House is not even allowed to have an opinion on the issue. Indeed, ABC News’ Jake Tapper suggested it was not “appropriate” for the administration to tag the channel as illegitimate. (Tapper himself can’t tell the difference between the programming that Fox News and ABC News produce.)

The rush to defend Fox News is an odd one, because I don’t remember the same type of the circle-the-wagons defense when the previous Republican administration openly waged war on The New York Times and NBC, two news outlets whose standards far outshine the kind of pseudo-reporting Fox News produces on a daily basis. That Beltway media elites have decided to rally around Fox News of all entities remains as puzzling as it is short-sighted.

The truth is, journalism is not difficult to practice, nor is it tough to identify. Journalists aren’t licensed, and anyone can try their hand at it, as the Internet has made clear. So there is no higher authority declaring what is and isn’t journalism. But the craft, like obscenity, is instantly recognizable in its true form.

For generations in this country, there has been a sort of a gentleman’s agreement in terms of what constituted professional behavior among journalists. And there has been a sense of shame when members crossed those lines into unprofessional behavior. Bosses chastened those employees, people were fired, and ethics panels were summarily convened to make certain the transgressions didn’t happen again. Fox News, though, has walked away from all of that. And guess what? The rest of the press hasn’t said boo.

MORE HERE

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Biden On Cheney Criticism: “Who Cares?”

The Huffington Post |  Rachel Weiner
First Posted: 10-23-09 05:21 PM   |   Updated: 10-23-09 08:10 PM

Asked about criticism from former Vice President Dick Cheney, current VP Joe Biden had a simple response: “Who cares?”

Actually, he said, “Who cares what — ” and then stopped himself.

“Yeah, yeah, I can see the headline now,” Biden said. “I’m getting better, guys. I’m getting a little better, you know what I mean?”

Cheney said in a speech Wednesday night at the Center for Security Policy that President Obama is “dithering” on Afghanistan “while America’s armed forces are in danger.” He claimed that “signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries.”

The vice president did elaborate on one of Cheney’s arguments — that the last administration left Obama with a review of Afghanistan.

“A whole lot has changed in the last year,” he said. “Let’s assume they left us a review that was absolutely correct. Is that review relevant and totally applicable to today in light of the changes that have taken place in the region, in Afghanistan itself? So I think that is sort of irrelevant. Not sort of — I think it’s irrelevant.”

VIDEO & MORE HERE

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Chris Hedges | Truthdig | June 14, 2009

This week marks the end of the dollar’s reign as the world’s reserve currency. It marks the start of a terrible period of economic and political decline in the United States. And it signals the last gasp of the American imperium. That’s over. It is not coming back. And what is to come will be very, very painful.

Barack Obama, and the criminal class on Wall Street, aided by a corporate media that continues to peddle fatuous gossip and trash talk as news while we endure the greatest economic crisis in our history, may have fooled us, but the rest of the world knows we are bankrupt. And these nations are damned if they are going to continue to prop up an inflated dollar and sustain the massive federal budget deficits, swollen to over $2 trillion, which fund America’s imperial expansion in Eurasia and our system of casino capitalism. They have us by the throat. They are about to squeeze.

Read more…

Obama’s Economic Misfits Finally Get It

AP_summers_geithner_awshucks3

Robert Scheer | Truthdig | June 17, 2009

Now they tell us.

On Monday, two men with considerable responsibility for enabling the banking meltdown confronted the error of their ways. Not directly, of course, for accountability is hardly the mark of either Lawrence Summers, the top White House economic adviser, or Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Their careers have long been fueled by error. Summers was one of the leading prophets of radical financial deregulation in the Clinton administration. And Geithner, as head of the New York Fed, looked the other way during Wall Street’s collapse and then responded by opening wide the spigot of taxpayer dollars to resuscitate Citigroup and AIG.

What they wrote this week in a joint Op-Ed article in The Washington Post is a condemnation of the Wall Street shenanigans they once abetted and celebrated. I hope their apparent sudden conversion to common sense indicates the seriousness of the banking regulation plan that President Obama will present to Congress today.

Read more…

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By Scott Horton | Harper’s Magazine, April 27, 2009

The torture trail starts and ends in the White House. That is perhaps the most inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the flurry of documents released in the last week—first the OLC memoranda, then a newly declassified report of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and finally an amazing document that Attorney General Eric Holder released yesterday, which has still gained little attention. The Holder note presents a summary of CIA interaction with the White House in connection with the approval of the torture techniques that John Yoo calls the “Bush Program.” Holder’s memo refers to the participants by their job titles only, but John Sifton runs it through a decoder and gives us the actual names. Here’s a key passage:

“[The] CIA’s Office of General Counsel [this would include current Acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo] met with the Attorney General [John Ashcroft], the National Security Adviser [Condoleezza Rice], the Deputy National Security Adviser [Stephen Hadley], the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council [John Bellinger], and the Counsel to the President [Alberto Gonzales] in mid-May 2002 to discuss the possible use of alternative interrogation methods [on Abu Zubaydah] that differed from the traditional methods used by the U.S. military and intelligence community. At this meeting, the CIA proposed particular alternative interrogation methods, including waterboarding.”

Continued >>

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