8 a.m. ET: We're only 10 years into the 21st century, so it's safe to say that the "trial of the century" so far is coming soon to New York.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who describes himself as the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks, is headed for trial in a civilian federal court in New York along with four other detainees from Guantanamo Bay. The Washington Post writes that "the announcement Friday will end months of intense internal jockeying among federal prosecutors in New York and Virginia, and between military and federal prosecutors, for the right to prosecute the high-value detainees held at the military prison." President Obama said Friday morning that "this is a prosecutorial decision as well as a national security decision," but it's also a political decision, whether he intends it to be or not. Many conservatives have argues against trying Guantanano detainees on American soil, and are sure to pounce on the decision. The New York Times adds, "the Obama administration has decided to prosecute Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri — the Guantanamo detainee accused of planning the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen — and several other detainees before a military commission."
The Washington Post also writes that Greg Craig, who had been in charge of Guantanamo policy, is expected to step down from his post as White House counsel as early as Friday, as "just a few months in office left Craig disenchanted with the political process and some senior White House officials frustrated with the operations of the counsel's office." The New York Times notes that Craig "drafted executive orders banning torture and ordering the Guantanamo prison closed within a year. Over the objections of the Central Intelligence Agency, he recommended the release of Justice Department memorandums describing aggressive interrogations. He also was at the center of the White House decision to reverse itself and withhold photographs of abuse of detainees." All of the stories about Craig's departure note how strenuously the White House dismissed earlier reports that he might leave. Craig will be replaced in the job by Bob Bauer, the prominent Democratic lawyer and husband of Anita Dunn, the timing of whose own resignation from the White House perhaps makes more sense now.
The flurry of news from the White House comes as Obama begins a high-profile trip to Asia. He is now in Tokyo, where the Los Angeles Times writes that he "won't get much rest." After a working dinner with the Japanese prime minister Friday night, the paper adds, "Obama will give a major speech laying out his Asia policy" on Saturday. On his way to Japan, Obama stopped at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska and "told a military audience he will only commit more forces to Afghanistan if it is vital to U.S. interests and receives public support," AP reports.
Obama departed for his trip without having made a decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan, but Robert Gates has already decided something: He's sick of the leaks, both about the Afghanistan decision process and the Fort Hood investigation. The American Forces Press Service reports that Gates said Thursday that he was "appalled by the amount of leaking that has been going on," adding, ""Everybody out there ought to just shut up." Gates also said that Obama "wants to blend together elements of the different troop-increase options presented to him Wednesday to formulate a new strategy for the Afghan war," the Wall Street Journal writes.
Does Obama already know what he's going to say in January's State of the Union address? Apparently so, according to Politico, which reports that Obama plans to announce in the speech "that he wants to focus extensively on cutting the federal deficit in 2010 – and will downplay other new domestic spending beyond jobs programs, according to top aides involved in the planning." Remember when President Clinton, chastened by the 1994 election results, shifted his focus toward balancing the budget (and welfare reform)? Is Obama making the same journey to the middle a bit earlier in his presidency? The SOTU preview comes as the AP writes: "The federal deficit hit a record for October as the new budget year began where the old one ended: with the government awash in red ink." Paul Krugman says there are "serious questions about whether the U.S. government is doing the right things to fight unemployment."
Across the aisle, Michael Steele has told Cigna, the Republican National Committee's health insurer, to stop covering elective abortions for RNC employees. The move comes after Politico reported that the RNC's plan covers abortions, and that Cigna "offers its customers the opportunity to opt out of abortion coverage – and the RNC did not choose to opt out." ABC News notes, "Abortion is a politically sensitive issue for Steele. Although he describes himself as pro-life, he has been criticized in the past by some conservatives because he believes that the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision upholding a federal right to abortion should remain in place under the doctrine of stare decisis."
And Sarah Palin, in case you haven't heard, has a book coming out. In it, the AP reports, she complains that she was "bottled up" by the McCain campaign and unable to put all her rogueishness (sp?) on display. She accuses the campaign of leaving her with a $50,000 lawyers' bill for her vetting, though the McCain camp denies that charge and says the bill was likely for defending her against ethics investigations in Alaska. Most importantly, the AP adds, "the 413-page tome doesn't contain a single reference to the father of her granddaughter, soon-to-be Playgirl model Levi Johnston."
November 13, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Go to full archive for The Rundown »
Please email us to report offensive comments.
The comments to this entry are closed.