Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
12:50 PM ET, 02/23/2009

Robert Burns writes for the Associated Press: "President Barack Obama faces split opinions within the military on whether to make the speedy withdrawal from Iraq he championed as a candidate. Obama's top generals in Baghdad are pressing for an elongated timetable. Some influential senior advisers inside the Pentagon are more amenable to a quicker pullout."

Julian E. Barnes writes in the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama's [Afghan] war strategy began to take shape with his announcement last week that 17,000 additional U.S. troops are headed to Afghanistan. But the thorniest problems still await him: persuading militants to lay down their arms, coaxing help from allies and eliminating extremist havens on the Afghan-Pakistan border."

Mark Mazzetti and David E. Sanger write in the New York Times: "With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government....The strikes are another sign that President Obama is continuing, and in some cases extending, Bush administration policy in using American spy agencies against terrorism suspects in Pakistan, as he had promised to do during his presidential campaign."

Rajiv Chandrasekaran writes in The Washington Post about Abdallah Saleh al-Ajmi, an apparently innocent Kuwaiti turned into a terrorist by four years in Guantanamo. There is, Chandrasekaran writes, "a view in some quarters of the U.S. government that cases such as Ajmi's are the inevitable result of locking up 779 foreigners in an austere military prison, without access to courts or consular representation, and subjecting them to interrogation techniques that detainees say amount to torture. Some of them are bound to seek revenge, these officials believe."

Pete Yost writes for the Associated Press: "The Obama administration, siding with former President George W. Bush, is trying to kill a lawsuit that seeks to recover what could be millions of missing White House e-mails. Two advocacy groups suing the Executive Office of the President say that large amounts of White House e-mail documenting Bush's eight years in office may still be missing, and that the government must undertake an extensive recovery effort....Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, noted that President Barack Obama on his first full day in office called for greater transparency in government. The Justice Department 'apparently never got the message' from Obama, Blanton said."

Jake Tapper reports for ABC News: "Every day President Barack Obama is handed a special purple folder. The folder contains ten letters, and every day President Obama takes time to read them." The "letters have been culled from the thousands the White House Correspondence Office receives each day from Americans who have taken the time to sit down and write to their president. 'They help him focus on the real problems people are facing,' says Axelrod. 'He really a absorbs these letters, and often shares them with us.'... Some of these, maybe two or three each day, the President responds to in his own hand."

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