By Dan Froomkin
12:00 PM ET, 04/ 1/2009
Dan Eggen writes in The Washington Post about the unlikely alliance of groups objecting to stringent new White House rules that ban phone calls and meetings between lobbyists and administration officials about specific stimulus projects. Opponents argue that the ban "unfairly demonizes one group of people and ignores the role played by lawmakers, corporate executives and other non-lobbyists in securing federal funding for favored projects. Those officials will be free to talk to government officials by telephone or in person about specific stimulus projects without being subjected to any disclosure requirements, the critics say."
William Glaberson and Margot Williams write in the New York Times that the 17 members of China's Uighur Muslim minority who have been detained by the United States for seven years "have become something of a Guantánamo Rorschach test: hapless refugees to some, dangerous plotters to others. For the Obama administration, the task of determining which of those portraits is correct and whether the men can be released inside the United States has raised the stakes for the president's plan to close the Guantánamo prison. Either choice is likely to provoke intense reaction....Freeing the Uighurs would be a singular moment in the debate over the Guantánamo prison: critics would see a final judgment that innocent men were locked away there."
Neil A. Lewis writes in the New York Times that Senate Republicans are weighing whether to filibuster Obama's first selection for a federal appeals court seat, David F. Hamilton, and his choice to head the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, Dawn Johnsen....Ms. Johnsen, a law professor at Indiana University, was an unsparing critic of memorandums, written by lawyers at the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush administration, that said the president could largely ignore international treaties and Congress in fighting terrorists and that critics have portrayed as allowing torture in interrogation."
Colum Lynch writes in The Washington Post: "The Obama administration has decided to seek a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Tuesday, reversing a decision by the Bush administration to shun the U.N.'s premier rights body to protest the repressive states among its membership....Clinton and Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the decision was part of a broader push for 'a new era of engagement' in U.S. foreign policy."
Nick Baumann writes for Mother Jones: "The long saga of the missing White House emails may be finally nearing its end. The Obama administration and two nonprofits that are suing it over millions of missing Bush-era emails have called a truce. A joint motion (PDF) and proposed order (PDF) filed by Justice Department lawyers and the plaintiffs, the National Security Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), call for an indefinite stay of the case so the two sides can continue settlement negotiations."
Matt Corley writes for Thinkprogress.org: "In an interview on NPR's Fresh Air yesterday, host Terry Gross asked investigative journalist Seymour Hersh if, as he continues to investigate the Bush administration, 'more people' were 'coming forward' to talk to him now that 'the president and vice president are no longer in power.' Hersh replied that though 'a lot of people that had told me in the last year of Bush, ‘call me next, next February,' not many people had talked to him. He implied that they were still scared of Cheney. Said Hersh: "He's got people in a lot of agencies that still tell him what's going on. Particularly in defense, obviously. Also in the NSA, there's still people that talk to him. He still knows what's going on. Can he still control policy up to a point? Probably up to a point, a minor point. But he's still there. He's still a presence."
Erica Werner writes for the Associated Press: "Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius recently corrected three years of tax returns and paid more than $7,000 in back taxes after finding 'unintentional errors' — the latest tax troubles for an Obama administration nominee."
What made anyone think this man belonged in Obama's cabinet? Senator Judd Gregg, Obama's one-time commerce secretary nominee, writes in a Washington Post op-ed about Obama's "defining" budget proposal: "It shows very clearly where the president and the Democratic majority want to take our country: sharply to the left." He adds: "[D]on't be fooled when the president says the economy he inherited is the reason that future deficits and debt skyrocket."
Joseph E. Stiglitz writes in a New York Times op-ed that the Obama administration's plan to rescue ailing banks will only make resuscitating the economy even harder. "Treasury hopes to get us out of the mess by replicating the flawed system that the private sector used to bring the world crashing down, with a proposal marked by overleveraging in the public sector, excessive complexity, poor incentives and a lack of transparency," he writes.
Denise Lavoie writes for the Associated Press: "President Barack Obama's aunt will be allowed to remain in the United States until at least next year as she awaits a chance to make her case before an immigration judge in her bid for asylum from her native Kenya."