By Dan Froomkin
12:45 PM ET, 06/ 3/2009
Paul Kane and Joby Warrick write in The Washington Post: "Former vice president Richard B. Cheney personally oversaw at least four briefings with senior members of Congress about the controversial interrogation program, part of a secretive and forceful defense he mounted throughout 2005 in an effort to maintain support for the harsh techniques used on detainees."
Philip Elliott writes for the Associated Press that Obama unexpectedly dropped in on Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's meeting with national security adviser Jim Jones yesterday, to reiterate his firm position that Israel must stop allowing West Bank settlements to grow. According to Israeli officials, Barak asked Obama to consider Israel's domestic politics. But to no avail.
Tobias Buck writes in the Financial Times: "The latest tensions between Washington and the new right-wing Israeli government are sparking concern bordering on alarm among Israeli officials and analysts, amid suspicions that the formerly-rock-solid alliance is unravelling. Disagreement between Barack Obama, the US president, and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has been particularly pronounced on the issue of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. The US leader has urged Israel repeatedly to stop expanding its settlements on occupied land, arguing that they present a big obstacle to peace in the region."
Donald Macintyre writes in the Independent: "The Israeli government of Benjmain Netanyahu is seeking to deflect Washington's demand for a total settlement freeze by complaining that it ignores secret agreements between his predecessors and the Bush administration that construction in existing Jewish settlements could continue."
Ceci Connolly writes in The Washington Post: "President Obama, in a pivot from some of his harshest campaign rhetoric, told Democratic senators yesterday that he is willing to consider taxing employer-sponsored health benefits to help pay for a broad expansion of coverage."
Robert Pear and Sheryl Gay Stolberg write in the New York Times: "President Obama on Tuesday affirmed his support for the creation of a government-sponsored health insurance plan, but he acknowledged that such a plan would sharply reduce the chances for Republican support of legislation to overhaul the health care system, Democratic senators said."
Sam Stein writes for Huffingtonpost.com: "The Obama administration and Senate Democrats are debating a health care reform outline that will insist upon a public option for insurance but leave open the possibility for it to be kicked in via triggers."
Mark Schmitt writes for the American Prospect: "One of the greatest accomplishments of the first several months of Barack Obama's presidency has been the near-total marginalization of the Republican right. Rather than developing a coherent alternative to the president's agenda, the right has descended to frantic, tone-deaf cries of 'socialism,' has allowed some of the least popular figures in public life -- Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich -- to be their spokespeople, and most recently, seems to have staked everything on a defense of the previous administration's most disgraceful (and, incidentally, unpopular) conduct." Schmitt gives Obama some credit for this, as "Obama's approach to partisanship helped marginalize the right. Often seen as a naive assumption of bipartisan cooperation, Obama's invitation to Republicans to join in governing and offer their best ideas was instead a brilliant calling out of a faction that was prepared only to oppose."
Politico's Charles Mahtesian sees Obama's nomination of Rep. John McHugh, a moderate Republican from New York, as a "Sherman's March in reverse — an audacious attempt by Obama to burn down any lines of escape for Republicans from their one refuge of popularity, the deep South... [I]t's beginning to look like a strategy that isolates conservatives, reinforces the impression that the GOP is defined by the borders of the Deep South and all the while underscores Obama's stated goal of working across party lines."
Peter Roff, blogging for U.S. News, suggests that Cheney is "testing the waters for a 2012 run for the Republican presidential nomination.... Admittedly it would be a tough row to hoe but, looking around, who else have the Republicans at the moment got?"
Liz Sidoti writes for the Associated Press: "Just over half of Americans say torture is at least sometimes justified to thwart terrorist attacks and are evenly divided over whether to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, according to a poll that underscores the challenges President Barack Obama faces in selling his terror-fighting policies. Even so, the latest Associated Press-GfK survey also shows that Obama enjoys broad confidence that he can effectively handle terrorism."
And the Associated Press reports: "Barack Obama was on his way to the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn on Tuesday when a reporter shouted a question. The topic: Who is going to win the NBA championship, the Los Angeles Lakers or the Orlando Magic? Said the smiling president of the best-of-seven series: 'Lakers in six, I think.' The series begins Thursday."