By Dan Froomkin
2:22 PM ET, 06/ 8/2009
Jackie Calmes writes in the New York Times about "the underlying tensions that have gripped Mr. Obama's economic advisers as they have struggled with the gravest financial crisis since the Depression, according to several dozen interviews with administration officials and others familiar with the internal debates. By all accounts, much of the tension derives from the president's choice of the brilliant but sometimes supercilious Mr. Summers to be the director of the National Economic Council, making him the policy impresario of the team....[E]ven as top administration officials acknowledge the occasional strains among economic advisers, they say the president is thrilled with the job Mr. Summers is doing in his current post."
Brett Blackledge writes for the Associated Press: "Eager to show action on the ailing economy, President Barack Obama promised Monday to speed federal money into hundreds of public works projects this summer, vowing that 600,000 jobs will be created or saved." Here is a White House summary.
Jake Tapper, Karen Travers and Stephan Z. Smith report on Tapper's interview with Lakhdar Boumediene, a 43-year-old Algerian now free in France after 7½ years in Guantanamo: "Asked if he thought he was tortured, Boumediene was unequivocal. 'I don't think. I'm sure,' he said. Boumediene described being pulled up from under his arms while sitting in a chair with his legs shackled, stretching him. He said that he was forced to run with the camp's guards and if he could not keep up, he was dragged, bloody and bruised. He described what he called the 'games' the guards would play after he began a hunger strike, putting his food IV up his nose and poking the hypodermic needle in the wrong part of his arm. 'You think that's not torture? What's this? What can you call this? Torture or what?' he said, indicating the scars he bears from tight shackles. 'I'm an animal? I'm not a human?'"
William Glaberson writes in the New York Times: "The Obama administration is considering a change in the law for the military commissions at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that would clear the way for detainees facing the death penalty to plead guilty without a full trial. The provision could permit military prosecutors to avoid airing the details of brutal interrogation techniques. It could also allow the five detainees who have been charged with the Sept. 11 attacks to achieve their stated goal of pleading guilty to gain what they have called martyrdom."
New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt critiques a May 21 Times story that former vice president Dick Cheney used to attack Obama's plan to close the prison at Guantanamo. The story, which credulously related information from a Pentagon report about recidivism among Guantanamo detainees, "was seriously flawed and greatly overplayed. It demonstrated again the dangers when editors run with exclusive leaked material in politically charged circumstances and fail to push back skeptically. The lapse is especially unfortunate at The Times, given its history in covering the run-up to the Iraq war. The article seemed to adopt the Pentagon's contention that freed prisoners had 'returned' to terrorism, ignoring independent reporting by The Times and others [i.e. McClatchy Newspapers] that some of them may not have been involved in terrorism before but were radicalized at Guantánamo. It failed to distinguish between former prisoners suspected of new acts of terrorism — more than half the cases — and those supposedly confirmed to have rejoined jihad against the West. Had only confirmed cases been considered, one in seven would have changed to one in 20."
AFP reports: "Obama is 'deeply concerned' over the sentencing of two US journalists by North Korea and his government is using 'all possible channels' to obtain their release, The White House said early Monday."
The White House is trying out a new way to give out tickets to Obama's town hall meetings. Obama has one scheduled for Thursday in Green Bay, and tickets can be requested on the White House Web site. WBAY-TV reports that those without Internet access can call (202) 757-9821.
Salon debunks 12 "[c]razy right-wing myths about Obama."
Michael Wolff writes for Vanity Fair that Obama's media team "doesn't want to talk about the meticulous calibration of everything to do with retailing its image and message because it is all so meticulously calibrated." Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Wolff writes, "clearly doesn't take the press very seriously. Gibbs is perfectly affable and even, in his way, courtly. And yet he seems to be not quite listening. Nothing touches him."