By Dan Froomkin
12:08 PM ET, 06/15/2009
Michael Kranish writes in the Boston Globe: "The Obama administration will continue to seek talks with Iran's leaders despite an 'awful lot of questions' about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim of reelection, Vice President Joe Biden said yesterday. The effort to tread a fine diplomatic line came as violent protests continued to flare in the Islamic Republic, and the opposition candidate called for a new election.... 'Talks with Iran are not a reward for good behavior,' Biden said. Rather, he said, they are a reflection of the United States' best interest: 'We want them to cease and desist from seeking a nuclear weapon and having one in its possession, and secondly to stop supporting terror.'"
Scott Wilson writes in The Washington Post: "The confused aftermath of Iran's presidential election is complicating the Obama administration's planned outreach to the Islamic republic." Wilson writes that Obama is seeking a "balance... between condemning what increasingly appears to be a fraudulent election and the likelihood that it will be dealing with Ahmadinejad after the dust settles."
Bill Keller and Michael Slackman write in the New York Times that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his protégé "appear to have neutralized for now the reform forces that they saw as a threat to their power, political analysts said."
Isabel Kershner writes in the New York Times: "In a much-anticipated speech meant in part as an answer to President Obama's address in Cairo on June 4, [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu reversed his longstanding opposition to Palestinian statehood, a move seen as a concession to American pressure. But he firmly rejected American demands for a complete freeze on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the subject of a rare public dispute between Israel and its most important ally on an issue seen as critical to peace negotiations. And even his assent on Palestinian statehood, given the caveats, was immediately rejected as a nonstarter by Palestinians."
Howard Schneider writes in The Washington Post: "President Obama welcomed Netanyahu's speech as an 'important step forward' and in a statement endorsed both key Israeli and Palestinian concerns. 'The President is committed to two states, a Jewish state of Israel and an independent Palestine, in the historic homeland of both peoples,' the statement said. 'He believes this solution can and must ensure both Israel's security and the fulfillment of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations for a viable state, and he welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu's endorsement of that goal.'"
John Schwartz writes in the New York Times: "A federal judge has ruled that John Yoo, a former Bush administration lawyer who wrote crucial memorandums justifying harsh interrogation techniques, will have to answer in court to accusations that his work led to a prisoner's being tortured and deprived of his constitutional rights. The government had asked Judge Jeffrey S. White of Federal District Court in San Francisco to dismiss the case filed by Jose Padilla, an American citizen who spent more than three years in a military brig as an enemy combatant. Judge White denied most elements of Mr. Yoo's motion and quoted a passage from the Federalist Papers that in times of war, nations, to be more safe, 'at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.'"
Andrew Cohen blogs for CBS News: "Judge White says the federal courts are required to weaken protections for people like Yoo and strengthen rights for people like Padilla when the other two branches of government won't remedy clear constitutional violations."
Michael D. Shear writes in The Washington Post: "With less than a month before congressional hearings begin on [Judge Sonia] Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court, the White House is trying to quietly guide what staffers describe as an unusually broad network of law enforcement organizations, liberal allies, legal officials, Latino groups and women's organizations that want to see her confirmed."
Michael A. Fletcher writes for the Washington Post: "Does President Obama still smoke? White House press secretary Robert Gibbs would not say [Friday], but he acknowledged that the president continues to struggle to control his habit. 'I would simply tell you I think struggling with a nicotine addiction is something that happens every day,' Gibbs told reporters. The question arose after Obama praised Congress ... for passing legislation that would allow the federal government to regulate tobacco more closely. In his remarks in the Rose Garden, Obama decried the 'harmful, addictive and often deadly effects of tobacco products.'"
Here's a shocker. Michael Calderone writes for Politico that the Obama White House is more aware of and responsive to the New York Times than the Bush White House.
Ashley Parker writes in the New York Times: "Like many fresh administrations, the Obama White House is full of closely watched relationships....But none is more amusing than the unlikely duo of [David] Axelrod, the president's 54-year-old chief adviser, and his 24-year-old assistant, [Eric] Lesser. Indeed, just the mention of 'Ax and Lesser' elicits laughter at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue... Mr. Lesser calls his boss 'a little bit of a Nutty Professor,' and the professor calls Mr. Lesser a cross between Nurse Ratched in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' and M*A*S*H's Radar O'Reilly. The young assistant is cheerfully neurotic, fastidious and something of an organized sprite, while his disorganized boss is what aides describe as 'a nonlinear thinker.'"
Abdon M. Pallasch writes in the Chicago Sun-Times that Axelrod spoke of his start in journalism in a commencement address yesterday at DePaul University: "'In those days, superb reporting played a historic role in uncovering the truth, shining a bright light on events like Vietnam and Watergate,' Axelrod said. 'Journalists heped save the republic, and I wanted to be a part of that. But, over time, things changed. By the mid-1980s, journalism was becoming more business than calling. The front office began to take over the newsroom. The emphasis went from veracity to velocity, from reporting to receipts.' He said that's when he went into politics."