Posted tagged ‘President-Elect’

Five September 11 Suspects to Confess

December 9, 2008

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men who have been charged with coordinating the September 11 attacks have stated that they want to enter guilty pleas, apparently challenging the U.S. government to sentence them to death before President-elect Barack Obama takes office.

From the Associated Press:

The Guantanamo detainees said they decided on Nov. 4 — the day Obama was elected — to abandon their defenses in their death-penalty trials. Obama opposes the military war-crimes trials and has pledged to close Guantanamo’s detention center, which holds some 250 men.

Mohammed said Monday he will confess to masterminding the attacks that killed 2,975 people. The four other defendants did the same, in effect daring the Pentagon to give them death sentences.

The judge ordered lawyers to advise him by Jan. 4 whether the Pentagon can apply the death penalty — which military prosecutors are seeking — without a jury trial.

Mohammed, who has already told a military panel he was the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, said he has no faith in the judge, his Pentagon-appointed lawyers or President George W. Bush.

Sporting a chest-length gray beard, Mohammed told the judge in English: “I don’t trust you.”

The defendants’ announcement shocked victims’ relatives who watched from behind a glass partition, the first time family members have been allowed to observe the war-crimes trials.

Alice Hoagland of Redwood Estates, Calif., told reporters that she hopes Obama, “an even-minded and just man,” would ensure the five men are punished, though she believes they should not be executed and become martyrs.

Hoagland’s son, Mark Bingham, died on United Flight 93, whose passengers fought hijackers before it crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

“They do not deserve the glory of executions,” Hoagland said. “I want these dreadful people to live out their lives in a U.S. prison … under the control of people they profess to hate.”

But Hamilton Peterson, of Bethesda, Md., and whose father and stepmother died on United 93, said the defendants showed a “complete lack of contrition” and deserved to be executed.

Maureen Santora, of Long Island City, N.Y., watched from the back of the courtroom, wearing black and clutching a photo of her son Christopher, a firefighter who died responding to the World Trade Center attacks.

“They were proud to be guilty and that says a lot about them,” she said.

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Decision Rules That Barack Obama is Eligible to be President of the United States

December 8, 2008

The Supreme Court has turned down an emergency appeal from a New Jersey man who says President-elect Barack Obama is ineligible to be president because he was a British subject at birth.

From the Associated Press:

The court did not comment on its order Monday rejecting the call by Leo Donofrio of East Brunswick, N.J., to intervene in the presidential election.

Donofrio says that since Obama had dual nationality at birth — his mother was American and his Kenyan father at the time was a British subject — he cannot possibly be a “natural born citizen,” one of the requirements the Constitution lists for eligibility to be president.

Donofrio also contends that two other candidates, Republican John McCain and Socialist Workers candidate Roger Calero, also are not natural-born citizens and thus ineligible to be president.

At least one other appeal over Obama’s citizenship remains at the court. Philip J. Berg of Lafayette Hill, Pa., argues that Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii as Obama says and Hawaii officials have confirmed.

Berg says Obama also may be a citizen of Indonesia, where he lived as a boy. Federal courts in Pennsylvania have dismissed Berg’s lawsuit. Federal courts in Ohio and Washington state have rejected similar lawsuits.

Allegations raised on the Internet say the birth certificate, showing that Obama was born in Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961, is a fake.

But Hawaii Health Department Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino and the state’s registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, say they checked health department records and have determined there’s no doubt Obama was born in Hawaii.

Barack Obama Announces National Security Team

December 1, 2008

No surprises here. President-elect Barack Obama announced early this morning that Robert Gates would remain as defense secretary, making President Bush’s Pentagon chief his own as he seeks to wind down the U.S. role in Iraq.

Obama also, as anticipated, picked former Democrat and campaign rival Hillary Clinton as his choice for secretary of state.

From the Associated Press:

At a news conference, Obama also introduced retired Marine Gen. James Jones as White House national security adviser, former Justice Department official Eric Holder as attorney general and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as secretary of homeland security.

The announcements rounded out the top tier of the team that will advise the incoming chief executive on foreign and national security issues in an era marked by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and terrorism around the globe.

“The time has come for a new beginning, a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century,” Obama said as his Cabinet picks stood behind him on a flag-draped stage.

“We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships.”

Obama said his appointees “share my pragmatism about the use of power, and my sense of purpose about America’s role as a leader in the world.”

Gates’ presence in Chicago made him a visible symbol of the transition in power from the Bush administration to one headed by Obama.

The president-elect, reprising a campaign vow, said he would give the military a new mission as soon as he takes office: “responsibly ending the war in Iraq through a successful transition to Iraqi control.” He did not mention his oft-repeated pledge to withdraw most U.S. combat troops within 16 months.

He also appointed campaign foreign policy aide Susan Rice as his ambassador to the United Nations. Obama said he would make her a member of the Cabinet, an increase in stature from the Bush era.

Obama’s announcements marked a shift in emphasis, after a spate of appointments last week for his economic team.

Hillary Clinton to be Nominated as Secretary of State

November 21, 2008

According to sources close to the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton is on track to be nominated for the position of Secretary of State. Clinton traveled to Chicago last week to meet with Obama about the Cabinet position and it is expected that an announcement will be made shortly after Thanksgiving.

From Bloomberg:

Senator Hillary Clinton is likely to be nominated for secretary of state after the Nov. 27 U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, according to an aide to President-elect Barack Obama.

Potential hurdles related to financial disclosures by Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, have been worked out, said the aide, who asked not to be named.

Clinton has indicated some hesitancy about accepting the position. She has been wrestling with whether to abandon her independence to become the nation’s top diplomat or remain in the Senate where a lack of seniority limits her influence, the New York Times reported yesterday.

Should the New York Democrat accept the post, she would be Obama’s highest-ranking Cabinet officer — the secretary of state is fourth in the line of presidential succession. Backers say the popularity of both Hillary and Bill Clinton overseas would be a boon to the U.S.’s global reputation.

From the Washington Post:

Days of back and forth followed the meeting between President-elect Barack Obama and Clinton last week in Chicago, when the two principals first discussed the post, with advisers to Clinton suggesting she might not want the job and questions persisting about the business work and international ties of her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

But the former president agreed to a thorough vetting, and Obama advisers did not back away from reports that the New York senator was the president-elect’s top pick. On Thursday night, aides said that the vetting issues have been resolved, and the selection could occur soon, perhaps immediately after Thanksgiving.

Almost 700,000 American Children Went Hungry in 2007

November 18, 2008

According to the Agriculture Department, 691,000 children went hungry in the United States in 2007, while close to one in eight Americans struggled to feed themselves adequately even before this year’s sharp economic downturn.

From the Associated Press:

New government figures show that almost 700,000 children went hungry in America at some point in 2007.

That number was up more than 50 percent from the year before and reached its highest point since 1998.

The Agriculture Department’s annual survey of food security, released Monday, also shows that more than 36 million adults and children struggled against hunger last year. That’s up by 700,000 since 2006. These are people who either didn’t have enough money for food or access to enough food aid to maintain active healthy lives.

Almost a third of these people, or nearly 12 million, had what the government calls “very low food security.” That means they had a substantial disruption in the amount of food they typically eat.

From MSNBC:

The department’s annual report on food security showed that during 2007 the number of children who suffered a substantial disruption in the amount of food they typically eat was more than double the 430,000 in 2006 and the largest figure since 716,000 in 1998.

Overall, the 36.2 million adults and children who struggled with hunger during the year was up slightly from 35.5 million in 2006. That was 12.2 percent of Americans who didn’t have the money or assistance to get enough food to maintain active, healthy lives.

Almost a third of those, 11.9 million adults and children, went hungry at some point. That figure has grown by more than 40 percent since 2000. The government says these people suffered a substantial disruption in their food supply at some point and classifies them as having “very low food security.” Until the government rewrote its definitions two years ago, this group was described as having “food insecurity with hunger.”

The findings should increase pressure to meet President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to expand food aid and end childhood hunger by 2015, said James Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger group.

President Bush Reflects on Moments He Regrets

November 12, 2008

I have a feeling that there were quite a few moments he regretted over the past 8 years.

From the Boston Globe:

President Bush wouldn’t spill about his private Oval Office meeting Monday with his successor, saying the best way for Barack Obama to feel comfortable seeking his counsel is to keep such discussions under wraps.

“So, we had a very private conversation,” Bush said on CNN this afternoon. “It was relaxed. It was interesting to watch a person who is getting ready to assume the office of the president. This will be a fantastic experience for he and his family.

“He didn’t need my advice about supporting the military. He knows he must do that,” the president added. “And we had a good conversation. I was very pleased. And I remember the conversation I had with my predecessor, Bill Clinton. As a matter of fact, I called him yesterday. And, you know, I said, Bill, I’m getting ready to meet with the new president, and I remember how gracious you were to me and I hope I can be as gracious to President-elect Obama as you were to me.

“And so President-elect Obama has a great opportunity. And I really do wish him all the best. I mean, I am just as American as he is American. And it is good for our country that the president succeeds. And so the transition that we’re working with him on is a genuine effort to help him be able to deal with the pressures and the complicated issues of the presidency.”

Bush did say he had some regrets about his presidency, including “saying some things I shouldn’t have said.”

From the BBC:

As his presidency draws to an end, he told CNN that some remarks on Osama Bin Laden and the Iraqi insurgency would have been better left unsaid.

Mr Bush also said he regretted speaking in front of a “mission accomplished” banner only a month after troops were deployed in Iraq.

Separately he said President-elect Barack Obama would be good for the US.

Mr Bush said he regretted using phrases like “dead or alive” or “bring ’em on”.

Shortly after the 11 September attacks in 2001, he said of Osama bin Laden: “I want justice. There’s an old poster out West that said: ‘Wanted, dead or alive.'”

Barack Obama Plans to Use Executive Orders To Reverse Bush Policies

November 10, 2008

Excellent! President-elect Obama plans to use his executive powers to make an immediate impact when he takes office, perhaps reversing Bush administration policies on stem cell research and domestic drilling for oil and natural gas. 

From AFP:

Barack Obama is looking to reverse executive orders on oil drilling and stem cell research implemented by President George W. Bush, the president-elect’s transition team said Sunday.

The move could signal a swift change of course after eight years under the Bush administration, even as top aides stressed Obama’s bipartisan aims and predicted the new cabinet could contain familiar faces, particularly at the Pentagon.

Both the incoming Democrats and outgoing Republicans have largely struck a tone of civility, with economic woes and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan high on the list of priorities ahead of Obama’s inauguration on January 20.

But as Obama prepared for handover talks at the White House Monday, his transition chief John Podesta signaled that Obama could wipe away some hallmarks of the Bush years, including a ban on embryonic stem cell research and moves to open new lands to oil drilling.

“I think across the board, on stem cell research, on a number of areas, you see the Bush administration, even today, moving aggressively to do things that I think are probably not in the interest of the country,” Podesta told Fox.

“We’re looking at — again, in virtually every agency to see where we can move forward, whether that’s on energy transformation, on improving health care, on stem cell research,” he said.

Podesta, who also served as White House chief of staff under president Bill Clinton, said he would not “preview decisions that he (Obama) has yet to make.”