January 26, 2009 -- Director of National Intelligence News Briefing has a right-wing tilt
We have obtained a copy today's restricted News Summary for the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Access to the News Summary is restricted to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.The summary contains clips from a number of tainted and dubious sources, including Rupert Murdoch's Fox News and Wall Street Journal, the Republican rag Politico, the Sun Myung Moon-owned Washington Times, and the AIPAC drivel that oozes forth from Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room on CNN. If this is the media claptrap that Mike McConnell has been relying on for news, it is obvious why the U.S. Intelligence Community is in such a mess. One would hope that Dennis Blair would find different reading material for his "news."
Hint: More balanced news will be found at Al-MANAR, Al Jazeera "sometimes", Russia Today, PRESS TV, and sometimes the BBC, among other media outlets not controlled by the usual suspects....!!!
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE NEWS SUMMARY
TO: THE DIRECTOR AND SENIOR ODNI STAFF
DATE: MONDAY, JANUARY 26, 2009 5:45 AM EST
TODAY'S TABLE OF CONTENTS
LEADING THE NEWS:
+ Obama Order Sparks Debate Over Fate Of Detainees After Guantanamo Closure.
+ White House Seeks To Temper Expectations About The Economy.
+ Officials Say Additional Aid To Banks Possible.
+ Blair Appears Headed For Quick Confirmation.
+ O'Hanlon: Panetta Obama's Weakest National Security Nominee.
+ Waterboarding Tapes Probe Indicative Of Other Hurdles Facing Holder.
+ Napolitano Taps Lute As DHS Deputy.
+ McCain Reluctantly Endorses Lynn's Confirmation.
+ Administration Personnel News.
OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE:
+ Obama Seen Focusing On Afghanistan, Not Iraq.
+ Federal Agencies Fail To Meet Civil Liberties Protection Standards.
+ DNI Implementing Plan To Link Intelligence Databases.
+ Columnist Laments Obama Administration's Support Of Telecom Immunity.
+ Suspected US Airstrike Kills At Least 17 In Pakistan.
+ Indian Police Kill Two Suspected Pakistani Militants.
+ Biden Warns US Casualties In Afghanistan Likely To Increase.
+ Logistics Could Delay Obama's 16-Month Iraq Withdrawal Plan.
+ Fate Of Detainees Under Iraqi Control Sparks Worries.
+ Maliki Trying To Reassure Voters That He Will Respect Local Control.
+ Obama Said To Have Left Loophole In Torture Ban.
+ Former Guantanamo Detainee Now A Top Al Qaeda Leader In Yemen.
+ Al Qaeda Attacks Obama With Torrent Of Insults.
+ Al-Jawary Scheduled For Release From US Prison Next Month.
+ Netanyahu Describes Conversations With Obama Regarding Iranian Threat.
+ Kim Jong Nam Said To Have No Interest In Succeeding His Father.
+ Hamas Says Ceasefire Will Not Be Renewed Unless Gaza Borders Are Opened.
+ Mexico Seen As Potential "Failed State" As Calderon Seeks Ties With US.
+ Beijing Denies Geithner's Charge That It Is Manipulating Currency.
+ Cubans Anticipate Loosening Of US Trade Restrictions By Obama.
+ Gaddafi Threatens To Nationalize Hydrocarbon Reserves.
+ Suicide Bomb Kills 15 In Mogadishu.
+ Twenty Minnesota Muslims May Have Joined Somali Terrorist Group.
+ Dubai Media Say Man Arrested In Consulate Threat.
FBI- NATIONAL SECURITY BRANCH:
+ Miller Says FBI Not Shortchanging Criminal Cases For Terrorism Probes.
+ Canadian Border Among Napolitano's Homeland Security Priorities.
+ Under Bush, O'Hanlon Says DHS Made Progress, But Challenges Remain.
+ Chemistry Industry Encourages Napolitano To Hold-Off On New Regulations.
+ USAF Modifying Commercial Planes For Surveillance.
+ Milestone Announced For TSAT Program.
+ WSJournal Cites Pentagon Report On Problems With US Nuclear Arsenal.
+ New York Times.
+ Washington Post.
+ Wall Street Journal.
+ Los Angeles Times.
+ USA Today.
THE BIG PICTURE:
+ Headlines From Today's Front Pages.
+ Today's Events In Washington.
+ Late Night Political Humor.
Leading The News:
OBAMA ORDER SPARKS DEBATE OVER FATE OF DETAINEES AFTER GUANTANAMO CLOSURE. The CBS Evening News(1/24, story 6, 2:30, Glor, 6.1M) reported, "One of President Obama's very first acts was to order the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba closed within a year. Now comes the hard part: deciding what to do with detainees. Prosecute them in this country or send them to other nations, where they could still be a danger to the US." CBS continued, "What worries the Pentagon most are cases like Ali al Sheeri who was send back to Saudi Arabia in 2007. After they released him, he emerged as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda's branch in Yemen."
NBC Nightly News(1/24, story 3, 2:15, Holt, 8.37M) also reported on "a new issue: What to do with the terrorist suspects who have been kept there." According to NBC, President Obama's "commitment to shut Gitmo down has made foreign leaders more willing to help." Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense: "So we may have opportunities in terms of sending some of these detainees to other countries that did not exist before January 20th." NBC concluded, "Still to come, decisions on whether to try the remaining detainees in military or regular civilian courts, and whether those found not guilty or not dangerous could be released inside the US."
Appearing on ABC World News(1/24, story 2, Muir, 8.2M), George Stephanopoulossaid, "We...saw on Guantanamo, the President setting out that firm commitment to close Guantanamo within a year, but getting a lot of criticism over the details and how he's actually going to deal with those detainees who are too dangerous to release."
Asked on NBC Nightly News(1/24, story 2, 2:55, Holt, 8.37M) if he believes Obama "appear[s] to be remaining on track after one week in office," NBC's David Gregory answered, "Largely so. Although I think closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay is an example where the President will do two things. One, admit it's harder than he thought it would be. And, two, he's going to tell his own political base, take it easy here. This is very, very complicated. ... The Administration has also signaled that they would allow harsher techniques to be used by the CIA in line with some of the things that were done in the past. And if that's the case, there's going to be a lot of people on the political left, Obama supporters, who say that's not what we bargained for."
CQ Weekly(1/16, Perine) says President Obama now "faces three central issues, all of them freighted with serious political or legal difficulties." First, "is the simple logistical question of where to move approximately 245 detainees now housed at Guantanamo -- an issue the administration hopes it can sidestep by sending most of the inmates to other countries. Then there's the question of whether and how to initiate legal proceedings against the detainees, some of whom have been held for more than six years without formal charges." And, according to CQ, "the biggest quandary of all, though, is what to do with potentially dangerous detainees whom officials determine cannot be tried and whom other countries refuse to take." The National Journal(1/24, Freedberg, Harris, Hegland) this week also reports on the challenges faced by the Obama Administration.
Guantanamo Case Files Scattered Though Several Agencies. According to the Washington Post(1/25, A5, DeYoung, Finn, 696K), "President Obama's plans to expeditiously determine the fates of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and quickly close the military prison there were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials -- barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees -- discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them. Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is 'scattered throughout the executive branch,' a senior administration official said." The Post said "several" former Bush administration officials "agreed that the files are incomplete. ... They said that the CIA and other intelligence agencies were reluctant to share information, and that the Bush administration's focus on detention and interrogation made preparation of viable prosecutions a far lower priority. But other former officials took issue with the criticism and suggested that the new team has begun to appreciate the complexity and dangers of the issue and is looking for excuses."
Biden Says Detainees Will Not Be Released In US. The Hill(1/26, Snyder) reports Vice President Biden said Sunday that "the administration would meet its goal of closing the Guantanamo military prison within the next year, although he acknowledged there would be 'nothing easy' about the process." The Politico(1/26, Lee) notes that "Biden did promise that none of the prisoners will be released inside the United States. 'They're either going to be moved and tried in American courts, tried in military courts or sent back to their own countries,' he said. 'We're going one prisoner at a time.'" Biden added on CBS's Face the Nation(1/25, Schieffer, 181K), "We have" White House counsel Greg Craig "going through this meticulously, deciding what we're going to do with each and every prisoner. ... If they are not a US citizen or if they are not here legally then even if they were released by a federal judge, they would not be able to stay here in the United States. They would be sent back to their country of origin." The Washington Times(1/26, Lobianco, Bellantoni, 83K) also reports Biden's comments to CBS.
ABC World News(1/25, story 9, 2:05, Harris, 8.2M) reported that "Obama has only been on the job for a few days now, but his Administration is already making a mark on the fight against terrorism, announcing it's going to close the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, for example. But can Obama's radically new direction actually defeat Al Qaeda and keep America safe, or is it, as some say, a terrorist's dream come true?" ABC (Martin) added that "closing Guantanamo and releasing detainees may improve his image around the world, but it won't dilute Al Qaeda's anti-American propaganda and it may end up giving it a boost. US officials last week confirmed that at least one former Guantanamo detainee has shown up in Yemen as a top Al Qaeda leader."
Republicans Claim Gitmo Closure Threatens Americans. The New York Times(1/24, A11, Mazzetti, Shane, 1.12M) reported, "One day after President Obama ordered that the military detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, be shuttered, lawmakers in Washington wrestled with the implications of bringing dozens of the 245 remaining inmates onto American soil." Republicans "found a talking point with political appeal. They said closing Guantánamo could allow dangerous terrorists to get off on legal technicalities and be released into quiet neighborhoods across the United States. If the detainees were convicted, the Republicans continued, American prisons housing terrorism suspects could become magnets for attacks." The Times added, "Meanwhile, none of the Democrats who on Thursday hailed the closing of the detention camp were stepping forward to offer prisons in their districts or states to receive the prisoners."
Rep. Peter Hoekstra said Saturday on Fox News(1/24) that despite the Obama Administration's plan to close Guantanamo "in a year...there is no plan behind it that actually answers the questions as to where these people are going to go, how they are going to be treated, where they are going to be tried. There are lots of people in America that are asking exactly the same questions: Are they are going to be ending up in my backyard sometime over the next three to six to nine months?" The congressman said he is "concerned what" President Obama "has done with Gitmo and interrogation. I see the initial steps of moving back to what we were doing in the 1990s where we said this threat from terrorism, it's a law enforcement activity, but" it "is not good enough to prosecute these people. This is a different kind of threat that we face. We need to make sure that we do everything to make...sure this never happens again. We need to move to prevention. That is what we've done for the last seven and a half years. Now, we need to determine if President Obama is in the prosecution business."
Appearing on Fox News Sunday(1/25, Wallace), Sen. John McCain criticized "announcing the closing of Guantanamo without addressing the other really difficult aspects of this." According to McCain, "We need to have a process that replaces the military commissions. By the way, the military commissions were finally beginning to function, and so I'm sorry they're put on hold. We need to decide what you do with people that we can't return to the countries that they came from. We need to decide what to do with people. We know if we release them they will go out, as we've just seen -- a recent example of a guy who became a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda. We can't continue to release people who are going to be leaders of Al Qaeda."
David Gregory, on NBC Nightly News (1/23, story 4, 1:55, Williams, 8.37M), said, "There is this is the issue of what do you do with these prisoners if you close down Guantanamo Bay within a year? ... So there's lots of questions including where you put them in the United States for trial. Some opponents of this measure saying why not work these things out before you have a date set in stone to close it."
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal(1/24, A11, 2.07M), former DOJ officials David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey wrote, "The real question is whether Mr. Obama will uphold the legal architecture necessary to continue the war against al Qaeda and its jihadist allies. What Mr. Obama's national security team will quickly discover is that the civilian criminal-justice system is an inadequate tool to deal with terrorists. President Bush's policies...were dictated by the very real need to defend American citizens, not by disdain for the rule of law."
Rove: Gitmo Won't Close, And If Does There Will Be "Uproar." In his blog for The Politico(1/26), Ben Smith writes, "Speaking to students at Miami University, Karl Rove -- who has thought a bit about the politics of national security -- predicts: One year from now, Gitmo won't be closed.... If it is, there will be an uproar in the US about where to put these people." Adds Smith, "Which is to say, expect the GOP to keep laying a groundwork for attacks on this issue."
Webb, Rockefeller, Pelosi Defend Obama's Decision. Sen. Jim Webb said on MSNBC (1/23) that President Obama has "given a reasonable timeline here in terms of sorting out problems that people have and problems of security for the country. I think he's basically fulfilling a promise that he made during the campaign and helping us reassert ourselves around the world as a moral beacon, in terms of how people are being handled. You don't get good intelligence information out of people that you torture. At the same time, we have clear national interest in taking some of these people -- or keeping some of these people -- in these situations."
Sen. Jay Rockefeller said on CNN's Situation Room(1/23, Blitzer): "Not only am I happy that all of these things have been done so quickly, so promptly by the President," but also "rashly, because he's been thinking about for a long time, but also for the fact that for some years we've been trying to do that in the intelligence committee, is to get the Army Field Manual substituted so that the so-called extremely enhanced interrogation techniques cannot be used, but every time we pass it, we lose."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on ABC's This Week(1/25, Stephanopoulos), commented, "If you look very carefully at what President Obama did this week, it was really brilliant. That's why he was surrounded by so many people from our military, retirees who have our national security as their top priority -- as we all do. ... And what the president puts forth was very wise. He said he's going to close Guantanamo, take the time to do it. You can't just go down there today and say, everybody out and lock the door. They're going to review the cases, narrow it down, and then go from there. But...I've spent a long time in the intelligence side of things in the Congress...and it is -- it's brilliant."
Kristol Calls Obama's Decision To Close Gitmo "A Huge Mistake."The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, appearing on Fox News Sunday(1/25, Wallace), maintained that Obama's decision to close Guantanamo is "a huge mistake...politically. ... He's saying, 'We're going to close Guantanamo,' at the same moment that...reports are coming out that the Bush administration probably was too quick to release people from Guantanamo, because some of those people have come back onto the battlefield and fought against Americans. I think that was a mistake."
Pledge To Build Bipartisan Consensus On Anti-Terror Apparatus A Test For Obama. The AP(1/26, Flaherty) reports, "President Barack Obama's pledge of bipartisan cooperation with Congress will be tested as he tries to fulfill a campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay and establish a new system for prosecuting suspected terrorists." The AP adds that Obama's "ambitious" plan is "fraught with legal complexities" and "gives Republicans ample opportunity to score political points if he doesn't get it right." Republicans "already are trying to portray Obama's review of detainee rights as soft on terrorism. House Republicans on Friday mobilized a 'rapid response team' of lawmakers to speak out against the president's plans." While "Obama could take a page from the Bush administration and try to revamp the system on his own, through executive order...that approach failed for Bush, who angered members of his own party and wound up seeking congressional approval anyway after the Supreme Court in June 2006 ruled his tribunal system was unconstitutional." The AP adds that "Obama's other option is to seek legislation on the issue, potentially exposing his administration to a bruising fight with Republicans on how to handle the most dangerous of terrorism suspects."
WPost Calls For "Bipartisan Committee" To Study Bush-Era Policies. The Washington Post(1/26, A10, 696K) editorializes, "Obama's actions...raise rather than answer questions about the transfer and detention of current and future terror suspects. How will the government handle those detained at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan? How and where would it process suspects turned over by third countries or captured by the United States abroad? What if, as seems likely, some detainees can neither be safely released nor successfully tried in federal or military court? These are nettlesome questions that Mr. Obama is right to take slowly." The Post adds "the need for full information highlights the value of an action Mr. Obama has yet to take: appointment of a bipartisan committee to study the Bush administration's actions in the war on terrorism."
WHITE HOUSE SEEKS TO TEMPER EXPECTATIONS ABOUT THE ECONOMY. Key Administration officials yesterday took to the airways to caution about a slow economic recovery even if the measures sought by the President are put into effect. Underscoring the officials' warning, a USA Today(1/26, Hagenbaugh, Hansen, 2.28M) survey of 52 economists, conducted last week, found that they believed the economy "will climb out of recession in the second half of the year, but firms will continue to cut jobs through 2009 and growth will likely be more of a crawl than a sprint, according to a survey of economists out Monday." The jobless rate "is expected to peak at 8.8% early next year, according to the median answer of 52 economists surveyed by USA TODAY Jan. 15-22. That is up from the 7.2% jobless rate seen in December and would be the highest since 1983."
The CBS Evening News(1/25, lead story, 2:20, Mitchell, 6.1M) showed Vice President Biden saying, "There's no good news on the immediate horizon," and Speaker Nancy Pelosi cautioning, "Our economy is dark, darker, darkest almost." The AP(1/24, Ohlemacher) reports that Biden, "taking the lead on a theme echoed by other Democratic officials on the Sunday talk shows," also said, "We're off and running, but it's going to get worse before it gets better." The AP adds that the stimulus plan's "success or failure could define the first years of Obama's term. On Sunday, Democrats sought to temper expectations, at least in the short term." Lawrence Summers, "a top economic adviser to Obama," said, "These problems weren't made in a day or a week or a month or even a year, and they're not going to get solved that fast. ... So even as we move to be as rapid as we can in jolting the economy and giving it the push forward it needs, we also have to be mindful of having the right kind of plan that will carry us forward over time." A separate AP (1/26) dispatch notes Summers also said "the nation can afford to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in an attempt to jump-start a weak economy," but "fiscal discipline will be necessary once the economy recovers."
Defending the size of the stimulus package on NBC's Meet the Press (1/25, Gregory), Summers said the Obama plan "is the largest stimulus" package "in the country's history. It's the largest investment in the backbone of our economy since the interstate -- since the interstate highway system. It's going to double renewable energy. And it is only one phase of the approach that the president is taking. The president has made clear that there will be strong action to address the terrible problems in our housing sector, that he will be using additional funds for a substantial financial recovery plan to get the flow of credit going. ... The plan will create three to four million jobs more than the economy otherwise would've had, and that's before you get to the financial recovery approach."
The New York Times(1/26, Otterman, 1.12M) says Obama "dispatched" Summers "to the talk shows to defend aspects of the plan that have come under attack. More details about the stimulus package, the largest of its kind in the nation's history, have become clear this weekend, as Democrats released a more detailed list of the spending." On NBC, Summers "said that the president was attempting to strike a balance between tax cuts and longer-term initiatives in the bill, like spending on renewable energy and college tuition assistance."
The Hill(1/26, Snyder) reports Biden "defended a Democratic stimulus proposal against GOP attacks that it focused too heavily on spending." The Vice President "said the plan offered by Democrats would likely change as it wends its way through Congress. But he said that the package was already the product of bipartisan negotiation." The Administration, he said, "has 'compromised ahead of time' and that it was now concentrating on 'trying to get money out the door as rapidly as we can.'" The Washington Post(1/26, A2, Shear, 696K) notes "Biden predicted that the stimulus package would emerge from the Senate with a 'truly bipartisan' vote, and said that there have been efforts to include GOP ideas about tax breaks in the legislation."
Biden, on CBS's Face the Nation(1/25, Schieffer, 181K), maintained that "we've already had a lot of bipartisan support. For example, on the Senate side...a significant portion which is in the bill, already from the outset, was placed there by Republicans. I, for one, personally, was on the phone with six Republican Senators -- key Republican Senators -- asking what they need, what they want, and we compromised ahead of time in terms of what we put in the bill, number one. ... I think we'll get a significant bipartisan support out of the Senate."
Asked if there are Republican policy ideas that he has advocated including on the stimulus package, Sen. Charles Schumer, on Fox News Sunday (1/25, Wallace), answered, "Oh, yeah. I mean, the president-elect and many of us are trying to work very closely with the Republicans. ... A third of the package is tax cuts. That's generally the way the Republicans prefer to jump-start the economy. We think that tax cuts are probably not the most efficient way to do it, but in effort to compromise, there is a significant chunk of tax cuts in there. I do worry. Now every business group is coming to lobby for their little tax cut or another little tax cut, and we have to be careful about that. But overall, the air of bipartisanship is in the air, and that's been set by President-elect Obama. But even Senator Reid last week said we're going to allow Republicans to offer amendments on the floor as long as they're relevant."
Key Republicans Express Opposition To Obama Stimulus Plan. ABC World News(1/25, lead story, 2:35, Harris, 8.2M) reported that on Sunday it "became very clear...that Republicans are really digging in their heels on Obama's $825 billion plan to rescue the economy. This is a huge early test for Obama, who wants to not only fix the economy, but do so with large bipartisan majorities." The CBS Evening News(1/25, lead story, 2:20, Assuras, 6.1M) said that Republicans and Democrats have agreed on the need for a stimulus package, "but their playbooks on how to kick start the ailing economy contain philosophical differences that could delay approval of any plan beyond the President's target date of mid-February."
NBC Nightly News(1/25, story 2, 2:35, Holt, 8.37M) reported that the Obama plan "may be blowing into a Republican head wind tonight." NBC (Yang) added, "The nation's economic woes may be mounting but so are the political sniping over Obama's $825 stimulus package." The New York Times(1/26, Otterman, 1.12M) similarly reports "Republicans plan to test...Obama's commitment to bipartisanship as his $825 billion stimulus package heads to the floor of the House of Representatives this week, with the House Republican leader saying Sunday morning that many in his party will vote no unless there are significant changes to the plan." House Minority Leader John Boehner said on NBC, "Right now, given the concerns that we have over the size of this package and all of the spending in this package, we don't think it's going to work. ... And so if it's the plan that I see today, put me down in the no column." On Fox News, Sen. John McCain also "said that he planned to vote no unless the bill were changed. 'We need to make tax cuts permanent, and we need to make a commitment that there'll be no new taxes,' Mr. McCain said. 'We need to cut payroll taxes. We need to cut business taxes.'" The Politico(1/26, Lovley) notes McCain added, "I am opposed to most of provisions in the bill. As it stands now, I would not support it." But "McCain wouldn't say whether he would filibuster it." Under the headline "Republicans Step Up Criticism Of Obama," the Los Angeles Times(1/26, Wallsten, 833K) says McCain "had few kind words for Obama's initial moves as president."
The Hill(1/26, Alarkon) reports "Boehner and Republicans have called for more tax cuts instead of the Democrats' plan to primarily use federal money to help states and to fund infrastructure projects as well as energy, education and healthcare programs." Yesterday, Boehner "specifically criticized stimulus funding for National Mall renovations and for contraceptives, which would become more readily available under a proposed expansion of Medicaid programs." Boehner, appearing on NBC's Meet the Press (1/25, Gregory), said of the stimulus package, "Let's allow American families and small businesses to keep more of what they earn. Let's make sure that there's incentives for people to invest in our economy, because government can't do this."
USA Today(1/26, Dilanian, 2.28M) notes "House Republicans don't have the votes to block the plan, but Senate Republicans could, at least in theory." At any rate, "Obama has said he wants broad support from both political parties." On Saturday, "the White House released new details of what it says the mix of tax cuts and spending would accomplish. According to a document posted on www.whitehouse.gov, the plan would create or save 3 million to 4 million jobs over the next two years." The package, adds USA Today, "also calls for a $1,000 tax cut for 95% of American families. It would spend hundreds of billions on expanding sun and wind energy capacity, weatherizing federal buildings, modernizing schools, computerizing medical records, and improving roads and mass transit." Roll Call(1/26, Kucinich) and Washington Times(1/26, Lobianco, 83K) also note the Republican criticism of the Obama plan, while the Wall Street Journal(1/26, Weisman, Hitt, Mullins, 2.07M) says the President "plans to travel to the Capitol Tuesday to meet with House Republicans" and discuss the stimulus plan.
AFP(1/26, Joshi) reports Pelosi said yesterday "the Republicans had been given ample opportunity to express their views and said the nation's economic crisis required an 'urgent' fix," but "adamant that deeper tax cuts rather than government spending are the way forward, influential Republicans dug in their heels despite Obama's warnings that the nation is in the grip of an 'unprecedented' crisis."
OFFICIALS SAY ADDITIONAL AID TO BANKS POSSIBLE. The AP(1/24, Ohlemacher) reports that Democrats yesterday "opened the door for even more government aid to struggling banks beyond the $700 billion bailout already in the pipeline." Vice President Biden said that President Obama's "choice for Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, will recommend whether more money is needed for the banks. Geithner could be confirmed by the Senate as early as Monday." Likewise, the Financial Times(1/26, Sevastopulo, Beattie) notes that "Lawrence Summers, head of the White House National Economic Council, said the administration would use the $350bn...remaining of the $700bn that Congress provided to start tackling the financial crisis. He suggested, however, that it would later have to assess whether that amount was sufficient to stabilise the financial system." Summer's comments "were made after Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, suggested that Congress might have to provide more money for the so-called troubled asset relief programme (Tarp)."
AFP(1/26) reports "Pelosi said 'some increased investment' may be required, but stressed: 'Change has to happen in terms of what is done, what the transparency of it is, what the accountability of it is. Only then would we be able to pass any additional funding.'"
Despite TARP, Lending At Major Banks Down In Recent Months. The Wall Street Journal (1/26, A1, Enrich, 2.07M) reports, "Lending at many of the nation's largest banks fell in recent months, even after they received $148 billion in taxpayer capital that was intended to help the economy by making loans more readily available." The Journal adds "ten of the 13 big beneficiaries of the Treasury Department's Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, saw their outstanding loan balances decline by a total of about $46 billion, or 1.4%, between the third and fourth quarters of 2008, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of banks that recently announced their quarterly results. ... The loan figures analyzed by the Journal exclude some big TARP recipients that haven't reported fourth-quarter results yet, such as Wells Fargo & Co."
Nationalization Of Banks Said To Be Getting "New, Serious Look." AFP(1/26) notes Pelosi was asked yesterday "whether the government should not just nationalize the banks outright. 'Well, whatever you want to call it... if we are going to put money into the banks, we certainly want equity for the American people,' she said." In a front-page story titled "Nationalization Gets A New, Serious Look," the New York Times(1/26, A1, Sanger, 1.12M) reports "members of the new administration and Democratic leaders in Congress are already dancing around one of the most politically delicate questions about the financial bailout: Is the president prepared to nationalize a huge swath of the nation's banking system?" The Times adds that "privately, most members of the Obama economic team concede that the rapid deterioration of the country's biggest banks, notably Bank of America and Citigroup, is bound to require far larger investments of taxpayer money, atop the more than $300 billion of taxpayer money already poured into those two financial institutions and hundreds of others." While "so far...Obama's top aides have steered clear of the word" nationalization "entirely...others talk of de facto nationalization, in which the government owns a sizeable chunk of the banks but not a majority, with all that connotes."
Administration Pondering Anti-Foreclosure Strategies. The Los Angeles Times(1/26, Hong, Reynolds, 833K) reports, "The Obama administration is promising an aggressive fight against the rising tide of home foreclosures, but officials have yet to decide what strategy -- or combination of strategies -- they will use." The Times adds that "among the possibilities being pushed by various interest groups are a six-month foreclosure moratorium, a doubling of the mortgage interest deduction, a tax credit for those who buy homes and a federally sponsored mortgage refinancing program." Geithner "said last week that the administration was still wrestling with proposals and did not expect to finalize plans for several weeks," and "last week, Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary who is Obama's pick to direct the National Economic Council, wrote a letter to congressional leaders stating the administration would commit $50 billion to $100 billion 'to a sweeping effort to address the foreclosure crisis.'"
Fed May Announce New Initiatives To Help Credit Markets. The Financial Times(1/26, Guha) reports, "The Federal Reserve is likely to signal further efforts to revitalise securitised markets for credit at its policy meeting this week, which will see interest rates maintained at virtually zero." The Times adds that "whether the Fed actually announces new programmes will depend on whether it has yet secured risk capital from the...Obama Treasury to back such schemes, along with the political consent to unveil them as Fed-led ventures." Among the "options under consideration" are "more support for the credit card, auto loan, student loan and small business loan markets, funding for commercial mortgage-backed securities and - if the US central bank's lawyers approve - municipal bonds. The Fed might also announce that it will step up its planned purchases of mortgage-backed securities and debt issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled housing finance enterprises."
Moreover, the AP(1/26, Aversa) reports, "With the country stuck in a painful recession, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to keep its key interest rate at an all-time low this week and examine other unconventional ways to lift the economy." The Fed "is all but certain to hold rates near zero and may offer greater insights into what other steps might be taken to ease the problems."
Congress Could Give Fed "Strong New Oversight" Role. The Washington Post(1/26, A1, Irwin, Appelbaum, 696K) reports, "Congress is moving to create strong new oversight of the financial sector that would likely give the Federal Reserve authority to examine the workings of a wide range of companies in an attempt to address one of the key failures that led to the financial crisis." However, "the initiative, which could be finalized in the House by spring, is raising concerns about whether it would muddy the Fed's traditional mission and concentrate too much power in a single federal body." The legislation "envisioned by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) would put the Fed, or less likely another government agency, in charge of protecting the stability of the entire system, Frank and other congressional sources said."
BLAIR APPEARS HEADED FOR QUICK CONFIRMATION. CQ Weekly(1/26, Starks) reports that "although Democrats pressed" President Barack Obama's nominee for director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, during his confirmation hearing last week "about the use of harsh interrogation tactics and Republicans took issue with some of his answers, the DNI designate appears headed for quick confirmation in the Senate." Democrats, however, "praised most of his remarks on the subject" of torture "and welcomed an executive order that would require detainees...to be questioned under the rules" of Army Field Manual.
Blair Testimony Seen Offering "Unclassified Glimpse" Of Intelligence Operations. The Washington Post(1/26, A9, Pincus, 696K) reports that "a close look at the statement for the record by retired Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair, President Obama's nominee to be director of national intelligence," offers "an unclassified glimpse at sophisticated activities whose roots go back to the Cold War." Last week, Blair "described techniques for 'identifying opportunities' to policymakers as well as providing warnings about threats they must heed in six of the main global areas of concern." Said the DNI-designate, "Identifying these opportunities for American policy and statecraft is as important as predicting hostile threats." And "when it comes to today's greatest threat," Blair said the US must "hunt down those terrorists who are seeking to do us harm." But he "also said that the intelligence community must help identify and work with 'Arab and Muslim leaders who are striving for a progressive and peaceful future for their religion and their countries.'" The Post notes that Blair "also talked about using intelligence capabilities to find individuals to work with in China and Russia."
O'HANLON: PANETTA OBAMA'S WEAKEST NATIONAL SECURITY NOMINEE. The Washington Times(1/25, Lambro, 83K) reported that the nomination of Leon Panetta to lead the CIA "has created a sense of uneasiness among veteran national security advisers, even in Mr. Panetta's own party. 'I do have reservations about Panetta as a CIA director. He's a good man with accomplished government service and with some national security knowledge,' said Michael O'Hanlon, the ubiquitous foreign policy and military defense analyst in the Brookings Institution who often advises the Democrats on foreign policy issues. 'However, he has never had a major job in national security and therefore this seems to be Obama's weakest appointment in that sphere.'" The Times does not quote any other critics of Panetta's nomination besides O'Hanlon.
WATERBOARDING TAPES PROBE INDICATIVE OF OTHER HURDLES FACING HOLDER. The Washington Post(1/25, A8, Johnson, Tate, 696K) reported, "A little more than a year ago, then-Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey handpicked a prosecutor to investigate the destruction of CIA videotapes depicting harsh interrogation tactics used against two al-Qaeda suspects. The disclosure that the tapes, believed to portray...waterboarding, were destroyed in 2005 touched off an outcry from defense lawyers and civil liberties advocates." Prosecutor John Durham "recently told a federal judge that he would wrap up interviews by the end of February." According to the Post, "The CIA tapes investigation illustrates a broader debate that is holding up the confirmation of Eric H. Holder Jr. to serve as President Obama's attorney general. ... Congressional Democrats and left-leaning interest groups are calling on the Justice Department to revisit the alleged sins of the past and to provide the public with a legal reckoning. But it remains unclear whether Obama and Holder will have the appetite to devote scarce prosecutorial resources to exploring the politically sensitive allegations."
NAPOLITANO TAPS LUTE AS DHS DEPUTY. CQ Homeland Security(1/23) reported Friday that Jane Holl Lute, the UN assistant secretary-general for peace building efforts, "has been nominated to be deputy Homeland Security secretary." Lute also previously served as "director for European Affairs on the National Security Council staff under presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton," CQ noted. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano also "announced two additional appointments Friday, both of whom served with her when she was governor of Arizona." Noah Kroloff, "Napolitano's former deputy chief of staff and director of policy, will serve in DHS as chief of staff for policy to the secretary," and Jan Lesher, "Napolitano's former chief of staff and director of the Arizona Commerce Department, will serve in DHS as chief of staff for operations to the secretary."
The Washington Times(1/26, A1, Hudson, 83K) notes in a front-page article on Canadian border security, that Amy Kudwa, acting Homeland Security press secretary, said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano "spent her first week meeting with top agency officials. She has asked some --- including Deputy Secretary Paul A. Schneider, US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner W. Ralph Basham and Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen -- to stay on during the transition period. Miss Napolitano announced that Mr. Obama will nominate UN Assistant Secretary-General Jane Holl Lute to serve as deputy secretary, and she has appointed two of her Arizona aides to Homeland Security posts --- Noah Kroloff as chief of staff for policy and Jan Lesher as chief of staff for operations."
MCCAIN RELUCTANTLY ENDORSES LYNN'S CONFIRMATION. The AP(1/26) reports "Sen. John McCain said Sunday the confirmation of President Barack Obama's choice for deputy defense secretary should move forward despite concerns about the nominee's role as a former defense lobbyist." The Obama Administration "considers William J. Lynn, Obama's pick for the No. 2 job at the Pentagon, to be an exception from its own ban on hiring lobbyists. A s a lobbyist for Raytheon, one of the military's top contractors, Lynn worked on matters with far reach across the Pentagon." McCain said yesterday, "I don't like it. ... I think it's a bit disingenuous to announce strict rules and then nominate someone with a waiver from the rules that you just announced in one of the most important jobs in Washington." But "McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, added: 'I have asked to see which areas that Mr. Lynn will be recused from. But I think we need to probably move forward with his -- with his nomination.'"
ADMINISTRATION PERSONNEL NEWS.Al Kamen writes in his Washington Post (1/26, A9, 696K) "In the Loop" column that "names that have been floating among the foreign-defense policy types for top administration jobs." Daniel Shapiro "is said to be the pick for senior director at the NSC for the Middle East and North Africa." Daniel Benjamin"appears to be joining the State Department as assistant secretary for counterterroism." Jennifer E. Sims, "a former deputy assistant secretary of state for intelligence coordination and Senate intelligence committee aide who is now a Georgetown professor, is returning to Foggy Bottom to head the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. That would mean that Christopher A. Kojm, an aide to former congressman Lee Hamilton and one of the principal authors of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group Report, who had been eyed for INR, will be getting a major intelligence post, maybe working for CIA Director-designate Leon Panetta." At DOJ, Obama has named "criminal lawyer Lanny Breuer...to run the criminal division; David S. Kris, a critic of the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping, to oversee national security matters."
Office of the Director of National Intelligence:
OBAMA SEEN FOCUSING ON AFGHANISTAN, NOT IRAQ. The New York Daily News (1/24, Meek, 670K) reported that "when President Obama introduced US diplomats to their new boss last week, he called Afghanistan the 'central front in our enduring struggle against terrorism.' ... But no one at Secretary of State Clinton's debut said anything about Iraq." The Daily News also notes that "in a two-hour meeting with reporters this month, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell never discussed Iraq, and CIA Director Michael Hayden brought it up only once in a separate briefing -- explaining it wasn't on his top 10 list of things for Team Obama to 'fret about.'" Still, the Daily News cautions that "for all that Obama wants to focus on Afghanistan, Iraq could still complicate his strategic plans."
FEDERAL AGENCIES FAIL TO MEET CIVIL LIBERTIES PROTECTION STANDARDS. USA Today (1/26, Eisler, 2.28M) reports that the departments of Defense, State, and Health and Human Services have not met legal requirements meant to protect Americans' civil liberties, and a board that's supposed to enforce the mandates has been dormant since 2007, according to federal records." A "review of congressional filings" by the newspaper shows that "all three departments have failed to comply with a 2007 law directing them to appoint civil liberties protection officers and report regularly to Congress on the safeguards they use to make sure their programs don't undermine the public's rights and privacy." In addition, "an independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board set up to monitor the departments hasn't met publicly since 2006" and "it no longer has members." USA Today, meanwhile, notes that the departments of "Justice, Homeland Security, Treasury," as well as "the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence" have met the legal requirements.
Former ACLU Lawyer Now Works With DNI To Ensure Civil Liberties. In an accompanying article, USA Today (1/26, Eisler, 2.28M) profiles Tim Edgar, a former lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union who now works as a "civil liberties officer" for the director of national intelligence. Edgar "reviews classified intelligence programs to ensure the mandate to root out terrorists is balanced with the need to guard people's rights and privacy." Edgar, "who pushed for the requirement as an ACLU lawyer, stands out because of his high profile in the civil liberties world" and said he "was surprised to be offered the job" at the ODNI. But DNI Mike McConnell's "invitation in 2006 signaled a commitment to civil liberties," he says.
DNI IMPLEMENTING PLAN TO LINK INTELLIGENCE DATABASES. In continuing coverage, Federal Computer Week (1/26, Bain) reports on efforts underway at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence "that will allow analysts to quickly access data, improve electronic communication, and facilitate collaboration" by linking databases from the various agencies within the intelligence community. "Senior ODNI officials say the project brings technical, policy and cultural changes to the 16 intelligence agencies that will result in a more integrated intelligence community with better capabilities to find patterns of suspicious activity." Prescott Winter, who serves as chief information officer and chief technology officer for the National Security Agency and as associate deputy director of national intelligence for integration, said, "Fundamentally the issue is to map the information space to figure out where all the right stuff is and to make sure that people who need it can get access to it and that when they get access to it they get access to everything that they need." The ODNI, FCW notes, "designed the architecture to work, as much as possible, with the agencies' existing procedures and security measures." Government Computer News(1/23) also reported briefly on the effort, citing an article published last week in the Wall Street Journal.
COLUMNIST LAMENTS OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S SUPPORT OF TELECOM IMMUNITY. Washington Times (1/26, 83K) columnist Nat Hentoff writes that "watching Eric Holder's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I greatly regretted that the chief legal officer of the 'Change We Can Believe In' administration assured us that it would support George W. Bush's insistence -- in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) amendments of 2008 -- that our telecommunications companies must be immunized from any lawsuits about their complicity in the previous administration's secret massive surveillance of our telephone and internet communications." Holder and President Barack Obama, he says, "have given us their first reckoning on 'secret electronic surveillance against American citizens.' Like the previous government, they approve! I will watch with mounting interest on their other reckonings concerning, for example, CIA's secret prisons and 'renditions' of terrorism suspects to be tortured in other countries." Hentoff says he hopes Obama will "look forward, not backward. But the Constitution is our constant continual protector."
SUSPECTED US AIRSTRIKE KILLS AT LEAST 17 IN PAKISTAN. ABC World News(1/23, story 4, 0:25, Sawyer, 8.2M) reported, "There is one Bush Administration program...that President Obama is continuing: the use of unmanned drones to hunt down Al Qaeda militants on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. Seventeen people were killed today in two separate attacks, reportedly including one of Al Qaeda's top 20 leaders. With sources citing real progress since last summer, 10 of the top 20 Al Qaeda leaders in the region have been killed or captured."
The AP(1/23, Brummitt) reported, "Suspected US missiles killed 18 people on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border Friday, security officials said. ... At least five foreign militants were among those killed in the strikes by unmanned aircraft in two parts of the frontier region, an intelligence official said without naming them. There was no information on the identities of the others." The AP added, "Pakistan's leaders had expressed hope Obama might halt the strikes, but few observers expected he would end a tactic that US officials say has killed several top al-Qaida operatives and is denying the terrorist network a long-held safe haven."
According to a New York Times(1/24, A6, Oppel, 1.12M) article titled, "Strikes In Pakistan Underscore Obama's Options," US officials "said there were no immediate signs that the strikes on Friday had killed any senior Qaeda leaders. They said the attacks had dispelled for the moment any notion that Mr. Obama would rein in the Predator attacks." The Times goes on to report, "The first struck a village known as Mir Ali in North Waziristan late in the afternoon. In a statement, Pakistani government officials said the attack destroyed the house of a man identified as Khalil Dawar and killed eight people. ... A senior Pakistani security official said four of those killed were Arabs. ... In the second attack, missiles struck a house near the village of Wana in South Waziristan, killing seven people, according to local accounts and Pakistani news reported. The reported said three of the dead were children."
The Washington Post(1/24, A1, Smith, Rondeaux, Warrick, 696K), in a front-page article titled, "2 US Airstrikes Offer A Concrete Sign Of Obama's Pakistan Policy," said the strikes "offered the first tangible sign of President Obama's commitment to sustained military pressure on the terrorist groups there, even though Pakistanis broadly oppose such unilateral US actions. The shaky Pakistani government of Asif Ali Zardari has expressed hopes for warm relations with Obama, but members of Obama's new national security team have already telegraphed their intention to make firmer demands of Islamabad than the Bush administration, and to back up those demands with a threatened curtailment of the plentiful military aid that has been at the heart of US-Pakistani ties for the past three decades." According to the Post, "It remained unclear yesterday whether Obama personally authorized the strike or was involved in its final planning, but military officials have previously said the White House is routinely briefed about such attacks in advance."
The Washington Times (1/24, Carter, 83K) notes that the strikes "came a day after Mr. Obama appointed veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, signaling recognition that stabilizing Afghanistan requires a comprehensive strategy."
Pakistan Objects To US About Civilian Casualties. ABC World News (1/24, story 3, 2:10, Muir, 8.2M) reported that "President Obama quickly discontinued many of his predecessor's policies this week," but drone attacks "are a clear sign that at least one of the Bush Administration's signature counterterrorism efforts will, in fact, continue." Also, NBC Nightly News(1/24, story 4, 0:20, Holt, 8.37M) reported that Pakistan is urging Obama "to halt missile strikes on Al Qaeda strongholds near the Afghan border."
According to the AP(1/24, Shahzad), Pakistan objected Saturday to US missile strikes that killed 22 people Friday. Security officials "said eight suspected foreign militants, including an Egyptian al-Qaida operative," died in two strikes in Waziristan, but the foreign ministry "said the attacks...also killed an unspecified number of civilians and that it had informed US officials of its 'great concern.'" In another report, the AP (1/24, Straziuso, Faiez) said a raid early Saturday in the Afghan province of Laghman "killed 15 armed militants," but that Afghan authorities complain that there were 11 civilians in the group.
Biden Says US, Pakistani Cooperation Improving. Asked on CBS's Face the Nation(1/25, Schieffer, 181K) if the Obama Administration plans to continue the use of airstrikes on Pakistani soil, Vice President Joe Biden said, "As you know...I can't speak to any particular action. It's not appropriate for me to do that. But I can say that the President of the United States said during his campaign and in the debates that if there is an actionable target, a high-level Al Qaedaperson, that he would not hesitate to use action to deal withthat. But here's the good news...there is a great deal more cooperation going on now" in the tribal regions in the northwest. "So what we're doing is we're in the process of working with the Pakistanis to help train up their counterinsurgency capability of their military and we're getting new agreements withthem about how to deal with cross-border movements of these folks so we're making progress."
Holbrooke Likely To Find Troubled Pakistani Government. The Financial Times (1/24, Lamont, Bokhari) reported that when US special envoy Richard Holbrooke "arrives in Islamabad in the weeks ahead he will find a civilian administration huddled behind checkpoints and blast walls in a tense city," because "the government of" Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani "faces a daunting task." The Times added that "the war against militants on the Afghan border is intensifying, relations with India have nosedived after the Mumbai terror attacks" and the economy, "even after a $7.6bn (€5.8bn, £5.5bn) IMF rescue package," continues to be "weak." The Times also said that Gilani described the situation as "not a normal war, this is a guerrilla war." He said "NATO forces and Pakistan forces are not trained for such wars." In addition, "terror overshadows almost everything in Pakistan."
Gilani Says Laws Could Change To Aid In Terrorist Probes. In related coverage, the Financial Times (1/24, Lamont, Bokhari) reported that Gilani said in an interview that Pakistan was prepared to change its laws after the Mumbai attacks to be able to better prosecute militants who act outside the country. The Times added that his "comments are the most forthright of any Pakistani leader that the country will co-operate with its neighbour and the international community to bring the Mumbai attackers to book."
Pakistan Takes Control Of Charity Linked To Lashkar-e-Taiba. The AP (1/26, Dogar) reports Pakistan "formally took control Sunday of the main operational facility of a charity allegedly linked to the Mumbai attacks, underscoring its ongoing effort to ease international pressure over militancy on its soil." Though it "had already closed or taken over several offices, schools and other properties of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity and detained much of its central leadership," on Sunday, "a newly appointed government administrator took over the 75-acre compound in the eastern city of Muridke in Punjab province, where the group has conducted and coordinated much of its business." Asked "why it took so long for the government to take over the Muridke site, officials said it was a complicated task."
Musharraf Said Finding Bin Laden, Mullah Omar "Difficult" Task.In an interview with CNN's Situation Room (1/23), former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf said of Osama Bin Laden, "I would like to ask the United States why he hasn't been found. They have their intelligence. You have more intelligence capability. I would like to ask the United States why Mullah Omar has not been found, who is the leader of all the Taliban in Afghanistan. I mean there are issues. These are well-known issues. This is a mountainous terrain, inaccessible. Yes, indeed, there are sanctuaries. Yes, indeed, there is maybe support and harboring him, people sympathetic toward them. So all of this combined, it makes the task difficult. And there's no doubt about it."
INDIAN POLICE KILL TWO SUSPECTED PAKISTANI MILITANTS. ABC World News (1/25, story 11, 0:15, Harris, 8.2M) reported briefly that "police in India killed two suspected Pakistani militants after a car chase outside of the capital, New Delhi. The police recovered assault rifles, ammunition, hand grenades, and Pakistani identity papers. It is not clear, however, if an attack was imminent."
The AP (1/26) reports an Indian police official said "the two men died on their way to a hospital," but "before he died one of the men identified himself as Farooq and his companion as Abu Ismail and said they were both from Pakistan." The "documents and identities of the two men were being verified by police," he added. "Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mohammed Sadiq, declined to comment," the AP notes. AFP (1/26, Mohiuddin) also reports the news, while the New York Times (1/26, A9, Kumar, 1.12M) notes the incident came amid heightened security for India's Republic Day celebrations. The New Delhi police "said they would deploy 30,000 officers and commandos to secure the capital," but said they "do not have any specific input of a terrorist attack."
BIDEN WARNS US CASUALTIES IN AFGHANISTAN LIKELY TO INCREASE. The AP(1/26) reports, "Vice President Joe Biden says the nation should expect more US military casualties as the Obama administration plans to send additional troops to Afghanistan." Biden said yesterday that "additional US forces will be engaging the enemy more. Asked if that means the US public should expect more American casualties, the vice president said: 'I hate to say it, but yes, I think there will be. There will be an uptick.'" The Los Angeles Times(1/26, A1, Wallsten, 833K) refers to "a somber assessment of the road ahead" by Biden, and notes he told CBS, "We've inherited a real mess." The CBS Evening News(1/25, story 2, 0:30, Mitchell, 6.1M) showed Biden saying, "There will be an uptick because as the commander in Afghanistan said, he said, 'Joe, we will get this done, but we're going to be engaging the enemy much more.'"
The Washington Times(1/26, A1, Bellantoni, 83K) reports, "Leaders of antiwar groups that opposed Mr. Obama's campaign calls to escalate the fight in Afghanistan were frustrated Sunday by Mr. Biden's choice of words." Brian Becker, national coordinator of the Answer Coalition, said, "It shows a kind of cavalier treatment of US casualties by calling it an 'uptick,' as if there is just some little meter." Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, "found Mr. Biden's words 'offensive' and called it a 'terrible sign' that Mr. Biden is preparing the nation for the intensified conflict."
Roadside Bomb Attacks, Coalition Casualties Spiked In 2008. USA Today (1/26, Brook, 2.28M) reports, "Roadside bomb attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan hit an all-time high last year, killing more troops than ever and highlighting an "emboldened" insurgency there, according to figures released by the Pentagon." USA Today adds that "last year, 3,276 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) detonated or were detected before blowing up in Afghanistan, a 45% increase compared with 2007. The number of troops in the US-led coalition killed by bombs more than doubled in 2008 from 75 to 161. The Pentagon data did not break down the casualties by nationality."
Karzai Says US Troops Killed 16 Civilians Over The Weekend. The Financial Times (1/26, Boone) reports Afghan President Hamid Karzai "accused US troops on Sunday of killing 16 civilians during a weekend military raid, putting further strain on the already brittle relationship between Afghanistan and the new Barack Obama administration in Washington." Karzai "flatly contradicted claims by the US military that all those killed during the attack early on Saturday morning were militants, and claimed two women and three children were among the dead."
ABC World News (1/25, story 10, 0:20, Harris, 8.2M) reported briefly that "in Afghanistan today, demonstrators denounced the US military after a deadly raid by American forces. The US says the raid killed 15 armed militants, but Afghan officials say only civilians died." The Financial Times (1/26, Boone) reports that "up to 1,000 Afghans protested on Sunday in Mihtarlam, a small town about 50 miles north-east of Kabul, near where the incident took place. The crowd shouted anti-government slogans and pelted the provincial governor with stones."
The New York Times (1/26, A1, Gall, 1.12M) reports a "dangerous rift...has grown between Afghans and the United States forces trying to roll back widening Taliban control of the countryside." The Times adds that "with every case of civilian casualties or mistaken killings, the anger that Afghans feel toward the government and foreign forces deepens and makes residents less likely to help American forces, Afghan officials warn. Meanwhile, American forces are reluctant to share information about future military raids with local officials, fearing that it will be passed on to the Taliban."
Afghanistan Wants Greater Control Over NATO Actions.Under the headline "Why Afghanistan May Be Obama's Toughest Foreign Challenge," McClatchy (1/24, Landay) examines the Afghan government's demand for "a share of control over the 30,000 strong, NATO-led security force" there that the government outlined in a Jan. 10 plan. McClatchy said it has a copy of the plan, which "would give the Afghan government authority to approve an increase in International Security Assistance Force troops" and "also would limit home searches or detention of Afghans to Afghan forces and require coordination of 'all phases of' NATO ground and air operations 'at the highest possible level.'" McClatchy added that "the deteriorating relationship between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his foreign allies, however, is only one of myriad obstacles that Obama and his just-named special envoy, Richard Holbrooke, are confronting in Afghanistan."
State Department Welcomes Russian Promise For Afghan Help. According to the AP(1/23), Russian President Dmitry Medvedev "said Friday that Moscow is ready to help stabilize the situation in Afghanistan by allowing the United States and others to cross Russian territory with cargo intended for coalition forces in the war-wracked nation." He also indicated that Russia would help with "international efforts to combat drug-trafficking and terrorism in Afghanistan." In his visit Friday to Uzbekistan, "Medvedev voiced hope that Barack Obama's administration will do better than its predecessors in stabilizing Afghanistan." The AP notes that State Department spokesman Robert Wood "welcomed Medvedev's comments."
Obama, Clinton Said To Face Challenges In Afghanistan. On the front of its Week In Review section, the New York Times (1/25, WK1, Cooper, 1.12M) examines Afghanistan, the "graveyard of empires," and how the Obama Administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton face challenges there that have vexed other countries "since Alexander the Great." The story of Afghanistan is "always the same story; the invaders - British, Soviets - control the cities, but not the countryside. And eventually, the invaders don't even control the cities, and are sent packing." The Times notes said for President Obama, Afghanistan "is the signal foreign policy crisis that he must address quickly."
LOGISTICS COULD DELAY OBAMA'S 16-MONTH IRAQ WITHDRAWAL PLAN. The Christian Science Monitor(1/26, Lubold, 56K) reports, "President Obama's plan to bring American troops home from Iraq is beginning to jell, but whether he keeps his campaign promise to do it in 16 months may depend on logistics, security needs in Afghanistan, and the political dynamic he confronts at the Pentagon." Obama "is expected to meet this week with the heads of the four services, including the Army and Marine Corps, who are eager to move beyond Iraq. Obama will weigh their views with those of senior commanders, including Gen. David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, both of whom are inclined to take more than 16 months to withdraw from Iraq." The Monitor sees several "factors...at play. One is logistics: the ability to rapidly remove as many as 143,000 uniformed personnel, some 60,000 aircraft and vehicles, 120,000 trailer-sized containers, and 150,000 private contractors from nearly 50 bases and installations. ... If Obama slides on his 16-month withdrawal plans, he can use logistical and security concerns for political cover."
Marines Propose Iraq Withdrawal, Transfer To Afghanistan. The Wall Street Journal (1/24, Dreazen, 2.07M) reported that the US Marine Corps proposes "to completely withdraw from Iraq later this year and shift 20,000 Marines to Afghanistan." The top Marine commander, Gen. James Conway, said Friday that "the combat portion of the Iraq war was effectively over. 'The time is right for Marines in general terms to leave Iraq...[a] building fight taking place in another locale -- that's really where Marines need to be." The White House said that President Obama "is likely to approve the request," but that he "will have to make some difficult trade-offs" with the military "because of the demands of two long wars." The Marine proposal is reported by other media.
FATE OF DETAINEES UNDER IRAQI CONTROL SPARKS WORRIES. Under the headline "Some Worried About Detainee Transfer To Iraq," USA Today (1/26, Stone, 2.28M) reports from Camp Cropper, in Iraq, " Starting Feb. 1, the US military will release up to 1,500 detainees a month to the Iraqis, as part of the security agreement that went into effect Jan. 1 to give the Iraqi government more authority. ... The first 1,500 to be released are considered low-risk because they joined the insurgency for money or because their families were threatened. The military is scrambling to ensure there is no way out for 5,000 'unreconcilables,' as Brig. Gen. David Quantock calls the most hardened prisoners." USA Today adds that "concerns about how detainees will be treated are reminders of the scandal in 2004 at Abu Ghraib prison, where several US soldiers abused detainees. Signs at Camp Cropper order guards to 'treat detainees with dignity and respect,'" but "some doubt that sentiment is shared in Iraqi prisons."
Iraq To Reopen Abu Ghraib Under New Name. The AP (1/24, Gamel) reported that Iraq intends to open the Abu Ghraib prison within a month, "but it's getting a facelift and a new name." The AP added that the "renovated facility will be called Baghdad's Central Prison because the name Abu Ghraib has left a 'bitter feeling inside Iraqis' hearts, deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim said." The prison is being reopened to address crowding, but the facility "will be operated according to international standards," according to Ibrahim.
MALIKI TRYING TO REASSURE VOTERS THAT HE WILL RESPECT LOCAL CONTROL. The New York Times(1/26, A1, Rubin, 1.12M) reports on its front page, "Few have as much to gain or lose from the provincial elections on Saturday as Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, whose party is battling rivals across Iraq." The results "will strongly signal how much power Mr. Maliki, an increasingly authoritarian leader, will be able to command. Either the vote will strengthen his party at the local level or it will bolster his rivals, who want to keep more power in the provinces." While "Maliki is trying to reassure Iraqis that while he will be a strong leader, he will also respect local interests...many Iraqi politicians -- even some onetime allies -- do not believe him. They fear a return to the sway of a single leader, arbitrary and bloodthirsty, with power concentrated in Baghdad."
The AP(1/26, Yacoub), meanwhile, reports that Maliki yesterday "blamed sectarianism for destroying the country, as he tried to tap into a backlash against religious parties before next weekend's nationwide provincial elections." The prime minister, the AP notes, "has been delivering numerous speeches in the days leading up to next Saturday's provincial elections in a thinly veiled effort to rally support for the candidates running under the umbrella group that includes his Dawa party." Said Maliki, "Sectarianism is behind the destruction of the country," adding that "it is natural that we have different views, but we are all representing a unified Iraq that is not ready for division." In his remarks, says the AP, Maliki "appeared to be distancing himself from the major religious parties, particularly his governmental ally the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council."
Tribes Could Play Decisive Role In Iraq Elections. On its front page, the Washington Post (1/25, A1, Shadid, 696K) explores the "ascendancy of tribes" in Iraq's upcoming election, focusing in its lead on Anbar, "once the bastion of the insurgency against the American occupation and now a freewheeling arena of electoral politics steeped in payola" and "the equivalent of a stump speech." The Post added that "the results of next Saturday's ballot may say less about the campaigns themselves than about the political geography of Anbar, where tribes, sprawling clans steeped in tradition and courted by the US military, enjoy more power than at any time since the Iraqi monarchy was toppled half a century ago." The AP (1/24, Reid) added that the elections for provincial leaders are "a test of Iraq's stability as the US plans to remove its troops," and " the stakes are enormous -- both for Iraq and the United States."
Iran Said It Will Not Interfere. According to AFP (1/24, Pouladi), Iran "welcomed moves" by the Obama Administration "to pull American troops out of Iraq and insisted that Tehran would not meddle in elections" there.
OBAMA SAID TO HAVE LEFT LOOPHOLE IN TORTURE BAN. Newsweek(2/2, Hosenball, 3.11M) reports, "Publicly at least, President Obama has made a clean break with his predecessor's controversial counterterrorism policies, but in private the new administration is leaving itself some wiggle room. A day before Obama signed executive orders closing Guantánamo Bay and banning torture," White House counsel Gregory Craig "privately indicated to Congress that the new president reserved the right to ignore his own (and any other president's) executive orders. In a closed-door appearance before the Senate intelligence committee," Craig "was asked whether the president was required by law to follow executive orders. ... Craig answered that the administration did not believe he was. The implication: in a national-security crisis, Obama could deviate from his own rules." However, an unnamed White House official "said that Craig's remarks were being 'mischaracterized.'"
McCain, Kerry Welcome Move To Ban Torture. Appearing on Fox News Sunday(1/25, Wallace), Sen. John McCain welcomed President Obama's move last week to ban torture, saying: "I think it is time to move forward and I believe waterboarding is in violation of the Geneva Conventions and I have said it for years, but it is time to move forward. Look, let's enact policies and make sure America's image in the world is never damaged again. But, to go back and to prosecute people, in my view, who are carrying out the instructions they were given, some of the toughest jobs in the world, are being members of our intelligence service. People put their lives on the line every day. I would not like to damage the morale of those brave Americans who serve at not very high paying and not a lot of compensation under the most difficult of circumstances."
In an op-ed appearing on the CNN(1/25) website, Sen. John Kerry said Obama's executive order "was an important day for the rule of law in the United States of America" and is "among the most meaningful" changes he has made, "because they send a powerful message that America's struggle against terrorism will once against honor some of the most cherished ideals of our republic: respect for the rule of law, individual rights, and America's moral leadership."
Abuses Said To Have Been Avoidable. In an op-ed for the Washington Post(1/25, B1, 696K), Karen Greenberg, executive director of New York University's Center on Law and Security and the author of the forthcoming "The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days," wrote, "The following account, which draws on dozens of interviews I conducted over the past few years, tells the startling tale of a period shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, when military officers on the ground tried to do the right thing with the recently captured detainees but were ultimately defeated by civilian officials back in Washington. Those early days...strongly suggest that the damage the prison inflicted on America's honor and security could have been avoided if policymakers had been willing to follow the uniformed military's basic instincts."
FORMER GUANTANAMO DETAINEE NOW A TOP AL QAEDA LEADER IN YEMEN. NBC Nightly News(1/23, story 2, 3:35, Williams, 8.37M) reported, "Today, we got a grim reminder today of one of the real dangers in closing the Guantanamo prison...once detainees are released there's a good chance the US will have to fight them all over again. Seen here in this recent Al Qaeda video, Sayid al Sharee is not just any terrorist. He's Al Qaeda's deputy commander in Yemen. But perhaps more troubling, he's a former prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. After three years in custody, al Sharee was considered to no longer be a threat, and in 2007 was released to Saudi Arabia. NBC News visited the same program where the Saudis tried to break al Sharee of his terrorist connections. But last year rejoined Al Qaeda in Yemen, where he's believed responsible for last September's bombing of the US embassy. Salim al Ajimi was also released from Guantanamo, but last March in this Al Qaeda video carried out a suicide bombing against Iraqi police in Mosul." NBC continued, "Of the 525 detainees released from Guantanamo, the Pentagon claims 61 of those, nearly 12%, are believed to have rejoined Al Qaeda in the fight against the US. Some in Congress fear that President Obama's order to close Guantanamo in a year will only provide Al Qaeda with more reinforcements."
ABC World News(1/23, story 5, 2:25, Sawyer, 8.2M) also reported, "The news underscores questions raised by President Obama's order yesterday that Guantanamo be closed within a year." According to ABC, "It appears that at least a half dozen cases, detainees released from Guantanamo have gone right back to fighting for Al Qaeda, despite what has come to be known as terror rehab."
The AP(1/23, Hess) reported that according to the Pentagon, "At least 18 former Guantanamo detainees have 'returned to the fight' and another 43 are suspected of resuming terrorist activities. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell declined to provide the identity of the former detainees or what their terrorist activities were." Al-Shihri "allegedly traveled to Afghanistan two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, provided money to other fighters and trained in urban warfare at a camp north of Kabul, according to a summary of the evidence against him from US military review panels at Guantanamo Bay. An alleged travel coordinator for al-Qaida, he was also accused of meeting extremists in Mashad, Iran, and briefing them on how to enter Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department documents."
Two Former Detainees Identified In Al Qaeda Video. The New York Times(1/25, A8, Worth, 1.12M) reported, "Two former Guantánamo Bay detainees now appear to have joined Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch, which released a video on Friday showing them both and identifying them by their names and Guantánamo detainee numbers. American counterterrorism officials have already confirmed that Said Ali al-Shihri, 35, who was released from the American prison camp at Guantánamo in November 2007, is now the deputy leader of Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch. ... In the video released Friday, Mr. Shihri sits alongside a man identified as Abu Hareth Muhammad al-Awfi, who appears with a script at the bottom of the screen giving his Guantánamo identification number, 333. That number corresponds to a man known in Pentagon documents as Mohamed Atiq Awayd al-Harbi, who was also released to Saudi Arabia in November 2007."
AL QAEDA ATTACKS OBAMA WITH TORRENT OF INSULTS. The Washington Post(1/25, A1, Warrick, 696K), in a front-page article titled "To Combat Obama, Al-Qaeda Hurls Insults," reported, "Soon after the November election, al-Qaeda's No. 2 leader took stock of America's new president-elect and dismissed him with an insulting epithet. 'A house Negro,' Ayman al-Zawahiri said. ... In the weeks since, the terrorist group has unleashed a stream of verbal tirades against Barack Obama, each more venomous than the last. Obama has been called a 'hypocrite,' a 'killer' of innocents, an 'enemy of Muslims.'" According to the Post, "The torrent of hateful words is part of what terrorism experts now believe is a deliberate, even desperate, propaganda campaign against a president who appears to have gotten under al-Qaeda's skin. ... With Obama, al-Qaeda faces an entirely new challenge, experts say: a US president who campaigned to end the Iraq war and to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and who polls show is well liked throughout the Muslim world."
AL-JAWARY SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE FROM US PRISON NEXT MONTH. The AP(1/24) reported that "in less than a month," Khalid Duhham Al-Jawary will be released from a Federal prison after being convicted of plotting attacks in 1973 on New York City. "He will likely be deported; where to is anybody's guess" because "the shadowy figure had so many aliases it's almost impossible to know which country is his true homeland." But "an Associated Press investigation -- based on recently declassified documents, extensive court records, CIA investigative notes and interviews with former intelligence officials -- reveals publicly for the first time Al-Jawary's deep involvement in terrorism beyond the plot that led to his conviction." According to the AP, "government documents link Al-Jawary to Black September's murderous letter-bombing campaign targeting world leaders in the 1970s and a botched terrorist attack in 1979The AP went on to detail the FBI investigation that led to Al-Jawary's arrest, as well as details about his other suspected terror plotting. Al-Jawary, the AP reports, "is scheduled to be released Feb. 19 after completing only about half his term, including time served prior to his sentencing and credit for good behavior," and "once he's released," he "will be handed over to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and held until his deportation," but "it remains unclear where he'll go, largely because Al-Jawary's true identity remains in question -- even to this day." But "those who helped put Al-Jawary behind bars believe he'll pick up where he left off."
NETANYAHU DESCRIBES CONVERSATIONS WITH OBAMA REGARDING IRANIAN THREAT. Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal(1/24, A9, 2.07M) wrote that former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "gaze is intently fixed on Iran. ... 'The arming of Iran with nuclear weapons may portend an irreversible process, because these regimes assume a kind of immortality,' he said, arguing that the threat of a nuclear Iran poses a much graver danger to the world than the current economic crisis." Stephens added, "How to stop that from happening? Mr. Netanyahu mentions that he has met with Barack Obama both in Israel and Washington, and that the question of Iran 'loomed large in both conversations.' I ask: Did Mr. Obama seem to him appropriately sober-minded about the subject? 'Very much so, very much so,' Mr. Netanyahu stresses. 'He [Mr. Obama] spoke of his plans to engage Iran in order to impress upon them that they have to stop the nuclear program. What I said to him was, what counts is not the method but the goal.'"
Iran's Uranium Stockpile Reportedly Running Low. The Times of London (1/24, Pagnamenta, Evans, Halpin) reported, "Western powers believe that Iran is running short of the raw material required to manufacture nuclear weapons, triggering an international race to prevent it from importing more, The Times has learnt. Diplomatic sources believe that Iran's stockpile of yellow cake uranium, produced from uranium ore, is close to running out and could be exhausted within months. Countries including Britain, the US, France and Germany have started intensive diplomatic efforts to dissuade major uranium producers from selling to Iran."
Iran Claims Successful Test Of Air-To-Air Missile. The AP (1/26) reports briefly that Iranian state television said Sunday "the country has successfully test-fired a heat-seeking air-to-air missile." The report "quotes air force chief Gen. Hasan Shahsafi as saying the missile has a range of 62 miles, or 100 kilometers," but "did not elaborate."
KIM JONG NAM SAID TO HAVE NO INTEREST IN SUCCEEDING HIS FATHER.The oldest son of North Korea's Kim Jong Il "has no interest" in who runs the country when his father dies, and his father "has not yet named a successor," reported the AP(1/24, Kim). The remarks by Kim Jong Nam "came amid conflicting media speculation" about his father's succession plans "and a day after the North's leader met a senior Chinese envoy in an apparent bid to show he is fit despite reportedly suffering a stroke last August."
HAMAS SAYS CEASEFIRE WILL NOT BE RENEWED UNLESS GAZA BORDERS ARE OPENED. The Financial Times(1/26, Fifield) reports, "Hamas will not consider renewing its ceasefire with Israel on Sunday unless" it "agrees to open fully its borders with the Gaza Strip, according to a senior official from the Palestinian militant group." As a Hamas opens a new round of talks in Cairo "with Egyptian authorities aimed at shoring up the fragile ceasefire declared a week earlier," Ahmed Yousef, "a close aide" to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, "told the Financial Times that the group would not sign a new ceasefire if Israel refused to fully open the borders." Said Yousef in an interview, "If the suffering does not end, then there can be no ceasefire." Keeping the borders closed would keep Gaza "in a state of siege, under sanctions," which would amount to "a declaration of war," he said. Echoing Yousef, "Ahmed el-Kurd, the minister of labor in the Hamas-run government in Gaza," said in an interview with the New York Times (1/26, A6, Tavernise, 1.12M) that "the embargo is war."
Hamas Reasserts Itself In Gaza As Tunnel Rebuilding Begins.Media reported on Gaza are focused on Hamas efforts to re-establish its role there. The New York Times (1/24, A6, Tavernise, 1.12M) leads its report with descriptions of how "less than a week" after the conflict there ended, "Gazans were back, plunging deep underground with lamps to carry rocky loads of soil out on pulleys" as they begin rebuilding tunnels. "The tunnels are the principal livelihood for many people here," the Times added, "and as soon as the bombing stopped, they were right back in them with their shovels."
The Washington Post(1/24, A7, Witte, Finer, 696K) added that "on the rubble-strewn streets of Gaza there is little question that" Hamas "retains a firm grip on power." Familiar scenes are returning, as "Hamas policemen wearing fatigues and cradling assault rifles stand guard at their usual posts, even where the buildings they have been assigned to protect no longer exist," while "pro-Hamas preachers celebrate their 'victory' in mosques overflowing with followers who say their devotion to the group has only grown." In the meantime, "movement officials...coordinate cleanup efforts."
French Send Ship, Helicopter To Gaza Waters. Other nations are taking up "a mission against arms trafficking," according to AFP (1/23). The French sent a frigate carrying a helicopter on Friday; it went to "international waters" near Gaza "in cooperation with Israel and Egypt" to watch the area. The AP (1/23) added that French President Nicolas Sarkozy "ordered Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to immediately 'coordinate closely' with the United States and Europe to propose other ways to fight arms smuggling on land and at sea."
MEXICO SEEN AS POTENTIAL "FAILED STATE" AS CALDERON SEEKS TIES WITH US. The Los Angeles Times (1/25, Ellingwood, 833K) reported that Mexican President Felipe Calderon is defending against suggestion.