President Obama’s official White House photographer Pete Souza recently posted his favorite images of 2012 on the White House flickr’s site. The photos offer a look behind the scenes of the life of the President of the United States.
Some of Souza’s photographs are featured above, with the captions written by the White House photographer himself.
As they say in southern Delaware, nobody, but NOBODY schmoozes like Joe Biden. Just watch the Veep in action as he greeted new and returning senators in Washington Thursday. If this was the rap he was using on Sen. Mitch McConnell during the debt crisis negotiations, whoa. The man can sell.
The family of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND, may never forget the day when the Vice Leader of the Free World said to them: “Spread your legs, you’re gonna be frisked.” Watch….
Saying that they’re concerned that the CIA may have “misled” filmmakers, U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is leading a trio of lawmakers in asking acting CIA director Michael Morell to answer questions about the making of the highly acclaimed movie, “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Feinstein, along with , Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Senate Armed Service Committee Ranking Member John McCain (R-Ariz.), sent the letter today to Morell.
The Golden Globes-nominaed picture, directed by Oscar-winner Kathyrn Bigelow, portrays the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden by Navy Seals.
The Senators are “seeking information provided to the filmmakers of the film…and clarification of comments made to CIA employees related to the use of coercive interrogation techniques on CIA detainees,” according to a release from the Senate today.
Feinstein and company are asking Morell to provide information obtained from CIA detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques “and whether such information was provided prior to, during, or after the detainee was subjected to such techniques.”
Here’s a clip of the movie:
And here’s the text of today’s letter:
December 31, 2012
Mr. Michael Morell
Central Intelligence Agency
Dear Acting Director Morell:
In your December 21, 2012, statement to CIA employees regarding the film, Zero Dark Thirty, you state that “the film creates the strong impression that enhanced interrogation techniques” were “the key to finding Bin Ladin” and that this impression “is false.” However, you went on to refer to multiple streams of intelligence that led CIA analysts to conclude that Bin Ladin was hiding in Abbottabad and stated that “Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well. And, importantly, whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved.”
In our previous letter of December 18, 2012, we made several points based on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program that are potentially inconsistent with your press release. Principal among those points was that “The CIA detainee who provided the most accurate information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.”
Accordingly, we would ask that you provide the following to the Committee:
1. In regards to the Bin Laden operation, what information was acquired from CIA detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques? When was this information provided: prior to, during, or after the detainee was subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques? If after, how long after? Please note whether such information corroborated information previously known to the CIA.
2. Please provide specific examples of information that was obtained in a “timely and effective” way from CIA detainees subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques? When was this information provided: prior to, during, or after the detainee was subjected to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques? If after, how long after? Please note whether such information corroborated information previously known to the CIA.
Thank you for your assistance on this important matter.
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Senate Armed Services Committee
Ex-Officio Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Senate Armed Services Committee
Ex-Officio Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Fox News is preparing to feast on this development for years. Doesn’t get much better for them that liberal former VP Gore — long one of their punching bags — sells to the network that once broadcast Al Qaeda videos in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. No matter that A-J has won all sorts of journalistic awards; Bill O’Reilly just got his programming set for the next month.
Here is a note that Hyatt sent to Current employees Wednesday afternoon explaining their reasoning. Interesting to note how Hyatt points out the journalistic strengths of A-J as well as the underlying values it shares with Current. (Somewhere around the seventh paragraph of this note, we’re guessing that O’Reilly has rolled onto his back, giggling in delight.) And you gotta love Hyatt’s “Colin Powell” name check.
Al and I are thrilled and proud to announce that a few moments ago Current was acquired by Al Jazeera, the award winning international news organization.
When considering the several suitors who were interested in acquiring
Current, it became clear to us that Al Jazeera was founded with the same goals we had for Current: To give voice to those whose voices are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the important stories that no one else is telling. Al Jazeera, like Current, believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us.
Al and I did significant due diligence as part of our evaluation process.
We were impressed with all that we learned about Al Jazeera and its
journalistic integrity, global reach, award-winning programming, and
growing influence around the world. That influence has recently been
demonstrated by Al Jazeera’s important and impactful coverage of the Arab Spring, which was widely credited as being the most thorough and
informative coverage from any media company. Colin Powell told Al that Al Jazeera is the only cable news network he watches (which he is able to do because Comcast carries it in the Washington, DC market).
As you may know, Al Jazeera is funded by the government of Qatar, which is the United States’ closest ally in the Gulf Region, and is where the United States bases its Middle East Air Force operations. I have had first-hand knowledge of Qatar’s policies as a result of my tenure on the Board of The Brookings Institution. The Saban Center for Middle East Policy is a joint venture of The Brookings Institution and Qatar, and it has offices in Washington, DC and Doha, Qatar. Its purpose is to propose practical public policies that can contribute to peace in the Middle East,and its founding Director is my friend, Martin Indyk, the former U.S.Ambassador to Israel.
While considering this decision, I spent a week in Doha, Qatar, where Al
Jazeera is headquartered, and I am pleased to tell you that I could not
have been more impressed with their operation. First of all, they are
bringing large-scale resources to journalism – something which we have not been able to do. Al Jazeera has more than 80 bureaus around the world,and is seen in more than 260 million homes in 130 countries. Al Jazeera has a staff of over 4000 people, including 400 journalists. Its
journalists hail from more than 50 countries, with every conceivable
nationality and religion represented on its professional team. Al Jazeera
is a major global media player.
The rest of the world thinks so too. Al Jazeera English has won many, many awards including an Alfred I DuPont Award for Best Documentary, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards for freedom of speech and expression, an Amnesty International Award for International TV and Radio, the prestigious Peabody Award, and the Huffington Post Ultimate Media Gamechanger award.
All of this is compelling, but what really convinced Al and me that Al
Jazeera would be a great home for the people of Current was their publicly stated Values and Core Capabilities. Their mission includes the
following: Diversity (“bringing stories from the underreported communities, societies and cultures from across the globe), Journalistic
Integrity (“committed to the uncompromising pursuit of truth and the
ideals of journalism”), and A Voice for the Voiceless (“promoting the
basic human right of the freedom of expression for people everywhere”).
Al Jazeera is planning to invest significantly in building “Al Jazeera America,” a network focused on international news for the American
audience. Al and I will both serve on the Advisory Board of Al Jazeera
America, and we look forward to helping build an important news network.
Obviously there will be a lot of transition work in the coming weeks. Al Jazeera does not have a management team in place in the U.S to run this new venture. They are extremely impressed with our people and our accomplishments. I will be holding staff meetings in the next few days and will introduce the senior folks from Al Jazeera who have led the planning for this entry into the United States. (I will separately communicate as to the day and time for those staff meetings.) We will communicate more of the details of this acquisition during those meetings.
Getting this transaction done was very difficult. One of Current’s
distributors, Time Warner Cable, did not consent to the sale to Al
Jazeera. Consequently, Current will no longer be carried on TWC. This is
unfortunate, but I am confident that Al Jazeera America will earn
significant additional carriage in the months and years ahead. In the
United Kingdom, it has become the number three news network (behind the BBC and Sky News). It did that by investing in great programming – as it intends to do in the United States.
Al and I are incredibly proud of what all of us have been able to
accomplish together. Throughout our short history, Current has been a
thought leader for the media industry, innovating many exciting features that became standard after we introduced them. (Tweets on television anyone?!) Just this past year, we’ve been able to provide our viewers with fantastic interactive and social TV 2.0 coverage of the Presidential Election, including a peek inside the Obama Campaign headquarters, in depth analysis of the Libor Scandal, the breaking and relentless coverage of the Trayvon Martin scandal, and the list goes on and on. We have won most of the important awards in the journalism profession. We have stayed true to our independence and courage. And in our choice of new corporate parent, we are continuing to strive to make a difference – to provide the American people with information and analysis they need to live better, more secure, happier lives. I am confident this will continue into the future.
As I reflected deeply about this decision – both to sell the company and to whom – I kept coming back to one basic notion: The purpose of journalism is to provide those who don’t know with information and knowledge so that they can become those who do know. Bias and hatred are fueled by ignorance. Information and knowledge are the only antidotes to that ignorance. That is the role journalism must play – to provide the knowledge that sweeps away the bias and hatred caused by ignorance. It is a noble pursuit. I am proud of each and every one of you for your dedication to pursuing that noble goal. And it is a privilege to have worked with all of you these past few years.
Please accept my best wishes for a happy, healthy, exciting and fulfilling New Year!
All the best,
The new 113th Congress begins today with the election of Republican John Boehner of Ohio as Speaker and Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, as minority leader. (Boehner is in no apparent danger of being ousted, despite Eric Cantor’s lusting after the job, Boehner’s humiliation on the fiscal cliff negotiation, not to mention the disastrous refusal and quick backtrack on Sandy relief that drew the wrath of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. See earlier posts.)
One of the first acts of the Republican leadership is to continue their $1.7 million defense of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, despite the defeat of one of its champions, former Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Sacramento.
DOMA is under Supreme Court review, and as we know, the Obama administration abandoned its DOMA defense nearly a year ago, after which it was taken up by House Republicans.
Amid signs of Republican softening on immigration and even gay rights in the wake of election losses, Republicans buried the DOMA provision in their rules package, making no mention of it publicly. That left the field wide open to Democrats to hammer away.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said the GOP “fiscal responsibility mantra does not extend to their efforts to stand firmly on the wrong side of the future. Republicans will take the extraordinary measure of including an authorization of their efforts to defend DOMA in the Rules of the House of Representatives and by doing so, continue to spend taxpayer funds, already adding up to $1.7 million, in their attempts to defend this shameful law in federal courts and the Supreme Court.”
Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, lambasted Republicans for not allowing an up-or-down majority vote on a stand-alone DOMA defense, instead of hiding it in the rules package.
“On this defining issue of our time, House Republicans are continuing to fight for discrimination and using the Rules package to make it seem as if all Members of the House feel that way,” Honda said in a statement.
The U.S. House of Representatives welcomed 84 new members today, including the youngest new member, East Bay Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell — who has already been interviewed on Capitol Hill about whether he’ll make a run for president.
Swalwell, in a broadcast interview Politico.com, laughed that one off — and said today that as part of the freshman class, he’s raring to provide some “new energy” to the House.
Swalwell represents California’s 15th Congressional District that includes Livermore, Danville and Newark. He repeated his call for a movement toward a more “mobile Congress,” which would marshall the same social media and technology used by American business, like video conferencing, to save money and allow House members to spend more time with constituents in the districts.
(Good luck with that: we hear the newbies aren’t even getting phones or websites until the end of the month.)
The former Alameda County prosecutor said one of the first bills he’s going to co-sponsor will be with Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-New York– a ban on high capacity magazines and assault weapons that comes in the wake of the Newtown massacre.
Asked by Politico if he would ever run for President, Swalwell said: “Fourteen months ago, no one thought I would ever run for Congress,” he laughed. “I’m just thrilled to be here….I’m going to do everything I can to serve the people I sent me here.”