April 9, 2010

Salahis: 'We have stayed low-key'

Posted: 05:12 PM ET

By Patrick Gavin & Anne Schroeder Mullins


On Thursday night, Tareq and Michaele Salahi made a rare public appearance at District bar in Adams Morgan for a "Hollywood vs. Bollywood" party hosted by nightlife blogger Kelly Ann Collins. POLITICO had a chance to catch up with the couple, who became household names after they crashed the White House's state dinner in November. 

"This is our first public appearance in Washington, D.C., since November," said Tareq Salahi. "We're here to celebrate the America's Polo Cup." The event marked the beginning of polo season and started "the countdown to the USA vs. India match in June," according to an invite. (You'll recall that the state dinner the Salahis crashed was intended to honor the prime minister of India.)

"We have stayed quiet; we have stayed low key," said Tareq. "That's what we committed to do, and we've honored the commitment we've made with ourselves and with our counsel and with others to stay quiet and not discuss things that weren't really necessary to discuss."

Not that they had entirely put the state dinner in the past. In fact, Tareq was sporting White House cufflinks.

We had to ask: Would they do it all over again, given that the crashing stunt made them famous?

No way.

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Filed under: Entertainment • President Obama • Salahis

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High court: Justice Stevens to retire

Posted: 03:11 PM ET

Washington (CNN) - Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said Friday he will retire this year, giving President Obama another opportunity to shape the nation's highest court. 

Stevens, who turns 90 on April 20 and has served nearly 35 years on the court, announced his resignation in a brief letter delivered to the White House at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

"My dear Mr. President," Stevens wrote. "Having concluded that it would be in the best interests of the court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the court's next term, I shall retire from regular active service as an associate justice ... effective the next day after the court rises for the summer recess this year."

He signed it, "Most respectfully yours."

White House counsel Bob Bauer discussed Stevens' retirement by telephone at 10:45 a.m. with Obama, who was returning from Europe aboard Air Force One. Obama is expected to make an announcement after his arrival in Washington on Friday afternoon.

Stevens was at a second home Friday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a court official said.

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Filed under: Justice • Politics • President Obama • Supreme Court

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March 29, 2010

Obama headed back to U.S. after surprise visit to Afghanistan

Posted: 08:08 AM ET

President Obama is expected to return to the United States on Monday morning after a surprise visit to Afghanistan, where he met with his Afghan counterpart and reiterated the need to wipe out terror networks.

Obama slipped into Bagram Air Base near Kabul under the cover of darkness on Sunday.

He met with about 2,000 troops at the U.S. base and told them their work is significant to security at home.

"I know it's not easy," he said. "If I thought for a minute that America's vital interests were not served, were not at stake here in Afghanistan, I would order all of you home right away."

The United States has made progress in the fight against al Qaeda and its allies, Obama said.

(Read more)

Filed under: International • President Obama

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March 25, 2010

Obama signs executive order on abortion funding limits

Posted: 09:00 PM ET

Washington (CNN) - President Obama signed an executive order Wednesday ensuring that existing limits on the federal funding of abortion remain in place under the new health care reform law.

Unlike the signing of the health care bill Tuesday - which was conducted under the glare of television cameras - Wednesday's event was closed to the news media.

It was attended by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan and 12 other House Democrats opposed to abortion rights, without whose help the landmark overhaul bill would not have passed, political observers say.

The White House has said the executive order reaffirms abortion funding restrictions first enacted in 1977.

"While the legislation as written maintains current law, the executive order provides additional safeguards to ensure that the status quo is upheld and enforced, and that the health care legislation's restrictions against the public funding of abortions cannot be circumvented," the White House said previously.

Stupak said the order makes very clear that the current law applies to the new law.

"I have said from the start that my goal was to see health care pass while maintaining the principle of the sanctity of life," he said Tuesday.


Filed under: Health Care • President Obama

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February 24, 2010

Suprise: Obama Reportedly Planning 2012 Run

Posted: 03:21 PM ET

By Mike Allen

President Barack Obama’s top advisers are quietly laying the groundwork for the 2012 reelection campaign, which is likely to be run out of Chicago and managed by White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, according to Democrats familiar with the discussions.

The planning for now consists entirely of private conversations, with Obama aides at all levels indulging occasionally in closed-door 2012 discussions while focusing ferociously on the midterm elections and health care reform, the Democratic sources said. “The gathering storm is the 2010 elections,” one top official said.

But the sources said Obama has given every sign of planning to run again and wants the next campaign to resemble the highly successful 2008 effort.

David Axelrod, White House senior adviser, may leave the West Wing to rejoin his family in Chicago and reprise his role as Obama’s muse, overseeing the campaign’s tone, themes, messages and advertising, the sources said.


Filed under: President Obama

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February 18, 2010

Dalai Lama to meet Obama today; on LKL Monday night!

Posted: 11:45 AM ET

The Dalai Lama goes one-on-one Monday with CNN's Larry King in his first interview after his meeting with President Obama. Hear his thoughts on China, human rights and the situation in Haiti. At 9 p.m. ET Monday on "Larry King Live."

President Obama will meet the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, on Thursday at the White House despite strong objections from the Chinese government.

The meeting has the potential to complicate Sino-U.S. tensions further, which have been rising in recent months.

China has warned the meeting will certainly damage ties with Washington.

"It will seriously undermine the Sino-U.S. political relations," Zhu Weiqun, a senior Communist Party leader in charge of ethnic and religious affairs, said recently. "We will take corresponding action to make relevant countries see their mistakes."

The Dalai Lama has said he favors genuine autonomy for Tibetans, not independence for Tibet. Beijing regards the Nobel Peace Prize laureate as a dangerous "separatist," a politician who wishes to sever Tibet from China.

Obama did not meet with the Dalai Lama during his Washington visit last fall, making it the first time since 1991 a meeting with the U.S. president and Tibetan spiritual leader had not occurred. Ahead of a summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Obama persuaded Tibetan representatives then to postpone the meeting with the Dalai Lama.

(read more)

Filed under: Dalai Lama • Larry King Live • President Obama

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January 12, 2010

Larry Interviews President Obama's Brother

Posted: 06:30 PM ET
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January 6, 2010

Did Obama Politicize the Terror Database?

Posted: 12:23 AM ET
President Obama has faced criticism for how he responded to the attempted terrorist attack.In his usual heroic fashion, Obama tossed that hot Christmas Bomber potato to Janet Napolitano, and when she dropped the potato, it got cannoned over to the CIA with a quick fake to Dick Cheney, who didn't even bother to answer. Obama kept his head buried deep in the sand at Oahu for almost four days while all this was going on. But this was Obama's personal hot potato, and I believe he may personally be at fault for placing almost three hundred passengers in deadly peril on NW Flight 253 on Christmas Day.

How? By putting a politically correct twist on the existing terrorist database.

If you think about this as a Google search, pinpointing Omar the Bomber before he got on the plane wasn't hard. Google could have done it in a flash as soon as Omar tried to board a plane in Africa. All they had to do was Google "Christmas flights to U.S., departing Muslim-majority country, cash paid, one-way, no check-in luggage." Then they could have spotted him in Amsterdam before boarding there. Even after he was on NW 253, a simple search of the terrorist database would have brought up this wannabe mass killer.

Filed under: Larry King Live • Politics • President Obama • Terrorism

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January 5, 2010

Bombing suspect provided 'actionable intelligence,' White House says

Posted: 08:53 PM ET

Washington (CNN) - The FBI attained "actionable intelligence" from bombing suspect Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab in the first hours after his arrest on Christmas Day, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.

"AbdulMutallab spent a number of hours with FBI investigators in which we gleaned useable, actionable intelligence," Gibbs told reporters.

According to authorities, Nigerian-born AbdulMutallab tried to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear as a flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, made its final approach to Detroit, Michigan, December 25. The device failed to fully detonate, instead setting off a fire at the man's seat.

Gibbs declined to elaborate on the nature of the intelligence. AbdulMutallab, 23, has been tied to the Yemen-based group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

In a statement to reporters after meeting with his national security team, President Obama said U.S. officials had enough information in their possession before the failed bombing attack to have prevented the suspect from getting on the plane, but had been unable to "connect the dots."

Obama said he ordered his security team to complete preliminary reviews of the situation this week so that suggested reforms can be implemented immediately.

"Time and again we've learned that quickly piecing together information and taking swift action is critical to staying one step ahead of a nimble adversary," Obama said. "So we have to do better, and we will do better, and we have to do it quickly. American lives are on the line."

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Filed under: Larry King Live • President Obama • Terrorism

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Obama: 'System failed' in a major way

Posted: 08:49 PM ET

Washington (CNN) - President Obama said Tuesday that U.S. intelligence has had considerable success, but that the botched Christmas Day attack shows "the system has failed" in a major way.

"When a suspected terrorist is able to board a plane with explosives on Christmas Day, the system has failed in a potentially disastrous way," Obama said at the White House in a statement to reporters.

U.S. intelligence had uncovered numerous "red flags" prior to the attack, Obama said at the White House, but failed to connect the dots.

"The U.S. government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack, but our intelligence community failed to connect those dots, which would have placed the suspect on the no-fly list," Obama said.

"In other words, this was not a failure to collect intelligence; it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had," the president said. "The information was there, agencies and analysts who needed it had access to it, and our professionals were trained to look for it and to bring it all together."

Obama said he could accept the imperfect nature of intelligence work, "but it is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully analyzed or fully leveraged," he said, adding: "That's not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it."

The president listed steps so far to enhance security, including more airport screening and tighter monitoring of U.S. visa holders.

In addition, Obama said he ordered his national security team to complete preliminary reviews of the situation this week so that suggested reforms can be implemented right way.

"Time and again we've learned that quickly piecing together information and taking swift action is critical to staying one step ahead of a nimble adversary," Obama said. "So we have to do better, and we will do better, and we have to do it quickly. American lives are on the line."

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Filed under: Larry King Live • President Obama

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