Following reports the CIA hired private spies to be assassins, former U.S. intelligence officials are defending the use of contractors, estimating one out of three intelligence workers is on contract.
Such former bosses as Michael Hayden, who headed the CIA from 2005-2009 and the National Security Agency from 1999-2005, Michael Chertoff, who ran the Department of Homeland Security, and Jack Devine, a 32-year CIA veteran and former director of operations, won't talk about specifics. But they insist assassinations weren't discussed on their watches and that they applaud in general hiring contractors to handle work for which CIA employees supposedly lack skills.
Xe, the mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater, continues to work for the U.S. government, carrying out counterterrorism operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The New York Times reports the controversial firm founded by an ardest "anti-Muslim" fanatic with strong ties to the Republican Party and the Bush Administration remains a large government contractor even after the State Department publicly severed ties with the company after its operatives murdered Iraqi civilians.
Former Blackwater mercenaries recently implicated company founder Erik Prince in murder plots against those who publicly reveal the firm's secrets.
Car shoppers have until Monday night to take advantage of lucrative Cash for Clunkers rebates from the government, and the Obama administration is hoping for a smooth ending to a program that has spurred auto sales but created headaches for many auto dealers.
The popular program will end at 8 p.m. EDT Monday after burning through much of its $3 billion in funding in just a month. All new deals will have to be completed and dealers must file their paperwork by the deadline in order to get repaid for the big incentives.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge claims in a new book that he was pressured by other members of President George W. Bush's Cabinet to raise the nation's terror alert level just before the 2004 presidential election.
Ridge says he objected to raising the security level despite the urgings of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to a publicity release from Ridge's publisher. In the end the alert level was not changed. Ridge said the episode convinced him to follow through with his plans to leave the administration; he resigned on Nov. 30, 2004.
Why am I not surprised by the results of the following poll? A Marist poll released this month shows men are more likely than women to approve of the Philadelphia Eagles' controversial decision to allow Michael Vick back into that exclusive club otherwise known as the National Football League.
"Although Vick was convicted and served prison time for his role in operating a dog fighting ring, a majority of football fans nationwide -- 57 percent -- agree with the NFL commissioner's decision to allow Vick to return to the league. 36 percent disagree with that decision. Younger fans and men are more likely to be in favor of the ruling compared with older ones and women."
The CIA hired private contractors at Blackwater USA in 2004 as part of a secret program to kill top-level members of al-Qaida, a person familiar with the program said Wednesday.
The contracts, which were unsuccessful, were canceled several years ago, the person told The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the program remains classified.
Americans remain skeptical of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform drive, but their views have not changed much after weeks of sometimes angry protests at public meetings, according to an NBC poll released on Tuesday.
Obama's approval rating on healthcare was at 41 percent, unchanged from last month, while 36 percent believed his reform plans were a good idea and 42 percent a bad idea -- also unchanged from last month's NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
Frustrated liberals have a question for President Barack Obama and Democratic lawmakers: Isn't it time the other guys gave a little ground on health care? What's the point of a bipartisan bill, they ask, if we're making all the concessions?
A case in point:
Sen. Charles Grassley, a key Republican negotiator on health care, was on a winning streak as Congress recessed for August, having wrung important concessions from Democrats, including an agreement not to tax employer-provided health insurance and a limit to demands on drug companies.
The Obama administration is sending mixed signals on its commitment to publicly funded, government-run health insurance as a supposedly indispensable component of health-care reform.
Over the weekend, President Obama said that the public option was not "the entirety" of health-care reform, and his secretary of Health and Human Services said that the public option was not the "essential element" of reform and suggested that instead the administration might be open to health-care cooperatives as an alternative. And Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs indicated that the public option might be only one way of achieving the administration's overriding goal of choice and competition.
The problem that President Obama was about to address was unconscionably big and growing worse: The huge backlog of Veterans' Affairs benefits claims filed by men and women who once fought America's battles -- only to discover they now must battle their own government, just to get what they already earned.
And the setting and audience where the president would be unveiling his plan for resolving the problem was also big, and appropriate: A speech to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, gathered in Phoenix on Monday, plus all those watching on cable news television.