FUBAR

A setback for Obama’s promise of open government

Despite President Obama’s promise of more open government, the Justice Department is resisting pressure to release documents the Bush administration kept secret about domestic wiretapping, data collection on travelers and U.S. citizens, and interrogation of suspected terrorists.

In half a dozen lawsuits, Justice lawyers are defending Bush administration decisions to withhold records from the public. They have opposed formal motions or spurned out-of-court offers to merely delay these cases until the new administration rewrites Freedom of Information Act guidelines and decides whether the new rules might allow the public to see more.

FBI focus shifts from terror to white collar crime

With the economic crisis unrelenting, the United States is stepping up its fight against white collar crime, which has been trumped by the fight on terror.

"Let’s give our law enforcement agencies the tools and resources they need, said Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, at a a hearing Wednesday.

A mercenary by any other name

Blackwater Worldwide is still protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq, but executives at the beleaguered security firm are taking their biggest step yet to put that work and the ugly reputation it earned the company behind them.

Blackwater said Friday it will no longer operate under the name that came to be known worldwide as a caustic moniker for private security, dropping the tarnished brand for a disarming and simple identity: Xe, which is pronounced like the letter "z."

Don’t forget the war in Iraq

The urgency of the economic meltdown has overshadowed the two wars the United States is still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. That will not last.

Raining trillions from heaven

President Barack Obama would lose his quiet struggle against nicotine addiction if he dispatched the Secret Service to score him a carton of Camels. So why is Obama fighting Washington’s addiction to debt by…sinking Washington deeper into debt?

Let’s give Michael Phelps a pass

Does anyone remember Eleanor Holm?

If you don’t, it is understandable. But with half the world seemingly concerned about Michael Phelps, it seems appropriate to recall the stunning, blonde 100-meter backstroke champion of the 1932 Olympics whose consumption of a few glasses of champagne and late night dice playing with sportswriters in 1936 cost her a repeat of her earlier gold medal triumph.

Should government cap executive pay?

Should the federal government tell companies how much they may pay their executives? The Obama administration plans to do just that. The president announced Feb. 4 that companies receiving "extraordinary" levels of bailout money from taxpayers would be forced to limit top salaries to $500,000 a year.

‘We have a deal’…again, maybe

Reluctant to call it quits, key lawmakers bargained into overtime Thursday on the $790 billion economic stimulus legislation before reaching final agreement more than 24 hours after first announcing a deal. Lingering controversy over school-modernization money and a scaled-back tax break for businesses forced a delay in final votes on the legislation. But by nightfall, with Democratic leaders eager for final passage by the weekend, all issues were reported settled.

Gregg withdraws from Cabinet

Saying "I made a mistake," Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire abruptly withdrew as commerce secretary nominee on Thursday and left the fledgling White House suddenly coping with Barack Obama’s third Cabinet withdrawal. Gregg cited "irresolvable conflicts" with Obama’s policies, specifically mentioning the $790 billion economic stimulus bill and 2010 census in a statement released without warning by his Senate office.

Time to honor our fallen

After the subject came up at President Obama’s press conference Monday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the next day he was ordering a review of a Pentagon policy banning the media from taking photos of the flag-draped coffins of our military casualties as they arrive back in the States.

Gates should lift the ban.