U.S. government web sites attacked

A widespread computer attack that began July 4 knocked out the Web sites of the Treasury Department, the Secret Service and other U.S. government agencies, according to officials inside and outside the government.

Sites in South Korea were also affected, and South Korean intelligence officials believe the attack was carried out by North Korean or pro-Pyongyang forces.

Techies crack Social Security code

For all the concern about identity theft, researchers say there’s a surprisingly easy way for the technology-savvy to figure out the precious nine digits of Americans’ Social Security numbers.

"It’s good that we found it before the bad guys," Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh said of the method for predicting the numbers.

Powell: Iraq surge too little too late

Colin Powell says the U.S. took too long to strengthen its forces in Iraq after Baghdad fell early in the war.

Powell, the nation’s top military officer under President George H.W. Bush and secretary of state for President George W. Bush, said the decision to use a lighter force to defeat the Iraqi army was correct. But he said in a television interview broadcast Sunday that the younger Bush’s administration should have realized the initial success in 2003 was only the start of a longer fight.

Our mountain of debt: The real financial crisis

The Founding Fathers left one legacy not celebrated on Independence Day but which affects us all. It’s the national debt.

The country first got into debt to help pay for the Revolutionary War. Growing ever since, the debt stands today at a staggering $11.4 trillion — equivalent to about $37,000 for each and every American. And it’s expanding by over $1 trillion a year.

The mountain of debt easily could become the next full-fledged economic crisis without firm action from Washington, economists of all stripes warn.

Cheney discussed CIA leak with officials

Vice President Dick Cheney talked with top White House officials about how to respond to reporters’ inquiries into who leaked the identity of a CIA operative, according to a court filing.

Cheney told the FBI about his recollection of discussions with his former top aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and other White House officials on the media’s questions. But the Obama administration is fighting in court to keep the substance of what Cheney revealed to the FBI from the public.

Is America still a free country? Good question

As the country celebrates another Independence Day weekend, it’s worth stepping back from our hot political debates to ask a question: How free is America?

Since last July 4, the country has seen the changing of the guard in the White House — with accompanying changes in policies on everything from war to the environment to health care to the economy. Those changes have sparked cries of tyranny from the right and angry rebuttals from the left.

So how free is America? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, consider the question.

Barack Obama and the end of affirmative action

Toward the end of last year’s election, I turned to a young African-American acquaintance and said, "If Barack Obama wins, you can kiss goodbye to affirmative action, or what’s left of it after 20 years of Supreme Court cases whittling it away.

"Really?" she said, "You think so? I don’t agree." I responded, "Would you think affirmative action for women should have been sustained if Sen. Clinton had won the Democratic nomination and the White House?" "I may not agree with you, but I get your point," she responded.

A civics lesson named Sonia Sotomayor

Half of the states in the United States no longer require high school graduates to have a basic knowledge of civics. One of every three Americans is unable to name the three branches of government.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and retired justice Sandra Day O’Connor think this is a crisis.

They are working to try to educate young Americans about the role of courts in our society. Otherwise, they argue, we risk politicizing the courts and losing the checks and balances the founding fathers valued above all else.

Feds threaten to pull out of GM deal

The US government will pull its support from General Motors if the automaker does not get court permission for a speedy exit from bankruptcy protection by July 10, an official testified on Wednesday.

"We cannot make an open-ended commitment," Henry Wilson, a member of President Barack Obama’s automotive task force, told the New York court.

GM is seeking court permission to sell its best assets to a new company in which the US government will get a majority stake.

Sotomayor advised group that opposed Bork

A Puerto Rican civil rights organization advised by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor campaigned against seating conservative Robert Bork on the high court in the late 1980s, according to new documents that shed light on the group that’s become a key focus of Republicans questioning Sotomayor’s fitness to be a justice.