Archives for FUBAR

Osama slips in and out of Afghanistan at will

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden may periodically slip back into Afghanistan from his remote hideout in neighboring Pakistan, a senior White House official says, adding a new twist to the mystery of the elusive terrorist's whereabouts.

President Barack Obama's national security adviser, James Jones, said bin Laden, believed hiding mainly in a rugged area of western Pakistan, may be spending some time in Afghanistan, where he was based while plotting the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

But Obama's Pentagon chief, Robert Gates, said the U.S. has lacked good intelligence on bin Laden for a long time — "I think it has been years" — and did not confirm that he'd slipped into Afghanistan.
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Obama: A warmonger with a peace prize

He's the Nobel Peace Prize winner who just ordered 30,000 more troops to war. He's the laureate who says he doesn't deserve the award. He's not quite 11 months on the job and already in the company of Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama.

This is President Barack Obama's Nobel moment, an immense honor shadowed by awkward timing.

When Obama leaves for Oslo, Norway, on Wednesday to be lauded for his style of international diplomacy, he goes knowing that the American people are more concerned about something else: peace of mind.

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Open government? What open government?

It's hardly the image of transparency the Obama administration wants to project: A workshop on government openness is closed to the public.

The event Monday for federal employees is a fitting symbol of President Barack Obama's uneven record so far on the Freedom of Information Act, a big part of keeping his campaign promise to make his administration the most transparent ever. As Obama's first year in office ends, the government's actions when the public and press seek information are not yet matching up with the president's words.
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‘Redneck Rap’ stirs controversy

A Kansas lawmaker says he's sorry if he offended anyone by criticizing President Barack Obama while wearing a cap that calls opossum "the other dark meat."

Rep. Bill Otto said during a meeting with the NAACP on Saturday that he had "absolutely no thought of anything racial" in his online video, "RedNeck Rap."

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Salahis: Bad checks and unpaid bills

The Virginia couple at the center of last week's White House security breach is now accused of bouncing a nearly $24,000 check for liquor purchased in Maryland.

The Montgomery County government, which conducts all the wholesale liquor sales on its territory, filed a lawsuit Thursday against Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple who got into a state dinner last week without an invitation. The Salahis purchased wine and beer for America's Polo Cup World Championship, a charity polo event they held in the county in May.

According to documents filed in Montgomery County District Court, the couple returned more than $10,000 worth of merchandise, but they still owe more than $13,000 from the bounced check.

A spokesman for Dewey & LeBoeuf, a law firm that represents the couple, declined to comment on the claim.
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Lies, damn lies and health care reform

When Republican Sen. Tom Coburn warned seniors, "you're going to die sooner" if Democrats pass health care legislation, it stood out as an memorable, unprovable moment in an opening-week debate over President Barack Obama's top domestic initiative.

But not the only one.

Across hours of rhetoric, poll-tested charges and countercharges proliferated. Partial truths vied with inflated claims.

Senatorial speech leaned to the earthy.

"It is 2,074 pages long. It is enough to make you barf," Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said of the bill that rested — unsullied — on his desk.

And the discourse approached the level of a schoolyard standoff.


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Obama, Congress look for ways to boost jobs

President Barack Obama's options for spurring job growth may be limited by out-of-control budget deficits, but he is warming to moves by his congressional allies for a jobs-boosting bill.

Taking his defense of the economy on the road, the president scheduled appearances Friday in Pennsylvania to showcase innovative businesses following Thursday's White House jobs forum. That event combined cheerleading and brainstorming as Obama exhorted more than 100 CEOs, academics, small business and union leaders and local officials to focus on new ways to get businesses hiring again.

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Jobs rebound will be painfully slow

The economy is getting closer to generating jobs for the first time in two years, but it probably won't be enough to stop the unemployment rate from rising.

Analysts expect the Labor Department will report Friday that employers cut a net total of 130,000 jobs in November, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. That's an improvement from 190,000 the previous month.

The department is also expected to say the unemployment rate will remain 10.2 percent, the same as in October, a 26-year high.

Two economic reports Thursday gave some economists hope that employers will gear up hiring early next year and that the economy will start adding jobs in the first quarter. But the unemployment rate may still rise well into 2010.

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Secret Service puts three agents on leave

Three Secret Service officers have been put on administrative leave after the security breach at last week's White House dinner, an episode President Barack Obama said hasn't shaken his confidence in his protectors.

The president nevertheless acknowledged Thursday that the "the system didn't work the way it was supposed to."

Despite the screw-up, the president was never at risk, Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan told Congress on Thursday.

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Emails reveal Pentagon mistrust of Canada

How much does the U.S. government really trust Canada? Maybe less than you think.

Espionage warnings from the Defense Department caused an international sensation a few years ago over reports of mysterious coins with radio frequency transmitters, until they were debunked. The culprit turned out to be a commemorative quarter in Canada.

But at the height of the mystery, senior Pentagon officials speculated whether Canadians were involved in the spy caper.

"I don't think it is an issue of the Canadians being the bad guys," the Pentagon's counterintelligence chief wrote in an exchange of e-mails obtained this week by The Associated Press, "but then again, who knows."

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