Archives for FUBAR

Blackwater served as “extension” of CIA

Blackwater USAPrivate security guards working for Blackwater USA participated in clandestine CIA raids against suspected insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Blackwater's role points to a much deeper connection between the company and the spy agency than has been previously disclosed and raises concerns over the legalities of involving contractors in the most sensitive operations conducted by the U.S. government.

The "snatch and grab" raids took place regularly between 2004 and 2006, the Times reported, when the insurgency in Iraq was escalating and security throughout the country was deteriorating.
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Stolen emails fuel climate change controversy

At a critical time, the uproar over stolen e-mails suggesting scientists suppressed contrary views about climate change has emboldened skeptics — including congressional Republicans looking to scuttle President Barack Obama's push for mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases.

The e-mail brouhaha dubbed "Climategate" by doubters comes as U.S. delegates to the international climate conference in Copenhagen are trying to convince the world the United States is determined to move aggressively to rein in heat-trapping pollution. To counter the delegates, a group of GOP lawmakers is going to Copenhagen to argue against mandatory greenhouse gas reductions.

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Taxpayers lost billions on federal bailout programs

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

The Treasury Department admitted Wednesday it lost $61 billion in taxpayer money on two key programs designed to stabilize the economy after the largest financial crisis in decades.

The government is losing more than $30 billion on lifelines extended to insurance giant American International Group Inc., according to Treasury data released Wednesday in an audit by the Government Accountability Office. It also is losing more than $30 billion on rescues of struggling automakers Chrysler and General Motors.
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Companies reap big profits from Medicare

Private health insurance companies that offer alternative Medicare coverage funnel billions of dollars toward company profits and marketing efforts rather than to patient care, U.S. Democrats said in a report released on Wednesday.

A number of insurers, including Humana Inc and UnitedHealth Group Inc, offer such plans known as Medicare Advantage as an alternative to traditional fee-for-service Medicare coverage for the elderly and disabled.
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Petraeus predicts more turmoil, violence in Afghanistan

Violence in Afghanistan will likely climb in the short-term, along with internal government turmoil, U.S. General David Petraeus told Congress on Wednesday, urging lawmakers to reserve judgment for a full year on President Barack Obama's new war strategy.

Petraeus, who as head of U.S. Central Command is in charge of drawing down forces in Iraq and overseeing a new surge of 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, said he expected increased fighting in Afghanistan in the spring and the summer.

He also said the Afghan government's expected moves to combat corruption likely would result in "greater turmoil within the government as malign actors are identified and replaced."

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Report shows many White House security lapses

Secret Service Director Mark SullivanThe uninvited couple that sneaked into an exclusive state dinner at the White House joins a lengthy list of similar security lapses, according to a 2003 Secret Service report revealed Monday in the Washington Post.

The Secret Service -- the branch in charge of the president's security -- have mistakenly seen at least 91 breaches of their checkpoints since 1980, said the daily, adding that the report was used to train agents.

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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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