GOP Senator threatens to block new CIA director’s nomination

A Republican senator threatened on Tuesday to block the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the CIA until the administration provides more information to Congress about the September 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. Senator Lindsey Graham said his objection was not directed at Obama’s CIA nominee – 25-year agency veteran John Brennan – but was an attempt to extract information about the Benghazi attacks from the White House. “I do not believe we should confirm anyone as Director of the CIA until our questions are answered,” Graham said in a statement. Under Senate rules,
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All U.S. troops out of Afghanistan? It’s possible

The Obama administration says it might leave no troops in Afghanistan after December 2014, an option that defies the Pentagon’s view that thousands of troops may be needed to contain al-Qaida and to strengthen Afghan forces. “We wouldn’t rule out any option,” including zero troops, Ben Rhodes, a White House deputy national security adviser, said Tuesday. “The U.S. does not have an inherent objective of ‘X’ number of troops in Afghanistan,” Rhodes said. “We have an objective of making sure there is no safe haven for al-Qaida in Afghanistan and making sure that the Afghan government has a security force
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National Cathedral in Washington will perform same sex marriages

The Washington National Cathedral, where the nation gathers to mourn tragedies and celebrate new presidents, will soon begin performing same-sex marriages. Cathedral officials tell The Associated Press the church will be among the first Episcopal congregations to implement a new rite of marriage for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members. The church will announce its new policy Wednesday. As the nation’s most prominent church, the decision carries huge symbolism. The 106-year-old cathedral has long been a spiritual center for the nation, hosting presidential inaugural services and funerals for Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. It draws hundreds of thousands of visitors.
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Obama’s pick for CIA director defends drone strikes

In White House councils, John Brennan has been privy to the most secret U.S. intelligence programs. Outwardly, he has been the administration’s most public defender of one of President Barack Obama’s most controversial practices – the expanded use of armed drone aircraft to kill terrorism suspects overseas. This is the second time that Obama has sought to put Brennan at the helm of the CIA, and his confirmation process is likely to revisit old controversies over U.S. counterterrorism measures undertaken by the administrations of Obama and George W. Bush. Brennan, a 25-year CIA veteran, withdrew his name from consideration as
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A rough confirmation ride predicted for Hagel nomination

President Barack Obama’s pick of Chuck Hagel to helm the Pentagon faces rough going in the Senate as a handful of Republicans quickly announced their opposition to a former GOP colleague, and several skeptical Democrats reserved judgment until the nominee explains his views on Israel and Iran. The concerns about Hagel complicate his path to Senate confirmation but are not necessarily calamitous as the White House pushes for the first Vietnam War veteran to oversee a military emerging from two wars and staring at deep budget cuts. Obama also tapped White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to head the CIA.
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White House steps up pressure on curbing gun violence

Facing an end-of-the-month deadline, the Obama administration is calling gun owner groups, victims’ organizations and representatives from the video-game industry to the White House this week for discussions on potential policy proposals for curbing gun violence. President Barack Obama has ordered an administration-wide task force to send him proposals by the end of January. The group, led by Vice President Joe Biden, was formed in response to last month’s horrific massacre of 20 children and six adults at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. Biden will meet Wednesday with gun violence victims’ groups and gun safety organizations, a White House official
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