The Debate over Keeping America Safe

May 29, 2009


Last week, President Barack Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney presented competing views of how America was kept secure after September 11, 2001 – and how to proceed in the future.

Mr. Cheney, who has rejoined the Board of Trustees of the neoconservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) since leaving government in January 2009, gave a widely covered speech at AEI on May 21, 2009, just minutes after President Barack Obama spoke. The president defended his ban on enhanced interrogation techniques and his plans to close the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

Mr. Cheney first documented the threats America faced in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and how the Bush administration shaped the nation’s response. The post-9/11 “comprehensive strategy” has “required the commitment of many thousands of troops in two theaters of war, with high points and some low points in both Iraq and Afghanistan – and at every turn, the people of our military carried the heaviest burden,” he said. “Well over seven years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive–and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed.”

Key to the successful post-9/11 strategy, Mr. Cheney said, was “accurate intelligence” – including that received through enhanced interrogation.

Danielle Pletka, foreign policy insider and former staff member for Near East and South Asia at the Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. Senate, commented on the Cheney speech in the pages of USA Today

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Abu Ghraib: U.S. criticizes British press over report of abuse photos

May 29, 2009

Five years after photos initially surfaced of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib detention center in Iraq, the photos taken at the camp are again at issue after a former U.S. army major general alleged to the British paper the Telegraph that additional, unreleased photos show U.S. soldiers raping inmates.

Here is the Telegraph article.

The White House press secretary said the story got many details wrong. So too did the Pentagon.

President Barack Obama has reversed his initial position that he would release all remaining photos, saying that the photos are graphic and would put U.S. and British troops in danger.

Editor of The Paris Review and former staff writer of The New Yorker Philip Gourevitch, writing in the New York Times, argues that Obama’s decision not to release the photos should be viewed differently from the George W. Bush administration’s initial denials of torture at Abu Ghraib. 

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North Korea Alert

May 28, 2009

Yonhap News Agency reports the United States of America and South Korea have increased their alert level toward North Korea and have ramped up surveillance following Pyongyang’s decision to scrap the treaty halting the Korean War.

The BBC has a news analysis attempting to gauge North Korea’s game plan

In a strategic paper published by the U.S. War Army College, experts Colonel Ray Midkiff and Dr. James Downey address the policy options available to influence North Korea.

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Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee

May 27, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama announces his nominee for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, in a video message to Organizing for America.

I am proud to announce my nominee for the next Justice of the United States Supreme Court: Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

This decision affects us all – and so it must involve us all. I’ve recorded a special message to personally introduce Judge Sotomayor and explain why I’m so confident she will make an excellent Justice.

Judge Sotomayor has lived the America Dream. Born and raised in a South Bronx housing project, she distinguished herself in academia and then as a hard-charging New York District Attorney.

Judge Sotomayor has gone on to earn bipartisan acclaim as one of America’s finest legal minds. As a Supreme Court Justice, she would bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any Justice in 100 years. Judge Sotomayor would show fidelity to our Constitution and draw on a common-sense understanding of how the law affects our day-to-day lives.

A nomination for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land is one of the most important decisions a President can make. And the discussions that follow will be among the most important we have as a nation.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

Israeli report: “Venezuela and Bolivia supply uranium to Iran”

May 27, 2009

Venezuela and Bolivia are supplying Iran with uranium for its nuclear program, according to a secret Israeli government report obtained by the news agency Associated Press (AP).

“There are reports that Venezuela supplies Iran with uranium for its nuclear program,” the document states, referring to previous Israeli intelligence conclusions. It adds: “Bolivia also supplies uranium to Iran.” The report concludes that Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is trying to undermine the United States by supporting Iran. Israel also suspects Iran of supporting the establishment of Hezbollah cells in northern Venezuela and the country’s Margarita Island.

President Chávez expelled the Israeli ambassador during Israel’s offensive in Gaza this year, and Israel retaliated by expelling the Venezuelan envoy. Bolivia also cut ties with Israel over the Gaza war.

The three-page document about Iranian activities in Latin America was prepared in advance of a visit to South America by deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon, who will attend a conference of the Organization of American States in Honduras next week. Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman is also scheduled to visit the region.

Beyond the “War on Terror”: Towards a New Transatlantic Framework for Counterterrorism

May 27, 2009

European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) Senior Policy Fellow Anthony Dworkin wrote  a strategic paper entitled Beyond the “War on Terror”: Towards a New Transatlantic Framework for Counterterrorism.

This policy paper shows how divisions with the United States of America over counterterrorism policy have been a major problem for the European Union since September 11, 2001 and how the presidency of Barack Obama offers the possibility of a new approach, based on transatlantic agreement over the core principles for fighting terrorism. The author argues that EU leaders should work with the new US administration to agree a comprehensive declaration on counterterrorism that could be signed under the Spanish EU Presidency in 2010.

To seize the opportunity provided by the new US leadership, the European Union should launch an internal review to clarify its own views about core principles for fighting terrorism as part of the preparation for a joint declaration. EU officials should also restart a dialogue on international law and counterterrorism with the United States. This would give it input into a series of US reviews, and allow Europeans to push for clarification of the US position on key questions of international humanitarian law and human rights. Finally, the author calls on European countries to quickly agree on a joint position on resettling detainees from Guantanamo and consider offering a new home to these prisoners wherever possible.

Comments can be addressed to the author directly at

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Terry McAuliffe for Governor of Virginia: Great News

May 26, 2009


Dear Friend,

We’ve got some great news, and it’s all thanks to your hard work. Some new polling shows we’ve got the lead, and today we’re releasing a new TV ad to help keep our momentum going. But with just two weeks to go until Election Day, our opponents are ratcheting up the attacks, and we’re counting on your help to pull us over the finish line.

Boots on the Ground

Turnout will be the deciding factor in this election, and we need your help. Since the beginning of this campaign, we’ve succeeded in bringing new people into our political process because people like you have been pounding the pavement – knocking doors, making phone calls, and empowering voters to make their voices heard. Just yesterday the Associated Press noted that, “Political observers suggest a low primary turnout would benefit Moran or Deeds, while a larger turnout would help McAuliffe, who is trying to attract new voters as Obama did.” 

But the Moran campaign thinks our strategy is all for nothing. After going around for months claiming that the grassroots was the key to victory, the Washington Post reported this morning that Moran’s strategists “view that kind of operation as a waste of resources on voters unlikely to come out for a June primary.”

Polls, Polls, Polls

Three new polls came out at the end of last week, and they all show us with a very solid lead. DailyKos founder and best-selling author Markos Moulitsas observed that “McAuliffe has managed to move his favorability numbers forward despite an increasingly negative primary.” As voters take a tough look at each of the candidates, Terry’s vision for growing the economy and creating jobs is clearly resonating. 

But we’ve still got a lot of work to do.  Public Policy Polling’s Dean Debnam says, “This race is still really up for grabs…There are still lots of undecideds and lots of voters open to changing their minds.”

That’s why we need your help now more than ever. The attacks on Terry have already started, and you ain’t seen nothing yet. VCU Professor Bob Holsworth noted that, “With McAuliffe ahead in all of the public polls, attempting to bring him down has become a matter of some urgency to the other campaigns.” And Brian Moran’s chief strategist has pledged to do precisely that.

Terry’s taken a different approach.  He’s sticking to the issues, staying positive, and saving his criticism for Bob McDonnell.  But in order for that strategy to work, we need your help.

New TV Ad

Today, we’re also unveiling our newest television ad – a 30 second spot that focuses on the importance of investing in early childhood education. We wanted to make sure you see it first.

Thanks to you, we couldn’t be more proud of the campaign we’re running. But right now we’re getting attacked from all sides. Both of our opponents are on the air, and we need the resources to respond to their attacks, communicate Terry’s positive message of job creation, and bring our people to the polls.  

Click here to make a contribution to fully fund our efforts to reach voters and respond to attacks. There are only two weeks left!

Let’s keep the pedal to the metal until Election Day on June 9th.

Thanks so much for all your help,

HIRAM7 REVIEW & The Friends of Terry McAuliffe