Entries in Joe Biden (18)


Secret Service Dog Dies in Line of Duty

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- The Secret Service suffered a fatality last weekend while helping to make an area safe for Vice President Joe Biden.

According to the agency, a bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois lost its footing and fell from the roof of a parking garage next door to the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans where Biden was scheduled to deliver a speech.

Despite being rushed to an animal hospital, veterinarians were unable to save the Secret Service dog.

Agency spokesman Max Milien said the animal's death was a "tragic accident" but in accordance with Secret Service policy, would not reveal the dog's name.

Belgian Malinois are a breed of dog used because they are small, fast, smart and sociable.  The Secret Service started using bomb-sniffing dogs in 1975.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


NRA Blasts Biden After Meeting on Guns

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The National Rifle Association blasted Vice President Joe Biden after a meeting Thursday afternoon with gun ownership groups, arguing that the talks did not produce legitimate ideas about how to curb gun violence but instead went after the Second Amendment.

"We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment," the NRA said in a statement. "While claiming that no policy proposals would be 'prejudged,' this task force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners -- honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans."

"It is unfortunate that this Administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems," the NRA said. "We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen. Instead, we will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of Congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works -- and what does not."

Biden, whose office released a photo of the vice president meeting with gun ownership groups Thursday, told reporters earlier in the day that he has already started putting together a list of gun-control recommendations that he plans to issue next Tuesday.

He has suggested the administration would be ready to take executive action on the issue, which would not require votes from Congress. That prospect has raised alarm bells for gun rights advocates.

Biden told reporters Thursday, during a meeting a with sportsmen, women and wildlife groups, that he would deliver the list of recommendations to the president on Jan. 15, and that an improved system for background checks has emerged as a a priority for the stakeholders he's met so far. Guns have been at the top of the White House agenda since the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

"I am putting together a series of recommendations for the president that will, that he will take a look at. There's a real, very tight window to do this," Biden said. "I committed to him I'd have these recommendations to him by Tuesday. And it doesn't mean it's the end of the discussion, but the public wants us to act."

Biden said he has not reached any conclusions just yet but recounted the recommendations that have been made to him from the various stakeholders he's met with over the past month. The vice president said a consensus emerged from the meetings on the need to strengthen the background check system.

"So far, a surprising recurrence of suggestions that we have universal background checks, not just close the gun show loophole, but total, universal background checks, even including private sales," Biden said.

Other suggestions offered at the meetings have centered on gun safety and the responsibility that goes along with gun ownership, dealing with high-capacity magazines, and the ability of federal agencies to do research on gun violence.

Biden sat down with representatives of the NRA and other supporters of gun rights on the second day of this week's meetings on gun violence.

He said at one meeting that he has "never quite heard so much talk about high-capacity magazines" as he has since the shootings in Newtown.

Biden met with gun-violence victims' groups and proponents of gun control on Wednesday. Thursday was his opportunity to get a different side of the story. Biden met with the National Rifle Association and Attorney General Eric Holder met with representatives from Walmart, one of the largest sellers of firearms in the country.

"There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet, but we're compiling it all with the help the attorney general and all the rest of the cabinet members, as well as legislative action, we believe, is required," Biden said.

In addition to the NRA, sportsmen's groups, women's groups, wildlife groups and representatives of the entertainment industry were invited to meetings with Biden.

In December, the NRA called for armed officers to be placed in every school after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Walmart initially turned down an invitation to participate in the talks but reversed its decision after it "underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person," a spokesman said.

"We take this issue very seriously and are committed staying engaged in this discussion as the administration and Congress work toward a consensus on the right path forward," David Tovar, vice president of corporate communications for Walmart, said.

The latest meetings come one day after Biden held a first round of talks this week with gun safety advocacy groups and victims of gun violence. Speaking to reporters before the meeting, the vice president expressed the administration's commitment to develop effective gun policy by considering all ideas.

Biden also held conference calls with 15 governors and 16 state and local elected officials Wednesday.

Shortly after the shootings in which 26 children and educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary last month, President Obama assigned Biden to head a task force and offer suggestions on curbing gun violence.

"Every once in a while there's something that awakens the conscience of the country, and that tragic event did in a way like nothing I've seen in my career," Biden said Wednesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Biden on Libya Attack: 'Bring To Justice Their Killers'

ABC News(DAYTON, Ohio) – Vice President Joe Biden started his speech at Wright State University on a somber note, addressing the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya, and promising to bring the killers of the four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, to justice.

“Let me be clear, we are resolved to bring to justice their killers,” Biden said at Wright State University as a woman shouted “Amen!” “And we will work, we will work with the Libyan government and our other partners to do just that.  There is no place in the civilized world for senseless murder like what occurred last night.”

Biden praised the work of foreign service officers, saying “it isn’t all about going to coffees and teas,” and paid tribute to those four Americans, including Amb. Chris Stevens, who he called a “fine, fine man” that died in the Libya attacks.

“Last night our nation lost four truly dedicated Americans.  Courageous Americans.  Courageous Americans.  And the loss was accomplished as a consequence of an unwarranted attack on the diplomatic facility in Benghazi,” Biden said.  

“These brave, and it’s not hyperbole to say brave, our ambassador was in Benghazi while the war was going on, our ambassador risked his life repeatedly while war in Libya to get rid of that dictator was going on.  These men are as brave and as courageous as any of our warriors that we’ve sent.  And ladies and gentlemen, their loss tragically reminds us again of the incredible price that not only our warriors pay in the service of this great country,” Biden said.

Without naming Mitt Romney by name in his speech, he made a jab at the president’s Republican opponent by stressing the importance of articulating one’s foreign policy positions to voters.

“The task of a president is not only to defend our interests in causes and the cause of freedom abroad.  It is also to build a nation here at home to which the entire world can look and aspire to be like,” Biden said.  “And whether we do that, and how we do that, that is literally the essence of the choice that we face in this presidential election.  It really is that basic.  And foreign policy is not some sidelight to all of this.  And you deserve all of America deserve leaders who will tell you what they intend to do in both spheres.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Biden Avoids Politics in Speech to Police

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- In the wake of one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history, Vice President Joe Biden praised the victims of last week’s movie theater massacre for inspiring the nation with their acts of courage and valor.

Speaking to a group of police officers in Manalapan, Fla., Biden somberly recalled the everyday heroes of the Aurora, Colo., shooting that left 12 dead and more than 50 injured — including a man who died while shielding his girlfriend from the attack, the Air Force reservist who dove to save his colleague’s life and the others who sprung into action to help wounded victims during the shooting.

“These are the people who define who we are as a nation. They are the hymns of our hope,” Biden said at the National Association of Police Organizations’ annual convention in Palm Beach.

“People stepped up. They make us proud of our country, and maybe more importantly at this moment, they make us confident that this country is made of that sterner stuff,” he said.

Biden’s talk was originally scheduled as a campaign event to discuss collective bargaining and security policy, but in light of Friday’s shooting, he said, it “doesn’t seem appropriate” to talk politics.

In 1994, then-Senator Biden championed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which banned the manufacture of 19 semiautomatic assault weapons. The law, which enjoyed NAPO support, expired 10 years later — making it again legal to buy AR-15-style rifles, like the kind authorities believe alleged shooter James Holmes used in the theater attack.

During his talk, Biden did not mention Holmes, whose first court appearance came Monday. Instead, the vice president used his solemn 20-minute speech to honor shooting victims and thank police officers for their continuous bravery.

“There’s no group of Americans who understand, who have internalized, who have had to deal with, every day of their life, the national tragedy that we’re coping with now, more than all of you,” he told a packed room of officers.

Biden pointed to Aurora’s police department for their brave work, touting that officers arrived on the scene of the shooting within 90 seconds. Some refused to wait for ambulances, he said, instead literally picking up victims and driving them to hospitals in their squad cars.

“In this moment of our grief, the entire nation is reminded of how grateful we are for what you do,” Biden said. “Not withstanding all the political chatter we’ll hear, I truly believe that the vast majority of the American people are as committed as I am to never letting you down.”

The vice president also offered words of comfort for victims’ families and loved ones.

“There will come a moment when the memory of your daughter, your son, your husband, will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes,” he said.

“My only prayer is that it will come sooner than later — but it will come.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obamas to Celebrate Memorial Day Honoring Soldiers on Vietnam War 50th Anniversary

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- This Memorial Day, the Obamas and the Bidens plan to celebrate the holiday in an event at the Arlington National Cemetery, where they will honor those who fought in the Vietnam War.
“This month, we’ll begin to mark the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, a time when, to our shame, our veterans did not always receive the respect and the thanks they deserved -- a mistake that must never be repeated,” said President Obama on May 16, 2012.
The federal government is partnering with state governments, local governments, private organizations and other communities to launch the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War. The commemoration serves to honor the more than 3 million men and women who served our country in one of our most challenging conflicts.
The ceremony will honor those passed and living, highlight the contributions of those who helped the United States during the war and pay tribute to those who assisted on the home front.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Osama Bin Laden Letters: Kill Obama to Make Biden President

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Osama bin Laden asked that Al Qaeda create hit squads to kill President Obama and General David Petraeus, but that Vice President Biden be spared because Biden is "totally unprepared for the presidency" and making him president by killing Obama would "lead the U.S. into a crisis."

In a 45-page letter to a newly promoted al Qaeda lieutenant in May 2010, part of a trove of documents found in bin Laden's Pakistan compound that were placed online Thursday by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, bin Laden tells him he had asked his predecessor to put together two teams in Pakistan and Afghanistan to target Petraeus and Obama during their visits.

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"They are not to target visits by U.S. Vice President Biden, Secretary of Defense Gates, Joints Chiefs of Staff [Chairman] Mullen, or the Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Holbrooke," wrote bin Laden. "The groups will remain on the lookout for Obama or Petraeus."

"The reason for concentrating on them is that Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make Biden take over the presidency for the remainder of the term, as it is the norm over there. Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis."

"As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour in this last year of the war, and killing him would later the war's path."

Much of the rest of the letter, one of 17 documents released today, is devoted to Osama's micromanagement of al Qaeda affairs, and his regrets that al Qaeda has lost the affection of Muslims because its regional affiliates had killed so many Muslim civilians.

According to bin Laden, 9/11 and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan "filled Muslims with sympathy toward their fellow Mujahidin." But "after the war expanded and the Mujahidin spread out into many regions, some of the brothers became totally absorbed in fighting out local enemies, and more mistakes have been made."

"Clear boundaries need to be established so that no Muslims fall victim except when it is absolutely necessary," wrote bin Laden.

He also expresses his desire for al Qaeda leaders to leave the Pakistani border region to escape U.S. drone attacks.

"I had mentioned in several previous messages," wrote bin Laden, "the importance of the exit from Waziristan of the brother leaders, especially the ones that have media exposure. I stress this matter to you and they you choose distant locations to which to move them, away from aircraft photography and bombardment, while taking all security precautions."

According to an analysis of the documents by the Center for Combating Terrorism, the late terror leader was frustrated at his own inability to control the violent jihadi movement he helped create, especially when it came to regional affiliates of al Qaeda.

Bin Laden was angry at his "seeming inability to exercise control" over regional actors whose attacks often claimed Muslim lives, according to the Center, which bin Laden believed hurt the reputation of al Qaeda in the Muslim world. The Center recently posted the original Arabic-language notes on its website.

"Rather than a source of strength, bin Laden was burdened by what he viewed as the incompetence of the 'affiliates,' including their lack of political acumen to win public support, their media campaigns and their poorly planned operations which resulted in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of Muslims," the CTC's analysis says. "He was at pains advising them to abort domestic attacks and… instead focus on the United States, 'our desired goal.'"

American officials have repeatedly said that the core of al Qaeda, formerly led by bin Laden and now headed by his old deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been considerably weakened in recent years, highlighted by the death of bin Laden himself at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs last May. But National Intelligence Director James Clapper said as recently as this January that the terror organization's affiliates, most prominently in Yemen and Somalia, have emerged as some of the greatest threats to the American homeland.

According to the CTC, before bin Laden's death, the senior leadership in al Qaeda was split on how to deal with affiliates. Some wanted to distance themselves completely from any group that acted in al Qaeda's name without first consulting them. Another side believed it was important to include the affiliates into al Qaeda's cause regardless of some of their more questionable operational choices. Bin Laden himself, the CTC says, made up a third party: the one who simply wanted to keep the communication lines open so he could urge restraint, "without granting formal unity with al Qaeda."

Zawahiri appears to have ignored bin Laden's concerns once he took the reins of al Qaeda, as he was the one to formally announce an alliance between core al Qaeda and the domestically-violent Somalia-based terrorist organization al-Shabaab.

The documents also show direct communications between bin Laden and several top terror suspects, including American-born Adam Gadahn and the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, the CTC said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bird Strikes Hit Senior Obama Administration Officials’ Planes

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- So much for the friendly skies — lately it seems like they’re full of angry birds, taking aim at high-ranking officials.

Bird strikes are very common, but sometimes they can cause significant damage.

On Thursday, there were three high profile incidents of birds flying into jet engines.

Vice President Biden’s plane, Air Force Two, was on approach into California’s Santa Barbara airport when the 757 was hit by birds.

The pilots noticed the bird strike right as it happened, but sources say that passengers couldn’t even tell the plane had hit anything.

“Think about a bird. It can be anything from a small bird, a couple ounces to eight, nine, ten pounds,” said Col. Stephen Ganyard, a former Marine Corps pilot and current ABC News consultant. “The size of the bird matters. How fast the aircraft is going matters.”

Biden’s plane touched down safely and an Air Force official said at no point was anyone in danger.

Out of an abundance of caution, the vice president hitched a ride home on a different Air Force plane.

“When there is a bird strike our safety procedure is to land safely as quickly as possible to get an assessment of what happened and review the extent of damage if there is damage,” said Lt. Gregg Johnson, a spokesman for the 89th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington.

“The fact that they did ground the aircraft, and the fact that Vice President couldn’t take that same aircraft onto his next destination tells us that there was some significant damage to the aircraft,” Ganyard said.

Biden wasn’t the only senior Obama administration official to run into some bird issues.

On the same day, somewhere between Brussels and Paris, a bird flew into the engine of the plane carrying Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton.

The flight was smooth – officials only discovered the bird after the plane landed and they saw feathers and body parts, according to a State Department official.

And then there was that dramatic emergency landing of Delta Airlines Flight 1063 at New York’s JFK Airport on Thursday.

Just seconds after a smooth takeoff, a flock of large birds was sucked right into the plane’s turbine.

The pilot calmly radioed back to the air traffic control tower.

“Delta 1063 has had an engine failure on the right engine declaring an emergency due to a bird strike,” the pilot was heard saying on the audio recording.

Passengers said the whole plane trembled and the cabin filled with smoke.

“Hit the right engine, plane shook us, where I thought we were coming down,” said Grant Cardone, a passenger on Flight 1063.

Bird strikes may be terrifying for passengers, but they’re actually very common.

According to the federal aviation administration they happen 20 times a day. Every year, birds cause well over $600 million in damages to aircraft.

“It may be a coincidence that we’ve seen a couple high profile bird strikes in the past couple days, but we also need to remember that this is Spring and it’s the bird migratory season,” Ganyard said.

Experts say there’s a much greater risk for aircraft to hit birds during migration, so for the next few weeks, they may have to learn to play nice and share the skies.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Steals Show at Husband’s Retirement Ceremony

Captain Mark Kelly hugs his wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after receiving the Legion of Merit from Vice President Joe Biden during Captain Kelly's retirement ceremony in the Secretary of War Suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 6, 2011. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords honored her husband’s career in the U.S. Navy at the White House Thursday, standing on her own to pin the Distinguished Flying Cross medal on his jacket for commanding the fourth and final flight on the space shuttle Endeavour.

While the retirement ceremony was intended to focus on Capt. Mark Kelly’s impressive career, his congresswoman wife’s presence took center stage as Kelly thanked her “for your boundless friendship and optimism as our family has traveled this road over the last eight months.”

“Gabby, you remind me every day to deny the acceptance of failure,” Kelly told his wife. “I look forward to the next phase of our life together and watching all of your future achievements.”

Photos taken of the Arizona congresswoman attending the ceremony show a beaming Giffords wearing a red jacket adorned by a Members’ lapel pin reserved for representatives. She also wore black pants and running shoes.

Approximately 50 guests were seated in the room, which is decorated with the first U.S. flag to fly over Paris after the liberation at the end of World War II.

Vice President Joe Biden, who presided over the ceremony, commended Kelly for leading the shuttle in May and he also spoke directly to Giffords.

“I don’t use the word loosely. You are an inspiration. You’ve been inspirational, people looking, saying ‘I can make it, I can do this,’” Biden said. “You have spoken to the whole country.”

“As vice president I get to work with an awful lot of people who devote their lives day to day to public service,” he added. “But it’s not every day you encounter examples of sheer, sheer courage, selflessness and dedication, like you see in this couple.”

At a news conference later Thursday afternoon, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that it was “really a thrill” to see Giffords.

“I was very impressed,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said of Giffords, who has been recovering privately in Houston from a bullet wound to the head. “I’ve seen Gabby probably about once a month since the eight months since the tragedy, and I was very impressed with the strength of her presence and how she walked in.”

Giffords held a bouquet of flowers and showed off a short haircut and eyeglasses, although her hair appears to have grown out a little since her last visit to Capitol Hill earlier this summer. Thursday’s visit marked the sixth time that Giffords has left Houston since surviving the assassination attempt in January.

In a landmark television event scheduled to air Nov. 14, Giffords and Kelly will share their remarkable story for the first time since the tragic Tucson shootings in an exclusive ABC News special with Diane Sawyer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Biden, on 'The View,' Disputes White House Sexism Claims

ABC/Donna Svennevik(NEW YORK) -- Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday disputed the controversial characterizations of the Obama White House made by author Ron Suskind in his new book, Confidence Men, that depicted a bastion of sexism that was insulated from a diversity of opinions.

“I don’t know who they’re talking about,” Biden said on The View of former White House aides who reportedly told Suskind that the administration fostered a hostile work environment for women. “Obviously, they didn’t talk to Michelle Obama or Jill Biden. Because if there’s sexism in the White House, the person engaging in it is in trouble.”

The vice president made the comments during an appearance on ABC's chat show to talk about his nearly two-decade campaign to end violence against women.

“I’m not suggesting there’s not some instance where a staffer thought they were not treated well,” Biden said. “But look at the high-ranking staff on my staff, on the president’s staff -- 70 percent of the high-ranking people on my staff...they’re all women. I literally, when this came out, I asked them, I asked them had they seen it. And nobody is aware.”

Biden also strongly pushed back on Suskind’s suggestion that President Obama only received advice from an isolated, exclusive group.

“When the president and I agreed that I’d be on the ticket...the one thing I asked, and he’s kept it this promise, was that I’d be the last guy in the room -- literally the last in the room on any major decision. I can tell you without fear of contradiction that he has -- he seeks opinions from everyone in his inner circle,” Biden said.

“I have a bad reputation for being very blunt and straight, and I have made clear to the president my views. And on 85 percent of what he’s asked my opinion on, we’ve agreed,” he said.  ”I’ve been here for eight presidents. There are only two I knew who seemed totally prepared to listen to an alternative view. And if you made the better case they say, ‘Ok, I understand that.’ He’s one of those guys.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Biden, Panetta Honor Pentagon Victims on 9/11 Anniversary

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- Under a warm morning sky, about 1,000 invited guests gathered in a parking lot by the Pentagon Memorial on Sunday for an observance ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

The guests were mostly family members of victims and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon, as well as some first responders.  Sitting among them was Speaker of the House John Boehner and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who left his office that day to assist with the relief and rescue efforts.   

In front of them was the Pentagon Memorial and the rebuilt section of the Pentagon that was a smoldering crater 10 years ago.   A large flag draped the building on the same spot where first responders had unfurled a large flag on the day after the attack.

The Pentagon Memorial consists of 184 benches aligned by ascending age to honor those who perished aboard American Airlines Flight 77 and inside the building when it was struck by the airplane.  The small pools of running water that lie underneath each bench were turned off Sunday as part of the morning’s moment of silence, timed to coincide with the exact time that the plane struck the building.   Alongside each bench stood a member of one of the military services holding a wreath of white flowers.  

Scheduled to take place at 9:37 a.m., the moment of silence actually occurred a few minutes earlier than planned.  The remarks that followed it evoked the painful memories of that day and America’s resolve in the face of such tragedy.

Vice President Joe Biden praised the inspiration the families gathered at Sunday’s event had provided to the nation that “hope can grow from tragedy, there can be a second life."

Biden said that what took place after the plane struck the Pentagon “was far more remarkable than the damage inflicted in the building behind me,” as Pentagon employees and  first responders risked their lives to help those trapped by the plane’s impact.

To applause he declared, “I can say without fear of contradiction or being accused of exaggeration, the 9/11 generation ranks among the greatest our nation has ever produced.  And it was born, it was born, it was born right here on 9/11.'

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised the families as being “the greatest monument, the most enduring memorial…You, the families, have shown the rest of us the way, quietly honoring the memory of your loved ones by how you live and what you do.”

He continued, “These are the things the terrorists could not eradicate. They could bring down walls, but they could not bring down America.  They could kill our citizens, but they could not kill our citizenship.  And in that spirit and with that pride, a whole new generation has been inspired to serve -- many of them in uniform.” 

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also spoke of how since 9/11, a generation of Americans had “stepped forward to serve in uniform, determined to confront our enemies and respond to them swiftly and justly.” 

He said that in the last decade “they have taken on the burden of protecting America, relentlessly pursuing those who would do us harm and threaten our homeland,” ultimately bringing Osama bin Laden to “a fitting end."

The ceremony concluded with the servicemembers placing the wreaths one by one on the bench they had been standing next to.  As the last of the servicemembers exited the memorial grounds, a lone Army bugler remained to sound taps, bringing the ceremony to a close.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio