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Thursday
May122011

Ron Paul Would Not Have Ordered Osama Bin Laden Killing

Jason Merritt/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Rep. Ron Paul took an interesting position for a likely presidential candidate Tuesday -- he explained to an Iowa radio station why he would not have ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“It was absolutely not necessary and I think respect for the rule of law, international law -- what if he’d been in a hotel in London?" Paul asked. "We wanted to keep it secret. Would we have sent the helicopters into London? Because they were afraid the information would get out. No you don’t want to do that.”

Paul said the U.S. government should have worked with the Pakistani government, respecting borders, to get at Osama bin Laden.

He pointed to other terror suspects who were captured and tried. Paul pointed to the arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, widely accepted as the 9/11 mastermind, by Pakistani authorities. Mohammed now sits at Guantanamo Bay awaiting trial by a military tribunal.

Paul also pointed to the capture and trial of “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, who was arrested in Brooklyn and tried and convicted in U.S. court.

“What’s wrong with that?” Paul asked. “Why can’t we work with the government?”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May122011

John McCain: Torture Did Not Help Hunt for Osama Bin Laden 

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Arizona Sen. John McCain, a former POW who was tortured for years at the hands of Vietnamese captors, delivered an impassioned argument Thursday that so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” did not produce intelligence leading to Osama bin Laden.

“It was not torture, or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees that got us the major leads that ultimately enabled our intelligence community to find Osama bin Laden,” McCain said in a stirring 22-minute speech from the Senate floor.

McCain called the techniques -- implemented by CIA interrogators during the George W. Bush administration and later barred by President Obama -- “indisputably torture,” and said waterboarding amounted to a “mock execution.”

“I do not believe they are necessary to our success in our war against terrorists, as the advocates of these techniques claim they are,” he said.

McCain directly criticized former Attorney General Michael Mukasey for publicly suggesting recently that waterboarding of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed led investigators to the courier who ferried information to and from bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

Mukasey has said Mohammed “broke like a dam” during the 183 waterboardings performed on him.

“That is false,” McCain said, citing a report from CIA director Leon Panetta who said the courier’s identity was obtained elsewhere.

Waterboarding KSM “actually produced false and misleading information,” McCain said, explaining that Mohammed’s information on the courier was ultimately incorrect.

McCain argued the harsh interrogation techniques more fundamentally degrade “our national character and historical reputation” and put American soldiers at greater risk of torture in the future.

“We are America, and we hold ourselves to a higher standard,” he said.

McCain also wrote about his opposition to "enhanced interrogation techniques" in an op-ed in Thursday's Washington Post.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May122011

Obama on Immigration: Can't Have 'Amnesia' About How We Got Here

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Speaking before the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., President Obama said Thursday that while it may be tempting to think of immigrants as different, Americans ought not have “amnesia” about how they got here.

“It can be tempting to think that those coming to America today are somehow different from us. And we need to not get -- have amnesia about how we populated this country,” President Obama said quoting a verse in the Book of Deuteronomy about loving the stranger. “What this verse reminds us to do is to look at that migrant farmer and see our own grandfather disembarking at Ellis Island or Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, and to look at that young mother newly arrived in this country and see our own grandmother leaving Italy or Ireland or Eastern Europe in search of something better.”

The occasion to speak at the annual breakfast gave President Obama the opportunity to again address comprehensive immigration reform, just three days after delivering a major speech, political in nature, in El Paso, Texas, meant to create momentum for reform.

“I know there are some folks who wish I could just bypass Congress,” Obama said to laughter, noting that some in the room have been frustrated with his pace of change on this issue, not meeting his original goal to pass comprehensive reform his first year in office. “I can't. Well, what I can do is sign a law. What you can do is champion a law. What we can do together is make comprehensive immigration reform the law of the land. That's what we can do. “

The president is in the middle of a big push for reform, following five meetings with supporters this month, meant to create an army so-to-speak to mobilize and put pressure on Congress.

He said that comprehensive reform is not only an “economic imperative or a security imperative, it's also a moral imperative.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May122011

Sarah Palin Weighs In on 'Common' Controversy

Allison Shelley/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin weighed in on the Common controversy Wednesday night during an appearance on Fox News’ On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. She lashed out at President Barack Obama for inviting the hip-hop artist to the White House poetry event.

“The judgment is just so lacking of class and decency and all that’s good about America with an invite like this,” she said. “They’re just inviting someone like me or someone else to ask, ‘C’mon Barack Obama who are you palling around with now?’”

The former vice presidential candidate went on to assure Fox News’ Martha MacCallum that she was not trying to stifle free speech and also emphasized that she’s not “anti-rap,” pointing out that she knows the lyrics to Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.”

The White House has been under fire by some conservatives and police officers for inviting Common to the event because of some of his lyrics. 

The conservative “Daily Caller” pointed to an appearance the rapper made on Def Poetry Jam where he recited a poem entitled “A Letter to the Law.” 

Some of the lines in the poem included, “Tell the law, my Uzi weighs a ton/I walk like a warrior,/from them I won’t run,” as well as, “Seeing a fiend being hung/With that happening, why they messing with Saddam?/Burn a Bush cos’ for peace he no push no button/Killing over oil and grease/no weapons of destruction/How can we follow a leader when this a corrupt one.”

Common performed at the White House Wednesday night without making any mention of all the recent criticism, although hours before his performance, he wrote on his Facebook page, “Politics is politics and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I respect that. The one thing that shouldn’t be questioned is my support for the police officers and troops that protect us every day.”

President Obama spoke at the poetry event and did not mention the controversy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May122011

Is Mitt Romney the Republican Democrats Fear Most?

James Devaney/WireImage(WASHINGTON) -- In advance of Mitt Romney’s major speech in Michigan on “Obamacare,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the new chair of the DNC, came out swinging.

“What I think is unfortunate about Mitt Romney is he doesn’t even know who he is,” Wasserman Schultz told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “The last thing that voters want in someone who wants to represent them is someone who has no conviction.

“Mitt Romney has spent a number of years twisting himself into a pretzel George, trying to figure out, you know, which voters he is in front of and decide what positions he’s going to take,” she said. “He was the author of legislation that was very similar if not close to identical to the Affordable Care Act in Massachusetts and now he says in a speech today that he plans to give that he is going to support, repeal and replace? What he’s trying to do is repeal and erase his own record.”

So do her harsh words mean she fears Romney in a general election match-up?

“It’s got nothing to do with fear. I think it’s kind of sad. I mean I think it’s kind of sad that someone who wants to represent this country and wants to lead the United States of America doesn’t have enough conviction to stand by something that he authored,” she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May122011

President Obama to Introduce Cyber-Security Proposal

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Believing the U.S. to be too vulnerable to cyber-terrorism, President Obama will introduce a proposal to address the threat on Thursday.

The law will address “complex and systemic national vulnerabilities that place the American people and economy at risk,” an administration official said.

To many Americans, “cyber-security” may sound nerdy and irrelevant to their lives, but the nation’s top national security officials have been warning about the threat as dire and potentially catastrophic.

Last June, CIA Director Leon Panetta told ABC News that he worried about cyber security.

“We are now in a world in which cyber warfare is very real,” he said.  “It could threaten our grid system.  It could threaten our financial system.  It could paralyze this country, and I think that's an area we have to pay a lot more attention to."

In February, Panetta testified to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that “the potential for the next Pearl Harbor could very well be a cyber-attack.” 

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the committee, “This threat is increasing in scope and scale, and its impact is difficult to overstate.”

The administration official told ABC News that while the Obama administration “has taken significant steps to better protect America against cyber threats,…it has become clear that our nation cannot fully defend against these threats unless certain parts of cybersecurity law are updated.”

The official said that President Obama’s “proposal strikes a critical balance between strengthening security, preserving privacy and civil liberties protections, and fostering continued economic growth.”

National security officials estimate there are now roughly 60,000 new malicious computer programs identified each day.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May122011

Top Oil Executives Face Off with Lawmakers in Subsidy Battle

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Executives of the top five oil companies will testify before the Senate Finance Committee Thursday to explain why they need billions of dollars in subsidies when they are making record profits.

Some Democrats are opposed to the executives' request and have proposed a new bill called the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, while will scrap $2 billion in tax subsidies each year for the five largest and most profitable oil companies and, in turn, apply the savings to paying down the federal deficit. 

John Watson, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Chevron Corporation; Marvin Odum, U.S. President of Shell Oil; H. Lamar McKay, Chairman and Presidnt of BP America Inc.; James Mulva, Chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips; and Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, are expected to attend the hearing to defend their need for subsidies.

Democrats will mostly likely face an uphill battle in passing their measure.  It will need 60 votes to advance, a long shot in a chamber where there are only 53 Democrats and even some of them -- like Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu -- don’t support the measure.  Republicans have vociferously opposed the bill.
 
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he plans to hold a vote on the subsidy issue sometime next week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May122011

Will Medicare Debate Cost GOP a New York Congressional Seat?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New York's 26th district, where a special election is being held for a House of Representatives seat, has become the battleground for the Republican budget plan and Medicare proposal that could have significant implications for 2012.

In a surprisingly tight election, GOP candidate Jane Corwin is finding herself in a tight three-way race with Democratic Erie County official Kathy Hochul and businessman Jack Davis, who is running as a Tea Party candidate.

The race was supposed to be an easy one for Corwin.  The district, in western New York State between Buffalo and Rochester, is heavily Republican.  Only three Democrats have won in this area in the last century, with the last one leaving office eight years ago.

But Hochul's campaign has aggressively targeted Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal that reshapes Medicare and was passed by the House last month.  Her campaign has also portrayed Corwin as a Republican insider who would help, in effect, bring an end to Medicare.

In a district where seniors make up 15 percent of the population, the message has struck a chord.

Even Donald Trump, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, said Ryan's Medicare program was to blame for Corwin's troubles.

Hochul is also helped by the independent candidacy of Davis, who has run several times before as a Democrat but has now moved to the Tea Party.

A survey by the Siena Research Institute in late April showed Corwin winning the race with 36 percent of the vote, with Hochul getting 31 percent and Davis 23 percent.  Though recent data has been sketchy, analysts say the race is tightening.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May122011

Army Plan to Halt US Tank Production Draws Fire in Congress

U.S. Army(WASHINGTON) -- The Army's M1 Abrams tank has careened across battlefields in U.S. combat operations since 1980.

But now the 75-ton, American-made icon is at the center of the federal budget debate, with the Pentagon calling for production to halt and Congress determined to say no.

The Army says taxpayers could save $1.3 billion in the defense spending bill for fiscal year 2012 if lawmakers agreed to temporarily shutter the nation's only tank production facility in Lima, Ohio, for at least three years, starting in 2013.

The closure would be the first cessation of U.S. tank production since World War II.

But a bipartisan group of lawmakers, under pressure from the tank's producer, General Dynamics Land Systems, says the military has it all wrong.

One hundred thirty-seven House members argued Friday in a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh that the proposal would dangerously harm the country's "industrial base," forcing highly-skilled workers to go elsewhere and adding unnecessary re-training and certification costs to the taxpayers' tab.

General Dynamics has told lawmakers that closing and reopening the plant four years later would cost $300,000 more than continuing limited production over the same period.   Company officials say 250 workers at the Lima plant and thousands of others at more than 500 businesses in the tank equipment supply chain would be forced to find other work.

But with U.S. defense spending expected to top $700 billion this year -- twice the amount spent 10 years ago -- critics say programs such as the Abrams tank line shouldn't be immune from cuts to help trim the federal deficit.

Lt. Gen. Lennox said because the military's fleet of tanks is an average of just four years old, the military won't need technical upgrades or new equipment until at least 2016, when the plant could reopen.

The House Armed Services Committee, which is drafting the defense spending bill for 2012, has included $272 million to keep Abrams tank production going through Sept. 30, 2013.  The bill still needs to pass the Senate and get signed into law by the president.

The funds would churn out roughly 60 tanks and keep thousands of workers on the job, supporters say.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May122011

Poll: Obama and Republican Challenger About Even in 2012

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A new survey shows that President Obama's chances of reelection against an unnamed Republican challenger were not affected by the military mission last week that killed Osama bin Laden, meaning he's no shoe-in to win in 2012.

The latest Gallup poll indicated that the president's job approval rating went up seven points to 54 percent, the highest it's been in months.

However, when respondents were asked who they would vote for next year, Obama only led the generic GOP opponent by 43 percent to 40 percent.

In the Gallup poll before the raid on bin Laden's compound, Obama and his future opponent were tied at 41 percent.

The administration is fully aware that nothing that happens today will really have an impact on an election 18 months from now.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted as much Wednesday, saying, "Polls right now are barely worth the paper they are printed on.  Nice, but not determinative."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio