Tag Archives: Osama Bin-Laden

Dick Cheney Sets New World Record for Being an Asshole

Former Vice President Dick Cheney. UPI/Jim Ruymen

Mother Jones - Kevin Drum

Really, you almost have to admire the sheer balls this takes:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney took a shot at President Barack Obama late Monday night after it was reported that the president has attended fewer than half of his daily intelligence briefings.

“If President Obama were participating in his intelligence briefings on a regular basis then perhaps he would understand why people are so offended at his efforts to take sole credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden,” Cheney told The Daily Caller in an email through a spokeswoman.

This came on the same day that Kurt Eichenwald told us what he’d learned after seeing a series of daily briefings from the months prior to 9/11. Presumably Dick Cheney saw them all too:

By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.

But some in the administration [i.e., Cheney's clique of neocon nitwits -ed.] considered the warning to be just bluster….In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.

“The U.S. is not the target of a disinformation campaign by Usama Bin Laden,” the daily brief of June 29 read, using the government’s transliteration of Bin Laden’s first name….On July 1, the brief stated that the operation had been delayed, but “will occur soon.”….On July 9, at a meeting of the counterterrorism group, one official suggested that the staff put in for a transfer so that somebody else would be responsible when the attack took place, two people who were there told me in interviews.

….On July 24, Mr. Bush was notified that the attack was still being readied, but that it had been postponed, perhaps by a few months. But the president did not feel the briefings on potential attacks were sufficient, one intelligence official told me, and instead asked for a broader analysis on Al Qaeda, its aspirations and its history. In response, the C.I.A. set to work on the Aug. 6 brief.

August 6, of course, was the infamous daily brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” — the one that prompted George Bush to tell his briefer, “All right. You’ve covered your ass.”

Honest to God, Dick Cheney really is the world’s biggest asshole, isn’t he? And for the record, it turns out that sometimes Obama reads the daily brief and sometimes he attends briefing sessions. Either way, though, he certainly seems to pay more attention to them than either George Bush or Dick Cheney ever did.

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Remember the pundits who urged Obama to cave?

MSNBCSteve Benen

Even as the American mainstream turned against congressional Republicans during the recent crises, there were quite a few Beltway pundits who urged President Obama to give in to GOP demands. We talked earlier about what lessons Republicans may have learned from this fiasco, but I can’t help but feel curious about what, if anything, commentators learned, too.

Let’s take National Journal’s Ron Fournier, for example, who argued just last week that Obama “must negotiate” with GOP leaders. He said it was necessary as a “matter of optics,” adding that Republican “obstinacy” is “no excuse.” (Remember, in context, “negotiating” with Republicans meant exploring what concessions the president was prepared to offer – in exchange for nothing – because GOP lawmakers said it was a precondition to their willingness to complete their basic responsibilities.)
Obama ignored the advice, showed some real leadership, and prevailed. A week later, with the benefit of hindsight, Fournier’s advice appears rather misguided.
Which is what made the National Journal writer’s new column that much more interesting.
Just as he did to John McCain in 2008 and to Mitt Romney in 2012, President Obama defeated a lame Republican political team. The GOP’s right wing foolishly shuttered the government and threatened default in exchange for an unreasonable and unattainable concession: Scrap Obamacare. He refused. The GOP caved.
It was all so predictable.
Hmm. If it was all so predictable that the president would stick to his guns and Republicans would cave, why did Fouriner argue – literally just last week – that Obama should stop sticking to his guns and start making concessions to Republicans?
The rest of Fournier’s argument is somewhat confusing. He wants to know, for example, if Obama can “lead.” Didn’t Obama just prove that he could “lead” quite well by winning this fight? In this case, Fournier suggests “lead” means “making Republicans do what they refuse to do,” which doesn’t seem like an altogether fair definition of the word.
The column goes on to ask if Obama “has the guts to anger liberal backers with a budget deal on Social Security and Medicare,” failing to mention that Obama has already angered liberal backers by offering a budget deal on Social Security and Medicare. Fournier also asks, “Is he willing to engage sincerely with Republicans?” overlooking all of the efforts the president has already made to do exactly that.
The columnist also wants to know if Obama wants “a legacy beyond winning two elections and enacting a health care law,” overlooking the Recovery Act, ending the war in Iraq, decimating al Qaeda and killing Osama bin Laden, rescuing the American automotive industry, reforming Wall Street safeguards, advancing civil rights, and scoring several major foreign policy victories.
Fournier says there are “any number of conservative Republicans with a pragmatic streak,” overlooking the fact that each of them have already rejected the notion of a balanced compromise on the budget. Fournier says facts about the shrinking deficit are “both technically wrong and selectively misleading” when they are in fact both technically correct and objectively true.
Fournier also uses words like “governing” and “success” as synonyms for “a center-right debt-reduction deal that most credible economists consider wholly unnecessary.”
The piece goes on to argue, “There is already a lack of seriousness in the air.” On this, I heartily agree.
Update: Fournier believes the item above takes his post from last week out of context. I disagree, but I’m eager for fair-minded readers to consider the relevant pieces and reach their own conclusions. Here’s his piece from last week, in which Fournier argues that Obama “can’t cave,” while also arguing that Obama “must negotiate” with Republicans who were demanding he cave. Here’s his piece from this morning, in which Fournier argues that the president’s posture against negotiation led to a “predictable” victory.
I continue to believe a fair and informed reading supports the observations published above, but I would encourage interested parties to read further and evaluate the arguments on the merits.

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Filed under 10/2013 Shutdown, Barack Obama

You’ll Pay for This, GOP: How Obama will make the 2013 shutdown a political weapon.

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President Obama at the White House on Oct. 17, 2013, drawing lessons from the shutdown.    Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Slate

“There are no winners here,” President Obama declared at the White House this morning. Then, with an elegant air of non-partisanship, Obama began to fashion the shutdown into a political weapon. Here’s how he’s going to deploy it.

1. Economic excuse. Obama noted that before the shutdown, the economy was recovering, and the deficit was falling. The fiscal standoff changed all that: “Every analyst out there believes it slowed our growth.” Obama rattled off the damage: families going without paychecks, home buyers and small businesses unable to get loans, consumers cutting back on spending, CEOs reporting that the fiscal anxiety had “set back their plans to hire over the next six months.” Even the “threat of default,” said the president, “increased our borrowing costs, which adds to our deficit.”

Today, this litany of laments looked like simple compassion from the president. But over the next year, it can serve as an excuse. If economic growth or deficit reduction isn’t where we’d like it to be, Obama can blame the shortfall on the “Republican shutdown” or the “Tea Party shutdown.” He’d be following in the footsteps of his predecessor, who spent three years after Sept. 11, 2001, blaming economic disappointment on the damage done when “the enemy hit us.”

2. Republican downgrade. Two years ago, when Standard and Poor’s downgraded the government’s credit rating, it cited our high deficits as well as the 2011 debt ceiling standoff. Ever since, Republicans have argued that the deficits, not the standoff, caused the downgrade. This time, we haven’t been downgraded, but we’ve been put on a credit watch by Fitch, another ratings agency. And this time, there’s no ballooning deficit. Obama wants to make that difference stick. He wants the downgrade threat of 2013 to reinforce the Democrats’ narrative about the downgrade of 2011. “The agency that put America’s credit rating on watch the other day explicitly cited” the congressional standoff, Obama pointed out. The Fitch report, he went on, said that “our economy remains more dynamic and resilient than other advanced economies and that the only thing putting us at risk is—and I’m quoting here—‘repeated brinkmanship.’ ” “That wasn’t a political statement,” Obama added, politicizing the statement.

3. National security. Even after killing Osama Bin Laden, Obama is constantly accused of weakness. No matter what he does in Iran, Egypt, Libya, or Syria, the old portrait of the Democratic president as soft on foreign policy never goes away. What usually helps Democrats in this area is economics. Their devotion to American labor at the expense of free trade comes across as tough on foreigners. But the fiscal showdowns of 2011 and 2013 could add a new twist. This morning, Obama reported that U.S. diplomats have

been hearing from their counterparts internationally. Some of the same folks who pushed for the shutdown and threatened default claim their actions were needed to get America back on the right track, to make sure we’re strong. But probably nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility in the world, our standing with other countries, than the spectacle we’ve seen these past several weeks. It’s encouraged our enemies. It’s emboldened our competitors. And it’s depressed our friends who look to us for steady leadership.

If Republicans stage another big fight over the next debt ceiling, that would be three in a row. It might facilitate a significant political development: the transformation of debt payment into a national security issue. Republicans could become the deadbeat party. Obama seems quite willing to attack them from this angle. And in framing economics as the key to American power, he has reality on his side.

4. The value of government. What happened in 1995 and 1996 has happened again: Closing the government has made Americans miss it. In his remarks today, Obama proposed,

One of the things that I hope all of us have learned these past few weeks is that it turns out smart, effective government is important. It matters. I think the American people, during this shutdown, had a chance to get some idea of all the things, large and small, that government does that make a difference in people’s lives. You know, we hear all the time about how government is the problem. Well, it turns out we rely on it in a whole lot of ways. Not only does it keep us strong through our military and our law enforcement—it plays a vital role in caring for our seniors and our veterans, educating our kids, making sure our workers are trained for the jobs that are being created, arming our businesses with the best science and technology so they can compete with companies from other countries. It plays a key role in keeping our food and our toys and our workplaces safe.  It helps folks rebuild after a storm. It conserves our natural resources. It finances startups. It helps to sell our products overseas. It provides security to our diplomats abroad. So let’s work together to make government work better, instead of treating it like an enemy.

Congratulations, Tea Party. In the midst of Obamacare’s glitch-ridden debut, you did the one thing that could make us love our government: You took it away and held it hostage. Don’t expect any thanks from the president you helped.

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Filed under President Barack Obama, U.S. Credit Rating

Al Qaeda official seized in Libya raid was ‘most wanted’ for US Embassy bombings

NBC News

The man whisked off the streets of Tripoli, Libya, Saturday was among the top remaining leaders of al Qaeda, an elusive confidante of – and computer expert for – Osama bin Laden, as well as an alleged conspirator in the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings.

Anas al Libi, whose real name is Nazih Abdul-Hamed Nabih al-Ruqai’I, has over the years been reported as killed, captured or living in Iran. The U.S. has known he’s been back in his native Libya for more than two years, the latest stop on a journey that has taken him from Tripoli to Sudan, where he met bin Laden, to England, Kenya, Afghanistan and Iran before returning to Libya in the dying days of the regime of former leader Moammar Gadhafi — where he lost his son in the civil war that led to Gadhafi’s ouster and death.

On Saturday, the Pentagon confirmed al Libi had been captured.

“As the result of a U.S. counterterrorism operation, Abu Anas al Libi is currently lawfully detained by the U.S. military in a secure location outside of Libya,” said Pentagon spokesman George Little.

In the days after 9/11, al Libi was among the first names placed in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Most Wanted Terrorists list with a reward of $25 million – the same amount attached to bin Laden and other senior officers of al Qaeda. It was later reduced to $5 million, but the United States’ desire to bring him to justice never waned.

“He’s one of the last guys from the East Africa embassy bombings who was still out there,” said a senior U.S. intelligence official Saturday night.

“We still wanted him,” added a second official, indicating that the Aug. 7, 1998, attacks on U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, remained a high priority in the U.S. government.

“Symbolically, the embassy bombings are for the U.S. what Munich was for the Israelis. It’s about closure,” said Karen Greenberg, director for the Center on National Security at Fordham University Law School.

Of the 21 people indicted in the embassy bombings case by the U.S. Justice Department, eight have been killed, including bin Laden, one died awaiting trial, and another eight are in jail, either convicted or awaiting trial. Al Libi was one of four fugitives until Saturday.

Continue reading here…

 

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Eight Fascinating Details From The Report On The Bin Laden Raid

In the darkest hour of the night, elite Navy Seals raid Osama Bin Laden's compound Zero Dark Thirty - 2012

TPMDC

TOM KLUDT -  JULY 8, 2013, 5:22 PM

The 2011 raid that left Osama bin Laden and four other people dead inside a Pakistani compound inspired book chronicles, glossy magazine features and an Academy Award-winning movie — yet, some of the most salient details of the operation have remained shrouded in mystery.

It was ostensibly for those reasons that the Pakistani government set up a commission in June 2011 to shed light on the key unanswered questions regarding the fateful early May evening and the time period leading up to it. On Monday, Al Jazeera published an exclusively obtained copy of the findings from the Abbottabad Commission. According to Al Jazeera, the report “was buried by the government and never made public” after it was finished in May 2012.

Here are eight of the most fascinating details from the Commission’s report.

Bin Laden Immediately Recognized The Incoming Helicopters As American.

The report set the scene of the dramatic night. Bin Laden had been spending the evening with Amal Ahmad Abdul Fattah al-Sadah, a 29-year-old Yemeni woman who was the youngest of the international fugitive’s three wives. The two originally thought the commotion outside was an incoming storm and went on the balcony to investigate, but the moonless sky made the outdoor surroundings pitch black. When Sadah reached to turn on a light, bin Laden said, “No!”

After reciting the Kalma — the Muslim declaration of faith — and verses from the Quran with some of his children, bin Laden told his family that American helicopters had arrived and urged them to leave his room.

Search Of Bodyguard’s Wife Turned Violent.

Ibrahim al-Kuwaiti, a Pakistani man who served as one of bin Laden’s bodyguards at the compound, was shot and killed by U.S. forces after hearing a knock on his door that he thought was from his brother, Abrar, the terrorist’s courier. Abrar was also fatally shot during the raid.

Kuwaiti’s wife, Maryam, was shot and wounded during the raid. Later, when Maryam resisted efforts to comply with an American body search, things turned aggressive. According to the report, Maryam cursed at the Navy SEALs conducting the raid, prompting them to slap her.

Americans Left With Bin Laden’s Will, Leaving Its Contents Unknown.

The Americans gathered a number of items before leaving the compound, including a purse that evidently contained the will of the Al-Qaeda leader. Since then, there have been disputed reports on what the will did or did not say.

Bin Laden’s eldest wife, Khairiyyah Sabar, is quoted in the report as saying that the will was apolitical and dealt only with familial matters. But “she did not wish to divulge the details,” according to the report. Other accounts have suggested that bin Laden used the will to assert that his children should not assume leadership positions with Al-Qaeda, the report noted.

Osama In A Cowboy Hat.

Bin Laden kept very few articles of clothing in the compound, despite having spent six years hiding in Abbottabad. His wardrobe included three pairs of pants for the summer, three for the winter, a black jacket and two sweaters.

Bin Laden’s wives told the Commission that “he was not fond of possessions.” But his wardrobe evidently also included a cowboy hat, which bin Laden wore when he moved about the compound in order to “avoid detection from above.”

A Compound Divided.

According to the Commission, “there was in fact a wall separating” bin Laden’s family from the families of Ibrahim and Abrar. Their children never played with each other and the families did not “mix or socialize.”

The report detailed one account in which Ibrahim’s daughter saw a picture of bin Laden on Al Jazeera, leading her to recognize him as the “Miskeen Kaka” (“poor uncle”) who lived upstairs. Panic-stricken, Ibrahim attempted to bar the women from watching television, but his wife demanded an explanation. He eventually relented and admitted that the man living upstairs was in fact bin Laden.

The Skinny On OBL, KSM.

Bin Laden is said to have lived in Haripur, Pakistan, before re-locating to Abbottabad. While in Haripur, the report indicated that bin Laden did not host any guests — an apparent result of his decision to terminate all contact with “Al-Qaeda fellow Mujahideen” in the wake of the 2003 arrest of suspected 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But bin Laden maintained electronic communication with Qaeda operatives, which ultimately enabled U.S. intelligence to track him.

Mohammed introduced Ibrahim to bin Laden, the report notes. Mohammed, currently held at the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, grew up with Ibrahim in Kuwait. They were described in the report as being “close as brothers.”

Close Call.

Details in the report on bin Laden’s life in hiding painted a picture of a largely confined, solitary existence with little to no outside activity. But the report provided a glimpse at one episode from his time living in Swat, Pakistan, that occurred sometime in the two years after 9/11.

According to testimony from Maryam, the group was traveling to a nearby bazaar when the car, which was carrying bin Laden, was stopped for speeding. Ibrahim “quickly settled the matter,” the report indicated.

Failures Abound.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the report was the across-the-board indictment laid at the feet of Pakistani government and law enforcement — incompetence that was labeled “Government Implosion Syndrome” by the Commission. The Commission blasted the government for failing to recognize bin Laden’s nearly decade-long stay in Pakistan. It also criticized the government and law enforcement for their inability to recognize the U.S.-led effort to track down the terrorist, leading to what the panel described as an American “act of war.”

In calling on the country’s leaders to apologize to the Pakistani people for “dereliction of duty,” the report concluded that “political, military intelligence and bureaucratic leadership cannot be absolved of their responsibility for the state of governance, policy planning and policy implementation that eventually rendered this national failure almost inevitable.”

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Right-wing radio host: I want to shoot Clinton right in the vagina

Hillary Clinton announces support for marriage equality

Let’s set aside the insanity of that statement for a second and think about this:  If a Progressive had said the same thing about Sarah Palin, would there be a hell-fire storm of controversy or what?  They’d loose their freakin’ minds…

The Raw Story

Fringe right-wing radio host Pete Santilli made disturbing comments about Hillary Clinton last week, calling for sexual violence against the former secretary of state because of her alleged involvement in a bizarre conspiracy theory.

“Miss Hillary Clinton needs to be convicted, she needs to be tried, convicted and shot in the vagina,” he said. “I wanna pull the trigger. That ‘C U Next Tuesday’ has killed human beings that are in our ranks of our service.”

Santilli alleged Clinton was involved in drug trafficking in Arkansas and the killing of U.S. troops overseas.

“I want to shoot her right in the vagina and I don’t want her to die right away,” he added. “I want her to feel the pain and I want to look her in the eyes and I want to say, on behalf of all Americans that you’ve killed, on behalf of the Navy SEALS, the families of Navy SEAL Team Six who were involved in the fake hunt down of this Obama, Obama bin Laden thing.

“That whole fake scenario, because these Navy SEALS know the truth, they killed them all. On behalf of all of those people, I’m supporting our troops by saying we need to try, convict, and shoot Hillary Clinton in the vagina.”

The remarks were first reported by Right Wing Watch, which said it began monitoring Santilli after National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent and Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt appeared on his online radio program.

On his website, Santilli specifically claims that he is not a conspiracy theorist and that he is not crazy.

“As Alex Jones puts it, there is a war for your mind and its a well known fact that you are not winning. Everything you supposedly perceive as reality has been fabricated by the Wizard of Oz; the little old man behind the curtain,” he explained on his about page.

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‘Meet The Press’ Drops All Pretense Of Journalism And Embraces Right Wing Conspiracies

tin_foil_hat

It has always been obvious that David Gregory is no real liberal…

Addicting Info

After watching Sunday’s Meet The Press, one could be forgiven for wondering exactly when the United States went from being a country that faced down nuclear armageddon in the Cold War to cowering under the sheets from the threat of terrorists that may or may not exist.

David Gregory, clearly one of the liberal elitists that are in the tank for Obama, did his very best to conflate Benghazi, Boston and Syria as if they were all part of a grand terrorist plan to destroy America 3 or 4 people at a time:

 I want to widen this out a little bit, because I think there’s the broader topic that we’re broaching here about national security, about our personal freedoms in America, coming out of the Boston bombing is, in part, ongoing concern about terrorism. The graphic this week in The Wall Street Journal about that growing al-Qaeda threat, even a couple of years now after Osama bin Laden is killed.

Looking in North Africa, in the Persian Gulf states, where you either have al-Qaeda with a safe haven, or, indeed, more activity. And it leads, too, to what happened last 9-11 in Benghazi, and the ongoing questions about what the United States knew about that, what the administration knew. Did they do enough to stop it? And now, new hearings coming up, new details being reported on, Mr. Mayor [Guiliani]. Is there something here that somehow gets to why we’re more vulnerable now and whether the administration has done enough, in your estimation? (Emphasis mine) 

I’m curious to know in what sense are we more vulnerable under Obama? Did terrorists hijack 4 airplanes and use them as missiles aimed at American buildings? Was anthrax used to kill several people using the mail? Were several different American consulates attacked resulting in dozens of causalities? If I’m not mistaken, so far in Obama’s 4+ years in office, terrorists have killed exactly 4 people on American soil and 4 Americans not in an active war zone.

Gregory goes on:

“Jane Harman, and Mayor Giuliani, as we look at all of this, whether it’s jihadist elements operating in Syria, whether we look at, now, this widening plot out of the Boston bombings, they wanted to attack, reportedly, on July Fourth, there are others now involved, friends of Dzokhar Tsarnaev, who show their pictures, who are involved, at some level, of clearing out some of the materials from his room, what does this tell us about what we’re up against here, specifically in the Boston plot, and this question of, “Are we any safer?”” 

“Widening plot?” Until they can put a finger on who, if anyone, trained the older brother, Tamerlan, the “widening plot” amounts to three young idiots doing something phenomenally stupid. That these imbeciles, which one official referred to as “the Three Stooges,” tried to (poorly) cover up something of this magnitude doesn’t make them part of a grand terrorist conspiracy that makes America less safe; it just makes them dumber than a sack of hammers. No lovable goofball ending here, just a lot of jail time.

But it wasn’t a total fear-fest. Mr. Gregory did accidentally allow Sen. Patrick Leahy to make a point that interferes with the whole “It’s all Obama’s fault we’re under attack” narrative:

DAVID GREGORY: –how vulnerable we are and what we’re doing about it?

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Oh, there are questions should be asked. I know I chair a committee that handles the State Department’s budget. We put in extra money, a great deal of extra money, for embassy security.

DAVID GREGORY: I mean that’s what we’re hearing about– (Translation: ERROR! ERROR! That is off script! We can not blame Republicans for their actions!)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Let me finish. And that was blocked by the House. They said they didn’t want to spend the money. Whether that would have made a difference or not, I don’t know. Should we look at Benghazi? Yes. But keep in mind that’s just one place. We should look at our security throughout our embassies, because there will always be easy targets.

DAVID GREGORY: Were warnings ignored on Benghazi, Congressman, in your judgment? (Translation: Let’s get back to promoting the right’s conspiracies!)

Continue reading here…

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Rush Limbaugh Compares Suspected Boston Bomber To Trayvon Martin

It’s too easy to say that the Limbaughs, Coulters and Hannitys of the world merely seek and need attention.  These people are simply unadulterated evil

Think Progress

Conservative radio prognosticator Rush Limbaugh used his nationally syndicated show on Tuesday to try and tie Dzhakar Tsarnaev, the captured suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings last week, to murdered teenager Trayvon Martin.

Last March, weeks after 17-year-old Martin was shot and killed, Limbaugh and the rest of the conservative echo chamber spent a considerable amount of time attacking Martin’s character and pushing back against a widely circulated photograph of the teen, claiming that the media was trying to gin up sympathy for the murdered boy.

On Tuesday, Limbaugh compared the media’s portrayal of Trayvon to the treatment of the captured Tsarnaev, citing the media’s use of slightly outdated photographs in both instances:

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called out a variety of media outlets on Tuesday for trying to [do] “to Dzhokhar [Tsarnaev] what they did to Trayvon Martin.” He said that showing images of Tsarnaev at 14-years-old is an effort to humanize him and frame him as a “normal” or “mixed-up kid,” rather than an accused murder[er] and terrorist.

‘The news media are doing to Dzhokhar what they did to Trayvon Martin,”Limbaugh observed. “They’re regularly showing a photo of Dzhokhar that was taken when he was about 14. Soft, angelic, nice little boy. Harmless. Cute. Big, loveable eyes.”

“Not at all what he looks like today,” Limbaugh added. “The way, when we’re shown Osama bin Laden, it’s in his shepherd pose with his walking stick, walking through the mountains or whatever.”

The implication, subtly made, is that the liberal media is somehow supportive of Tsarnaev, who is responsible for the murders of three people and the injuries of more than 170 others. In reality, the outdated photograph of the younger Tsarnaev brother is one of several photographs in constant rotation on every news network since he was first identified late last week.

The comparison is also deeply offensive for Trayvon Martin and his family. Martin was a victim of gun violence in a state that remains lenient towards gun owners who turn their weapons on other Floridians.

HT: Mediaite

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10 things you need to know today: March 27, 2013

Secret Service agents watch the audience while President Obama speaks in March 2012.

The Week

Petraeus apologizes, Obama names the first female Secret Service chief, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

1. PETRAEUS SAYS HE’S SORRY FOR AFFAIR
David Petraeus apologized Tuesday night for the extramarital affair that derailed his career, in his first public speech since he resigned as director of the Central Intelligence Agency five months ago. The retired four-star general was invited to speak at the event — an ROTC dinner at the University of Southern California — before news broke of his affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Petraeus said he’s “keenly aware” that his actions have tarnished his reputation since then, and that he regrets causing “such pain” for his wife, Holly, and his friends and supporters. “Perhaps my experience can be instructive to others who stumble or indeed fall as far as I did,” he said. [New York Daily News]
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2. SUPREME COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS ON THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT
The Supreme Court is stepping into its second gay-marriage case on Wednesday, as justices hear oral arguments on a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. The hearing comes a day after a similar one on California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8. The Defense of Marriage Act denies gay couples access to federal benefits — even if they are legally married under state law — because it defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The law was signed in 1996 by then-president Bill Clinton, who says he now believes it’s unconstitutional. DOMA has already been rejected by four federal courts and two appeals courts. [BBC News]
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3. OBAMA NAMES FIRST FEMALE SECRET SERVICE CHIEF
President Obama is appointing 30-year Secret Service veteran Julia Pierson as director of the agency, White House officials said on Tuesday. She will be the first woman ever to head the agency, which is best known for providing protection for the president. Obama’s selection of Pierson, who now serves as the agency’s chief of staff, comes a year after a prostitution scandal involving 13 agents and officers exposed a macho culture in the agency. Pierson’s predecessor, Mark Sullivan, announced his retirement last month after apologizing for the embarrassing mess. [Los Angeles Times]
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4. NORTH KOREA WARNS WAR COULD BREAK OUT SOON
North Korea cut off its last military hotline with South Korea and warned on Wednesday that “war may break out an any moment.” The isolated communist regime has been making increasingly bellicose threats since facing global condemnation and tightening sanctions after its recent missile and nuclear tests, and has threatened to launch nuclear strikes against South Korea and the U.S., although experts say it doesn’t have the technology to deliver a warhead to the U.S. mainland. [Reuters]
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5. NEW ACCOUNT BLURS STORY OF BIN LADEN RAID
A third member of Seal Team 6 has come forward offering details of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and his account contradicts what a former comrade said in the February issue ofEsquire. A SEAL member called “The Shooter” in the Esquire article said that he had shot bin Laden as they stood face-to-face and the al Qaeda leader reached for a gun. In an interview with CNN, the latest SEAL to talk says that version of the story is “complete b.s.” The source essentially backs up the account of former SEAL “Mark Owen,” who wrote in his book, No Easy Day, that a member of the special forces team shot an unarmed bin Laden from down the hall. [CNNHuffington Post]
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6. NORTH DAKOTA ENACTS NATION’S STRICTEST ABORTION LAW
North Dakota’s Republican governor, Jack Dalrymple, signed the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion law on Tuesday. The measure makes abortion illegal as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Legal scholars say the law is likely to be overturned in federal court, as the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalized abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, which usually takes 22 to 24 weeks. Dalrymple concedes the likelihood of a challenge, but says “this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.” [Christian Science Monitor]
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7. SPAIN CONDUCTS CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF ARMSTRONG’S DOPING
Spanish authorities are investigating possible criminal charges against Lance Armstrong in connection with the former cycling champion’s doping, which was described in a U.S. Anti Doping Agency report, according to ABC News. Armstrong lived in Spain for several years during his record run of seven consecutive Tour de France titles. Under Spanish law, it isn’t a crime for an athlete to use performance-enhancing drugs, although a conviction for trafficking and distributing banned drugs carries a prison term of up to two years and fines of as much as 400,000 euros ($520,000). [ABC News]
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8. FOLLOWER ACCUSED OF TRYING TO SNEAK CHARLES MANSON A CELL PHONE
A California man, Craig Carlisle Hammond, has been arrested on charges that he tried to smuggle a cell phone to cult leader Charles Manson in prison. Manson, 78, is serving a life sentence for the 1969 “Helter Skelter” killing spree in Los Angeles, in which seven people were murdered. Over the years, Manson has reportedly been caught with a weapon and contraband cell phones, and has been accused of threatening a peace officer. Prison officials say contraband cell phones are dangerous, as they can be used for such things as planning escapes and ordering hits. [New York Daily News]
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9. SPACEX DRAGON COMPLETES SECOND SPACE STATION SUPPLY RUN
The privately built and owned SpaceX Dragon capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after its second resupply mission to the International Space Station under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. The unmanned craft brought back 1 ton of old space-station equipment and science experiments. It was launched into orbit from Cape Canaveral in early March. With the space shuttle fleet retired, SpaceX, run by billionaire PayPal and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk, is NASA’s only option for two-way delivery to the space station, but a competitor, Orbital Sciences Corp., plans a test flight next month. [Associated Press]
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10. PICASSO PAINTING SELLS FOR $155 MILLION
Hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen has purchased Pablo Picasso’s Le Reve from casino owner Steve Wynn for $155 million — the most a collector has ever paid for a work of art in the U.S. Wynn had agreed to sell Cohen the painting for $139 million, but the deal was canceled after Wynn accidentally put his elbow through the canvas. Cohen remained interested, however, as the work was being restored. [Bloomberg]

 

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Michelle Obama’s Oscar surprise

Michelle Obama dress: Michelle Obama stuns in Naeem Khan at the 2013 Oscars

I didn’t get to see the Oscars® but I’m pretty certain the FLOTUS’ surprise visit was well received…

Politico

First lady Michelle Obama announced the best picture category in a surprise appearance live from the White House at Sunday’s Academy Awards, crowning political drama “Argo” as the best picture.

In a year where several of the nominated films had political connections — from “Lincoln” to “Zero Dark Thirty” — “Argo” came out on top among the Washington crowd, winning three of the seven awards it was nominated for, including best picture. The film is about a CIA plan to rescue Americans trapped in Iran during the Carter-era hostage crisis.

After being introduced by legendary actor Jack Nicholson, Obama spoke by satellite from inside the White House, where she thanked the Hollywood community for their “vitally important work” before announcing “Argo” the winner.

“Welcome to the White House, everyone,” Obama said, wearing a silver Naeem Khan gown. These movies “took us back in time and all around the world. They made us laugh. They made us weep and made us grip our armrests just a little tighter. They taught us that love can endure against all odds and transform our minds in the most surprising ways. And they reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage to believe in ourselves.”

(PHOTOS: Politics at the Oscars)

Affleck — who wasn’t nominated in the best director category for “Argo” — seemed thankful and nervous when he took the microphone after the film won.

“I want to thank our friends in Iran living in a terrible circumstance right now,” he said. “I want to thank my wife [actress Jennifer Garner], who I don’t normally associate with Iran, but I want to thank you for working on our marriage. … It is work, but it’s the best kind of work and there’s no one I’d rather work with.”

“Argo” also won for best adapted screenplay and film editing, rounding out its three Oscars. “Lincoln” scored two awards — best actor for Daniel Day-Lewis and best production design.

“Zero Dark Thirty,” about the U.S. government’s hunt for Osama bin Laden, won its only award of the night for sound editing, a category in which it tied with “Skyfall,” the latest James Bond installment. (Surprisingly enough, ties for Oscars aren’t all that uncommon, as ABC News noted.)

(Also on POLITICO: Politicians, media tweet Oscar picks)

Meanwhile, Day-Lewis won best actor for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in the presidential biopic “Lincoln.” It was his third best actor award.

Day-Lewis showed his comedic chops during his acceptance speech, thanking director Steven Spielberg for not making  “Lincoln” a musical.

“And Steven didn’t have to persuade me to play Lincoln, but I had to persuade him that if I was going to do it – it shouldn’t be a musical,” he said.

He also joked with his presenter Meryl Streep, who won best actress last year for her portrayal of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “Iron Lady.”

“It’s a strange thing because three years ago before we decided to do a straight swap, I had actually been committed to play Margaret Thatcher – and Meryl was Steven’s first choice for ‘Lincoln.’ And I’d like to see that version,” Day-Lewis said.

All kidding aside, Day-Lewis then thanked “the mysteriously beautiful mind, body and spirit of Abraham Lincoln.”

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