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Posts tagged ‘Situation Room’

Rand Paul: Intel Chief Clapper Bigger Threat Than Snowden.

National Intelligence Director James Clapper is a bigger threat to U.S. security than National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, Sen. Rand Paul says.

Paul, R-Ky., told CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” on Wednesday that Clapper’s “lying” to Congress was a criminal act for which he should be prosecuted.

“Otherwise, you’re just encouraging people to lie to us,” he said.

Paul was referring to Clapper’s testimony in March to a Senate committee in which he said the NSA was not collecting any type of data on “millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”

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NSA contract employee Snowden’s leaks of classified documents just a few months later proved Clapper’s words to be untrue.

Paul told CNN there have to be rules about leaks, and Snowden broke the law in taking the classified data. Still, he said, many consider Snowden a legitimate whistle-blower. 

Clapper’s false testimony, on the other hand, has damaged the credibility of the intelligence community, Paul said. He said it was perjury and punishable by time in jail.

“I think the law is the law, and they both broke the law, and that one shouldn’t get off scot-free,” Paul said.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Sen. Rand Paul Votes Against Budget Deal, Says Sequester Better.

Sen. Rand Paul voted against the Ryan-Murray bipartisan budget deal on Wednesday, partly because he says current law is better than that legislation.

Current law includes budget caps from the 2011 sequester, and the new agreement gives relief to those.

“I think this is a step backwards for the country,” Paul told CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” after Wednesday’s 64-36 vote to pass the bill.

The House approved the bill last week, and it now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Blitzer asked whether it wasn’t good that the bill prevents another government shutdown for the next two years, but Paul called that a “false choice.” There are more alternatives, he said, than the budget deal or a shutdown.

“A shutdown’s not good, but I’m worried about the future of the country,” Paul said. “I’m worried about a $17 trillion debt, and I’m worried about the fact that we’re borrowing $1 million every minute.”

Paul also opposed the bill because it cuts retirement benefits to current military veterans under age 62 – including combat-wounded veterans. Paul was among a group of Republican senators who wanted an amendment to restore those benefits.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, one of the deal’s architects along with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, has said cutting benefits to wounded vets was a mistake that will be corrected after the law is passed.

“Right now, there’s not much collegiality going on. It’s a poisonous atmosphere where the majority is just shoving things down the throat of the minority,” Paul said. “And because of it, we can’t fix legislation like this.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Greg Richter

Rep. Rogers: Congress Not Told About Secret Iran Talks.

Image: Rep. Rogers: Congress Not Told About Secret Iran Talks

By Greg Richter

As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers normally receives briefings on national secrets.

But Rogers, R-Mich., says he knew nothing of the six months of secret talks the United States had with Iran before the weekend agreement to ease sanctions on Iran. To his knowledge, neither did his Senate counterpart.

“It was concerning that they didn’t believe it was important enough to do this, and that just raises questions about what did they pre-arrange prior to the P5+1,” Rogers said Monday on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” 

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The P5+1 group, consisting of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany, negotiated a six-month temporary easing of sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran’s pausing its efforts to enrich uranium – which the West and Iran’s Arab neighbors think it intends to use to build a nuclear weapons arsenal.

But the secret talks aren’t all that worry Rogers. In addition to the $4.2 billion Iran is getting as part of the deal, it also gets gold and other precious metals. Those, Rogers said, can be used to get around the sanctions by bartering – something Iran already has done while sanctions were in effect.

The issue isn’t being played up enough, he told Blitzer.

“Not talking about that worries me,” Rogers said. “We ought to know what the facts are of the deal.”

Rogers is among those in Washington saying the United States gave Iran everything it wanted in exchange for very little.

“That’s why the Arab League thinks this is a bad deal, Israel thinks it a bad deal, a bipartisan group in Congress thinks this is a bad deal,” he said, “which is apparently why the secret meetings to talk about it.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

McCain: GOP Less Likely to Work ‘Across Aisle’ After Nuclear Option.

One casualty of the so-called “nuclear option” could be bipartisanship.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., hinted that Republicans such as himself might be less likely to reach across party lines now that Democrats have changed the rules on how judges are nominated.

“There’s still quite a bit of legislation that goes through the United States Senate, and it’s done on the basis of people’s agreement with one another and work with people across the aisle,” McCain said Thursday on CNN’sThe Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

“There are going to be difficulties from time to time where cooperation was probably the case in the past and will not be now.”

Still, McCain said, he would continue to work with Democrats on legislation “when it’s in the interest of the country.”

McCain has served in the House and Senate for three decades, and said he has made many friends in the Democratic Party during that time. Thursday’s vote puts a strain on those relationships he said.

But more important, he said, is the damage to the institution.

The Senate had required 60-vote majorities before judicial nominees could be brought to the floor. Now, only 51 votes, a simple majority, are needed.

The Senate had been described as a place where legislation comes to “cool off” after simple majority legislation in the House of Representatives. Should the Senate move to simple majorities on all legislation, McCain said the two houses might as well be merged.

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Sen. Coats: ‘Nuclear Option’ a Distraction From Obamacare

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Rep. Peter King Defends Spying on US Allies.

Image: Rep. Peter King Defends Spying on US Allies

By Greg Richter

One day after he said President Barack Obama should stop apologizing for U.S. spying, Rep. Peter King made it clear he means it’s OK to listen in on allies’ leaders.

“We don’t know who the chancellor is going to be, who the president is going to be, who the prime minister is going to be,” King told CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Monday.

When Willy Brandt was chancellor of West Germany, he had Stasi agents in his government, said King, R-N.Y. Gerhard Shroeder and Russia “basically formed an alliance against us as far as Iraq was concerned.”

Our friends spy on us, King said: when Madeleine Albright was U.N. chief delegate, she said the French were tapping her phone.

“If we’re not going to tap a chancellor, are we going to go to the vice chancellor? Are we going to go to people in the cabinet? Where does this end?” King said.

He also said he wouldn’t be surprised if then-Sen. Obama had his Blackberry tapped by the Germans when he visited Berlin in 2008.

King acknowledged that Merkel had to make a show of protest over her phone being tapped for consumption at home, but he is weary of hearing the griping because the United States shares intelligence about terrorists with Germany.

“The NSA [National Security Agency] has done more to save German lives than the German army has done since World War II,” he said.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Rep. Issa: ‘I’ll Vote for a Clean CR’.

Image: Rep. Issa: 'I'll Vote for a Clean CR'

By Greg Richter

As a Republican plan to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling fell apartTuesday night,  one prominent House Republican said he was willing to vote for a “clean” continuing resolution.

“I’ll vote for a clean C.R.,” Rep. Darrell Issa said Tuesday on CNN’sThe Situation Room.”

“Republicans in the House have always been for a clean CR increase if it meant we began the serious negotiations on the kinds of reforms that need to happen — entitlements as a shortcut for it,” Issa said. “That’s what the deal is about right now.”

But the House vote was scrapped Tuesday when enough Republicans refused to sign on. The bill appeared likely to pass until Heritage Action, the lobbying arm of the Heritage Foundation, began urging conservative members to vote against it.

Democrats have pushed for a bipartisan vote, saying they have more than enough members to help push a clean CR, which would not include demands tea party members have been fighting for.

House Speaker John Boehner, however, has been holding out for a vote that would receive majority GOP support because Democrats hold the Senate and White House.

Fox News cameras caught stacks of pizza being delivered to the House, indicating that talks were continuing — and were likely to be long.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Rep. Dent: House Has Enough Votes for ‘Clean CR’.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent is among 14 House Republicans who have publicly said they would vote for a “clean” continuing resolution — not tied to defunding Obamacare — and he says there are plenty more.

Dent, appearing Monday on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer,” said that members have told him privately they would vote for a “clean CR” if it comes up for a vote.

A total of 217 representatives are needed to pass the resolution. Other reports show 20 or more Republicans promising to vote for a clean continuing resolution.

House Speaker John Boehner has refused to allow a vote, saying it would not pass. The Republican-led House is in a battle with the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House over keeping the federal government funded and ending a partial shutdown that began Oct. 1.

“I believe a clean CR would pass the House comfortably,” Dent, , R-Pa., told CNN, though he would not predict a specific vote tally.

Many House members are concerned about facing tea party opposition in primaries, Dent said, adding that he constantly tells his colleagues to govern based not on fear, but on what they think is right.

Dent himself said he opposes the Affordable Care Act, but thinks defunding it should not be tied to the continuing resolution.

“I’ve voted to delay it, to repeal it, to defund it, to fricassee it, but as long as you have a Senate controlled by Harry Reid and a president named Barack Obama, that’s not going to happen,” Dent said. “So, at this point we have to take what we can get.”

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein tweets that the votes are available:

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Greg Richter

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria: Obama Could Learn from George H.W. Bush.

When it comes to considering consequences before making public statements, President Barack Obama could learn a lot from one of his predecessors, George H.W. Bush.

So says CNN host Fareed Zakaria.

“George H.W. Bush, whom President Obama has repeatedly cited as his role model for conduct of foreign policy, was very careful not to make promises or threats that you can’t carry through, and that you can’t see through to the end,” Zakaria said Wednesday on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”

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Zakaria pointed to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Bush was under pressure to call the Russians “evil” and to encourage and celebrate the activity as people began to cross the border that just days earlier would have resulted in them being shot.

“Bush was very aware that that could unleash consequences that he couldn’t control,” Zakaria said. “There were Russian troops still in Germany and Poland and Hungary. So he said nothing. He didn’t want to use fancy words that would make him feel good and seem like the right thing to say, unless he had a specific plan of action to see through not only the first day, but the second, third, and fourth day.”

The Obama administration has not followed Bush’s lead as it pushes for a “limited” military response against Syria for using chemical weapons on civilians, Zakaria said.

“There has been some tough talk, but not a clear plan of action to back that tough talk up,” he said.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Greg Richter

Candy Crowley: There will be follow-ups at tomorrow’s town hall debate.


Crowley rehearses with debate stand-ins for Mitt Romney and President Obama, Oct. 15, 2012. (David Goldman/AP)

Late Sunday, Time magazine reported that both Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama haveexpressed concern that CNN’s Candy Crowley, the moderator of Tuesday’s town hall debate in Hempstead, N.Y., would ask follow-up questionsan approach that is not consistent with the format the campaigns agreed upon.

On Monday, Crowley addressed those concerns, saying she is not afraid to step in, if necessary.

“It’s a town hall meeting,” Crowley told Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” “There will be questioners to the right and left of me and in front of the candidates. And they will have the questions. And as was the case in the Charlie Gibson town hall meeting and the Tom Brokaw town hall meeting in presidential campaigns past, there is a time after that for follow-up and for furthering the discussion.”

“Facilitating the conversation, as it were,” Blitzer said.

“Whatever you want to call it, yes,” Crowley said.

[Related: Romney, Obama campaigns concerned about Crowley’s role as moderator]

Crowleythe first female moderator of presidential debate in 20 yearswas asked how she is preparing for the event.

“I’m trying to just know what the facts are, what the positions are, so that when something comes up that maybe could use a little further explanation,” she said. “It might be as simple as, ‘But the question, sir, was oranges and you said apples. Could you answer oranges?’ Or it might be as simple as, ‘But, gee, how does that fit with the following thing?'”

The moderator chooses the questions submitted for the 90-minute debate by the town hall attendees–undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization–and Crowley said she wants “to try to cull some new ground out there” and “really get a reflection of what these people want to know about, as well as what is out there for folks that haven’t quite figured it out yet.”

By  | The Ticket

Obama does rare interview in White House Situation Room.

No, not Wolf Blitzer’s “Situation Room” — the real one. President Barack Obama, taking an election-year victory lap of sorts one year after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, did an unprecedented television interview in the White House’s strategic nerve center, the Situation Room.

NBC’s sit-down with Obama will air on May 2, one year after Navy SEALs dropped into the al-Qaida chief’s compound in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad and killed him. The network said it had also interviewed Obama’s top national security and foreign policy aides, including: Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then-Joints Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough and John Brennan, Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser.

Can’t wait to see what the famous “nerve center” of the White House looks like? You’re in luck. The White House threw open the Situation Room doors in December 2009 and         produced this video. Still not satisfied? President George W. Bush’s administration invited reporters to walk through the newly overhauled Situation Room in December 2006.         Here is the New York Times piece written at the time.         The warren of rooms, measuring about 2,700 square feet (250 square meters), sits on the lower level of the West Wing. Situation Room personnel once asked for cellphones and pagers at the front door, but the refurbishment added sensors in the ceilings that detect such devices and alert security, White House officials said.

During the 2006 tour, reporters were taken to the president’s main room, where he typically holds National Security Council meetings. It held six flat-screen televisions with videoconference cameras and displays that highlight the current security level of the discussion and whether the microphones are on to avoid potential slip-ups.


By Olivier Knox | ABC OTUS News

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