TPM News

Former (and perhaps future) GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said on CNN this afternoon that the troubled asset relief program has become a "slush fund" being misused by the Obama administration.

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Face the Nation this morning that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is safe -- despite instability in the region.

"We are comfortable with the security of their weapons," he said.

We have a good relationship with them ... Based on the information available to us, we're comfortable.

Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president who was recently sworn in for another five-year term after a contentious election rife with allegations of voter fraud, asked the U.S. for patience in interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour that will air later this afternoon. Several U.S. officials said on other news shows today that Karzai will have to shape up if he wants to retain their support.

In a video clip posted on CNN's website, Karzai said he expects Afghan forces to begin taking over security operations in much of the country within two years, and the whole country within five.

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Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on ABC's This Week today that the United States hasn't had good intelligence on Osama bin Laden's location in years.

"We don't know for a fact where Osama bin Laden is," Gates said. "If we did, we'd go get him."

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National Security Adviser James Jones said on CNN's State of the Union this morning that the Obama administration won't meet its goal of closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay during the president's first year in office.

"We won't meet the target date, unfortunately," Jones said, saying that he expected Gitmo to be closed within three to six months.

On Iran, Jones said the U.S. is "still open to negotiations" but that "the picture Iran is painting is not a good one."

"That clock's ticking," Jones said.

National Security Adviser James Jones said on CNN's State of the Union this morning that President Obama's July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan is "not a cliff. It's a glide slope."

"The president's decision on 2011 has more to do with a transition than anything else," Jones said.

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Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are making the rounds on the Sunday news shows today, appearing on CBS' Face the Nation, ABC's This Week and NBC's Meet the Press. Regardless of the platform, their message seems to be the same: The U.S. isn't already planning a withdrawal from Afghanistan.

On Face the Nation Gates said "there isn't a deadline" for withdrawal.

What we have is a specific date which we will begin transferring responsibility for security district by district, province by province in Afghanistan to the Afghans.

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The Republican National Committee issued the following statement yesterday regarding Max Baucus recommending his girlfriend for a U.S. attorney nomination. Here's the full text:

Today's report that Senator Max Baucus used his Senate office to advance a taxpayer funded appointment for his staff-member girlfriend raises a whole host of ethical questions. This issue demands the attention of the Senate Ethics Committee. They should hold a hearing to identify who was involved in this process, what they knew and when they knew it, and why Senator Baucus put his personal needs above those of the people of Montana.

TPMLivewire