TPM News

By Kim Barker and Habiba Nosheen, ProPublica, and Raheel Khursheed, Special to ProPublica

The night should have been a coup for Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai. Once a poor villager from halfway around the world, Fai had become the go-to man in Washington, D.C., for his cause, Kashmir, the Himalayan region long caught in a tug of war between Pakistan and India.

And there he was on March 4, 2010, hosting a fundraiser for Rep. Dan Burton, the Indiana Republican who had been the chief supporter in Congress of Fai's Kashmiri American Council for 20 years. In some ways, the event inside Fai's home in Fairfax, Va., symbolized everything that Fai had become, featuring speeches in the living room and kebabs and curries in the basement.

But it barely camouflaged how Fai's carefully built world was collapsing.

The FBI was monitoring almost every move Fai made, every email he sent, every call he received. Investigators believed Fai's main donors were not well-meaning idealists but members of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, the most powerful of Pakistan's spy agencies.

Read More →

President Obama told ABC News on Monday that he is “still working' on his views of gay marriage, the AP reports.

Over the weekend, Obama criticized his Republican rivals for staying silent after a gay soldier was booed at a GOP presidential debate, saying the commander in chief must support gay troops even when it’s not politically convenient.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and the rest of the House GOP leadership team sent a letter to President Barack Obama Monday morning, touting what they say are two areas of common ground between themselves and Obama's jobs package.

Boehner et al are bringing the EPA Regulatory Relief Act and the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act, bills that would slash regulations on businesses, to the House floor for votes this week. The EPA bill, which would lift restrictions on boilers used by hospitals, factories and colleges, is likely a non-starter for the administration, which is already under fire from environmental activists for easing new clean air restrictions nearly a month ago.

Read More →

A lawyer for Kevin Ring, a congressional staffer turned lobbyist caught up in the Jack Abramoff scandal, is arguing he should stay out of jail and get five years probation for his conviction in a scheme to corrupt public officials by providing a stream of gifts.

Prosecutors had been seeking an extremely harsh sentence of 17 years for Ring, but Judge Ellen Huvelle ruled that a range of 46 to 57 months would be more appropriate. He's set to be sentenced on Oct. 26.

"While we recognize that such a sentence may appear lenient at first blush, a comprehensive review demonstrates that such a sentence is not only comparatively fair, it is reasonable and proper in consideration of Mr. Ring's circumstances, the nature of his individual actions, and the significant sanctions this unique prosecution has already visited upon him and his family," Andrew T. Wise argues.

"While the offenses of conviction are serious in nature, Mr. Ring's role in those offenses was comparatively minor and the circumstances of his conduct are less blameworthy than other, more egregious public corruption offenses," he writes. "And Mr. Ring's personal history and actions, especially during the seven years since the events that led to his indictment, demonstrate a depth and sincerity of character diametrically opposed to the caricature of the man presented through two trials."

Ring also wrote a 12-page letter to the judge asking for leniency, writing that the "toll has been great," but that he has "kept the two most important things that I had within my control: the opportunity to love and be loved by my two daughters, and my integrity."

Read More →

Appearing on CNN’s “American Morning” on Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) artfully dodged the question of whether Obama owes the Bush administration an apology for criticizing their war on terror tactics. Former Vice President Dick Cheney asked for just such an apology during a morning show appearance on Sunday.

“And no apology necessary from the Obama administration to the Bush administration?” Carol Costello asked the senator?

“About what?” McCain responded. “Well, it was 90-6 in the United States senate to prohibit cruel and inhumane mistreatment. It was an amendment in a peaceful legislation that I was the sponsor of. The Senate has spoken. The American people have spoken. The people of the world have spoken. Torturing people in violation of international agreements such as the Geneva conventions is prohibited, and frankly very harmful to the image of the United States of America,” he said.

An article published by the LA Times on Sunday examines Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s (R-MN) rapidly fizzling Iowa campaign. Stuck amongst the reports of dwindling crowds, questionable campaign decisions, and dropping poll numbers, there’s this little gem of an exchange.



"And she continues to make gaffes. On the radio show, a caller told her he would vote for serial killer Charles Manson over President Obama. 'Hey, thank you for saying that,' she replied."


This isn’t the first time Bachmann has made a gaffe concerning notorious serial killers. In June, the candidate confused Western star John Wayne with the notorious mass murderer John Wayne Gacy.

It can be difficult to let things go. Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” former Vice President Dick Cheney both praised and demanded an apology from President Obama.

Speaking of the recent strike against Anwar Al-Awlaki, Cheney said he thought it was justified and a “very effective use of our drone technology.”

Yet the VP is apparently still smarting over comments the president made two years ago. Referring to a speech in which Obama accused the Bush administration of “overreacting to the events of 9/11” and engaging in torture, Cheney made his displeasure clear.

“We were never torturing anyone in the first place,” Cheney said. “He said that we walked away from our basic fundamental ideals. That simply wasn’t the case.”

Updated: October 3, 11:05 a.m. ET

South Carolina Republicans are set to officially move their primary date to January 21, CNN reports. This act will violate the national GOP's rules that reserved February for the state, and will result in the loss of half the state's delegates -- but was made necessary for the party to maintain its early position by Florida's decision to jump the primary calendar on January 31.

The state GOP will officially makes its announcement at 11:00 a.m. today.

The national Republican Party had reserved the early February slots for four small states from different regions: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, in that order. However, Florida then decided to break the rules by scheduling its contest on January 31.

Read More →

LiveWire