TPM News

President Obama has ordered a review into travel security measures following the failed terrorist attack on Flight 253.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on ABC's "This Week," that Obama has asked for two reviews - into the watch-listing procedures and detection capabilities.

"What the president has asked for as a result of this incident are two look-back reviews," Gibbs said. "First, on our watch-listing procedures, did the government do everything that it could have with the information that they had? Understanding these procedures are several years old. Did we do what we needed to with that information, and how can we revise watch listing procedures going forward to ensure that there is no clog in the bureaucratic plumbing of information that might be gathered somewhere going to the very highest levels of security in our government."

Gibbs said Obama has asked the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration to "answer the very real question about how somebody with something as dangerous as PETN could have gotten onto a plane in Amsterdam."

The aim is to determine steps that can be taken to enhance the ability of airport screeners to detect such materials going forward, administration officials said.

Officials said Obama wants an accounting of all decisions related to the inclusion or not of suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's name in government databases related to known or suspected terrorists.

Administration officials said the reviews should be taken in wake of any similar incidents and don't imply anyone made any mistakes. The White House wants the reviews to be seen as an ongoing effort to improve security.

Read More →

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton issued this statement about President Obama being briefed on the latest regarding the attempted Christmas Day terrorist attack:

"The President convened a secure call this morning at 6:20 a.m. Hawaiian time with John Brennan, his Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism Adviser, and Denis McDonough, National Security Staff Chief of Staff, where he received an update on the heightened air travel safety measures being taken to keep the American people safe and on the investigation. The President will continue to actively monitor the situation."

Obama Has Terrorism Briefing On Christmas, After Airline Attack President Obama began his Christmas day yesterday with a terrorism briefing, on the failed attack on a Northwest Airlines flight. Later in the day, he visited troops at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and in the evening had dinner with his family.

Republicans Change Tune On Costly Health Plans, From Yes In 2003 To No In 2009 The Associated Press points out that many Republicans in Congress have changed their positions on government health care benefits, opposing the Obama health care bill after having previously voted for the entirely deficit-financed Medicare prescription drug benefit in 2003. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) defended his vote, and said that six years ago, "it was standard practice not to pay for things...We were concerned about it, because it certainly added to the deficit, no question." Hatch added, however, that the Medicare drug benefit "has done a lot of good."

Read More →

A White House official tells TPM that the White House believes the incident today on a Northwest Airlines flight in which a passenger reportedly tried to detonate an explosive device was an attempted act of terrorism.

Earlier, Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton made the following announcement about the incident:

The President was notified of the incident this morning between 9:00 and 9:30 Hawaii time by the President's military aide. The President subsequently convened a secure conference call with John Brennan, his Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism Adviser, and Denis McDonough, NSS Chief of Staff. He asked to arrange a subsequent secure call and in that call instructed that all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel. The President is actively monitoring the situation and receiving regular updates. There is currently no change to his schedule.

Late Update: Aides also say that Obama appreciates the actions of the crew and the passengers.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement there may be new screening procedures in place this weekend, though the threat level will remain unchanged.

Officials are not disclosing the specific measures.

Almost there! Sens. Max Baucus, Harry Reid and Chris Dodd approach the podium to speak after the Senate voted Christmas Eve morning to pass health care reform. The bill will now be merged with the House bill and must survive another series of votes before making it to the President's desk.

Newscom/Sipa Press

President Obama speaks briefly following the vote. "These are no small reforms," he said, adding that the bill is the biggest social legislation since Social Security, and the biggest health care legislation since Medicare.


The ailing but cheerful Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) arrives to vote on health care. "This is for my friend, Ted Kennedy. Aye," he said.

Newscom/Roll Call Pix

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the House's longest serving member, arrives at Capitol Hill. He said he was there to thank his colleagues for the vote.


A handful of anti-reform protesters stand outside in the pre-dawn cold.

Newscom/Roll Call Pix

Vice President Biden looks on while Obama thanks senators for passing the bill. Biden, in his constitutional capacity as president of the Senate, presided over the vote Thursday morning.

Newscom/Sipa Press

Sens. Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Max Baucus and Harry Reid prepare for their press conference.

Newscom/Sipa Press

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) relaxes after the vote as he chats with a legislative aide about the upcoming recess.

Newscom/Roll Call Pix

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) chat before the Senate vote.

Newscom/Roll Call Pix

In the first weekly YouTube address since the passage of health care reform in the Senate President Obama didn't address the issue, taking time instead to offer season's greetings to U.S. troops stationed overseas.

First Lady Michelle Obama joined him in the video for the first time and they talked about ways Americans can give back through national service.

"To all our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen--I have no greater honor than serving as your Commander in Chief," Obama said.

The White House also announced that Obama phoned 10 service members in Iraq and Afghanistan - two from each of the five military branches.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) took the same tack in the GOP's weekly address, but he found some time for partisanship along with the good wishes for America's fighting men and women.

"[L]et's resolve in the new year to end misguided efforts to create new laws that will cost even more jobs, whether it's the "cap and trade" national energy tax, the government takeover of health care, "card check," or even more tax increases," Hunter said after expressing his "hope we all take time to offer thanks and prayers to the men and women of our Armed Forces."

Watch both addresses after the jump.

Read More →

Further details have emerged about the banning of undesirable reporters from the Sarah Palin book tour event in Palin's hometown of Wasilla, after Alaska-based photojournalist and videographer Dennis Zaki found himself on the list.

We reported that Zaki was turned away from Palin's homecoming event in Alaska on Tuesday. Zaki checked in at the media window with a blogger friend, and they were told they had to leave. "They were anxious to get us out the door quickly," blogger Jesse Griffin told TPMmuckraker. The two men didn't fight the decision.

Read More →

Who wouldn't want Franni Franken's recipe for butternut squash?

Politicians have long sent out holiday cards fraught with meaning or smacking of reelection desires.

But with technology getting better every year, the offerings have improved to be a bit zanier, and a lot more personal.

From the Franken family's list of Thanksgiving favorites to posed photos, TPMDC collected a random sample of the funniest, wackiest and sweetest political holiday greetings we've seen so far and we're sharing them with you below.

If you've seen some we've missed, let us know and we'll post them this week.

Read More →


I'm here!