TPM News

After Barack Obama wrapped up his big security and civil liberties speech last week, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) issued a strong statement of support for the President in which he drew a stark contrast between the new administration and the previous one.

But Feingold was either holding fire, or the words he'd just heard hadn't settled in immediately. Because by the end of the week, a reservation had emerged. In a gentle, but resolute, letter to Obama dated Friday, May 22, Feingold says a key aspect of Obama's outlined detention policy is likely unconstitutional.

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Obama: North Korea "Recklessly Challenging The International Community" President Obama released a statement at about 2 a.m. ET, on North Korea's claimed nuclear test. "By acting in blatant defiance of the United Nations Security Council, North Korea is directly and recklessly challenging the international community," Obama said. "North Korea's behavior increases tensions and undermines stability in Northeast Asia. Such provocations will only serve to deepen North Korea's isolation. It will not find international acceptance unless it abandons its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery."

Obama's Day Ahead: Memorial Day Observance President Obama is having breakfast with Gold Star Families this morning, at 9 a.m. ET in the State Dining Room. At 11 a.m. ET, he will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He will speak at 11:15 a.m. ET, from the Memorial Amphitheater.

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Mullen: Gitmo Needs To Be Closed Appearing on ABC's This Week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen reaffirmed his belief that the prison at Guantanamo Bay should be closed. "The concern I've had about Guantanamo in these wars is it has been a symbol, and one which has been a recruiting symbol for those extremists and jihadists who would fight us. So and I think that centers -- you know, that's the heart of the concern for Guantanamo's continued existence, in which I spoke to a few years ago, the need to close it."

Obama's Day: Camp David President Obama has been spending the weekend at Camp David, and is scheduled to arrive back at the White House tonight at 10 p.m. ET. He does not have any public events scheduled. Vice President Biden is in Wilmington, Delaware, and also does not have any scheduled public events.

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Obama Thanks Troops In Memorial Day Weekend Address In this weekend's Presidential YouTube address, President Obama recognized the troops on Memorial Day weekend -- and said that the public hasn't always fully support them, but he will change that:

"That is why I will send our servicemen and women into harm's way only when it is necessary, and ensure that they have the training and equipment they need when they enter the theater of war," said Obama. "That is why we are building a 21st century Department of Veterans Affairs with the largest single-year funding increase in three decades. It's a commitment that will help us provide our veterans with the support and benefits they have earned, and expand quality health care to a half million more veterans."

GOP Address: Barrasso Support "Red, White And Blue Jobs" For Energy In this weekend's Republican YouTube, address Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) also thanked the troops on Memorial Day weekend -- and then proceeded to attack the Democrats on energy issues:

"Democrats have focused solely on what they call green jobs," said Barrasso. "Those are jobs from alternative energy. I support green jobs, but why discriminate? American energy means American jobs, which is why I support red, white, and blue jobs."

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New York Times standards editor Craig Whitney has now chimed in on the paper's changes to its front-page story on "recidivism" among freed Guantanamo detainees -- and Whitney is joining a colleague who thinks the after-the-fact rewriting of the front-page story's headline and lead was no big deal.

Here's Whitney's rather tortured reasoning for why there was no need to issue a correction, as paraphrased by Michael Calderone of Politico:

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Conservative radio host Eric "Mancow" Muller decided to have himself waterboarded to show it's no big deal.

His response after enduring several seconds of having water poured on his face?

"It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke." He added: "Had I known that it was that bad I wouldn't have done this ... I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."


And remember: this was in a controlled setting where the victim knew he wasn't going to be harmed.

During a three-day trip to The Balkans and Middle East, Vice President Joe Biden greets Albanian youths on arrival to Pristina International Airport on May 21,2009.


Biden and Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in Beirut, Lebanon, May 22, 2009.


Biden and EU Commissioner for Security and Defence, Javier Solana meet with members of Tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, on May 19, 2009.


Biden with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman at the presidential palace of Baabda east of Beirut on May 22, 2009.


Biden with Serbian President Boris Tadic in Belgrade, May 20, 2009.



Ethnic Albanians carry placards and US and Kosovo flags as they prepare to welcome US Vice President Joe Biden in Pristina on May 21, 2009.



Norm Coleman's appeal of his defeat in the Minnesota election trial has not yet been argued before the Minnesota Supreme Court, but the two campaigns are busy litigating yet another point: How much Coleman's campaign will have to reimburse the Franken camp for legal costs under the loser-pays provision of the election law.

As of now, and as determined by the court clerk, Coleman will owe Franken about $94,000 for trial-related fees. Team Franken had asked for $161,000, which was then reduced by the clerk after the Coleman camp objected that some of these costs either didn't qualify or weren't sufficiently itemized.

This hardly begins to cover the millions that have been spent on legal fees, but it's one more thing for Coleman to worry about.

In documents that were filed by the opposing camps over the past two and a half weeks, but only just made available online, the legal teams argued over how much Coleman should have to pay -- and when he should have to pay it. Pending a hearing, which Coleman has ten days to request, that latter question is still up in the air.

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Barack Obama will soon nominate a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, and the question of the month is whether that confirmation process will be smooth, or rough, or somewhere in between. The answer may depend in large part on who Obama picks, but as a proxy, many have pointed to Democrats ability (or lack thereof) to get Dawn Johnsen confirmed as the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

A better proxy, though, might be Obama's first federal court nominee. Obama tapped David Hamilton to fill a vacancy on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and, despite a moderate record on the bench, he's already running into some trouble.

Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans boycotted his first nomination hearing, and Sen. James Inhofe threatened to filibuster his confirmation, and now, after Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) became the panel's ranking member, Republicans are dragging their feet once again.

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

• CBS, Face The Nation: Former Sec. of State Colin Powell; Dr. Alvin Poussaint, psychiatrist, Harvard University.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Former Sec. of Homeland Security Tom Ridge; Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL); and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND).

• Fox News Sunday: Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA).