TPM News

With the 2012 presidential elections somehow already on the horizon, speculation as to Republicans rising up to challenge President Obama continues to crest, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is topping the list of potential candidates. But while some on the right consider her an "intellectual" and a potential danger to President Obama's incumbency, Bill O'Reilly is skeptical of her experience and appeal.

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Clinton To Attend London Conference On Libya AFP reports: "US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend a London conference Tuesday to discuss coalition military action against Libya, the State Department said. The visit was announced Thursday after a four-way telephone conversation between Clinton and foreign ministers William Hague of Britain, Alain Juppe of France and Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the conference would discuss the Libyan crisis, implementation of UN Security Council resolutions, and the humanitarian needs of those affected by the conflict."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET, and meet at 10:30 a.m. ET with senior advisers. At 4:35 p.m. ET, he will host a reception for Greek Independence Day.

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A deputy prosecutor in Johnson County, Indiana, has resigned his job after it was revealed that in February, during the large protests in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union bill, he e-mailed Walker's office and recommended that they conduct a "false flag operation" -- to fake an assault or assassination attempt on Walker in order to discredit the unions and protesters.

As Wisconsin Watch, a project of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reports, Carlos Lam initially denied that he had sent the e-mail, which was part of the tens of thousands of e-mails released in an open-records settlement the Walker administration reached with the local paper the Isthmus and the Associated Press.

When contacted by Wisconsin Watch, Lam had initially denied sending the e-mail, claiming that he had been the victim of identity theft, and said he did not support the criminal activities described in the e-mail: , "I think he's trying to do what he has to do to get his budget balanced. But jeez, that's taking it a little bit to the extreme."

However, Lam admitted late in the afternoon that he did send the e-mail, and resigned his job.

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Federal prosecutors have charged the husband of Sen. John Ensign's (R-NV) former mistress with breaking criminal revolving-door lobbying laws.

The indictment, issued Thursday afternoon, charges Doug Hampton, a former top aide to Ensign, with seven counts of violating conflict-of-interest laws, according to a Justice Department release.

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The United States is doing everything it can to hand over leadership of the coalition air strikes and policing of the no-fly zone over Libya to allies as early as this weekend but will continue flying combat missions afterward.

U.S. Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, director of the military's Joint Staff, told reporters Thursday that the U.S. role will be largely a supportive one focused on refueling efforts and reconnaissance, but he also conceded the U.S. would continue flying a limited number of strike missions.

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Sharron Angle, the former Nevada state representative and 2010 Republican Senate nominee who is now running for an open House seat, is attacking the now-defunct PAC of the Veterans of Foreign Wars -- which endorsed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in that crucial 2010 election -- saying that the VFW-PAC "betrayed America."

In the last election cycle, objections by some VFW members to the PAC's endorsements, which included various incumbent Democrats, ultimately led to the organization dismissing the PAC's board, and taking steps to dissolve the PAC entirely.

Now, as Jon Ralston reports, Angle e-mailed her supporter list to promote a conservative group, Veterans in Defense of Liberty, for which she serves on the advisory board.

In the letter, Angle declares that as a "proud American, I was very disappointed" when the VFW-PAC "betrayed America and American Veterans by endorsing liberal members of Congress like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer and Ron Klein in the last election."

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Hillary Clinton has been invited to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Libya next week, and if committee Chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's (R-FL) recent statements are to be believed, she'll face some tough questions as to just why America has taken military action. But it's unclear just what Ros-Lehtinen's own position on Libya is, having apparently shifted between support and opposition for military operations over the last month.

Before President Obama joined an international effort to defend Libyan rebels under siege with air attacks on Qaddafi's forces, Ros-Lehtinen unambiguously backed a no-fly zone with a specific mission of protecting Libyan civilians under attack by the regime.

In a February 26 press release, she said that "stronger penalties must be imposed in order to hold the regime accountable for its heinous crimes, and to prevent further violence against the Libyan people. Additional U.S. and international measures should include the establishment and enforcement of a no-fly zone, a comprehensive arms embargo, a travel ban on regime officials, immediate suspension of all contracts and assistance which benefit the regime, and the imposition of restrictions on foreign investment in Libya, including in Libya's oil sector."

Ros-Lehtinen's support for a no-fly zone likely came as little surprise given her harsh condemnation of Qaddafi only days earlier.

"The United States and all responsible nations should show in both word and deed that we condemn the Libyan regime's actions and that we will not tolerate such blatant disregard for human life and basic freedoms," she said in a statement on February 22.

But her position appeared to shift dramatically over the ensuing days, and by the time the UN passed a no-fly zone resolution, she was arguing that "the case has not been made for me to be satisfied that this is the right move for the United States at this time," according to an interview with CBS Miami on March 19, the same day military action against the Qaddafi regime began.

"The bottom line is you've gotta ask what is the U.S. security interest in getting involved in Libya," Ros-Lehtinen said in that interview. "Because there's unrest everywhere. Today its Libya, tomorrow it will be somewhere else."

She cited the cost of the war as another major concern, saying that "we are broke and that's why we have to be selective about where we're going and why we're going."

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by Marian Wang ProPublica

Multinational companies operating in Libya have had to deal with many obstacles, including a government rife with corruption that often asked for what amounted to bribes.

Sometimes those companies balked; sometimes they paid them, New York Times reported today.

The Times story doesn't actually mention the word "bribes," using instead the phrase "payoffs to keep doing business." U.S. companies are barred from paying bribes to foreign officials and governments by the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

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