TPM News

New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller is now casting doubt on the claim in her front page story today, pounced on by the right and quickly picked up on cable, that one in seven detainees released from Guantanamo "returned to terrorism or militant activity."

Appearing on MSNBC today, Bumiller said "there is some debate about whether you should say 'returned' because some of them were perhaps not engaged in terrorism, as we know -- some of them are being held there on vague charges."

Here's the video of her exchange with Andrea Mitchell:



Bumiller's claim is so striking because her A1 story in the print edition of the Times today, which ran under the headline, "1 In 7 Detainees Rejoined Jihad, Pentagon Finds" (emphasis ours), began:

Read More →

More evidence that those four guys arrested last night for a plot to blow up synagogues in New York weren't exactly fearsome, highly-trained terrorists.

NBC4 reports:

The ringleader of the four-man homegrown terror cell accused of a plotting to blow up synagogues in the Bronx and military planes in Newburgh admitted to a judge today that he had smoked pot before his bust last night.

When U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa M. Smith asked James Cromatie (sic) if his judgment was impaired during his appearance in federal court in White Plains, the 55-year confessed: "No. I smoke it regularly...I understand everything you are saying."

Read More →

A new Gallup poll confirms what has been a general political consensus: Nancy Pelosi has not handled the controversy over interrogation/torture techniques very well.

The respondents were asked this question: "Do you approve or disapprove of how each of the following has handled the matter of interrogation techniques used against terrorism suspects?"

President Obama gets a 59% approval to 29% disapproval, consistent with his high favorability on pretty much any question. The CIA weighs in at a healthy 52%-31%. Congressional Democrats just manage to be in the black at 44%-40%, and the Congressional Republicans are behind at 40%-45%.

Nancy Pelosi, however, is at 31%-47%.

Civil libertarians outside of Congress might have serious reservations about the outline of the President's Guantanamo policy. But on Capitol Hill they're less critical. "I welcome the president's emphasis on congressional oversight and the need for collaboration with Congress, for which the Bush Administration held such contempt," said Sen. Russ Feingold.

The president's remark on reforming the way the state secrets privilege is used also seems to indicate he is moving in the right direction. And I am also pleased that the president echoed the same point I recently made regarding claims by the former vice president: that I had seen nothing to indicate that the torture techniques authorized by the last administration were necessary or the most effective way to get information from detainees.

The president has taken some important steps in his first four months. He has banned torture, increased transparency, and focused on the crucial threat to our national security emanating from al Qaeda's safe haven in Pakistan. And he has pledged to close Guantanamo, which is being used as a recruiting tool by our enemies. But nobody expected the president would be able to undo the eight year assault on the rule of law by the last administration in just four months. So I look forward to continuing to work with him to restore the rule of law and put in place policies that will keep America safe and reduce the threats to our country that have grown more challenging because of the missteps of the last administration.

During his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh said President Obama's speech did a great job -- for terrorists.

"Had I been a terrorist, were I a terrorist, I would have been prompted to give Obama's speech a standing O today," said Limbaugh. "It would have been tempting to give him a standing ovation because essentially Barack Obama apologized to terrorists all over the world for the last eight years of the previous administration."

Without going so far as to compare Obama to George W. Bush, the ACLU thinks the President's deeds are out of step with his words. "We welcome President Obama's stated commitment to the Constitution, the rule of law and the unequivocal rejection of torture," said ACLU executive director Anthony Romero. "But unlike the president, we believe that continuing with the failed military commissions and creating a new system of indefinite detention without charge is inconsistent with the values that he expressed so eloquently at the National Archives today."

That's some pretty thinly veiled criticism. At issue is Obama's announcement of a system of so-called "preventive detention" for suspects who, according to Obama, "cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people." They will, apparently, be held for years, subject only to judicial and congressional oversight mechanisms that have yet to be defined. If you want to know how such a system compares to indefinite detention programs other democracies have used, Spencer Ackerman brings the knowledge. The left is not happy about this.

Four terrorists were charged this week with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction in the United States. The charges stem from an alleged plot to set off explosives near a New York City synagogue and shoot down military jets with Stinger missiles. Pictured here is Onta Williams.

Newscom/SPN

The men were arrested after placing what they thought were bombs-- but turned out to be fakes, given them by the FBI in a sting operation. Here, James Cromitie.

Newscom/SPN

David Williams.

Newscom/SPN



Newscom/SPN



Newscom/SPN

Laguerre Payen

Newscom/SPN



Newscom/SPN

The DCCC is now upping the ante in its special raffle -- the one they began last week, in which people who donate only $5 or more are given a chance to win a free trip to Washington for the Dem committees' big fundraising dinner in June, and get their picture taken with President Obama.

In an e-mail that was just sent out, Speaker Nancy Pelosi offers this extra incentive: "If you enter today, you and your guest will sit at my table should you be the lucky winner who is chosen."

Meanwhile, the NRCC is getting in on the act, too, with a contest to come to the GOP's own big June dinner -- and the winner and their guest will get to sit at Newt Gingrich's table: "If you've ever watched Newt on TV and thought 'I'd like to meet this guy,' this is your chance!"

Interestingly, the NRCC's raffle tickets start at $50, compared to only $5 for the DCCC and the similar contest from the DSCC. In all three cases, the obvious wager is that the sweepstakes will bring in more money than the cost of airfare and hotels for the winners.

Check out the fundraising letters, after the jump.

Read More →

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels has officially announced that she has formed an exploratory committee for the 2010 Senate race, in which she is widely expected to run in the Republican primary against Sen. David Vitter -- the Christian right conservative whose career became mired in the D.C. Madam prostitution scandal of 2007.

"I do not take this step lightly," Daniels said in a statement. "While I have been humbled by the overwhelmingly positive response my potential candidacy has generated thus far, my decision to run for United States Senate will only be made after I have had the opportunity to discuss this prospect with as many people across the state as possible. Too many in government ignore the voices of those whom they claim to represent. I promise you that I will not."

If she does run, Daniels' campaign would be widely viewed as an effort to remind the state's conservative voters about Vitter's own indiscretions.

Full statement after the jump.

Read More →

TPMLivewire