This is a live blog to discuss President Obama’s speech today at the National Defense University. The speech is scheduled for 2PM Eastern time. As I wrote in the morning post, Obama is expected to propose limits to the use of drones to assassinate suspected “terrorists” in places like Pakistan and Yemen.
Obama’s speech is expected to reaffirm his national security priorities — from homegrown terrorists to killer drones to the enemy combatants held at the military-run detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — but make no new sweeping policy announcements. The White House has offered few clues on how the president will address questions that have dogged his administration for years and, critics say, given foreign allies mixed signals about U.S. intentions in some of the world’s most volatile areas.
Obama will try to refocus an increasingly apathetic public on security issues as his administration grapples with a series of unrelated controversies stemming from the attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups and government monitoring of reporters. His message will also be carefully analyzed by an international audience that has had to adapt to what counterterror expert Peter Singer described as the administration’s disjointed and often short-sighted security policies.
“He is really wresting with a broader task, which is laying out an overdue case for regularizing our counterterrorism strategy itself,” said Singer, director of the Brookings Institution’s 21st Century Security and Intelligence Center in Washington. “It’s both a task in terms of being a communicator, and a task in term of being a decider.”
The White House said Obama’s speech coincides with the signing of new “presidential policy guidance” on when the U.S. can use drone strikes, though it was unclear what that guidance entailed and whether Obama would outline its specifics in his remarks.
Do we really need to keep using the word “decider” now that Dubya is gone? Oh well…Time’s description of Obama’s remarks makes it sound like he’s not really going to make any real changes–just say some words. I hope that’s wrong.
Here’s USA Today’s take on the speech:
The White House said Obama “will discuss why the use of drone strikes is necessary, legal and just, while addressing the various issues raised by our use of targeted action.”
Obama has also approved new “policy guidance” that sets out “standards under which we take lethal action,” the White House said.
The president “will also discuss how to balance securing our country and protecting our civil liberties at home,” said the statement.
That includes new steps Obama plans to take to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, a frequent target of criticism from civil libertarians. Some detainees at the prison are in the midst of a hunger strike, protesting their conditions.
Obama had pledged to close the facility during his first year in office. But his efforts ran afoul of congressional Republicans who opposed trials of terrorism suspects in the United States, and other countries that refused to take some prisoners.
A White House official, per NBC’s Shawna Thomas, says that the president’s speech also will discuss better securing U.S. diplomatic facilities (after the 2012 Benghazi attack), balancing security while protecting civil liberties at home (see the leak investigations), and stating his desire to close the Guantanamo Bay prison (an action which Congress opposes). Don’t be surprised if Obama says something along the lines of, “We will never send another detainee to Gitmo” as a way to express his willingness to close the facility. And don’t be surprised if he addresses — head on — the Justice Department’s seizure of reporters’ phone records in its prosecution of national security leaks. Obama delivers his remarks at 2:00 pm ET at the National Defense University in DC.
At Wired’s Danger Room Blog, Spencer Ackerman offers 4 Questions Obama’s Big National Security Speech Should Answer.
I’ll do my best to keep up with the speech, but I would greatly appreciate your contributions too. You can watch the speech on-line at C-Span.org.
There was something for every one in the State of the Union Speech tonight. Even the Republicans clapped and stood up for the idea of comprehensive immigration reform. But, what about raising the minimum wage or climate change or universal preschool? Will they go for that?
We’ll find out shortly when Rubio and Paul rebut SOTU. It’s a Republican Grudge Match!!!
Republicans will offer not one, but two responses to the president’s speech. The first will come from Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who will aim to offer an alternative vision to Obama’s agenda. The second will come from tea party-favorite Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who will offer an alternative to the alternative. Confused? Welcome to the GOP.
Rubio, of course, is on the unofficial short list of presidential candidates for 2016. (Time magazine last week dubbed him the savior of his party.) The affable 41-year-old will represent what is presumably the mainstream wing of the fragmented GOP, which, as no shortage of pundits have pointed out, is suffering from a serious public-relations crisis. Rubio — young, charismatic, well-spoken — will aim to change America’s perception of the party on Tuesday evening, taking advantage of his time on the national stage. He will respond to the president’s stance on jobs, the federal debt, immigration and gun control, and his overall demeanor will depend largely on the type of ammunition given to him by Obama himself.
“Mr. President, I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren’t millionaires. They’re retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They’re workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. They’re immigrants, who came here because they were stuck in poverty in countries where the government dominated the economy. The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs. And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security. So Mr. President, I don’t oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors.”
Tonight’s State of the Union address is Obama’s first of his second and last term in office. Speculation is rampant about the focus and tone of the speech given the changes apparent in the inauguration address to the nation. We’ve already seen that many of the invited guests tonight will victims of gun violence. Another guest of FLOTUS will be the 102 year old woman who represents voting rights in America. Ensuring the right to vote may be central a central them in tonight’s address to the nation.
President Barack Obama will announce a bipartisan presidential voting commission to focus on improving the Election Day experience, The Huffington Post has learned from two sources outside the White House with knowledge of the plans.
The commission is one of a number of efforts the Obama administration is making to address the problems that plagued voting on Election Day 2012. The commission, which will focus specifically on Election Day issues and not broader voting reform, will likely be co-chaired by one Republican and one Democratic lawyer, according to one of the sources.
The White House announced Tuesday that 102-year-old Miami resident Desiline Victor will be a guest of first lady Michelle Obama during the president’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night, during which Obama is expected to discuss voting reforms. Victor is a naturalized U.S. citizen who stood in line for three hours at a local library on the first Sunday of early voting until workers told her to come back later that evening. A crowd of thousands of people erupted in applause when she emerged with an “I Voted” sticker, the White House said.
The FLOTUS guest list may hint at other themes. It includes many women including soliders, pay discrimination activists, and teachers. It also includes scientists.
- Dr. Jill Biden
- Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President
- Sergeant Sheena Adams (Vista, CA) – Team Advisor & Lead Instructor, Female Engagement Team
- Alan Aleman (Las Vegas, NV) – DREAM Student
- Jack Andraka (Crownsville, MD) – Winner of the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
- Susan Bumgarner (Norman, OK) – Early Childhood Educator
- Deb Carey (New Glarus, WI) – Small Business Owner, New Glarus Brewing Company
- Sergeant Carlos Evans, USMC (Cameron, NC) – Wounded Warrior
- Tim Cook (Cupertino, CA) – CEO of Apple
- Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton Sr. (Chicago, IL)
- Menchu de Luna Sanchez (Secaucus, NJ) – Registered Nurse, NYU Langone Medical Center
- Bobak Ferdowsi (Pasadena, CA) – Flight Director, Mars Curiosity Rover
- Bradley Henning (Louisville, KY) – Machinist, Atlas Machine and Supply
- Tracey Hepner (Arlington, VA) – Co-Founder, Military Partners and Families Coalition
- Peter Hudson (Evergreen, CO) – Co-Founder and CEO, iTriage
- Governor John Kitzhaber (D-OR)
- Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers (Avondale, AZ)
- Amanda E. McMillan (Jackson, MS) – Pay Discrimination Victim
- Lee Maxwell (Wilton, IA) – Graduate, Kirkwood Community College Wind Technician Program
- Lieutenant Brian Murphy (Oak Creek, WI)
- Lisa Richards (Arlington, VA) – #My2K Participant
- Kaitlin Roig (Greenwich, CT) – 1st Grade Teacher, Sandy Hook Elementary School
- Abby Schanfield (Minneapolis, MN) – ACA Beneficiary
- Haile Thomas (Tucson, AZ) – Let’s Move! Champion
- Desiline Victor (Miami, FL)
Draft dodger and confessed pedophile gun nut Ted Nugent is coming as a guest of nutty Texas Rep Steve Stockman. The Nuge is well known for threatening the president and calling women leaders misogynistic slurs.
NUGENT: I was in Chicago last week. I was in Chicago and said, “Hey, Obama you might want to suck on one of these you punk.” Obama, he’s a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun. Let’s hear it for him. And then I was in New York. I said, “Hey, Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch. Since I’m in California, how about [Senator] Barbara Boxer [D-CA], she might want to suck on my machine gun. And [Senator] Dianne Feinstein [D-CA], ride one of these you worthless whore. Any questions? [Ted Nugent via LiveLeak.com, accessed 10/1/12]
Our hope is that some one will come to their senses and disinvite him. You’ll probably see him surrounded by the Capitol Police and the Secret Service. Here’s hoping he’s ignored by the press.
An enhanced version of the SOTU is available from the White House and will include stats and charts. The channel is on now with a lot of interesting historical background on the address, on previous presidents, and on the event itself. There’s also a chance to get on a mail list plus an after speech chat with a group of white house policy experts. You should look at it just because it’s really interesting and has some interesting background on the speech writing process too.
So, the speech starts tonight and can also be watched at the C-SPAN site.
Tonight, C-SPAN brings you President Obama’s fourth State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress. Our coverage begins at 8pm ET with comments from Frank Newport of Gallup and reporters from National Review and Huffington Post.
At 9pm ET, C-SPAN & C-SPAN Radio broadcast President Obama’s address and the GOP response from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). (Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at 10pm, C-SPAN.org). Then, viewer reactions via calls, Twitter & Facebook.
This post kicks off the first part of our live blogging sessions. Please join us through out the night!
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee finally got its chance at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We didn’t learn much other than Rand Paul is more crazy than his father and probably has delusions of presidential runs and even the senate has its group of Tea Party nuts.
As I have said many times since September 11, I take responsibility. Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure.Taking responsibility meant moving quickly in those first uncertain hours and days to respond to the immediate crisis and further protect our people and posts in highthreat areas across the region and the world. It meant launching an independent investigation to determine exactly what happened in Benghazi and to recommend steps for improvement. And it meant intensifying our efforts to combat terrorism and support emerging democracies in North Africa and beyond.
Let me share some of the lessons we have learned, the steps we have taken, and the work we continue to do.
Clinton had several fierce exchanges with some of the committee’s more right wing members who seem to embrace conspiracy theory more than truth. This exchange was captured by TPM.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday fired back at Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) over accusations that the Obama Administration misled the public by claiming the Benghazi attack was the result of a spontaneous protest. Johnson pressed Clinton on why the State Department didn’t talk to the U.S. diplomatic staff evacuated after the attack, to get clear information about what happened.
“Senator, when you’re in these positions, the last thing you want to do is interfere with any other process going on,” Clinton said, adding that the State Department was waiting for the FBI to finish conducting interviews.
“I realize that’s a good excuse,” Johnson responded.
“Well, no, it’s the fact,” Clinton said. “Even today, there are questions being raised. We have no doubt they were terrorists, they were militants, they attacked us, they killed our people. But what was going on, and why they were doing what they were doing, is still, is still unknown.”
Clinton forcefully insisted neither UN Ambassador Susan Rice nor the Obama Administration misled the public. “With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” she said. “Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this. The fact is that people were trying, in real time, to get to the best information.”
RAND PAUL: One of the things that disappointed me most about the original 9/11 was no one was fired. We spent trillions of dollars, but there were a lot of human errors, these are judgment errors, and the people who make judgment errors need to be replaced/fired no longer in charge of making these judgment calls. So we have a review board. The review board finds 64 different things we can change, a lot of them are commonsense and should be done, but the question is it’s a failure of leadership that they were not done in advance and four lives were [lost] because of this. I’m glad that you’re accepting responsibility. I think that ultimately with your leaving you accept responsibility for the worst culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11. And I really mean that. Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it’s inexcusable. The thing is that, we can understand that you’re not reading every cable. I can understand that maybe you’re not aware of the cable from the ambassador in Vienna that asked for $100,000 for an electrical charging station. I can understand that maybe you’re not aware that your department spent $100,000 on three comedians who went to India on a promotional tour called “Make Chi Not War,” but I think you might be able to understand and might be aware of the $80 million spent on a consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif that will never be built. I think it’s inexcusable that you did not know about this and did not read these cables.
Clinton tried to explain to the committee that their reckless budgets cuts undermine security in the region for our diplomats and facilities.
Citing a report by the department’s Accountability Review Board on the security failures that led to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, during an attack last year, Clinton said the board is pushing for an increase in funding to facilities of more than $2 billion per year.
“Consistent shortfalls have required the department to prioritize available funding out of security accounts,” Clinton told the Senate this morning, while again taking responsibility for the Benghazi attack. “And I will be the first to say that the prioritization process was at times imperfect, but as the ARB said, the funds provided were inadequate. So we need to work together to overcome that.”
Clinton, showing little effect from her recent illnesses, choked up earlier in discussing the Benghazi attack.
“I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews,” Clinton said this morning, her voice growing hoarse with emotion. “I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters.”
John Kerry was not present at the hearing to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest. The hearing was run by Bob Mendez instead.
Now, watch her face the really crazy in the house.
There are so many of these backwards guys going down that it’s hard to keep up with them
We’ve got …
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Senator Tammy Baldwin
and many, many others …
This is absolutely a mandate.
The country has rejected Right Wing, PLUTOCRATIC, and THEOCRATIC RULE.
Charles P. Pierce @ESQPolitics
I think tonight would be a pretty good night to have a few coldies with John Boehner. #elections2012, #igotminejack
Ellie Smeal @elliesmeal<
Feminist Lois Frankel, the founding president of West Palm Beach NOW many years ago, just won election to Congress in Florida District 22.
Kate Sheppard @kate_sheppard
Richard “God’s Will” Mourdock Won’t Be a Senatorhttp://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/11/indiana-senate-donnelly-mourdock …
and I’m waiting for Pat Robertson to be called back home to his own special HELL REALM!!!
oh, and CLAIRE McCaskill just retained her seat!!! MISSOURI: McCaskill 53% Akin 41% (12% reporting) [CNN]