WASHINGTON (CNN) – The former vice president Dick Cheney is slamming President Obama’s efforts to set a new tone for relations with the U.S. on the world stage.
“I guess I’ve been concerned the way that we’ve been presented overseas,” Cheney told Fox News host Sean Hannity Monday night. Cheney said he found it “disturbing” that the new president had gone overseas and seemingly apologized for past actions of the United States. “I think you have to be very careful. The world outside there - both our friends and our foes –will be quick to advantage of a situation if they think they’re dealing with a weak president or one who’s not going to stand up and aggressively defend America’s interests.
“The United States provides much of the leadership in the world. We have for a long time. I don’t think we’ve got much to apologize for.”
Just days after Obama shook hands and received a gift from Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, Cheney called the images of the encounter “not helpful.” “I think it sets the wrong standard,” Cheney added.
“The president’s got to provide leadership and I don’t want to be in a position where you don’t interact with your adversaries. I think you do need to do that but I think it’s got to be done properly. It’s got to be done under the right conditions. And it’s got to be made clear that you do distinguish between good guys and bad guys, between those who believe in democracy, who are friends and allies of the United States and those who don’t.”
Reacting to Obama’s controversial decision to release memos written by President George W. Bush's Justice Department that detailed the conditions under which high-level terror suspects could be harshly interrogated, the former vice president said he has formally asked the CIA to release more information about the interrogation program carried out by the Bush administration in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“They didn’t put out the memos that show the success of the effort. There are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified. I’ve formally asked they be declassified now,” Cheney said Monday night.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama met Monday in the White House with golf star Tiger Woods, who got the lowdown on one of the commander in chief's poorer days on the golf course.
The president agreed to meet with Woods after learning the golfer was in town to promote his upcoming charity tournament in the Washington area, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Gibbs told CNN that he had a brief meeting with Woods as well, and White House aide Marvin Nicholson decided to introduce the press secretary as "the guy who's taken the most money from the president while golfing."
The press secretary told Woods about a rare time during the presidential campaign when Obama, Gibbs, Nicholson and personal aide Reggie Love quietly had a fierce competition on a Nevada golf course.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Chris Hill is slowly overcoming GOP opposition that has delayed his nomination as U.S. ambassador to Iraq, but it's still unclear why the Obama administration revoked the offer they gave to someone else first - General Anthony Zinni.
Zinni told CNN Monday he hasn't been given any explanation about why the offer he got in January for the post, which he accepted, was abruptly taken back.
Zinni confirmed in an e-mail that he was asked to take the job by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and even congratulated by Vice President Joe Biden. But then, the offer was revoked and extended to Hill - a development Zinni says he heard on the news.
Zinni is a retired four-star Marine general and former head of Central Command. Like President Barack Obama, he was an early critic of the Iraq war.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, told CNN he would have wholeheartedly supported Zinni for position because of his knowledge of the region. Graham, along with Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, have led the opposition to Hill, citing his "controversial legacy" as point man in the six-nation talks aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear program and his lack of experience in the Middle East.
Graham, however, voted Monday to move Hill's nomination forward, while McCain did not vote. Brownback voted against Hill.
A State Department spokesman had no comment on Zinni.
A senior Democratic congressional source, who would not be quoted speaking about private deliberations, called the decision to nominate Hill over Zinni one of the "great mysteries" of the early days of the Obama administration.
(CNN) - One might think the government would automatically embrace requests from several of the nation's largest banks to return the bailout money they received last fall. Not so fast. JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and at least four other others have indicated they would like to return the almost $95 billion they jointly get in TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) funds.
The Treasury Department will have to give the OK to their requests. And before that happens the government will look at the financial health of the companies to make sure they can afford to give it back. Specifically, an administration official tells CNN regulators will want to make sure the bank is stable; returning the money would not cause any ripple effects which would deepen the recession; and to make sure the institutions have enough capital to keep loans going.
The TARP program has never been popular with the many of the banks or with the American public. Just last week Treasury reported participating banks have not increased their lending. However, experts believe it has helped stabilize the banking industry at a key time of uncertainty last year.
Now showcasing healthy profits for the first quarters the banks are stepping up their efforts to give back the loans. Jamie Dimon, the CEO and Chairman of JPMorgan Chase, last week called the program "a scarlet letter" and said on a conference call with investment analysts "We're...certainly not going to borrow from the federal government because we've learned our lesson about that."
Many of the banks believe keeping the bailout money will hurt business marking their banks as weak.
Also executives are eager to rid themselves of the restrictions attached, such as limits on executive compensation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Iraqi government could be tweeting soon, courtesy of Hillary Clinton.
The State Department said Monday it is sending a team of technology executives to help the Iraqi government and other groups expand the country's emerging new media industry.
The nine-member delegation, which includes CEOs and other officials from such technology giants as AT&T, Google, Twitter and YouTube, will meet with Iraqi government and education officials, Iraqi technology companies and civil society groups.
A statement issued by the State Department said the team will "provide conceptual input as well as ideas on how new technologies can be used to build local capacity, foster greater transparency and accountability, build upon anti-corruption efforts, promote critical thinking in the classroom, scale-up civil society, and further empower local entities and individuals by providing the tools for network building."
"As Iraqis think about how to integrate new technology as a tool for smart power, we view this as an opportunity to invite the American technology industry to be part of this creative genesis," the State Department statement said.
(CNN) – Meghan McCain loves Twitter - except for the "creepy people." Like Karl Rove.
In a blog post for the Daily Beast published Monday, McCain says the social networking site has been a "liberating" experience for her - if only her dispatches weren't being read by the former Bush advisor.
"Karl Rove follows me on Twitter. That's creepy," she said. "I joined Twitter a few months ago; so far, it has been a liberating way to transition from political to personal blogging. It's allowed me to share the less serious aspects and humorously uncensored moments of my life. But there's also been a downside: I am now being followed by Karl Rove, and my local sheriff, and God knows how many other political pundits. We need to take Twitter back from the creepy people."
Later, she wrote: "I can't shake the fact that Karl Rove is following me-it can be creepy. So watch out."
The daughter of former Republican presidential candidate John McCain also said she finds Rove's Tweets "boring," and speculated that he had a "ghost Twitterer" or an assistant posting his thoughts.
"On the surface, Karl Rove's Twitter feed intrigues me," she said. Here's a guy who for years has been perceived as some kind of inaccessible man-behind-the-curtain figure. And now he Tweets numerous times a day. I've never met him in person, which only makes our Twitter relationship even weirder. And to be honest, I find Rove's Tweets boring. Sometimes he takes questions; other times he talks about his appearances on cable news and other shows. But he doesn't say anything substantive."
She said that Rove's Tweets "seem to reveal a softer side to him" - but drew her skepticism.
"Call it savvy marketing, but I find it disingenuous," she said. "And it's a bit weird to think his people-not even Rove himself-are following me."
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - Attorneys for Norm Coleman announced Monday afternoon they have filed an appeal seeking to overturn a District Court's decision that he lost his bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate last November.
The appeal, filed with the Minnesota Supreme Court, followed the lower court's ruling that Democrat Al Franken beat Coleman, a Republican.
"We do believe that the District Court got it wrong on the law and wrong because the Minnesota tradition and law are to enfranchise people, and their decision disenfranchises many Minnesotans whose votes have been wrongly rejected," said Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg.
(CNN) - President Obama, visiting CIA headquarters Monday, defended his decision to release Bush-era memos on interrogation tactics, saying the country will ultimately be stronger as a result.
The president's remarks came in the wake of criticism from a former CIA chief and others that his decision compromised national security and encouraged terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.
Obama also met with CIA Director Leon Panetta, Deputy Director Stephen Kappes and other officials, and talked to employees about the importance of the agency's mission to national security.
The president asserted that he had released the documents primarily because of the "exceptional circumstance that surrounded these memos. ... The covert nature of the information [in them] had [already] been compromised."
Obama added that he ended the controversial interrogation techniques mentioned in the memos because the United States "is stronger and more secure" when it can deploy both power and the "power of our values, including the rule of law."
"What makes the United States special ... is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and ideals even when it's hard, not just when it's easy," he said.
Although abiding by the rule of law can make battling groups such as al Qaeda more difficult, he added, it is ultimately why "we'll defeat our enemies. We're on the better side of history."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele rejected the suggestion Monday that the Republican Party is fractured into different ideological or personality-driven factions.
"There's one Republican Party," the GOP head said on Fox News.
"There's not a Newt Gingrich side. There's not a Sarah [Palin] side. There's no Mitt [Romney] side."
Steele also said that the GOP had "bottomed and we hope that's the case." Citing upcoming gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, he suggested that the GOP would soon know how its efforts to regroup were being received by voters.
"But," Steele cautioned, "whether or not you've bottomed or not, you better have something to say to the American people." "I think the party has now positioned itself to talk about creating wealth versus wealth distribution."
(CNN) - The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee said Monday that federal funding for affordable rental properties must be increased.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, also warned that a Bush-era policy to help low-income families become homeowners instead of renters contributed to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and, ultimately, the larger economic crisis now confronting the country.
Frank made his remarks during a speech at the National Low Income Housing Coalition's policy conference in Washington.
"It is in 2003 and after that the percentage of mortgage loans that went to lower-income people spiked and the number who weren't able to pay spiked, and it's connected," said Frank, who chairs the committee that oversees all components of the nation's housing and financial services sectors.