WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Defense Department will release "a substantial number" of photographs showing abuse of prisoners at prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The release will be in response to an open-records lawsuit filed by the ACLU, the group said in a written statement. The statement released late Thursday said the photos were taken at facilities other than the infamous Abu Ghraib prison.
"These photographs provide visual proof that prisoner abuse by U.S. personnel was not aberrational but widespread, reaching far beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib," Amrit Singh, an ACLU attorney, said in the release. The photos are to be released by May 28, the ACLU said.
The Department of Defense announced in a letter addressed to the federal court on Thursday that it would release the photos.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Attorney General Eric Holder was decidedly non-committal Thursday as he was buffeted on Capitol Hill by alternating demands to release - or not - more secret torture-related documents, and to prosecute - or not– Bush administration officials who wrote and approved those documents.
Holder was scheduled to appear before a House committee to discuss the Justice Department budget, but lawmakers threw away the script and overwhelmed him with pointed questions about the memos and accountability for the interrogation policies.
The toughest exchanges were with the top Republican in the session, Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia. Wolf insisted Holder provide still-secret documents which former Vice President Dick Cheney says detail valuable intelligence gained from the use of the harsh techniques against captured suspected terrorists.
"You have an obligation to release the rest of the memos," Wolf demanded.
(CNN) - John McCain’s general election campaign began as “the strategic equivalent of throwing a football through a tire at 50 yards” – and was doomed weeks before Election Day, his former chief strategist said Thursday.
“We were running a campaign under extra difficult circumstances - the state of the Republican Party, the president’s unpopularity, the economy - a lot of issues that were not John McCain’s fault, but were John McCain’s problem in this race,” Schmidt told an audience at the University of Delaware, according to Politico. “When Lehman Brothers collapsed in the fall I knew pretty much right away that ... from an electoral strategy perspective, the campaign was finished.”
Schmidt and Obama campaign manager David Plouffe - who both attended, but did not graduate from Delaware - shared the stage and looked back at the 2008 campaign.
Schmidt praised Obama's political skills. “This was, in my view, the unfinished Bobby Kennedy campaign - the idealism, the passion, the inspiration he gave to people, it was organic and it was real and it wasn’t manufactured at a tactical level in the campaign,” he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The two top Democrats in the House and Senate have different views on whether Congress should establish a special "truth commission" to investigate controversial Bush administration policies regarding the use of harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters Thursday he wants an ongoing probe by the Senate Intelligence Committee to wrap up before a decision is made whether an independent investigation - likely made up of individuals outside of Congress - is warranted. That go-slow approach is at odds with Pelosi, who reiterated Thursday that she had "always been for a truth commission."
Reid said the bipartisan intelligence panel should complete its work by the end year and "we'd all be better off just relaxing" until all the facts are in.
But he left the door open to a separate investigation down the road. "Again, I think we have to get the facts before we decide which direction to go," he said.
(CNN) – Meghan McCain - who said earlier this week that she found Karl Rove "creepy" - said Thursday she wished the former Bush advisor would just "go away."
"The DNC just did an ad, and it has Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney as the new faces of the Republican Party," she said on The View, adding that the party's young people like herself were looking for "new energy and new blood."
"It's very unprecedented for someone like Karl Rove or Dick Cheney to be criticizing the president," said the 24-year-old daughter of former GOP presidential candidate John McCain. "It's very unprecendented, former vice president, and obviously Karl Rove, and my big criticism is: you had your eight years, go away."
"...[Rove] twittering is not going to make any young people come to the Republican Party, and I don't think any person my age is going to think that is cool," she said.
Photo credit: Getty Images
(CNN) – It must be 'great to be a Florida Gator.'
The University of Florida football team, winner of the 2009 BCS National Championship, met with President Obama Thursday at the White House. Led by coach Urban Meyer, the boys from old Florida posed for photos with the president after presenting him with a personalized "Obama 1" jersey and "Barack Obama" national championship football.
The president shook hands with Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow as cameras flashed telling the group that the quarterback's leadership is what "you want to see from all our young people – taking responsibility, challenging yourself and others, and rising to the moment."
Last week, Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson announced the team's upcoming White House visit during halftime at the Gators' traditional "Orange and Blue" game.
By tradition, the winner of the national championship is eligible for a visit to the executive mansion. The Florida football team traveled to Washington most recently in 2006 and 1996 after winning the national title.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican strategist Mary Matalin has signed on to serve as a CNN political contributor, the network announced Thursday.
The former Crossfire co-host will appear on programs across the network, including Anderson Cooper 360°, State of the Union with John King, and The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.
In addition to her appearances on other CNN programs, Matalin will appear twice monthly alongside her husband, Democratic strategist and fellow CNN political contributor James Carville, on State of the Union with John King. Their first joint appearance will be Sunday, April 26 for a special "First 100 Days Edition" of State of the Union.
"As one of the best-known and best-connected strategists in the country, Mary will join our line up of top Republican analysts including Bill Bennett, Alex Castellanos, and Ed Rollins," said Sam Feist, CNN political director and vice president of Washington programming. "We are thrilled that CNN viewers will be able to tap into Mary's vast political experience advising candidates and presidents from both inside and outside of the White House."
Matalin, a veteran political commentator, served as a senior White House advisor to both President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. She was a key strategist in President George H.W. Bush's 1988 campaign, and was appointed chief of staff for the Republican National Committee after his successful bid. She was also a key strategist in the 1992, 2000 and 2004 Republican presidential campaigns.
(CNN) – A magazine is taking heat for making undisclosed alterations of a photograph of President Obama in a bathing suit.
Washingtonian Magazine changed the color of the president's shorts and made a few other touch-ups, but media critic Howard Kurtz calls the small adjustments "unethical."
"While the alternations of this picture might seem to some people to be kind of minor, it is absolutely unethical," he said. "It is dishonest. It is not journalism. You cannot present a news photo, particularly of a president, but of anybody, and alter it through digital technology without being honest about it with readers."
Cathy Merrill Williams, the publisher of Washingtonian, disagreed, saying the publication was merely trying to convey a concept.
"When you're in the magazine business you're trying to get across a concept or an idea," she said. "Changing…the color of his shorts didn't change the overall image portrayed. It was President Obama in a bathing suit walking."
The White House is officially not commenting on the altered photo.
TOPICS: Barack Obama, Congress, Democratic Party, Republican Party, Most Important Issue, Economy, Jobs, Abortion, Global Warming, Interrogations, Gay Marriage, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton
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(CNN) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she feels a "spirit of pride" thinking back over the new administration's first 100 days, but House Minority Leader John Boehner said it's become clear to him that the idea of bipartisanship "was a ruse."
"I think if you look at the first 100 days, you can sum it up pretty simply: spending, taxing, borrowing and ducking the hard choices," Boehner said at a news conference Thursday.
Democratic policies, he said, are "going to hurt our economy and hurt jobs in America."
The Ohio Republican said Americans are "fed up with this unprecedented level of spending and borrowing that'll imprison the future for our kids and their kids," and he said the Republican Party has offered up better solutions in recent months.
"And as we get into these next few months, you'll see us continue to work to be the party of better solutions," he said.