WASHINGTON (CNN) - As the White House press corps gears up for President Obama's 100-day assessment, what kind of grade does the administration think reporters themselves deserve?
"I'd give them a strong A, Wolf," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Friday. "You guys watch everyday. There are tough questions each and every day and they're looking at and trying to find the stories in this administration.
"I think the job they have to do everyday is to get up and go to work ask tough questions and cover for the American people the job that this administration is doing. I think they're obviously doing a tough job particularly well."
See the White House spokesman on The Situation Room today beginning at 4 pm ET, and catch his full interiew - Countdown to the CNN National Report Card: A Situation Room Special - airing on Saturday at 6 pm ET.
Also: On 44 with Ed Henry, CNN's senior White House correspondent gets the inside track from Gibbs
Along with the Best Political Team, give your own grade to President Obama and other elected officials - be part of the CNN Report Card: First Hundred Days.
(CNN) – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, facing a string of costly ethics complaints, formally unveiled a defense fund Friday to help pay her legal fees - now surging past the half-million dollar mark.
"For Alaskans, the time has come to end the siege on our government by political tricksters. Enough is enough. With the help of reform-minded advocates from across our nation, we will stand up for what is right," said a message on the Web site for the Alaska Fund Trust.
"Your maximum contribution of $150.00 will allow the Governor, her family, and her colleagues to retire their legal debt at no cost to Alaskans and reduce the incentive for mischief by her opponents. Together, we can help Governor Palin and future elected officials turn back the tide of overtly partisan and unnecessarily personal political attacks."
Kristan Cole, a Palin ally from Wasilla, will run the fund, which she described as "one of the most restrictive and transparent legal funds in history." The group said it plans to voluntarily release the names of donors and size of their contributions.
(CNN) – It took nearly a month, but Democrat Scott Murphy has won the battle for New York's 20th congressional district.
Republican James Tedisco conceded Friday and called Murphy by phone to offer congratulations.
"I look forward to rolling up my sleeves in Washington to bring jobs, opportunity and prosperity back to upstate New York," Murphy said in a statement.
The race was too close to call following the March 31 election. But as absentee and overseas ballots poured in the past few weeks, Murphy's lead grew.
The Missouri-born Murphy, 39, is a millionaire venture capitalist. Tedisco, 58, is a longtime New York state lawmaker and ranking Republican in the State Assembly.
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) – The severe decay in the global economy is easing but serious problems still loom, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Friday.
"We are right to be somewhat encouraged, but we would be wrong to conclude that we are close to emerging from the darkness that descended on the globaleconomy early last fall," Geithner said in written comments.
Geithner met with finance chiefs from the G-7 countries who have convened in Washington to talk about their continued efforts to stimulate economies.
Since a high-profile G-20 meeting in London earlier this month, several countries - particularly Japan - have boosted their economic recovery programs, Geithner said.
In addition, Poland and Colombia have said they will join Mexico to apply for backstop financing from the International Monetary Fund, a global agency charged with helping countries facing economic distress.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Pentagon will release "hundreds" of photographs showing alleged abuse of prisoners in detention in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2006, Pentagon officials said Friday, but they maintained they did not show a systemic problem.
"I think it will be in the hundreds," said one official, who said the photos - not yet seen by the public – would be released by the end of May.
On Thursday the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the Pentagon had agreed to release a "substantial" number of photographs by May 28 in response to an open-records lawsuit filed by organization. Pentagon officials said the photos were taken at facilities other than Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Friday, Pentagon officials said the photographs are from more than 60 criminal investigations from 2001 to 2006 and show military personnel allegedly abusing detainees.
The officials rejected ACLU allegations that photos show a systemic pattern of abuse by the military.
"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 a statement. "What this demonstrates is that we have always been serious about investigating credible allegations of abuse," said Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – After nearly 100 days in office, the Obama administration's campaign to lift the economy out of its deepest funk since the 1930s showed no signs of slowing down.
In his 14th week in office, Obama directed his cabinet to cut $100 million in spending over the next few months in a gesture aimed at showing concern about the deficit. He met with credit card companies to press for new consumer protections. And he touted plans to make student loans more affordable.
Next week, the president will mark his first 100 days in office with a prime-time press conference on Wednesday. It will be his third such press conference.
Meanwhile, the administration's efforts to keep the nation's auto industry alive could hit a major roadblock next week.
Troubled automaker Chrysler LLC, which has received billions of dollars in federal loans, could face bankruptcy if it fails to complete a deal with Italian carmaker Fiat by Thursday. Chrysler has struggled to get concessions from its creditors and labor unions.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama says he wants to eliminate what he calls the "middlemen" in the federal student loan program, but he says those middlemen are banks and lenders and he predicts that he's going to have a fight on his hands.
"You have probably seen how this proposal was greeted by the special interests. The banks and lenders who have reaped a windfall from these subsidizes have mobilized an army of lobbyists to keep things the way they are. They are gearing up for battle," Obama said Friday, adding, "So am I."
Obama discussed reforming the federal student loan program at a White House appearance. His proposals include ending the Federal Family Education Loans program, which involve banks and lenders, and shifting those funds to loans directly to students.
Obama said eliminating that program would end a system where lenders are given billions of dollars "in wasteful subsidies that could be used to make college more affordable for all Americans."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A lawsuit filed against the U.S. government by four British men formerly held at the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was dismissed again Friday by a federal appeals court.
The three-judge panel agreed with assertions made by both the Bush and Obama administration that the men were not entitled to relief in federal courts because the prisoners were foreigners held outside the United States.
The men claim they were physically abused, tortured and denied their religious freedom rights.
At issue is what rights non-citizens have to contest in U.S. courts their treatment by the U.S. military during a time of war.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A light aircraft flew into restricted airspace Friday in Washington, prompting brief security alerts at the Capitol and the White House, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Authorities soon confirmed there was no security threat, and gave an "all-clear."
For a few minutes during the security alert, the Senate adjourned and the White House went into lockdown mode.
The Department of Homeland Security said proper procedures were followed, and the pilot of the light aircraft immediately responded to calls from authorities to leave the restricted airspace.
Two F-16s escorted the Cessna 180 to an airport in Indian Head, Maryland, as two Coast Guard helicopters hovered nearby, FAA officials said.
The FAA said the Cessna had entered restricted airspace from the northeast.
The torture debate continues to heat up in Washington; with President Obama and top Senate Democrats pushing back against the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Bush administration’s approval of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.
Some Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been calling for an independent panel — like the 9/11 commission — to look into waterboarding and other harsh techniques.
But the president says a special inquiry would take away time and energy from his policy agenda, and could end up being a distraction looking back on the Bush years. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid backed the president, saying everyone should wait for the results of an investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee due out late this year.
Yet it’s unclear how much of that panel’s findings will ever be made public, since this is an investigation dealing mostly with classified information.
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