WASHINGTON (CNN) – A day after former President George W. Bush seemed to criticize the Obama administration for departing from a number of his anti-terrorism policies, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs fired back.
Asked about Bush's remarks during Thursday's press briefing Gibbs had a simple response. "We won," Gibbs told reporters.
In a vigorous defense of his own national security policies during a speech in Pennsylvania Wednesday, Bush appeared to take issue with the new administration's early decision to close the detention center in Guantanamo Bay and ban the use of aggressive interrogation techniques.
"I told you I'm not going to criticize my successor," Bush said, according to a report by the Washington Times. "I'll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that persuasion isn't going to work. Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind."
Gibbs said Thursday that the American people had made their own decision about battling terror.
"I think we've had a debate about individual policies. We had that debate in particular – we kept score last November and we won," Gibbs said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A top congressional Republican on Thursday joined critics of the White House's response to Iran's disputed presidential election, saying the United States has a "moral responsibility" to condemn attacks on protesters.
"The administration's position that what's going on in Iran is a 'vigorous debate' is absurd," House Minority Whip Eric Cantor said in a statement released Thursday. "People are being brutalized and murdered by the regime in Tehran. We have no idea exactly how many have died or have been seriously injured, since the regime has restricted journalists. In no way do these actions constitute a 'vigorous debate.'"
The congressman from Virginia, the No. 2 Republican in the House, added that "America has a moral responsibility to stand up for these brave people, to defend human rights, and to condemn the violence and abuses by the regime in Tehran."
Obama said Monday he was "deeply troubled" by the violent protests that followed Friday's vote, which official results show resulted in the re-election of hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But he avoided siding with Ahmadinejad's opponents, telling reporters that "It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be."
Tuesday, he added, "It's not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling, the U.S. president meddling in Iranian elections."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs defended that approach Thursday, telling reporters Obama "believes that he's struck the right tone."
"I know some people agree with what Sen. McCain said. Some people agree with what other Republicans have said that's very much like the president's position," Gibbs said. "The president strongly believes that we should - and have - spoken out to ensure the demonstrators have the universal right and principle to demonstrate without fear of harm. But at the same time, we have to respect their sovereignty."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a $106 billion spending bill that includes about $80 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, sending the bill to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature.
The money will fund the wars through October. The 91-5 vote followed a much closer procedural vote that added $1 billion in start-up funds for the "Cash For Clunkers" program, an effort to revive the stalled U.S. auto industry.
The money brings the running tab for both conflicts to about $950 billion, according to figures from the Congressional Research Service. The agency estimated that more than three-quarters of the money so far has gone to the war in Iraq, where most of the U.S. troops sent to those conflicts have been deployed.
The spending bill also authorizes the International Monetary Fund to borrow up to $100 billion, a provision Republicans criticized as a "global bailout." The international agency offers lifelines to countries in crisis, and has been heavily tapped during the current global recession.
The spending bill narrowly survived a nail-biter of a vote in the chamber earlier Thursday over the "Cash for Clunkers" provision, which will offer buyers up to $4,500 to trade in gas-guzzling vehicles for more fuel-efficient models. Democrats needed four Republican votes to reach the 60 needed to waive a budget rule and attach the $1 billion appropriation to start the program, and Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell switched an earlier "no" vote to keep it alive.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Americans are being told daily that health reform isn't just the right thing to do - it will also help save the economy.
"Health care reform is not part of the problem when it comes to our fiscal future, it is a fundamental part of the solution," President Obama said in a recent address.
The crux of the problem: The United States spends far more on health care than do other developed countries, but it often gets far less bang for its buck. Meanwhile, a large number of Americans either can't afford insurance or have insurance that doesn't adequately cover their medical costs.
The kicker, of course, is that rising costs are making the country's long-term fiscal picture very, very ugly.
For many, the Washington debate over the mind-bending details of different options obscures the issue of what's at stake. What is the threat to the economy if no action is taken? What happens if a health system overhaul succeeds ... and what are the economic perils if it fails?
(CNN) – In his most critical comments to date of the Obama administration's policies, former President George Bush Wednesday warned against the nationalization of healthcare, government overreach in the country's financial system, and the potential effects of closing the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
"I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in," the former president said during a speech to business leaders in Erie, Pennsylvania, according to the Washington Times. "You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money."
"Government does not create wealth. The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States," he also said in the closed-door speech, according to the paper.
During the remarks — one of Bush’s first in the United States since leaving the White House - the former president commented on a wide-range of issues currently confronting the Obama administration, including the new president's push for universal healthcare.
"There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care," Bush said. "I worry about encouraging the government to replace the private sector when it comes to providing insurance for health care."
Asked directly if he thought his successor was embracing "socialist" polices, Bush stopped short of weighing in one way or the other, instead saying: "We'll see."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. John Kerry defended President Obama Thursday for staying out of the controversy over the elections in Iran, telling CNN this was an "Iranian moment" and saying it would be an "enormous mistake" for the president to get involved.
Kerry continued his criticism of Sen. John McCain, who had called Obama's response "tepid." In an editorial published Thursday morning in the New York Times, the Massachusetts Democrat wrote that the "tough talk" of McCain and his advocates "only empowered hard-liners and put reformers on the defensive."
He echoed that point on The Situation Room Thursday.
"Specifically for the president of the United States to get in the middle of what is happening in Iran right now, I believe and I think many people believe, would be an enormous mistake, because it just gives the Iranian clerics, who are already in some cases oppressive and restrictive with respect to what people in Iran can do, more excuse to make America the target and America an excuse for their actions," Kerry told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.
"I think there are serious questions about the election, but I think the Iranians are carrying that message to their own leadership," Kerry said. "There is no need for the United States of America to step into the middle of it and make this about America when it is an Iranian moment spurred on by Iranians."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The New York Times is calling on the Republican Governors Association to take down a Web site devoted to attacking New Jersey governor Jon Corzine.
Why? According to a cease and desist letter from the New York Times' legal department, the RGA's "Corzine Times" Web site - which links to articles critical of the Democratic governor's tumultuous tenure - is a carbon copy of of the newspaper's own Web site.
"Such copying is a clear infringement of The Times's rights under the Copyright Act of 1976 and falsely suggests, in violation of the Lanham Act, that the Times has sponsored or is otherwise associated with your website," wrote Times employee Deborah Beshaw in the letter, which was sent on Wednesday. She said the fonts and layout if the site are clearly designed to mimic nytimes.com.
The Times wrote that if the Republican group fails to remove the current version of the site within three days, the paper "will have no choice but to pursue all available legal remedies."
The RGA was apparently eager to highlight the legal appeal: they posted a link to the letter at the top of the anti-Corzine Web site. And Mike Schrimpf, a spokesman for the RGA, took a swipe at both Corzine and the paper.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A $106 billion war spending bill has narrowly survived a nail-biter of a vote in the Senate. Democrats needed 60 votes to waive a budget rule and allow them to attach $1 billion in funding for the so-called "Cash For Clunkers" program, aimed at reviving the auto industry.
The motion to waive the rule passed 60-36, but only after Democrat Maria Cantwell of Washington state switched her vote from "no" to "yes." Democrats also needed help from five Republicans: Sens. Bond, Cochran, Collins, Enzi and Voinovich switched sides to support the Cash for Clunkers funding.
The final vote on the supplemental spending bill is expected to easily get majority approval and go to the president.
Democrats against: Nelson (NE)
Republicans in favor: Bond, Cochran, Collins, Voinovich
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was working from home Thursday after fracturing her right elbow the day before during a fall, State Department officials said.
Clinton fell Wednesday afternoon at the State Department on her way to the White House and was taken to George Washington University Hospital. She was treated and released. She will have surgery to repair her elbow in coming weeks.
Clinton was with Richard Holbrooke, President Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, when she fell.
"Secretary Clinton appreciates the professionalism and kindness she received from the medical team who treated her this evening and looks forward to resuming her full schedule soon," said department spokeswoman Cheryl Mills.
Philip Crowley, an assistant secretary of state, said President Obama was one of the first people to call Clinton Wednesday night.
Clinton was at home "resting comfortably, or uncomfortably. She is working from home. She is already taking some calls, and I'm sure starting to learn the limits of movement - how well you can text with one arm in a sling," Crowley said.
–CNN's Paul Courson contributed to this report.
Updated: 4:04 p.m.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday the United States could defend itself against a missile should the North Koreans launch one toward Hawaii.
Japanese media reported Thursday that the North Koreans are preparing to make such a launch.
Gates said U.S. officials are watching the situation carefully.
"We do have some concerns if they were to launch a missile" toward Hawaii, he told reporters.
But with missile interceptors and radar equipment in the region, "we are in a good position should it become necessary to protect the American territory," Gates said.