Related: Cheney and alleged secret CIA program 'a problem,' Senator says
“This is very suspect timing,” Republican strategist and former Cheney adviser Mary Matalin said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “The president’s agenda is almost in shambles. His [poll] numbers are dropping. Isn’t it coincidental; they gin up a Cheney story.”
Matalin also said that the Executive branch has some authority under the nation’s intelligence laws to not disclose information to Congress under certain circumstances. “The more people that know, the more it leaks . . . and then the enemy knows what it is,” Matalin said of details about other intelligence programs that were leaked to the media.
“Every time they get in trouble . . . they dredge up a Darth Vader story,” Matalin also said, making a reference to past comparisons between Cheney and the villain in the “Stars Wars’ movies.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republicans and Democrats continued to spar Sunday over how to pay for health care reform.
Some Democrats rejected a proposal to start taxing health care benefits provided by employers. At the same time, momentum among Democrats seems to be building for Obama's proposal to limit tax deductions for those earning more than $250,000 a year.
Republicans oppose the high cost of health care reform, as well as key components of Democratic proposals including higher taxes on the wealthy. However, some Republicans expressed support for taxing employer-provided benefits of the most expensive health insurance plans.
The bottom line: Little is clear as the White House and Democrats continue to press for a health care reform bill by the end of the year.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - After weeks of meeting senators and preparing for tough questions, Sonia Sotomayor on Monday begins the formal hearings on her nomination to become the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will start considering whether Sotomayor should be the 111th person to sit on the nation's highest court. If confirmed, she would be the third woman justice.
Sotomayor, 55, received a good-luck telephone call Sunday from President Obama, according to a White House statement.
Obama "complimented the judge for making courtesy calls to 89 senators in which she discussed her adherence to the rule of law throughout her 17 years on the federal bench," the statement said. "The president expressed his confidence that Judge Sotomayor would be confirmed to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court for many years to come."
Democrats who hold a majority in both the Judiciary Committee and the full Senate predict she will easily win approval from both.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Attorney General Eric Holder is leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's interrogation practices, a source familiar with the process confirmed to CNN.
The source did not want to be identified by name because the process is ongoing, and no decision has been made.
Newsweek, which first reported Holder's inclination to name a prosecutor, also reported that the attorney general has asked his staff for a list of 10 candidates who might serve as that prosecutor if one is named.
A Justice Department official told CNN a decision could come in the next few weeks. The official, who also did not want to be named because of the ongoing process, said that if the attorney general does proceed, it will be a very "narrowly tailored" investigation, looking at only those who might have gone beyond the legal guidance at the time in conducting interrogations.
Such an investigation would counter public statements by President Barack Obama that the nation needs to look forward and not back.
"We have made no decisions on investigations or prosecutions, including whether to appoint a prosecutor to conduct further inquiry," Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller said in a statement Sunday.
(CNN) - President Barack Obama can't have it both ways on his economic stimulus package, the man he defeated in last year's election said Sunday.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, told the NBC program "Meet the Press" that Obama either got it wrong when he predicted the benefits of his $787 billion economic stimulus package in February, or he's wrong now in saying the stimulus is working as intended.
"He's either not leveling now or he wasn't leveling at the time they passed the stimulus package," McCain said.
He cited predictions by Obama earlier this year that the spending plan would hold unemployment to 8.5 percent or less, noting the figure is now at 9.5 percent and likely to continue rising.
McCain also complained that the stimulus plan has failed to deliver the job creation Obama pledged.
"What they promised us would be the result of the stimulus in the short-term has turned out not to be true," he said.
On the same program, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York responded it was too soon to pronounce judgment on the stimulus plan.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Congressman Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that “it’s disturbing” that former Vice President Dick Cheney may have ordered the CIA to withhold information from Congress.
Related: Cheney and alleged secret CIA program 'a problem.' Senator says
The refusal to disclose a top-secret program to the few members of Congress authorized to review the sensitive material was “absolutely not” appropriate, Murphy told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Sunday’s State of the Union.
Though he has recently been briefed by CIA chief Leon Panetta on the nature of the secret program, he said that because the information is top secret he would not talk about it on TV or in private.
On the issue of gays in the military, Murphy said that now is the “best time to move” on repealing the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Thirteen thousand servicemen and women have been discharged under the highly controversial policy, he noted.
Though he believes President Obama supports repealing the policy, he said he understands it’s up to Congress to change it.
“It was an act of Congress that put this discriminatory law in place. It will take an act of Congress to repeal it.”
On Reliable Sources Sunday morning, Frost told Howard Kurtz why Al Jazeera English may have gotten a bad rap from its association with its Arabic counterpart, famous – or infamous, depending on your point of view – for carrying many of the video and audio messages from Osama Bin Laden.
"Every company... delighted at those Osama bin Laden tapes. You see, they'd drop them through the letter box. They seem to be dropping them through our [Al Jazeera English's] letter boxes now. But from that, I mean, once they decided to use them, and there are lots they didn't use. But I mean once they decided to use them, so did the BBC, so did ITV, so did CBS, NBC, ABC. Everyone wanted them. And they just happened to be the lucky recipients," Frost said.
"Al Jazeera English came along and it immediately, people see it, they realize that it's independent, that it's international, that it's for the south as well as the north. And you can see it's not about Osama bin Laden any more than any other network is."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - CIA Director Leon Panetta testified to a congressional committee that he was told former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the intelligence agency to withhold information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, told the "FOX News Sunday" program that Panetta testified that "he was told that the vice president had ordered that the program not be briefed to the Congress."
"I think this is a problem, obviously," Feinstein said, adding that the law requires full disclosure of such operations to Congress.
The disclosure by Panetta to both the Senate and House intelligence committees about Cheney's involvement was first reported in The New York Times. Efforts to contact Cheney for reaction were unsuccessful.
CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano declined to comment on the report.
"It's not agency practice to discuss what may or may not have been said in a classified briefing," Gimigliano said. "When a CIA unit brought this matter to Director Panetta's attention, it was with the recommendation that it be shared with Congress. That was also his view, and he took swift, decisive action to put it into effect."