Washington (CNN) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich went after the Obama administration for its strategy to fight terrorism, accusing them of believing that "protecting the rights of terrorists has been more important than protecting the lives of Americans."
In a letter published in the conservative Human Events magazine on Wednesday, the former Republican leader criticized the Obama administration's response to the failed Christmas Day terror plot, saying that the administration is "imposing hopelessly meaningless rules" for travelers instead of "targeting the source of the threats."
"Today, because our elites fear politically incorrect honesty, they believe that it is better to harass the innocent, delay the harmless, and risk the lives of every American than to do the obvious, the effective, and the necessary," Gingrich wrote.
He added this fear of political correctness has caused the government to miss critical signs that could point towards potential terrorists.
Washington (CNN) - The attempted Christmas Day bombing of a commercial airliner has renewed questions of whether the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission have been taken seriously.
In its 2004 report on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the commission warned that the Transportation Security Administration and Congress "must give priority attention to improving the ability of screening checkpoints to detect explosives on passengers."
But at most airports, travelers simply pass through magnetometers, which are unlikely to detect bomb materials on their body.
Nigerian suspect Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, 23, is accused of trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane going from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, with explosives concealed in his underwear. The explosives failed to detonate properly.
A Government Accounting Office report from October found that TSA has an array of "10 passenger-screening technologies." But the TSA, the report indicates, "has not deployed any of these technologies to airports nationwide."
One solution aviation experts point to is sophisticated screening technology such as full-body scans, which are more likely to detect explosives. But those devices are years away for most U.S. airports - though several are in operation at major airports across the country.
(CNN) – Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, the conservative Senate Democrat who provided the party with the 60th vote needed to prevent a Republican filibuster of the health care bill, is defending his move in an a television ad set to air Wednesday.
The ad, to run during the sure-to-be highly rated University of Nebraska's Holiday Bowl game Wednesday night, features Nelson himself directly explaining to constituents why he voted for the measure the recent polls of have suggested is unpopular with most Nebraskans.
According to the Lincoln Journal-Star, Nelson will tell constituents he worked hard to improve the controversial bill before committing to be the Democrats' crucial 60th vote.
"Now it lowers costs for families and small business, protects Medicare, finally guarantees coverage for pre-existing conditions and reduces the deficit," Nelson says in the ad, according to the paper. "And it's not run by the government. I'm convinced this is right for Nebraska."
As part of his agreement to vote with the Democrats, Nelson successfully negotiated the federal government to pay in perpetuity for Medicaid's expansion in his state, an agreement that has riled other senators whose states have to foot the bill.
Nelson told CNN shortly after the vote he did not seek any special favors.
"I didn't ask for a carve-out," Nelson told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "What I said is the governor of Nebraska has contacted me, he said publicly he's having trouble with the budget. This will add to his budget woes. And I said, look, we have to have that fixed."
Nelson won't face reelection until 2012.
(CNN) – In blistering new comments Wednesday, former Vice President Dick Cheney says President Obama's reaction to the botched terrorist attack on Christmas Day is proof the president "is trying to pretend we are not at war."
In his first statement since the Christmas Day terror attempt, Cheney hits Obama for what he describes as the president's "low key" response to the events last week, and criticizes the administration's broader approach to national security.
"He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war," Cheney says. "He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of 9/11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core al Qaeda trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war."
Cheney adds that Obama outwardly "pretends we aren't [at war]," and the former vice president repeats his months-long criticism that the new president has made America "less safe."
"Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war?" Cheney asks. "It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency – social transformation—the restructuring of American society."
Democrats note President Bush was not subjected to criticisms from either Democrats or the media when he waited six days to respond to Richard Reid's attempted shoe-bombing of an airline on December 22, 2001. Like Obama, Bush was on vacation when that botched terrorist attack occurred 8 years ago.
Full statement after the jump
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama may be the most popular man in his administration, but according to a new national poll, he's not the most popular person.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicates that the president's poll numbers pale in comparison to the favorable ratings of two women: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama.
Fifty-eight percent of people questioned in the survey have a favorable view of Obama, with four in 10 holding an unfavorable view. But the president's favorable rating is 10 points below that of his wife and 6 points behind the secretary of state. According to the poll, 68 percent of the public has a positive opinion of the first lady, with 19 percent holding an unfavorable opinion. Sixty-four percent have a positive view of Clinton, with three in 10 holding an unfavorable view.
Full results (PDF)
The survey indicates that nearly nine out of 10 Democrats have a positive view of the president, with Independents split and more than 3 out of 4 Republicans seeing Obama in an unfavorable way. The president's favorable rating is down 6 points from August and 11 points from April.
A reminder that a favorable rating is not the same as an approval rating: favorable ratings measure how Americans feel about Obama as a person, while an approval rating is an indicator of his job performance in the White House.
Honolulu, Hawaii (CNN) - In a marked shift from previous positions, senior Obama administration officials now say they are starting to see an al Qaeda connection to the attempted terror attack on a U.S.-bound airliner.
In the days after the failed attempt on Christmas Day, administration officials steadfastly shied away from linking the incident to the terror group and, in some cases, said there was no evidence of such a connection.
But one senior administration officials said late Tuesday that "some of the new information that we developed overnight does suggest that there was some linkage there" with al Qaeda.
The senior administration official was referring to intelligence that White House officials obtained late Monday night and then briefed President Obama about on Tuesday in a secure conference call.
The secure call, which included National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones and top homeland security adviser John Brennan, took place shortly before the president delivered public remarks suggesting there were "systemic and human failures" that prevented the government from stopping the attempted terror attack.
(CNN) - Karl Rove - the former top aide to President George W. Bush - and his wife, Darby, were granted a divorce last week, family friend Dana Perino confirmed to CNN.
"The couple came to the decision mutually and amicably, and they maintain a close relationship and a strong friendship. There will be no further comment and the family requests that its privacy be respected," Perino said in an e-mail to CNN.
The two were married in 1986 and have one son.
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com
CNN: Source: CIA failed to circulate report about bombing suspect
The father of terrorism suspect Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab talked about his son's extremist views with someone from the CIA and a report was prepared, but the report was not circulated outside the agency, a reliable source told CNN's Jeanne Meserve on Tuesday.
CNN: Obama team more closely linking al Qaeda to terror attempt
In a marked shift from previous positions, senior Obama administration officials now say they are starting to see an al Qaeda connection to the attempted terror attack on a U.S.-bound airliner.
Washington Post: As standoff with Iran continues, U.S. prepares targeted sanctions
The Obama administration is readying sanctions against discrete elements of the Iranian government, including those involved in the deadly crackdown on Iranian protesters, marking a shift to a more aggressive U.S. posture toward the Islamic republic, U.S. officials said.
New York Times: Obama Curbs Secrecy of Classified Documents
President Obama declared on Tuesday that “no information may remain classified indefinitely” as part of a sweeping overhaul of the executive branch’s system for protecting classified national security information.
Wall Street Journal: Rich Cling to Life to Beat Tax Man
Nothing's certain except death and taxes - but a temporary lapse in the estate tax is causing a few wealthy Americans to try to bend those rules.
CBS News: Will GOP Call to Repeal Health Care Bill?
Prominent conservatives are calling for congressional Republicans to campaign in 2010 on a pledge to repeal the Democrats' sprawling health care legislation, but political and logistical realities could make repealing the bill a promise that is hard to keep.
Denver Post: Efforts already underway in Colorado to blunt federal health care reforms
Coloradans will likely be asked in November to blunt the impact of federal health-insurance reform with a state constitutional amendment that would attempt to undo some of what Congress is trying to pass.
The two were married in 1986 and have one son.
Washington (CNN) – Sen. Jim DeMint, the Republican lawmaker holding up the nomination for the Transportation Security Administration chief, blamed Senate Majority Harry Reid Tuesday for the delay, saying the Senate could have voted on his nomination "months ago."
DeMint told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux Tuesday that all he wants is "limited debate and a recorded vote" before Erroll Southers can become the new TSA chief.