(CNN) – The Republican vying for President Barack Obama's former Senate seat admitted he has previously mischaracterized an aspect of his lengthy service in the United States Navy.
The admission Sunday came after Kirk's opponent in the divisive Senate race, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, raised questions with the Washington Post about the Intelligence Officer of the Year Award Kirk claimed to have received during his service in the Kosovo conflict 10 years ago.
In a post on his blog Sunday, Kirk said he and his staff discovered last week that they had inadvertently misidentified the award in his official biography and on other occasions. Kirk was instead issued the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award – an honor Kirk said is as distinguished as that of Intelligence Officer of the Year.
The National Military Intelligence Association, a professional group, issued Kirk and each member of his unit the award for "exceptional achievements of an outstanding Naval Intelligence career professional."
"My corrected biography accurately shows I received the United States Navy Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award – as the leader of an ad-hoc intelligence effort supporting four EA-6B Prowler electronic attack squadrons as part of Operation Allied Force – instead of Intelligence Officer of the Year. I accepted the Taylor Intelligence Award (named after the head of Navy intelligence in World War II) as the leader of an intelligence section that I assembled and led. There is no hierarchy between these awards as the Taylor Intelligence Award is equally distinguished," Kirk said.
(CNN) - One of the two candidates in a Democratic party family feud that resulted in a rare Republican congressional victory in Hawaii says he's giving up his quest to return to the House of Representatives.
Former Rep. Ed Case announced Sunday that he's dropping his bid for the state's first congressional district, which the GOP captured in a special election nine days ago - the party's first win in a House or Senate election in Hawaii in nearly two decades.
"My heart tells me to stay in this fight, but my head says this has become the wrong fight," said Case, in an e-mail to supporters and in a statement on his campaign website.
National Democrats attempted, without success, to convince either Case or Hawaii State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa to drop out of the May 22 special election, held to fill the seat of former Rep. Neil Abercrombie, the longtime Democratic congressman who stepped down earlier this year to run for governor.
(CNN) - From a wreath-laying ceremony at Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery to a moment of silence at Major League Baseball games across the country, America on Monday stops and remembers the sacrifices of those who fell in military service to the country.
Vice President Joe Biden will take the place of President Barack Obama for the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington, the most prestigious military cemetery in the country, where many of the soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.
Many veteran and conservative bloggers have taken issue with Obama's absence.
"On Monday, it's where the eyes of our entire nation will be focused," said Paul Rieckhoff, founder of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "And unfortunately, the president and his family won't be there to stand with us."
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: Not rational to give up on offshore drilling, Vitter says
A Republican senator from the state so far the hardest hit by the Gulf oil spill said Sunday that the environmental catastrophe was not a reason to put a stop to all domestic offshore oil drilling. "By the same token, after every plane crash, you and I should both oppose plane travel," Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on CNN's State of the Union. "I don't think that is rational." Vitter added that it was necessary to determine what went wrong in the sequence of events that led up to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20 which caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
CNN: White House admits effort to keep Sestak out of Senate race
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel used former President Bill Clinton as an intermediary last year as part of a failed administration effort to dissuade Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak from running for the U.S. Senate, according to a publicly released memorandum from the White House legal counsel's office. Top White House lawyer Robert Bauer conceded that "options for Executive Branch service were raised" for Sestak, but insisted that administration officials did not act improperly. He characterized the attempt to influence Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate primary - ultimately won by Sestak - as no different from political maneuvers by past administrations from both political parties. Key Republicans disagreed with Bauer's assessment. Several House GOP members sent a letter to the FBI Friday asking for an investigation.
Wall Street Journal: Primary Fight Alters Dynamic in Race vs. Reid
Republican Sue Lowden was expected to pose a stiff challenge to Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada this fall, in one of the nation's most closely watched Senate races. But Mr. Reid, facing a tide of unpopularity in his home state, began pounding Ms. Lowden in the past few months. Democratic Party volunteers have suited up in chicken costumes at her public events to draw attention to what became known as the "chickens for check-ups" gaffe, after Ms. Lowden suggested that people should barter for health care. The negative campaigning, along with a series of other missteps from the Lowden campaign, may have contributed to an erosion of support for a candidate the Republican establishment once had seen as its best hope for toppling Mr. Reid.
CNN: 'They should not have done this,' Dem says of DADT fast track
A leading Democratic voice on military affairs has criticized members of his own party for the hurried way in which congressional Democrats and the White House are pushing through the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have all stated their belief that the policy should be changed. In an effort to lay the groundwork to do away with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Gates and Mullen have commissioned a thorough survey of U.S. service members in order to ascertain how the force structure feels as a whole about having openly gay and lesbian members serving within their midst.
The Hill: Iowa Dems say Wall Street, mood against incumbents will help topple Grassley
Iowa Democrats are cautiously optimistic that simmering anger over the Wall Street financial bailout and voters’ anti-incumbent mood will help them defeat Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “What I hear most is how angry people are about the Wall Street bailout,” Democratic Senate candidate Roxanne Conlin told The Hill. “They clearly see the connection between the fact that they, their family, their friends are unemployed and Wall Street. They know what happened here, Wall Street drove the economy off a cliff.” Conlin is one of three Democratic candidates vying to challenge Grassley in November. She’s expected to win the June 8 primary.
Washington (CNN) - A top White House aide and the managing director of oil giant BP provided differing versions Sunday for who provided the initial inaccurate estimates of the size of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Robert Dudley, the BP official who appeared on CNN's "State of the Union" and other talk shows, said early estimates that 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) were leaking into the ocean each day came from government satellite imaging, rather than BP's figures.
An updated estimate issued last week by a government-led team put the leak at 12,000-19,000 barrels (504,000 to 798,000 gallons) a day, more than double the initial figure.
"The best way to measure those early rates or estimate those early rates were from satellite data, not BP data," Dudley said on the CBS program "Face the Nation."
Not true, countered Carol Browner, the assistant on energy and climate change to President Barack Obama, who spoke to the NBC program "Meet the Press" and the CBS show.
"The very, very first estimates came from BP," Browner said on the CBS program. "They had the footage of the plume. The government then did satellite imagery and we realized that those estimates were not accurate."
Browner noted that BP had a "vested financial interest" in downplaying the size of the leak.
Washington (CNN) – A leading Democratic voice on military affairs has criticized members of his own party for the hurried way in which congressional Democrats and the White House are pushing through the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have all stated their belief that the policy should be changed. In an effort to lay the groundwork to do away with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Gates and Mullen have commissioned a thorough survey of U.S. service members in order to ascertain how the force structure feels as a whole about having openly gay and lesbian members serving within their midst.
Related: Mullen on DADT review
The results of the review will not be available until December but in an apparent acknowledgement that they may not have sufficient votes to support a repeal after this November’s midterms, the White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill moved forward last week with efforts to pass a law that would repeal the policy. The House approved the provision as part of a larger defense spending bill and the Senate Armed Services Committee also approved the measure. The legislation, if passed, would not take effect until the military’s internal review is completed; it also requires the president, Gates, and Mullen to sign off on the policy change.
Notwithstanding these measures intended to defer to the Pentagon, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, still faulted the legislative moves to fast track the repeal.
“I was really disappointed in - in the way that this process was accelerated. I was the only Democrat that voted against this in committee markup,” Webb said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
Webb, himself a Vietnam veteran and a former Secretary of the Navy, sits on the Senate Armed Forces Committee and is the Chairman of the Armed Forces Personnel Subcommittee.
“I believe we had a process in place. And to preempt it in some ways, showed a disrespect for the people in the military,” Webb told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
“They should not have done this,” Webb added.
Washington (CNN) – The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff walked a fine line Sunday as he stressed the need to complete the military’s internal review of the effects of repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy while remaining sufficiently deferential to Congress, which has taken significant steps in the past week to change the controversial policy.
Watch: Mullen on DADT
Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have both expressed their personal belief that the Clinton-era military policy against gays and lesbians serving openly should be changed. But Gates, the military’s top civilian leader, and much of the military’s top brass, including Mullen, have also said that they believe the Pentagon needs time to survey its rank and file to determine how service members feel about the policy change and to identify potential obstacles and pitfalls in allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. Under Gates’ direction, the Pentagon has begun a wide-ranging survey the results of which will not be available until December.
But, in a move that seems to be driven by this November’s midterm elections, both the House and a Senate committee passed measures last week that begin the process of repealing the law that created “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The congressional moves got what can only be described, at best, as a tepid response from Gates and the service chiefs.
Asked about the hurry that the Democratically-controlled Congress now seems to be in to change the policy, Mullen said the military review still needs to be completed and factored into any decision to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“I still think – and so does the Secretary of Defense – [that] it’s really critical to understand the points of view of those it will affect the most, as we look at the implementation challenges should the law change,” Mullen said Sunday in an interview that aired on CNN’s State of the Union.
“Ideally, I would certainly have preferred that legislation not be brought forward, in terms of the change, until we are completed with that review.,” he added.
Washington (CNN) - A Republican senator from the state so far the hardest hit by the Gulf oil spill said Sunday that the environmental catastrophe was not a reason to put a stop to all domestic offshore oil drilling.
"By the same token, after every plane crash, you and I should both oppose plane travel," Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley on CNN's State of the Union. "I don't think that is rational."
Watch: Vitter on the oil spill
Vitter added that it was necessary to determine what went wrong in the sequence of events that led up to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20 which caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
"We've going to need a lot of new technology and mandates and procedures," Vitter told Crowley, "And I will be a big part of that effort.
"But to jump from there to say: No domestic offshore drilling, no domestic production of oil and gas . . . I think is a crazy leap quite frankly."