Washington (CNN) - With the nation's only two heavy-duty polar icebreakers broken and out of service, the Obama administration and congressional Republicans are clashing on how best to put the U.S. Coast Guard back into the ice-busting business.
House Republicans, who say they want to force the administration's hand, are pushing a Coast Guard appropriations bill that would decommission the icebreaker Polar Star, which is now being repaired, in just three years, saying that keeping the 35-year-old ship afloat is "throwing good money after bad."FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) - An oft-repeated statement that the Federal Aviation Administration's partial shutdown has forced the layoff of 70,000 construction workers is, at best, an over-simplification, and at worst, an exaggeration, according to the expert behind the number.
Democratic leaders, and even some Republicans, quoted the 70,000 number frequently this week to emphasize the serious consequences of the shutdown.FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) – The federal government said Monday it is proceeding with a plan to require gun dealers in four southwest border states - California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas - to report the sales of high-power rifles under certain conditions in an effort to stem the flow of guns to Mexican drug cartels.
Critics immediately called the move an illegal expansion of gun control laws and an effort to divert attention from the "Operation Fast and Furious" gun controversy. And the National Rifle Administration said it will file suit to stop the move.FULL STORY
Washington (CNN) - Sixteen months ago, the Obama administration announced it was ending a controversial plan to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The news flash - like a flash in a distant fireworks show - created very little noise.
Get ready for the bang.
Washington (CNN) - Members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission shouted at each other Friday over the Justice Department's decision to drop most of the charges in a 2008 incident in which black militants confronted voters at a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, polling place, leading to charges of voter intimidation.
Conservative commission members accused the Justice Department of "stonewalling" the commission's investigation into the dismissal, and called a Justice Department's response to requests for information "breathtaking and insulting." A liberal commission member, in turn, dismissed those complaints as the "last gasps of a conservative majority of this commission."
At the end of the fractious hour-long debate, no minds appeared to be changed. But one liberal member sided with the conservative majority in agreeing to recommend that Congress give the commission more power when investigating Justice Department matters in the future.
Washington (CNN) – Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's second nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration side-stepped questions Wednesday about whether he supports unionizing the nation's 40,000 airport screeners, but acknowledged the president's support for unionization of screeners and said any such plan should be done in a way that would not hurt national security.
Treading lightly on a topic that helped to derail the president's first nominee, Robert Harding likened his role to those of presidential appointees who are advising the president on closing Guantanamo Bay or allowing gays in the military.
"My recommendations would be very unbiased, they would be very factual and I think that's what I owe the secretary (of Homeland Security) and the president," Harding said.
Washington (CNN) - Just days after serving subpoenas to two travel bloggers, the Transportation Security Administration late Thursday withdrew the subpoenas, saying its investigation into how they received a sensitive security directive "is nearing a successful conclusion."
With little explanation, the TSA withdrew subpoenas to bloggers Steve Frischling and Chris Elliott seeking information on how they obtained a December 25 security directive. The directive, which had been sent to every airline and airport in the United States, ordered precautions following the failed terrorist attack on Northwest flight 253.
The TSA acknowledged in a previous statement to CNN it was investigating the leak and publication of the document, saying "Security Directives are not for public disclosure."
Frischling, founder of The Travel Strategist blog, said TSA agents came to his Connecticut home Tuesday evening to question him about his source, leaving for a brief time to go to Wal-Mart to buy a hard drive in a failed effort to copy his hard drive that night.
The agents returned Wednesday morning and left with his laptop computer, Frischling said. Frischling said the agents threatened to call a client - an airline - and to have them sever his contract, saying that he was a security threat.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's federal security clearance was wrongly suspended by a Department of Homeland Security employee in the days following the governor's admission of an extramarital affair, department officials confirmed Friday.
Sanford's security privileges were suspended on Wednesday, July 1, according to DHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Sean Smith. Smith would not identify the employee who suspended Sanford's security clearance, or say why the action was taken.
But the suspension came just one week after the governor emerged from a mysterious absence and revealed his relationship with an Argentine woman.
The employee sent a letter to Sanford notifying him of the suspension, but Sanford likely did not receive the letter until Monday, July 6, the end of the long holiday weekend, Smith said. On that same day, Sanford met in Charleston with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at a pre-scheduled meeting focused on port security.
The following day - July 7 - senior DHS officials learned that Sanford's status had been suspended and immediately moved to restore it, the DHS said.
DHS spokeswoman Sara Kuban said the employee who suspended Sanford's security clearance "acted on their own volition."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A preliminary report on the mysterious deployment of an evacuation chute aboard a Barack Obama campaign plane last summer appears to close the book on one potentially embarrassing possibility - that Secret Service agents inadvertently tampered with the chute mechanism during preflight security checks.
"An internal (Secret Service) investigation ... revealed that no (Secret Service) personnel or ... support personnel interfered with or altered the aircraft's ... tailcone evacuation slide," a National Transportation Safety Board report says.
Then-candidate Obama was on the MD-81 charter aircraft at the time of the July 7, 2008, incident, accompanied by his staff, Secret Service personnel, reporters and the plane's crew. An airline mechanic was also on board and was seated in the rear of the aircraft not far from the evacuation slide in the plane's tailcone.
But neither the flight crew nor the mechanic heard the chute deploy shortly after the plane took off from Chicago's Midway airport.
The pilot first noticed that something was amiss when the plane's nose-up pitch continued to increase, even without his input, the safety board said. The pilot regained control using the control column and stabilizer pitch trim inputs.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A contrite head of the Federal Protective Service took the blame Wednesday for security lapses that allowed covert investigators to sneak bomb components into 10 federal government buildings.
The Government Accountability Office, which conducted the tests, testified they showed the service to be "an agency in crisis."
Plainclothes investigators testing the effectiveness of private contract guards at federal office buildings were able to smuggle in bomb components in all 10 attempts. Only one investigator was stopped and questioned, but he was allowed to pass with the components of a liquid bomb.
Once inside the facilities, the testers assembled the bombs in restrooms, put them in briefcases and "walked freely" into government offices, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Asked point blank at a Senate hearing Wednesday why the security guards had failed, Protective Service Director Gary Schenkel said, "It's purely a lack of oversight on our part."
He added, "I take full responsibility. I am the director of the organization."