[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/18/art.rove.gi.jpg caption="Rove has some New Year's resolutions for Obama."](CNN) - If President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, or other members of the administration are having any trouble coming up with some New Year's resolutions for 2010, former top Bush aide Karl Rove is eager to help.
Writing in his weekly Wall Street Journal column Thursday, Rove offers a bevy of goals to the president himself, the vice president, and his top aides.
To the president - Rove says Obama needs to be more clear in what he is thinking - ensuring he doesn't leave a diverse group of people with the impression the president agrees with all of them - and must make sure to "mean what he says:"
Mr. Obama should work on his habit of leaving a room of people with deeply divided opinions thinking he agrees with all of them. That leads to disagreements over essential issues, like the meaning of his pledge to begin withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011 and the nature of the new military mission there.
To the vice president - Rove says Biden should speak publicly less:
Every time he opens his mouth, the West Wing staff uses him to make the president look good by comparison.
To the president's staff - Rove says they should resolve to orchestrate a few less 'historic moments' and keep the president off TV more.
Why not resolve to have a few less "historic" moments? How many can one president really have, anyway? A little more grace toward his predecessor would help him, as would less TV time. He is wearing out his welcome and his speechwriters—judging by the quality of their work lately.
To White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers - Rove says she needs to keep an eye on those guest lists:
[She] should take a lead from Santa Clause and make her list and check it twice . . . at the White House gates.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/31/art.avatar.gi.jpg caption="The Obama family is watching 'Avatar' Thursday."](CNN) - Presidents go to the movies too.
Obama aides confirm the first family Thursday is catching the season's biggest hit: Avatar.
CNN's Ed Henry reports the family and their friends have the theater to themselves and are watching the 3-D version.
Follow Ed Henry on Twitter: @edhenrycnn
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/31/art.obamanymessage.wh.jpg caption="A New Year's message from President Obama was posted on the White House blog Thursday afternoon."]Washington (CNN) - In a video posted to the White House blog Thursday afternoon, President Obama wished Americans a happy New Year.
"This is always a hopeful time, as we celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another," Obama said. "And while 2009 was difficult for many Americans, we must also look back on this year with the knowledge that brighter days are ahead of us – that although our challenges are great, each of us has the courage and determination to rise up and meet them."
The video was recorded in Washington on December 22, before the first family left to vacation in Hawaii.
(CNN) - The Senate Intelligence Committee announced Thursday it will hold hearings to begin on January 21 on the Christmas Day terror attempt:
Full statement after the jump:
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/02/art.trapicant2.0902.gi.jpg caption="Traficant says he's running for Congress, he's just not sure where."](CNN) - Former Democratic Rep. James Traficant, who in September was released from a federal prison after serving seven years on a bribery and racketeering conviction, will make a bid to return to Congress.
According to the Business Journal Daily, Traficant told a group of Ohio business leaders earlier this week he is "going to run” for Congress in 2010.
But the former eight-term congressman, who represented Youngstown and its surrounding suburbs, did not indicate exactly what district he would run in.
“I’m going to run for Congress somewhere," he said.
Traficant's former district, the 17th, is currently represented by Rep. Tim Ryan, a 36-year old former aide to Traficant who is considered to be a rising star in the Democratic Party.
Speaking with CNN in September, Traficant said he doesn't expect any help from the Democratic Party in his congressional bid.
"Both parties would not want to see me in Washington, believe me… I was very controversial down there," he told CNN's John Roberts then.
Washington (CNN) - A federal judge dismissed all charges Thursday against security contractors from the former Blackwater in connection with the 2007 deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad square, ruling that prosecutors wrongly used against the men statements that they had given under duress.
The September 2007 incident led Iraq's government to slap limits on security contractors hired by Blackwater, now known as Xe, and other firms.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina found that the government's case was built largely on "statements compelled under a threat of job loss in a subsequent criminal prosecution," a violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"In their zeal to bring charges against the defendant in this case, the prosecutors and investigators aggressively sought out statements the defendants had been compelled to make to government investigators in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and in the subsequent investigation," Urbina wrote in a 90-page decision.
(CNN) - The White House released a statement Thursday from President Obama on the reviews ordered after the attempted Christmas Day terror attack:
This morning, I spoke with John Brennan about preliminary assessments from the ongoing consultations I have ordered into the human and systemic failures that occurred leading up to the attempted act of terrorism on Christmas Day and about our government-wide efforts at continued vigilance on homeland security and counterterrorism efforts. In a separate call, I spoke with Sec. Napolitano to receive an update on both the Department of Homeland Security review of detection capabilities and the enhanced security measures in place since the Christmas Day incident.
I anticipate receiving assessments from several agencies this evening and will review those tonight and over the course of the weekend. On Tuesday, in Washington, I will meet personally with relevant agency heads to discuss our ongoing reviews as well as security enhancements and intelligence-sharing improvements in our homeland security and counterterrorism operations.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/31/art.fiorina1231.gi.jpg caption="A mass e-mail was sent on Tuesday from Carly Fiorina's senatorial campaign, appearing to not only come from the candidate herself, but from her personal BlackBerry."] (CNN) – A mass e-mail was sent on Tuesday from Carly Fiorina's senatorial campaign, appearing to not only come from the candidate herself, but from her personal BlackBerry.
While most campaigns send e-mails appearing to be written from the candidate, this one took the extra step of adding at the bottom, "Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device." This tag has raised questions about why the campaign, and others which have included similar tags, would take the extra step to tell readers what is highly unlikely: it was sent directly from Fiorina's BlackBerry.
The e-mail also had embedded links and a campaign FEC disclaimer inside a box; both functions are not available on a BlackBerry.
Fiorina's communications director, Julie Soderlund, did not say whether or not the e-mail was actually sent from the candidate and her BlackBerry.
"This was an e-mail from Carly to her supporters asking for their support at the end of the year," Soderlund told CNN. "It's consistent with what many other candidates are doing at the end of the filing period."
Fiorina is the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and now running as a Republican to challenge incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer. But while she uses a Blackberry, those in the business of campaigning know that the candidates seldom send out fundraising e-mails themselves, let alone directly from their handheld devices.
(CNN) - CIA Director Leon Panetta has released a statement on the suicide bombing in Afghanistan Wednesday that killed seven CIA employees:
“Those who fell yesterday were far from home and close to the enemy, doing the hard work that must be done to protect our country from terrorism,” Director Panetta said in a message to employees. “We owe them our deepest gratitude, and we pledge to them and their families that we will never cease fighting for the cause to which they dedicated their lives—a safer America.”;
Full statement from the CIA after the jump