IN THE NEWS: Obama outlines shift in drone, Gitmo policy … Pritzker hearing off to cordial start … Senate confirms important judicial candidate … Filibuster talk heats up … Parties push for House retirements … BYU as farm team for animation studios ... Obama at the prom
The Beginning of the End of the War on Terror
Imagine a time when the war on terrorism is a memory. In asking the nation to envision that moment, President Obama laid the groundwork for a transition to normalcy after a dozen years of siege mentality triggered by the 9/11 attacks. "This war, like all wars, must end," he said.
In a major speech at The National Defense University, Obama built a case that the nation is at a crossroads. He said the threats we now face are similar to those we faced before that devastating day in September 2001, such as homegrown domestic terrorists and localized attacks on U.S. interests overseas.
Marking this new phase, Obama laid out stricter standards for drone strikes, new steps aimed at closing Guantanamo Bay prison, and plans for news organizations to raise their First Amendment concerns with Attorney General Eric Holder.
The president also urged Congress to refine and ultimately repeal its 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force. That would signal an official end to America's wartime footing, and to what Obama called the "unbound powers" of presidents in a perpetual state of war. Both will be welcome.
OBAMA OUTLINES CHANGES TO COUNTERTERRORISM EFFORT AT NDU. In a speech this afternoon at the National Defense University (full text here), President Obama defended his administration's use of drone strikes while signaling a shift in its counterterrorism strategy, The New York Times reports. Obama said that he will raise the standard for using lethal force, and will transfer some authority over the drone program from the CIA to the military. Additionally, the president said that he will lift the moratorium on transfers of prisoners from the detention facility in Guantánamo Bay to Yemen. "Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue," Obama said. "But this war, like all wars, must end. That's what history advises. That's what our democracy demands." Read more
- @attackerman: "As President, I would have been derelict in my duty had I not authorized the strike that took out Awlaki." #dronetanamo
PRITZKER CONFIRMATION HEARING OFF TO A 'CORDIAL' START. Chicago business executive Penny Pritzker, President Obama's nominee for Commerce secretary, had a "surprisingly cordial" confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Politico reports. Pritzker, whose family founded Hyatt Hotels and who sits on the corporate board, faces scrutiny over her family's tax practices and Hyatt's labor relations. The panel's ranking member, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., questioned Pritzker over the 2001 failure of Superior Bank, while Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., raised the labor allegations. Read more
SENATE CONFIRMSSRINIVASAN FOR D.C. CIRCUIT COURT. The Senate confirmed on Thursday the principal deputy solicitor general, Sri Srinivasan, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, USA Today reports. Srinivasan, widely seen as a potential pick for the Supreme Court, received the unanimous support of the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month. Srinivasan's confirmation is the first for the influential D.C. Circuit since 2006. Read more
- New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait writes that the D.C. Circuit will be ground zero on new carbon regulations for power plants.
FILIBUSTER TALK HEATS UP. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday challenged the threat of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to use the "nuclear option" to strip the minority of its power to filibuster. "These continued threats to use the nuclear option point to the majority's own culture of intimidation here in the Senate," McConnell said. "Their view is that you had better confirm the people we want, when we want them, or we'll break the rules of the Senate to change the rules so you can't stop us. So much for respecting the rights of the minority." Read more
ECLIPSE OF A SUPERPOWER? JOHN KERRY IN THE MIDDLE EAST. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in the Middle East today with two of the most vexing problems in international affairs at the top of his agenda: a downward-spiraling Syrian civil war that continues to draw neighbors into to its bloody vortex and destabilize the entire region, and the slow-rolling death of the two-state solution to an Israeli-Palestinian conflict that remains an open wound in Western-Arab relations. And, as National Journal's James Kitfield reports from Doha, Qatar, Washington's inability to manage, let alone resolve those twin crises is seen as conclusive proof that U.S. power and influence are rapidly waning in a region where it was dominant for decades. Read more
OBAMA TO NOMINATE ARCHULETA AS OPM DIRECTOR. President Obama is set to nominate Katherine Archuleta, who served as national political director for his reelection campaign, as the new director of the Office of Personnel Management, The Washington Post reports. Archuleta previously served as chief of staff to former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and as executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation. Archuleta will be the second Hispanic appointee of Obama's second term, after Labor secretary nominee Thomas Perez. Read more
PARTIES PUSH FOR HOUSE RETIREMENTS. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., is among a small handful of members on both sides of the aisle that Democrats and Republicans are trying to push toward the exit, Hotline's Reid Wilson reports. The two parties will have a better chance at winning over those seats, the thinking goes, if the incumbents quit, than if they have to beat a sitting member of Congress. Republicans will train their spotlight on members such as Ron Barber of Arizona, Louise Slaughter of New York, Lois Capps of California, Peter DeFazio of Oregon, and Mike Michaud of Maine. Democrats hope to convince California Republicans Gary Miller and Buck McKeon, Florida's Bill Young and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Virginia's Frank Wolf, Iowa's Tom Latham, and Washington's Dave Reichert to quit. Read more
HOUSE COMMITTEES MAY HOLD HEARINGS ON DOJ SURVEILLANCE OF REPORTERS. Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are considering holding hearings on the Justice Department's monitoring of the activities of Associated Press and Fox News journalists, BuzzFeed reports. "There are definitive discussions on [holding hearings] right now," Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said Wednesday. "I chair the subcommittee on the Constitution. If we lose the constitutional foundations of a free press in this country, tyranny is at the door. Obviously I am very concerned about that." Read more
OBAMA TO DELIVER COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS AT NAVAL ACADEMY. On Friday, President Obama will deliver the commencement address to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
ROLLING THUNDER BEGINS. Rolling Thunder holds its 26th annual Memorial Day motorcycle procession and commemorative events, May 24-27. Read more
"It's pretty inconceivable to me that the president wouldn't know. I'm just putting myself in his shoes. I deal with my senior staff every day. And if the White House had known about this, which now it appears they've known about it for about a year, it's hard to imagine it wouldn't have come up in some conversation." -- House Speaker John Boehner on the IRS scandal (Washington Post)
B.Y.U: UNLIKELY BREEDING GROUND FOR UP-AND-COMING ANIMATORS. Brigham Young University, the Mormon school in Utah, has become a "farm team" for animation companies across the country, The New York Times reports. Student films have have won awards at the student version of the Emmys and Academy Awards, respectively. "Unlikely as it sounds, young Mormons are being sucked out of the middle of Utah and into the very centers of American pop-culture manufacturing," TheTimes reports. Heads of multiple animation studios have visited the college, with Pixar President Edwin Catmull speaking in 2008. The students also aim to make uplifting movies, or ones that can teach the audience a lesson. In 2007 so many members of the graduating class had been offered jobs that their class project almost didn't get finished. Read more
PLAY OF THE DAY
YES, THE IRS DID MISS AN IMPORTANT FILING DEADLINE. The controversies surrounding the White House continue to fascinate late-night comedians. On NBC, Jay Leno continues to question what President Obama knew and when he knew it, invoking the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Leno also examined Lois Lerner, director of the Internal Revenue Service's tax-exempt organizations division, who invoked her right against self-incrimination during a hearing on Capitol Hill this week. On Comedy Central, Jon Stewart similarly mocked Lerner and her agency's actions during a look at the hearings. Meanwhile David Letterman is more befuddled by the scandals than outraged. Watch it here
- @NoahPollak: A different president would have just played videos of drone strikes to "Eye of the Tiger"
- @mleewelch: "Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs." He should really tell the president about that.
- @McCormackJohn: "Fascism?" wrote a young JFK. "The right thing for Germany." http://goo.gl/yB5oQ
- @MichaelPaulson: Uh oh. "I'm also going to try to reach voters in less conventional ways." - @anthonyweiner on @BrianLehrer
- @AP: New Jersey bar mixed food dye with rubbing alcohol and served it as scotch: http://apne.ws/188I7EK -CC
TODAY'S PHOTO GALLERY
OBAMA'S PROM WAS COOLER THAN YOURS. It's prom season, and a new photo of a 17-year-old Barack Obama at his high school prom was released today. The Atlantic has rounded up some other archival photos of politicos at formal events from their early years, including Michelle Obama donning a somewhat risqué outfit, as well as Ann and Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Sarah Palin. See it here
CORRECTION: An item in yesterday's Edge incorrectly stated that only 10 people had invoked the Fifth Amendment in appearances before Congress. In fact, many more than 10 have invoked the constitutional right against self-incrimination.