Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin

  • After strong appeal from Pentagon, opponents of ‘Don’t ask’ repeal ponder next move

    AP10103006460Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appealed strongly to the Senate to repeal the military's ban on openly gay service members within the next month, telling reporters Tuesday that the Pentagon's most comprehensive study of troop opinion found there would be little risk to repealing "Don't ask, don't tell."

    Gates mentioned by name the most passionate defender of the military's gay ban, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who has said this study -- which takes into account the survey responses of 115,000 troops and 44,000 military spouses -- is not comprehensive enough to authorize a repeal. McCain has strongly opposed repeal of the ban, and had heretofore insisted that Congress refrain from acting on the question before consulting the results of the Pentagon study. Now that those results seem to favor supporters of repeal, McCain and other backers of "Don't ask, don't tell" face a dilemma: how to keep making their case when not merely influential military leaders, but rank-and-file soldiers appear to have no serious problem with gays openly serving in the military.

    McCain's approach has been to suggest the study itself is inadequate.

    "In this respect I think he's mistaken," Gates said. "This does provide a sound basis for drawing conclusions on this law...It's hard for me to imagine that you could come up with a more comprehensive approach."

    McCain's spokeswoman, Brooke Buchanan, told The Lookout in an email that the senator is "currently in the process of carefully reviewing the Pentagon's report." She did not comment on whether the recommendations will sway the senator to support repeal.

    Such a move seems unlikely, though, since many of the report's findings were leaked weeks ago  -- and as the preliminary results became public, McCain kept up his opposition to repeal. He made a point of assailing the report itself as inadequate. Over the weekend, McCain said the ban on openly gay service members is "working."

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  • What will repeal foes say about Pentagon’s ‘don’t ask’ report?

    Sen. John McCain has been hard at work discrediting the Pentagon's working study on the possible effects of letting gays serve openly, which is being released Tuesday afternoon and is expected to conclude that there is little risk to repealing "don't ask, don't tell."

    At The Lookout, we'll be watching to see whether other opponents of repeal echo McCain's line and say another study is needed to definitively determine the effects on troop morale. The working study will conclude that 70 percent of surveyed troops say repealing "don't ask" will have a positive, mixed or nonexistent result on troops. The Wall Street Journal reports (as noticed by Greg Sargent) that the top Republican on the House Armed Service Committee, Buck McKeon of California, is already questioning the survey. "I'd like to know who these 70 percent are," he said. "I'm doing everything I can to defeat it."

    Several Republican senators, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe of Maine, said

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  • FIRST LOOK: Pentagon considers charging WikiLeaks founder under Espionage Act

    Welcome to First Look, a daily roundup of early-bird news:

    • The Pentagon is pondering charging WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the Espionage Act. (Washington Post)

    • A Wisconsin high schooler's 23 classmates kept him calm in conversation Monday until police stormed the high school where they and their teacher were being held. The 15-year-old gunman shot himself and is in grave condition. (AP)

    • Talks on climate change open in Cancun this week, marking a "low point" for global negotiations on the issue. (New York Times)

    • Some Democrats want President Obama to compromise on extending expiring tax cuts -- preserving the cuts for families making as much as $1 million a year, instead of $250,000. (Washington Post)

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  • Washington state may opt out of ICE deportation program

    The state patrol in Washington has declined to sign an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to allow the federal agency to scan their jails' fingerprint registry for illegal immigrants. The program, called Secure Communities, has deported more than 46,000 people over the past two years, and immigration advocates protest that many of the deportees were not criminals.

    Officials in at least five of the nation's counties -- including the District of Columbia -- have tried to opt out of ICE's Secure Communities program, arguing that it would work to hamper cooperation between the immigrant community and the police, according to the Washington Post. By 2013, ICE will be able to implement the program without signed agreements with a state or county.

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  • Expert: Suspected Oregon mosque arson may fuel terror

    AP101128029549

    The mosque in Corvallis where Oregon bomb-plot suspect Mohamed Osman Mohamud occasionally worshiped was burned over the weekend, sparking fears that the suspected arson may have been a retaliatory attack. Authorities have stepped up patrols around Portland-area mosques, and the FBI has offered a $10,000 reward for leads in their arson investigation. Now, local Muslim leaders say they fear more retribution for a plot they condemn and had no part in.

    "Just as American Muslims repudiate any act that would threaten our nation's safety and security, we ask our fellow citizens to reject any attacks on Muslims or their religious institutions," Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of Washington's Council on American-Islamic Relations,  said in a statement.

    Professor Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University's School of International Service, tells The Lookout he was not surprised to hear of the suspected arson, since his research studying 100 mosques last year concluded that attacks on mosques and other symbols of Islam are on the rise in the country. He says he fears the retaliatory attacks will fuel the country's homegrown terror problem.

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  • Inspired by tea party success, Latinos float ‘Tequila Party’ grass-roots movement

    AP10041503148Latino leaders in Nevada and around the country are floating the idea of breaking traditional ties with the Democratic Party and creating a grass-roots independent movement tentatively called the Tequila Party. According to Delen Goldberg at the Las Vegas Sun, the leaders want to pressure the Democratic Party to deliver on Latinos' priorities much in the same way the tea party has done with the GOP over the past few years.

    Robert de Posada, the former GOP operative behind this fall's controversial "Don't Vote" ads aimed at Latinos in Nevada and California, tells The Lookout that he has heard "rumblings" of this movement among national Latino leaders.

    "The Tequila Party is a great concept to basically say, 'You know what? This blind support for you is coming to an end,'" De Posada says. "If you are perceived as someone who will never vote for a Republican, then you're screwed," because Democrats will take you for granted, he says.

    [Video: President Clinton: We should all listen to the tea party movement]

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  • Poll: Tea partiers more supportive of military gay ban

    pewA new Pew poll shows that most Americans support an end to the military's ban on openly gay service, but that support for repeal is lowest among tea-party-identifying Republicans. The poll comes out a day before the Pentagon releases its comprehensive working study that is expected to conclude there is little risk to ending "don't ask, don't tell."

    Of self-identified Republicans or Republican-leaning respondents, 44 percent support letting gays serve openly. Among tea-party-leaning Republicans, the proportion drops to 38 percent.The tea party has a libertarian strain and attempts to appeal to independents by eschewing culture-war issues like abortion and gay rights in favor of issues such as government spending and the economy. The poll's results suggest that "don't ask, don't tell" may be a culture-war issue for tea-party-leaning Republicans, even though a leader of the Tea Party Patriots has expressed ambivalence about the issue.

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  • WikiLeaks docs reveal U.S. diplomats insulting world leaders

    AP101102129216The White House has warned that the publication of 251,287 diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks will put lives at risk. One thing's for sure: The no-longer-secret documents will make future diplomatic dinners a bit awkward.

    The Daily Mail rounds up some of the most cutting insults penned by U.S. diplomats in the document dump, which spans three years. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is described as "an emperor with no clothes" with a "thin-skinned and authoritarian personal style." Italy's Silvio Berlusconi is pegged as "feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader" -- oh, and those "frequent late nights and penchant for partying hard" aren't helping his leadership style. German leader Angela Merkel is "risk aversive and rarely creative," and Russia's Dmitry Medvedev "plays Robin to Putin's Batman."

    One document says that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is rarely seen without his "voluptuous blonde" Ukrainian nurse. And one cable describes Afghan Vice President Ahmed Zia Massoud carrying $52 million in cash when he arrived in Saudi Arabia -- a travel accessory that raised the attention of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

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  • FIRST LOOK: World leaders condemn embarrassing WikiLeaks document dump

    Welcome to First Look, a daily roundup of early-bird news and a preview:

    • World leaders are strongly condemning an embarrassing cache of cables dumped by WikiLeaks. (CNN)

    • The cables showed that Arab leaders pushed the United States to attack Iran. (Los Angeles Times)

    • They also contain some biting critiques of world leaders that may make future diplomatic meetings tense. (Daily Mail)

    • FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair warns that the United States could face a fiscal crisis if it doesn't have a plan to bring down the deficit. (Washington Post)

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  • Former McCain campaign staffer hopes he’ll back DREAM Act vote

    AP100524037742Senate Republicans are ramping up their opposition to the DREAM Act, a bipartisan proposal that would extend a path to citizenship for immigrant youths who go to college or join the military.

    Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions released an opposition paper, published by Politico, that says the bill will legalize some immigrants who have committed misdemeanor violations and that 35 is too high an age ceiling for qualifying immigrants. Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin released a list of fence-sitting Republicans she encouraged readers to call and dissuade from supporting the measure.

    Juan Hernandez, the leader of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, says his organization is also calling Republicans and some fence-sitting Democrats in Congress to try to convince them to vote for the bill, which Sen. Harry Reid has promised to bring to a vote as a stand-alone measure. In 2007, 52 senators voted to debate the bill, missing the 60-vote threshold to overcome a GOP filibuster. Since then, Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Kay Bailey Hutchison have switched their positions to no votes. Democratic Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson told Politico he would vote against cloture -- i.e., the suspension of further debate on the bill in order to sidestep a filibuster threat -- further putting a dent in the count. The Daily Caller attempted its own vote count, and concluded the chances for passage look slim.

    The bill's bleak outlook shows how dramatically the consensus on immigration within the Republican Party has shifted in recent years. GOP Sen. John McCain, who co-sponsored a comprehensive immigration reform bill just a few years ago, has since taken a hard-line stance that emphasizes border security. Hernandez was McCain's volunteer Hispanic Outreach director during the 2008 presidential campaign, and says he still hopes McCain will change his mind.

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