Posts by Olivier Knox

  • New poll finds major American support for sending U.S. ground troops to fight Islamic State

    Olivier Knox at Yahoo News 1 day ago

    Congressional hawks who favor sending U.S. ground troops to fight the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria got a boost on Wednesday from a new poll that found Americans favor doing so by a lopsided 2-to-1 edge.

    The Quinnipiac University assessment, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points, confirmed a public opinion trend since late last year showing that Americans are increasingly turning in favor of ground combat after months of Islamic State videos showing the group’s atrocities in agonizing detail, including the beheadings of U.S. nationals.

    The poll comes as a trio of top officials  — Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey  — are scheduled to face questions about President Barack Obama’s war plans from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a March 11 hearing.

    The Quinnipiac poll found that that Americans favor congressional approval of the AUMF by a 64-to-23 percent edge.

  • Obama’s ‘Crusades’ controversy highlights war on terrorism’s rhetorical minefield

    Olivier Knox at Yahoo News 16 days ago

    At the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month, Obama suggested people get off of their “high horse,” reminding his audience that the West had its own history of “terrible deeds” in the name of religion, including the Crusades, the Inquisition and slavery. The remarks touched off a predictable firestorm, and his critics pounced.

    “There’s a set of words, it’s almost as if they’re given a card — a do-not-speak card,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R.-Texas) said last week at the conservative Center for Security Policy think thank. “The words ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ do not come out of the president’s mouth. The word ‘jihad’ does not come out of the president’s mouth. And that is dangerous.”

    The verbal onslaught is coming mostly, but not entirely, from Republicans.

    “You look at the vast majority of terrorist attacks that are being committed around the world, there's one common element here and it is this radical Islamist ideology,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D.-Hawaii), an Iraq combat veteran, told CNN. “This war cannot be won, this enemy and threat cannot be defeated unless we understand what’s driving them, what is their ideology.”

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    Related Yahoo Original stories:

  • Obama weighs in on freedom of speech after Charlie Hebdo massacre

    Olivier Knox at Yahoo News 28 days ago

    President Barack Obama n’est pas Charlie Hebdo.

    Obama, speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, offered a response of sorts to critics who accused him of turning his back on freedom of speech by skipping a massive demonstration that saw hundreds of thousands of people march in Paris under the slogan #JeSuisCharlie ("I am Charlie").

    The outpouring of support came after terrorists murdered some of the French satirical newspaper’s best-known artists and editors in response to the paper’s decision to publish cartoons portraying Muhammad.

    Obama warned that, around the world, “we've seen professions of faith used both as an instrument of great good but also twisted and misused in the name of evil. ...

    “From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith — their faith — profess to stand up for Islam, but in fact are betraying it,” he said. In his harshest public remarks yet about the so-called Islamic State, Obama described the group as “a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism.”

  • Obama predicts Super Bowl will ‘be close,’ says ‘deflate-gate’ did not help Patriots

    Olivier Knox at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    President Barack Obama refused Sunday to forecast whether the Seattle Seahawks or the New England Patriots would win Super Bowl XLIX, but he predicted the big game “is going to be close.” In an interview with NBC, Obama also dismissed “deflate-gate,” saying underinflated footballs had nothing to do with the outcome of the AFC title game.

    “The Patriots were going to beat the Colts regardless of what the footballs looked like,” said Obama, who expressed surprise that each team provides its own footballs.

    “I’m assuming one of the things the NFL is going to be doing, just to avoid any of these controversies, is figure out how the officials are in charge of the footballs from start to finish,” the president said.

    Asked what could happen if an ongoing investigation finds that New England cheated, Obama largely sidestepped the issue, saying: “I think that if you break the rules, you break the rules.”

    The president’s comments came during what has become his traditional interview with the network broadcasting the Super Bowl.

    “Since my Bears are not in it, I think it’s always wise for me not to choose a team, because then I alienate one big city,” Obama said when asked to predict a winner.

  • Bucking Obama, senior Democrat seeks limits on war against Islamic State

    Olivier Knox at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    Frustrated with White House inaction, a senior House of Representatives Democrat will introduce legislation Wednesday formally authorizing President Barack Obama’s war on the so-called Islamic State nearly six months after it began. Rep. Adam Schiff’s Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) would impose strict limits that the Pentagon publicly opposes, forbidding the use of U.S. ground troops to carry out combat missions and limiting military action to Iraq and Syria.

    Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in an exclusive interview with Yahoo News that he is “frustrated generally because we haven’t had any movement on an authorization and we’ve been at war almost half a year.

    “I’m frustrated with the White House, but I have the most discomfort with the Congress itself, because it’s our constitutional responsibility to declare war,” the California lawmaker said. “We’re the institution that has the strongest interest in moving and exercising our prerogative under the Constitution.”

    Asked about Dempsey’s comments, Schiff told Yahoo News that the administration is always free to come back to Congress to seek wider authorization.

  • Obama won't meet with Netanyahu during controversial U.S. visit

    Olivier Knox at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    "The president will not be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu because of the proximity to the Israeli election, which is just two weeks after his planned address to the U.S. Congress," National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a emailed statement.

    “As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country," she said.

    Netanyahu's visit has further strained already difficult relations between the Israeli leader and Obama. Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress for the express purpose of challenging the president's approach to Islamist extremism and negotiations with Iran over that country's nuclear program. The White House, which found out about the visit from Boehner's office, accused Israel of breaching diplomatic protocol under which foreign leaders advise host leaders of pending visits.

  • Congresswoman to lead Charlie Hebdo tribute during State of the Union

    Olivier Knox at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    Rep. Gwen Moore, a Wisconsin Democrat, and other lawmakers will hold up yellow pencils during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday, to honor the memory of those killed in the attack on satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo, her office said. Spokesman Eric Harris told Yahoo News that the pencils won’t be sharpened, as a result of a conversation with the House sergeant-at-arms responsible for security at the high-profile event.

    “They didn’t specifically stipulate not to sharpen them, but we are certainly aware of certain security concerns,” Harris said by telephone. “We will be sure to keep it a safe, secure environment for the president.”

    In a written statement emailed to reporters, Harris said that Moore would raise her pencil during the applause break “to honor those who lost their lives in the pursuit of open ideas and free expression.”

    The White House has not specifically said whether Obama plans in his speech to invoke the attack on Charlie Hebdo, which left 12 dead, including two police officers.

  • Why Obama’s State of the Union still matters in the Twitter era

    Olivier Knox at Yahoo News 1 mth ago

    It’s 2015. We live in the era of tablets, smartphones, live-streams, online interactives, listicles, viral content and social media. So why is President Barack Obama, whose White House uses those tools expertly to get its message around traditional news outlets and directly to the public, preparing to trudge through the stodgy yearly ritual that is the State of the Union?

    “Is ‘the fact that it’s in the Constitution’ too cheeky an answer?” senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer replied with a laugh when Yahoo News asked him last week.

    Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution does say that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” It doesn’t specify that he should do so in a primetime TV speech sometimes lampooned as “I come to you tonight to speak in ringing tones and gaze into the middle-distance.”

    But “it will be the largest audience we speak to in the year by far, absent some major, major, major event,” Pfeiffer said.

  • How President Obama unwinds

    Olivier Knox at Yahoo News 2 mths ago

    It was September 2012, and President Barack Obama’s inner circle was stressed. Obama’s aides thought his Sept. 6 speech to the Democratic National Convention had gone well — but media accounts panned it and focused instead on Bill Clinton’s address the day before.

    “We all thought his speech had gone really well, but all you a------s said it was horrible and that Bill Clinton was amazing and blah blah blah,” a senior aide recalled, pointedly referring to the political news media.

    Aboard Air Force One, chief speechwriter Jon Favreau was in the middle of doing a derisive, dramatic reading of some of the more annoying reviews, when the president stopped him.

    “Hey, man, how do you think I feel?” the aide recalled Obama telling Favreau. “I wake up every day knowing that at least half the country thinks I’m bad at my job.”

    “You can and should listen to and learn from criticism, but you can ’ t let it paralyze you,” the president went on. “You have to just make the best decisions you can and keep moving forward."

    But the president, once elected, is there until he is replaced by his elected successor.

    Family time … while he still can

    Watching something other than political news

    Golf

    Vices

  • Secret Service report: White House needs a taller fence and more, better-trained agents

    Olivier Knox at Yahoo News 2 mths ago

    The Secret Service has too few agents, with too little training, assigned to patrolling a White House fence that needs to be at least 4 to 5 feet taller than it is to keep out intruders, according to a punishing report from an independent panel of experts.

    The unsparing assessment, commissioned after a fence-jumper at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. got past layers of security and reached deep into the presidential mansion before being stopped, also says that the Secret Service’s next director should come from outside the troubled agency.

    Here are some of the report's key findings, as laid out in an executive summary made public on the Department of Homeland Security’s web site.

    —  The fence around the White House  — currently only 7½ feet high  — needs to be taller. Much taller.

    —  The Secret Service needs more agents. Many more.

    —  … and better training. A lot more.

    The Uniformed Division as a whole did 576 hours of training over the same period, the report says, noting that this amounts to “about 25 minutes for each of over 1300 Uniformed Division officers.”