Posts by Olivier Knox, Yahoo News
- Olivier Knox, Yahoo News at Yahoo News1 day ago
President Obama announced Monday that he will send Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson, Missouri, to take stock of the tense situation there and predicted that Congress will re-evaluate the merits of federal programs that arm local police with military gear.
“There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement. And we don’t want those lines blurred — that would be contrary to our traditions,” Obama said. “And I think that there will be some bipartisan interest in re-examining some of those programs.”
Obama, taking a two-day break from his family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, also expressed skepticism about Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s decision to call out the National Guard to help keep the peace in Ferguson, a low-income suburban St. Louis community torn asunder by the killing of an unarmed 18-year-old black man by a police officer nine days ago.
“I’ll be watching over the next several days to assess whether, in fact, it’s helping rather than hindering progress in Ferguson,” the president said, underlining that he had expressed his concerns to Nixon by telephone.
- Olivier Knox, Yahoo News at Yahoo News7 days ago
President Obama’s annual family vacation — an escape to tony Martha’s Vineyard — has once again served as an inviting target for critics. They ask how he can relax while the world burns, wring their hands about "optics" (aka "how it looks to the average American") and recycle decades-old complaints about presidents enjoying high-end resorts and historically patrician sports like golf.
Just how many vacations has Obama taken since January 2009? How does he compare to his two-term predecessor, George W. Bush?
The authoritative figures come from CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller.
- Olivier Knox, Yahoo News at Yahoo News8 days ago
President Obama sent a clear message to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday to step aside quietly after Iraq’s president moves to replace him, as the Pentagon warned that targeted American airstrikes won’t be enough to roll back the bloody advance of the Islamic State of Iraqi and the Levant (ISIL).
American strikes have only “temporarily disrupted” the extremist group’s shockingly effective onslaught, the Pentagon’s Lieutenant General William Mayville told reporters. “I in no way want to suggest that we have effectively contained, or that we are somehow breaking the momentum of, the threat posed by ISIL,” he said.
On the Martha’s Vineyard resort island, Obama – who has repeatedly said that resolution to the conflict in Iraq can only come through a political agreement, not a military one – used a hastily arranged public statement to declare his personal support for Iraqi prime minister-designate Haider al-Abadi and to caution Maliki not to try to use force to disrupt his appointment.
- Olivier Knox, Yahoo News at Yahoo News11 days ago
How long will American airstrikes pummel fighters belonging to the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)? The White House said Friday that the mission is open-ended but repeatedly promised that it will not be “prolonged.”
What does that mean? It means that President Obama wants the maximum flexibility for tackling a dangerous threat to Iraq’s viability while confronting critics in the U.S. Congress and a war-weary U.S. public.
“The president has not laid out a specific end date,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. “We’re going to sort of take this approach in which those kinds of decisions are evaluated regularly and are driven by the security situation on the ground, both as it relates to the safety and security of American personnel but also as it relates to supporting the ongoing efforts of both Kurdish security forces and Iraqi security forces.”
Earnest, who underlined that Obama campaigned in 2008 on ending the U.S. involvement in Iraq, said at least seven times on Friday that the president would not dig the country into a “prolonged” conflict.
- Olivier Knox, Yahoo News at Yahoo News14 days ago
The chief author of the Senate’s “torture report” urged President Obama on Tuesday to make more of the document available to the public, over the objections of the CIA. She charged that the intelligence agency’s edits “eliminate or obscure key facts” about controversial interrogation practices during the George W. Bush administration.
“I am sending a letter today to the president laying out a series of changes to the redactions that we believe are necessary prior to public release,” Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement. The letter itself was not made public.
“The White House and the intelligence community have committed to working through these changes in good faith,” she said, adding that “this process will take some time, and the report will not be released until I am satisfied that all redactions are appropriate.”
Feinstein’s comments came one day after White House press secretary Josh Earnest defended the redactions, which the intelligence community argues are necessary to protect operatives and allies who took part in the CIA’s controversial detention and interrogation programs.
- Olivier Knox, Yahoo News at Yahoo News18 days ago
President Barack Obama somberly warned on Friday that a forthcoming Senate Intelligence Committee report will show that the United States “tortured some folks” before he took office. But he dismissed “sanctimonious” calls to punish any individuals responsible and rejected calls for CIA Director John Brennan’s resignation.
“When we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques — techniques that I believe, and I think any fair-minded person would believe, were torture — we crossed the line,” Obama declared in the White House briefing room.
“And that needs to be understood. And accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that hopefully we don’t do it again in the future,” the president said.
Obama said the White House and CIA process of declassifying portions of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Rendition, Detention, Interrogation was complete and that the document would now be made public “at the pleasure” of the committee.
The report is expected to lay out in grim, unprecedented detail how the United States questioned suspected terrorists using techniques such as waterboarding that meet international definitions of torture.
- Olivier Knox, Yahoo News at Yahoo News28 days ago
The United States detected the launch of the “specific missile” that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last week, a senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday.
U.S. intelligence followed “this specific missile” as it was fired from “a geographic area” controlled by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, said the official, who requested anonymity. It followed the near-vertical flight path characteristic of an SA-11 surface-to-air missile launch.
“We did pick up a launch. We were able to have the ability to track this specific launch,” the official said. It was not clear whether the official was referring to real-time monitoring, or whether U.S. intelligence had gone back through surveillance data after learning of the attack.
The official spoke as the United States ramped up efforts to convince skeptics that Moscow-backed rebels armed and trained by Russia shot down the passenger jet, killing all 298 people aboard. Russia has disputed the largely circumstantial American case and rejected responsibility.
President Obama on Monday bluntly accused pro-Moscow separatist fighters in Ukraine of stealing evidence and improperly removing bodies from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and pressed Russia to compel the rebels to stop blocking an international investigation.
“What exactly are they trying to hide?” Obama asked in a hastily arranged statement on the south lawn of the White House. “The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence.”
The president noted that it has been four days since the passenger jet went down, killing all 298 people aboard. The United States blames a surface-to-air missile fired from territory controlled by the rebels, who have extensive support from Moscow, including advanced weapons and training.
International investigators — including an American team — have traveled to Ukraine to carry out a full investigation.
Osama bin Laden’s assault rifle. A singed al-Qaeda training manual. A desiccated rat corpse designed to pass secret messages. A letter from an American operative on a sheet of Adolf Hitler’s personal stationery. A painting of the real story behind “Argo.” And a remote-controlled robotic dragonfly that may be the ancestor of today’s drones.
These are some of the things on display at the Central Intelligence Agency’s astonishing private museum in Langley, Va.
Yahoo News got an exclusive on-camera guided tour of what could be the coolest collection you’ll probably never get to see. It’s burrowed deep inside CIA headquarters just outside Washington, DC, secreted away behind the thick layers of security that stand between the George Bush Center for Intelligence and the public, protecting America’s top secrets from prying eyes.
President Obama on Friday called the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 an “outrage of unspeakable proportions,” declared it a “wake-up call” for timid European leaders, and all but laid blame for the tragedy directly at the doorstep of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Obama’s blunt language, delivered in the White House briefing room from behind a lectern with the presidential seal, offered a stark contrast to his muddled public handling of the disaster a day earlier.
As the news broke on Thursday, the White House signaled that the president had first learned about the world-shaking events from Putin at the tail end of a telephone call arranged at Moscow’s request. With grisly details coming in, Obama went ahead with a heavily partisan public schedule: A speech in Wilmington, Delaware, where he hit Republicans over infrastructure funding, followed by a brace of Democratic fundraisers in New York City.
Obama had begun his speech in Delaware with just seven sentences on the attack, declaring that “it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy” — a jarring response to media reports that were already citing a death toll of nearly 300 people. He did not tie the catastrophe to Russia.