Posts by Olivier Knox, Yahoo News
- Olivier Knox, Yahoo News at Yahoo News5 days ago
On May 29, President Barack Obama had lunch at the White House with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The likely 2016 presidential contender has been to hundreds of West Wing meetings, first as first lady, then as senator, and finally as the top American diplomat.
But this face-to-face was unusual. Unlike dozens of presidential meetings every week — and a similar Obama-Clinton meeting in July 2013 — it was not announced in advance.
Instead, reporters who cover Obama learned about the secret visit from a People magazine tweet, and ultimately managed to wring a terse sentence from an anonymous White House official grudgingly confirming that the world’s most powerful person had met with the woman who is arguably the front-runner to succeed him. The topic of their discussion was not revealed.
- Olivier Knox, Yahoo News at Yahoo News23 days ago
Even before President Barack Obama announced a limited escalation of America’s military role in battling al-Qaida-inspired extremists in Iraq, one of his top allies in Congress openly worried that the U.S. involvement could spiral out of control.
“You have to be careful sending special forces, because it's a number that has a tendency to grow,” Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters.
Pelosi, one of four top congressional leaders who heard Obama’s Iraq plans on Wednesday at the White House, said, “I'd like to see the context, purpose, timeline and all the rest for anything like that.” She added, “I would say let's proceed cautiously in that regard, without thinking that a hundred is a hundred.”
Obama, who has built much of his presidency on American war-weariness, acknowledged those concerns a few hours later in the White House briefing room as he unveiled plans to send up to 300 elite U.S. troops to Iraq as “advisers.”
- Olivier Knox, Yahoo News at Yahoo News25 days ago
Hillary Clinton on Tuesday warmly welcomed the capture of a suspected ringleader of the deadly Benghazi terrorist attacks, and predicted that he could help shed light on “unanswered questions” from the bloody September 11, 2012, assault.
“We want to know who was behind it, what the motivation of the leaders and the attackers happened to be. There are still some unanswered questions. It was, after all, the fog of war,” she said in a CNN-hosted, town hall-style meeting.
Clinton also indirectly addressed Republican criticisms about the year-and-a-half gap between the terrorist strike on the U.S. facilities in the eastern Libyan city and the weekend U.S. Special Operations raid that netted the suspected ringleader, Ahmed Abu Khatalla.
“It took, as you know, 10 years to bring Osama bin Laden to justice,” said Clinton, who was secretary of state when terrorists blitzed the American compound in Benghazi and killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
- Olivier Knox, Yahoo News at Yahoo News25 days ago
President Obama promised Tuesday that one of the suspected ringleaders of the deadly Benghazi attack will face “the full weight” of American justice after his capture over the weekend by U.S. special operations forces.
“With this operation, the United States has once again demonstrated that we will do whatever it takes to see that justice is done when people harm Americans,” Obama said in a written statement. “We will continue our efforts to bring to justice those who were responsible for the Benghazi attacks.”
Earlier, the Pentagon confirmed a Washington Post report that elite U.S. commandos, working with FBI agents, had nabbed Ahmed Abu Khatalla over the weekend, roughly a year and a half after the September 11, 2012, attack.
“He is in U.S. custody in a secure location outside of Libya. There were no civilian casualties related to this operation, and all U.S. personnel involved in the operation have safely departed Libya,” the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby, said in a statement.
- Olivier Knox, Yahoo News at Yahoo News29 days ago
Acknowledging that hard-won American gains in Iraq are at risk, President Barack Obama said on Friday that he won’t be sending U.S. ground troops back there to battle al-Qaida-inspired extremists but warned he could soon unleash military strikes there.
“We have enormous interests there, and obviously our troops and the American people and the American taxpayers made huge investments and sacrifices in order to give Iraqis the opportunity to chart a better course, a better destiny,” Obama said.
“We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq,” he promised on the South Lawn of the White House, with his Marine One helicopter as the carefully chosen backdrop. “But I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq's security forces. And I'll be reviewing those options in the days ahead.”
Obama sternly warned the government in Baghdad that America needs Iraq's leaders — notably Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki — to embrace sweeping reforms to win back minority Sunnis and starve the insurgency of any popular support.
George H.W. Bush, you’re just the fifth American president to live to 90! How are you going to celebrate?
It's a wonderful day in Maine -- in fact, nice enough for a parachute jump.
It was Bush’s eighth parachute jump — his inaugural leap from an airplace came September 2, 1944, when he was shot down over the Pacific during World War Two.
Bush, who is often in a wheelchair now, jumped from a helicopter over Kennebunkport, Maine, home to his family compound at Walker’s Point. It will be a tandem jump with members of the All Veteran Group, former members of the U.S. Army Golden Knights, according to the 41st president’s office.
Bush’s last parachute jump was on his 85th birthday.
By turns angry and anguished, President Barack Obama declared on Tuesday that his “biggest frustration” since taking office has been America’s failure to take even modest steps to curb mass shootings so frequent that they threaten to become routine.
“The country has to do some soul-searching about this,” Obama said gravely in a town-hall question-and-answer session led by Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp in the White House’s State Dining Room.
“This is becoming the norm. And we take it for granted in ways that, as a parent, are terrifying to me,” he said. “I am prepared to work with anybody, including responsible sportsmen and gun owners, to craft some solutions. But right now, it's not even possible to get even the mildest restrictions through Congress. And we should be ashamed of that.”
Obama, who did not stifle his profoundly emotional response to the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, lamented that politicians “terrified of the NRA” have blocked limited responses such as tougher background checks.
Retired General Stanley McChrystal, in an exclusive interview with Yahoo News, reflected in unusually personal terms on the controversy that cost him his command of the Afghan war and praised Hillary Clinton as “great to work with.”
Would Clinton make a good president? “I know she made a good secretary of state,” he replied.
“I found her great to work with, and so I have huge regard for her,” the former general said during a wide-ranging conversation in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. “I don’t handicap the presidential race, but I certainly enjoyed working with her.”
McChrystal also weighed in on President Obama’s decision to win Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s freedom by exchanging him for five Taliban detainees, his plan for winding down the war in Afghanistan, and the widespread failures at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“That’s a job that I think is going to be very difficult. And it’s going to take some specific expertise. I don’t think I have that expertise, and so I don’t think I’m the best person for it,” McChrystal said, effectively taking himself out of the running for the job.
“I care enough about what happens there that I hope they seek someone with just the right combination [of skills] and they let that individual have enough freedom of action so he can do the right thing,” he said.
The former general’s name had been floated as a possible replacement for retired General Eric Shinseki. President Obama accepted Shinseki’s resignation last week after reports of dramatic and widespread failures at Veterans Affairs health care facilities.
“When I heard about this, I said, ‘You know, we’re not doing our part,’” said McChrystal, who once commanded the war effort in Afghanistan. “We have a responsibility to those who serve.”
“If you get really practical about it, as George Washington said, how you treat your veterans is going to determine whether you have soldiers in the future,” he warned.
Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal on Wednesday urged Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s critics not to “judge” him until all the facts are in and sharply defended the extensive and risky search efforts that claimed the lives of some of his fellow soldiers.
“We did a huge number of operations to try to stop the Taliban from being able to move him across the border into Pakistan,” McChrystal told Yahoo News in an exclusive interview. “And we made a great effort and put a lot of people at risk in doing that, but that’s what you should do. That’s what soldiers do for each other.”
Bergdahl’s release as part of a prisoner swap involving five Taliban commanders has drawn angry scrutiny in Congress. It has also prompted some of his former comrades in arms to paint him as a deserter unworthy of the frantic search efforts on his behalf.
McChrystal, who commanded the war effort in Afghanistan at the time of Bergdahl’s June 2009 vanishing, declined to shed any more light on the circumstances of his disappearance.