Blog Posts by Olivier Knox

  • Everyone knows politicians lie. Why don’t reporters say so?

    It was Aug. 6, 2007, and President George W. Bush hadn’t told the truth.

    He had claimed, during a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, that Iran “has proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon.”

    While the United States and its allies have long accused Tehran of trying to build an atomic arsenal, Iran has never openly declared that it wants nuclear weapons. The president had said something false. What was a reporter to do?

    The headline on my story called Bush’s claim “dubious.” The piece said he had delivered “an inaccurate accusation at a time of sharp tensions between Washington and Tehran.”

    I didn’t call it a lie (I still wouldn’t). A National Security Council official telephoned to say “good catch” and assure me the claim was a mistake and would not be repeated. It wasn’t.

    The current controversy around the National Security Agency surveillance programs has — once again — raised questions about the credibility of senior government officials.

    President Barack

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  • Michelle Obama: U.S. is ready for a female president

    The United States is ready for a woman as president, Michelle Obama told Parade Magazine in portions of an interview out Thursday. But the first lady took herself out of the running.

    Will there be a female president in her lifetime, Parade asked?

    “Yes, I think the country is ready for it. It’s just a question of who’s the best person out there,” Obama replied.

    Will she ever run?

    “No,” the first lady replied.

    Will former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton get the job?

    “She hasn’t announced anything, so I’m certainly not going to get ahead of her,” Obama replied. (Parade added the note [laughs] after that reply).

    With the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech looming, the first lady told Parade that she thinks having the first black U.S. president and his family in the White House will help change the country.

    “Children born in the last eight years will only know an African-American man being president of the United States,” she said. “That changes the bar

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  • Obama denounces Egypt massacre, cancels joint military exercise

    President Barack Obama on Thursday denounced the massacre of protesters by Egypt’s military-led interim government and announced he had canceled a major joint military exercise in response — but kept American aid dollars flowing.

    “While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back,” Obama said in a brief statement from his Martha's Vineyard vacation spot.

    "As a result, this morning, we notified the Egyptian government that we are canceling our biannual joint military exercise, which was scheduled for next month," the president said, warning that the U.S. response may not stop there.

    "Going forward, I’ve asked my national security team to assess the implications of the actions taken by the interim government and further steps that we may take as necessary with respect to the U.S.-Egyptian relationship," Obama said.

    His remarks came a day after Egyptian

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  • White House denounces Egypt crackdown, but little action seen

    The White House Wednesday angrily denounced a bloody crackdown in Egypt that has left at least 149 people dead in clashes between protesters and security forces. But it was not clear what — if any —  concrete response to the violence would come from Washington.

    “The United States strongly condemns the use of violence against protestors in Egypt,” spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement to reporters who followed President Barack Obama to Martha’s Vineyard on his vacation.

    “Violence will only make it more difficult to move Egypt forward on a path to lasting stability and democracy and runs directly counter to the pledges by the interim government to pursue reconciliation,” he warned. “The world is watching what is happening in Cairo.”

    His comments came as Egypt’s health ministry put the death toll at 149 with another 1,400 wounded in a police raid on supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi at a Cairo protest camp and other clashes nationwide.

    The interim government has also

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  • DNI Clapper won’t control spying review, White House says

    This story was updated at 7 p.m. to correct an error.

    The White House said on Tuesday that Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper won't choose members of a special committee tasked with reviewing high-tech U.S. spying programs and ferreting out abuses. Clapper also won't run the study, officials said.

    “The panel members are being selected by the White House, in consultation with the Intelligence Community,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement emailed to Yahoo News.

    “The Review Group will be made up of independent outside experts. The DNI’s role is one of facilitation, and the Group is not under the direction of or led by the DNI,” Hayden said. “The members require security clearances and access to classified information so they need to be administratively connected to the government, and the DNI’s office is the right place to provide that. The review process and findings will be the Group’s.”

    President Barack Obama and Clapper each

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  • Obama’s vacations and golfing by the numbers

    How many days has President Barack Obama been on vacation since assuming office in January 2009? How much has he golfed? CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller has the answers.

    Since 1996, Knoller has kept tabs on all kinds of presidential data — How many summits? With whom? How many press conferences? — including how often the occupant of the Oval Office at the time leaves the stifling (literally and figuratively) climate of Washington to go on vacation. Successive White Houses have generally found that when their numbers are at odds with the bearded and booming-voiced reporter's figures, the official tallies are the ones that need correcting.

    Knoller — who always notes that presidents are never truly on vacation, given the demands of the job and the era of 24/7 communications — graciously shared his latest data with Yahoo News. So here it is:

    As of Aug. 13, 2013, Obama is on his 15th vacation trip, covering all or part of 96 days total. He's spending this vacation in Martha's Vineyard

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  • Obama orders panel to review possible spying abuses

    President Barack Obama on Monday ordered Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to create a special committee charged with reviewing America’s high-tech spying programs.

    Obama’s memo to Clapper, made public by the White House, calls for the creation of a “Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies” that will have until Dec.15th to report back.

    “The Review Group will assess whether, in light of advancements in communications technologies, the United States employs its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while appropriately accounting for other policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and our need to maintain the public trust,” Obama said in the memo.

    The order came after a former aide to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregonone of the program's fiercest critics in Congress delivered a body blow to Obama’s frequent claim that he welcomes the debate over the

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  • Does Biden have a shot against Hillary Clinton in 2016?

    With her name recognition, her access to big donors, her experience in politics, her connections in the Democratic Party, and, of course, her star power and that of her husband’s, Hillary Clinton is clearly a shoe-in to seize the Democratic party’s presidential nomination.

    That’s roughly how the argument went at this point in 2008. And it shows you shouldn’t confuse confident predictions about politics with accurate ones this far out.

    Still, word that Vice President Joe Biden will give the keynote speech next month at an Iowa event seen as a proving ground for future presidential candidates has generated predictable headlines. Will he run? Will she? Will either? Will he if she does?

    It’s a little odd to think of a sitting two-term vice president as not being the front-runner to succeed his boss. There’s a recent precedent, though: Vice President Dick Cheney. Biden doesn’t have the health problems Cheney had – but polls comparing how he would do against Republican rivals to how Clinton

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  • Obama to speak at 50th anniversary of MLK’s ‘I have a dream’ speech

    President Barack Obama will make remarks on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28 as part of a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the demonstration best remembered for Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

    The White House announced that Obama – the first African-American president of the United States -- will speak at the “Let Freedom Ring” event, which will be held to recall the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

    That civil rights movement demonstration drew some 250,000 people to the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his unforgettable remarks.

  • Obama: I’d benefit from refinancing … but can’t

    President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that he would probably benefit from refinancing his Chicago home but suggested that it’s not something he can do while in office.

    “Not to get too personal, but our home back in Chicago – not the White House, which as I said, that’s a rental – our home back in Chicago, you know, my mortgage interest rate, I would probably benefit from refinancing right now,” Obama said.

    “I would save some money,” he said, but “when you’re president, you have to be a little careful about these transactions, so we haven’t refinanced.”

    Obama’ s comment came during a 30-minute live-stream conversation about housing with Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff. Questions came from Americans via social media, and Rascoff followed up and steered the conversation.

    For more details on how the president might benefit from refinancing, see this Roll Call story that independently came to the same conclusion about the Obamas’ finances.

    Obama took a series of questions, some in print, some

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