Blog Posts by Olivier Knox

  • Obama to decide on Iraq strikes ‘in the days ahead’

    But he rules out sending U.S. ground troops

    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

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  • George H.W. Bush makes 90th birthday parachute jump

    George H.W. Bush, you’re just the fifth American president to live to 90! How are you going to celebrate?

     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.

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  • Obama on mass shootings: ‘We should be ashamed’

    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

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  • Gen. Stanley McChrystal on Bowe Bergdahl, Hillary Clinton and his call to national service

    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.

    The former general sat down with Yahoo News on the sidelines of the Franklin Project’s summit on national service at Gettysburg, where the tide of the Civil War turned in

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  • McChrystal: I’m not the right person to run Veterans Affairs

    Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal told Yahoo News in an exclusive interview on Wednesday that he is not “the best person” to run the troubled 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,

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  • McChrystal on Bergdahl: ‘We don’t leave Americans behind. That’s unequivocal’

    And don't judge freed soldier yet, retired general says

    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

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  • Obama accepts Shinseki's resignation amid Veterans Affairs scandal

    U.S. President Barack Obama announces the resignation of U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki after meeting with Shinseki at the White House in Washington, May 30, 2014. (REUTERS/Larry Downing)U.S. President Barack Obama announces the resignation of U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki after meeting with Shinseki at the White House in Washington, May 30, 2014. (REUTERS/Larry Downing)
    A day after calling Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki “an American hero,” President Barack Obama on Friday announced he had accepted the retired general’s resignation amid a political firestorm over his agency’s dramatic and sometimes deadly failure to care for wounded vets.

    “A few minutes ago, Secretary Shinseki offered me his own resignation. With considerable regret, I accepted,” Obama said in a hastily arranged appearance in the White House briefing room.

    The president and the former Army chief of staff had met an hour earlier in the Oval Office to discuss the agency’s widespread lapses and efforts to remedy them.

    Shinseki “does not want to be a distraction, because his priority is to fix the problem and make sure our vets are getting the care that they need,” the president said. “That was Ric's judgment on behalf of his fellow veterans. And I agree. We don't have time for distractions; we need to fix the problem.”

    Obama announced that Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs

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  • Hillary Clinton has secret lunch with Obama at the White House

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a secret lunch with President Barack Obama on Thursday — an unannounced meeting sure to fuel extensive speculation at a time when she's widely expected to seek his job in 2016.

    “The president enjoyed an informal, private lunch with Secretary Clinton at the White House this afternoon," a White House official told Yahoo News on condition of anonymity.

    The get-together was not on Obama's public schedule. Word of the lunch emerged thanks to People Magazine, which tweeted a photograph of its Washington bureau chief, veteran political reporter Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, standing with Clinton, apparently at the former first lady's home in Washington.

    Without explanation, People deleted the tweet after it gained considerable attention among reporters. (But Washington Examiner White House Correspondent Susan Crabtree got the screenshot above).

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  • Obama to warn against ‘overreaching’ foreign policy in West Point address

    President Barack Obama will use his commencement speech at West Point this week to defend his handling of an ever-widening array of foreign policy crises and to outline top national security goals for his fast-shrinking time in office, officials say.

    Under fire from Republicans who accuse him of being a weak president overseeing a dramatic and dangerous American retreat from the world stage, the president who ordered the death of Osama bin Laden but has been powerless to stop the bloodbath in Syria will argue that he has struck the right balance — and will continue to do so.

    “You will hear the president discuss how the United States will use all the tools in our arsenal without overreaching,” a White House official said on condition of anonymity.

    “He will lay out why the right policy is one that is both interventionist and internationalist, but not isolationist or unilateral,” the official said.

    It’s a familiar theme for a president who won his first term in large part on his vow to

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  • Kerry: I’ll testify on Benghazi, but only to one House committee

    Secretary of State John Kerry offered Friday to testify on Benghazi before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — but cautioned that doing so would “remove any need” to appear before the new House Select Committee formed to investigate the tragedy.

    Kerry’s message came in a letter from Assistant Secretary of State Julia Frifield to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. A copy of the letter can be read below.

    “In the interest of accommodation and to resolve once and for all any outstanding, relevant questions, the Secretary is prepared to appear before the Committee on June 12 or June 20,” Frifield wrote.

    “In doing so, we believe this would remove any need for the Secretary to appear before the Select Committee to answer additional questions,” she said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Yahoo News.

    House Republicans are unlikely to agree to Kerry’s either/or condition.

    But Issa “accepted the Secretary’s offer to

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Pagination

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