Posts by Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps

  • Counterinsurgency expert: Beating ISIS will require U.S. ground troops in Iraq

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 5 mths ago

    Top Line

    Retired Army Lt. Col. John Nagl literally helped to write the book on counterinsurgency field strategy for the Army and Marine Corps during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    But for all the lessons that the U.S. military has learned through the wars of the 21 st Century, Nagl said President Obama’s strategy to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria without any ground forces won’t work.

    “It clearly isn't working,” Nagl told “Top Line” in an interview. “We do have about 1,600 American troops on the ground, but they're staying well back from the front lines. That's a big part of the reason why the Iraqi forces are not able to take on and really defeat the ISIS forces.”

    Though Nagl said he understands President Obama’s reluctance to commit combat troops at a time when the American people are war weary, he said the mission of defeating ISIS can’t be accomplished without 15,000 to 20,000 U.S. ground forces.

    The insurgencies in the Middle East are just one of many predicaments that Nagl predicts the U.S. military will need to confront in the years to come.

    The current fight against Ebola provides a “particularly frightening” example, he said.

  • Drone prophecy? Counterterrorism expert’s thriller novel deals in real-world vulnerabilities

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 11 mths ago

    Top Line

    As the former top counterterrorism official to President Bush, Richard Clarke has lived through his share of high-stakes crises. Now, as the author of anew thriller novel, Clarke exploits real-world weaknesses of the nation’s drone program to pen a fictional plot that reads like an ominous prophecy.

    “The drone program is not an end in itself, it's a tool,” Clarke told “Top Line.” “We don't have a lot of tools that work and the drone strikes did work up to a point to do one thing, which was to kill terrorist leaders; and so we used it, and we used it, and we used it, and I think perhaps we overused it.”

    Clarke, a leading advocate for the establishment and use of the nation’s drone program in the years following the attacks of 9/11, noted there have been some devastating blunders made along the way.

    “We blew up a wedding not too long ago,” Clarke said of a U.S. strike gone wrong in Yemen. Mistakes like this, Clarke warned, have the potential of inciting more terrorism.

  • Inside 'Hillaryland': A look at Clinton’s 'enemy list' and her 'open-door policy' for 2016

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 1 yr ago

    Top Line

    When it comes to Hillary Clinton, the question no longer seems to be will she run for president but when will she announce. But as the insistent chatter grows louder about an assumed presidential campaign, so too have the echoes from the scandals of the Clintons’ past.

    The authors of the new book “HRC,” which traces Clinton’s ascendance from defeated 2008 candidate to the presumptive Democratic frontrunner, told “Top Line” that the skeletons of the Clintons’ past, and the Monica Lewinsky scandal in particular, are unlikely to pose a true obstacle to Hillary if she does in fact run in 2016.

    “President Clinton's and Hillary Clinton's approval ratings shot up during the Monica Lewinsky affair,” co-author Jonathan Allen said. “I think it's one of the reasons you see Karl Rove and some of the other folks in the establishment to stay away from that, because it didn't help Republicans in the 1990s.”

    But those previous lapses in loyalty can be forgiven in a new Clinton era, said Allen, who described “an open-door policy to people who want to come back into the fold.”

    ABC News’ Alexandra Dukakis, Gary Westphalen, John Bullard, and Mary Quinn contributed to this episode.

  • Lincoln’s Legacy: "The boys" who won the war for Lincoln's place in history

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 1 yr ago

    Top Line

    Abraham Lincoln is remembered in U.S. history as one of the nation’s greatest presidents, whose steadfast leadership in the Civil War helped preserve the union and free the slaves. But Lincoln wasn’t always held in such high esteem – and the men history might thank for that blazed a trail that leads straight to modern-day presidential advisers such as Karl Rove and David Axelrod.

    In the years following the president’s assassination, Lincoln’s closest aides John Hay and John Nicolay were waging a full-out public relations war to counter what was then a popular notion that Lincoln was a “failed president,” according to historian Joshua Zeitz. They started what is now a well-established process by which presidential aides work to craft a president’s lasting narrative.

    “They were riding against a current in the 1870s and 80s this sort of elite opinion about Lincoln that he was a nice man but a bad president,” Zeitz told “Top Line.” “It was their mandate to correct that.”

    Most of the stories we know about Lincoln’s White House today, Zeitz said, came from Hay and Nicolay originally.

  • The real story behind 'The Monuments Men' movie

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 1 yr ago

    Top Line

    World War II is perhaps one of the most documented time periods in history – preserved in countless books and movies – but the new film “The Monuments Men” tells a story of a group of men and women whose remarkable wartime mission has gone largely unrecognized in popular culture until now.

    During World War II, the Nazis stole millions of works of art and cultural artifacts from across Europe. And a group of approximately 350 men and women from 13 allied countries, known as the “Monuments Men,” set out on a massive hunt to reclaim the stolen cultural treasures.

    “A new kind of soldier, one charged with saving rather than destroying,” said author Robert Edsel of the “Monuments Men,” whose efforts led to the recovery of more than 5 million pieces from the Nazis. Edsel’s book, “Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” is the basis for the new film released today starring George Clooney and Matt Damon.

  • "Tea Stained": The Democrats' game plan for taking on the GOP in 2014

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 1 yr ago

    Top Line

    Despite the GOP establishment’s attempts to reclaim the party from the influence of the Tea Party, one leading Democratic advocacy group is kicking off the election year by making the case that the moderate wing of the Republican Party has been stained by a spillover of the Tea Party.

    Americans United for Change is out with a new website and report, “Tea Stained,” that ranks 47 Republican members of Congress up for reelection in competitive races on the basis of how closely the member has voted with the Tea Party. The effort demonstrates that Democratic-aligned groups plan to link all Republicans– including moderates – to the Tea Party in the upcoming election.

    “Republicans ran with the Tea Party in 2010. They didn't distance themselves from the Tea Party nominated their candidates in 2012. We'll see how much they want to embrace them in 2014,” Americans United for Change president Brad Woodhouse told “Top Line.”

    “I think it is as unpopular as it's ever been out in the countryside with real voters and particularly with swing voters,” he said.

  • Culture war: Film links U.S. Evangelicals to intolerance against gays in Uganda

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 1 yr ago

    Top Line

    Are American Evangelicals to blame for a surge of anti-gay sentiment and violence in Uganda?

    Roger Ross Williams, the director of the new documentary “God Loves Uganda,” told “Top Line” that American Evangelical missionaries are contributing to a raging culture war over homosexuality in Uganda, where just a few years ago a law was proposed that prescribes the death penalty for certain homosexual acts.

    “All the Evangelicals I followed told me they feel like they've lost the culture war here in America as marriage equality has passed state by state, the recent Supreme Court rulings, but they are winning in the global South and especially in Africa and Uganda,” Williams said.

    Williams’ documentary looks specifically at the prominent ministry in Uganda by the American Evangelical group known as the International House of Prayer (IHOP).

    “They don't do any humanitarian work,” Williams said. “They don't build schools or hospitals or help people. … It's a numbers game, convert souls, and that's it.”

    Ministries like the International House of Prayer, Williams’ said, are preying on a vulnerable population.

  • Vets advocate: Obama must ‘step up’ to shrink disability benefits backlog

    Rick Klein, Olivier Knox, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps at Power Players 1 yr ago

    Top Line

    With nearly 900,000 veterans waiting to hear from the Veterans Administration about disability benefits claims—and the average wait time stretching to almost 300 days—the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is calling on the president to make policy changes that will help diminish the backlog.

    IAVA’s Chief Policy Officer Tom Tarantino tells Top Line that, while the White House says President Obama is keeping a close eye on the situation, veterans need s proof that real change is on the horizon.

    “What we need is the commander-in-chief to step up and say ‘Look, there is a plan,’” Tarantino tells Top Line, “and we have to articulate a plan that's actually measurable so that those of us in the veteran’s service community, as well as every vet out there, can actually see how we're going to go from point A to point B to point C and get rid of the backlog.”

    Tarantino explains that the backlog of veterans waiting for the VA to respond to their disability claims is due in large part to an outdated processing system.

    Another part of the problem, Tarantino says, is a lack of integrated health records between departments.