The Envoy
  • gatesiraq

    Defense Secretary Bob Gates, visiting U.S. troops in Baghdad Thursday, told them it would likely be his final visit to Iraq in the job.

    "This will probably be my last one," Gates told U.S. soldiers at Camp Victory, the Associated Press's Robert Burns reports.

    Recalling some 14 trips he's made to Iraq since becoming Defense Secretary in 2006, a sometimes emotional Gates thanked the soldiers and said it has been his biggest privilege to serve with them.

    Though he has not publicly revealed his exact departure date, Gates has been expected to leave some time this summer. The Envoy first reported that CIA Director Leon Panetta may be tapped to succeed Gates, though the Obama administration has not confirmed its choice, and a CIA spokesman said Thursday that Panetta "isn't seeking any other job" and hasn't been asked "by the President" to take on a different role. (Whether he'd been sounded out by others in the White House was not disclosed.)

    After a stop in Saudi Arabia Wednesday to try to repair strained ties, Gates is on a two-day visit to Iraq, where the U.S. currently has approximately 47,000 forces, down from a height of near 150,000 in 2007.

    U.S. troops are due to withdraw entirely from Iraq by the end of the year unless Iraqi leaders ask some number to stay on. But Gates said Thursday the Iraqi government needs to decide "pretty quickly" if it wants a continued U.S.-force presence after 2011.

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  • The epistolary Gadhafi


    Libya's Muammar Gadhafi has written several letters to President Barack Obama during the ongoing international military intervention to halt his regime's attacks on the Libyan people.

    Most recently, as my colleague Holly Bailey reports, a rambling three-page letter , addressed to "Our Son, Excellency, President Obama," asking for an end to air strikes, as well as a closing wish that Obama wins his 2012 re-election bid:

    President Obama picked up an odd endorsement today in his bid for second term in the White House.

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  • Gates meets Saudi King amid tensions


    Defense Secretary Bob Gates was in Saudi Arabia today for a meeting with Saudi King Abdullah, at a low point in U.S.-Saudi relations.

    Gates' one-on-one meeting with the Saudi monarch Wednesday was expected to be "lengthy and tense," wrote the New York Times' Elizabeth Bumiller citing Pentagon aides, who did not accompany Gates into the meeting.

    Washington-Saudi ties have been increasingly strained over the United States' push for reform among allied Arab regimes, and Obama's decision not to prop up Egypt's autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak in the face of democratic street protests in February.

    The Saudis have signaled their displeasure in ways subtle and harder to ignore. Gates was in neighboring Bahrain last month and had been due to meet the King when the Saudis abruptly informed the U.S. delegation that a visit at that time wouldn't be possible, as the King was unwell.

    Two days after Gates' meetings in the region, some 2,000 Saudi troops, along with 500 police from the United Arab Emirates, moved into Bahrain. The maneuver completely blindsided Washington, and starkly demonstrated Riyadh's sharp displeasure with what it perceived as the United States badgering Bahrain's Sunni leaders to do more to strike up a national dialogue with anti-government protesters, many of them from Bahrain's Shiite majority.

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(679 Stories)
  • Wyoming Town for Sale Includes Home, Bar, and General Store, But It Has a Few Downsides
    Wyoming Town for Sale Includes Home, Bar, and General Store, But It Has a Few Downsides

    Your wish to own a town can be granted — if you have $1.5 million to spare. Welcome to Aladdin, Wyo. Population: 15. Yes, the town is named symbolically after the riches-seeker in the folktales of "Arabian Nights." Judy Brengle's husband had bought her the town as a gift after their kids left for college. It's now up for grabs, a la handwritten for-sale sign.

  • Who Thinks President Obama Will Be Impeached? The White House
    Who Thinks President Obama Will Be Impeached? The White House

    Senior White House Adviser Dan Pfeiffer Says Not to Write Off the Possibility

  • Divorce sheds light on Michael Moore's wealth
    Divorce sheds light on Michael Moore's wealth

    Oscar-winning director Michael Moore, famous for documentaries challenging capitalism, has divorced his wife of 22 years following a civil court proceeding in Michigan that drew attention to his wealth. "'Kathleen and Michael have mutually and amicably reached a divorce settlement'," read a posting this week on Moore's Facebook page, confirming his split from Kathleen Glynn, 56. Moore -- whose films include "Fahrenheit 9/11," "Bowling for Columbine" and "Capitalism: A Love Story" and whose net worth has been estimated at $50 million -- filed for divorce a year ago. He is currently busy finalizing the 10th edition of his Traverse City film festival in Michigan, opening Tuesday.

  • Cops nab criminal who taunted them on Facebook
    Cops nab criminal who taunted them on Facebook

    “Y’all will never catch me,” Roger Ray Ireland commented on the Anne Arundel County Police Department's Facebook page. A day later Ireland was behind bars.

  • Russia takes aim at McDonald's burgers as U.S. ties worsen
    Russia takes aim at McDonald's burgers as U.S. ties worsen

    By Maria Kiselyova and Olga Sichkar MOSCOW (Reuters) - McDonald's burgers and shakes may become the latest victims of worsening ties between Moscow and Washington after a Russian consumer watchdog agency accused the U.S. chain of sanitary violations. McDonald's Corp , which opened its first Russian restaurant in Moscow in 1990, became an iconic symbol of flourishing American capitalism during the fall of the Soviet Union.

  • Earth survived near-miss from 2012 solar storm: NASA
    Earth survived near-miss from 2012 solar storm: NASA

    Back in 2012, the Sun erupted with a powerful solar storm that just missed the Earth but was big enough to "knock modern civilization back to the 18th century," NASA said. The extreme space weather that tore through Earth's orbit on July 23, 2012, was the most powerful in 150 years, according to a statement posted on the US space agency website Wednesday. "If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire," said Daniel Baker, professor of atmospheric and space physics at the University of Colorado. Instead the storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft, a solar observatory that is "almost ideally equipped to measure the parameters of such an event," NASA said.

  • Norway: Terror threat against Norway

    COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway's intelligence service said Thursday it has received information about an imminent "concrete threat" against Norway from people with links to Islamic fighters in Syria.

  • World Cup over, but some Argentines won't go home
    World Cup over, but some Argentines won't go home

    RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Lucas Bazan Pontoni rifled through his pockets for the 45-cent lunch fee as he stood in line at a downtown soup kitchen. When he came up short, an acquaintance sprang for the government-subsidized meal.

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