Panetta has a new gig
June 21st, 2011
05:01 PM ET

Panetta has a new gig

The Senate on Tuesday gave final approval to CIA Director Leon Panetta's nomination to become defense secretary when Robert Gates steps down at the end of June.  The vote was 100 to 0.


Topics: The Buzz • White House
Obama to Fort Drum
June 21st, 2011
04:30 PM ET

Obama to Fort Drum

President Obama will visit Fort Drum in upstate New York on Thursday, a day after addressing the nation about his plan to draw down troops in Afghanistan.

He will meet with Gold Star families as well as soldiers, many whom have recently returned from Afghanistan.

Fort Drum is home to the 10th Mountain Division which has had numerous deployments to Afghanistan.

This visit is closed to the press.


Topics: Afghanistan • White House
Obama has made final decision on rate of Afghanistan troop withdrawals
Troops, just back from Afghanistan, listen to President Obama speak at Ft. Campbell, KY on May 6.
June 21st, 2011
03:12 PM ET

Obama has made final decision on rate of Afghanistan troop withdrawals

By: CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) – President Obama has made a final decision on the rate of initial U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed Tuesday.

The president will keep his commitment to start a withdrawal in July, Carney said. Obama will lay out his plan for implementing this strategy in an address to the nation Wednesday evening at 8 p.m.

Carney claimed the United States has had "significant" success in meeting its military goals in Afghanistan.

"The process (under which the president's decision was made) was all about the mission that was laid out" by Obama in 2009, Carney said.


Topics: Afghanistan • Jay Carney • Uncategorized
Did you know....?
June 21st, 2011
12:48 PM ET

Did you know....?

The war in Afghanistan has lasted 104 months…the war in Vietnam lasted 103 months.

**This calculation uses Aug 7, 1964 the date Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution as the start date  and March 1973 as the end date for the Vietnam war.

American troops  attacked Afghanistan on Oct 7, 2001.

Obama goes prime time
June 21st, 2011
12:36 PM ET

Obama goes prime time

President Obama will announce his Afghanistan troop draw-down plan at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, the White House has announced.

From Press Secretary Jay Carney:

At 8pm EDT on Wednesday, June 22nd, the President will address the nation from the White House to lay out his plan for implementing his strategy - first unveiled in December 2009 - to draw down American troops from Afghanistan.

2012 Watch: Huntsman's shout out to Obama
June 21st, 2011
10:46 AM ET

2012 Watch: Huntsman's shout out to Obama

Jon Huntsman, who was a part of the Obama administration until April, couldn't ignore the elephant in the room when announcing his bid to beat his old boss Tuesday. The former governor said he "respect[s] the president" and will not "run down anyone's reputation":

I don’t think you need to run down anyone’s reputation to run for President. Of course we'll have our disagreements. I respect my fellow Republican candidates. And I respect the President. He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love. But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better President; not who’s the better American.

More from Huntsman's announcement HERE


Topics: President Obama
Obama's Afghanistan plan will pull 30k by end of 2012
June 21st, 2011
09:08 AM ET

Obama's Afghanistan plan will pull 30k by end of 2012

CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr is reporting President Obama's drawdown plan would result in 30,000 U.S. "surge" forces being withdrawn by the end of 2012:

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama is expected to announce a plan that would result in the 30,000 U.S. "surge" forces being withdrawn completely from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, an administration official told CNN.

This comes ahead of the president's expected speech on the Afghanistan troop drawdown on Wednesday.

The time-frame would give U.S. commanders another two "fighting" seasons with the bulk of U.S. forces still available for combat operations.

Of course, we'll have to wait for tomorrow for the actual timetable of how many troops when.

More HERE


Topics: Afghanistan • The News
Michelle Obama meets with Mandela
June 21st, 2011
08:57 AM ET

Michelle Obama meets with Mandela

Michelle Obama held a meet-and-greet with former South Africa President Nelson Mandela Tuesday, part of the first lady’s week-long swing through sub-Saharan Africa.

The meeting took place in Mandela’s home in Johannesburg, South Africa and included Mrs. Obama’s two daughters, Malia, 12, and Sasha 10. Mandela, who met then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2006, is recovering from a serious lung infection in January.

Mandela rarely makes public appearances. His last appearance was at the closing ceremonies of the World Cup in South Africa over the summer.

He recently released a new memoir, "Conversations With Myself."

Under South Africa's apartheid regime, Mandela spent 27 years in jail after being convicted of sabotage and attempts to overthrow the government. He was released in 1990 and returned to the leadership of the African National Congress party. South Africa repealed apartheid in 1991.

Mrs. Obama’s official state visit to Africa will also include a stop in Gaborone, Botswana, and is aimed at promoting education, health and wellness in addition to leadership. The first lady has engaged in similar efforts during past trips to Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom.


Topics: Michelle Obama • The News
Obama plays up economy, health care at fundraisers
June 21st, 2011
07:24 AM ET

Obama plays up economy, health care at fundraisers

President Obama was all smiles at two fundraising events Monday night in Washington - one included supporters of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship while the other was attended by dozens of big donors from the Mid-Atlantic region.

At the two events, which come days before the pivotal second fundraising quarter comes to a close, Obama made a strong pitch for his handling of the economy – a preview of the stump speech he will deliver when the 2012 campaign begins in full.

“We were able to take an economy that was shrinking by about 6 percent and create an economy that is now growing, and has grown steadily now over many consecutive quarters. Over the last 15 months we’ve created over 2.1 million private sector jobs,” Obama told the crowd of Mid-Atlantic donors.

Obama added he is “extraordinarily proud of the economic record that we were able to produce over the first two and a half years,” but quickly noted “the economy is still so tough for so many people around the country.”

“The hole that was dug was so deep…the reason that 2012 is important is because I did not just run for President to get us back to where we were; I ran for President originally to move us to where we need to be,” the president also said in a clear salvo to Republican presidential opponents, seven of which hammered him over the economy at a CNN debate one week ago.
FULL POST


Topics: President Obama • The News
POTUS Schedule: June 21, 2011
June 21st, 2011
06:41 AM ET

POTUS Schedule: June 21, 2011

Good morning from the White House. It's a day of closed meetings for President Obama, including one with outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates. No doubt the two men will discuss Afghanistan troop levels ahead of the president's announcement on a troop draw-down there Wednesday.

Also happening Wednesday: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will unveil new tough cigarette warnings to be included on all labels.

The president also has a meeting with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner planned in the afternoon.

Full schedule after the jump:
FULL POST


Topics: Daily Schedule