Trip to Afghanistan "a scene from a spy novel"
President Barack Obama walks down the steps of Air Force One under the cover of darkness as he arrives in Afghanistan Tuesday. (photo credit: AFP/ Getty Images)
May 1st, 2012
07:58 PM ET

Trip to Afghanistan "a scene from a spy novel"

The following is from the pool producer who traveled to Afghanistan with POTUS Tuesday.

It was a scene from a spy novel.

A little after 9:30pm, I arrived at a back gate of Joint Base Andrews. No guard or intercom, I just drove up and it opened. I was in. The security guards verified my identity and I made my way to the rendezvous point. Typically, this would be the base passenger terminal, but not tonight. Very few people knew what we were doing there, so we met in a dimly lit parking lot.

Our bags were screened and we gave up all our electronics – laptops, mobile phones, cameras, anything that might have tracking software – were put into bins. We would get them back about an hour after takeoff.

On a bus we drove onto the tarmac. Air Force 1 was in shadow. No lights on, inside or out.

We boarded. Just before midnight, the President arrived. We didn't see him, but more Secret Service agents boarded, the door was closed, and we were off. No lights on in the cabin for takeoff and initial ascent. All window shades down.

In fact, we would not see daylight for more than 24 hours. The plan was to arrive in Afghanistan after dark and leave before daybreak. As we descended steeply to the runway, again, all inside cabin lights were turned off.
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POTUS speech from Afghanistan tonight: excerpts
President Barack Obama speaks to U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan Tuesday. (photo credit: Getty Images)
May 1st, 2012
07:08 PM ET

POTUS speech from Afghanistan tonight: excerpts

As released by The White House:

As Prepared for Delivery –

“Already, nearly half the Afghan people live in places where Afghan Security Forces are moving into the lead. This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year. International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.

As we do, our troops will be coming home. Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.”

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President Obama to address U.S. citizens from Afghanistan
President Barack Obama is greeted by US Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparrotti and US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker upon arrival at Bagram Air Field
May 1st, 2012
03:02 PM ET

President Obama to address U.S. citizens from Afghanistan

President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan today on the one year anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.    While in country Obama and President Karzai signed the Strategic Partnership Agreement outlining the U.S.-Afghanistan relationship over the next decade.  The president will also address the nation live from Afghanistan at 7:30pm ET.

Today's visit to Afghanistan is President Obama's third since taking office.  His most recent visit was to the base at Bagram in December 2010.  Bad weather kept the president from traveling the almost 30 miles to Kabul.  His first visit was on March 28, 2010.

It was 9 years ago today when then-President George W. Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq.  Under a banner that read "mission accomplished," President Bush addressed the country live from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf.


Topics: Afghanistan • President Obama • The News
Michelle Obama takes campaign message to Arizona
May 1st, 2012
10:51 AM ET

Michelle Obama takes campaign message to Arizona

(CNN) - Michelle Obama waxed optimistic about the policies instituted by her husband and his political future during a Monday evening campaign stop in Arizona, a state that looks increasingly competitive in the upcoming general election.

The first lady highlighted what she called the achievements in the president's first term, including the start of an economic turnaround, health care reform, equal pay legislation and the killing of Osama bin Laden, while appearing before hundreds of supporters in Tucson.

The Arizona stop is one in a series of campaign stops in likely 2012 western battleground states. Democratic representatives have appeared increasingly optimistic about the president's chances of winning the state that he lost by over eight percentage points in the 2008 election.

Discussing Obama's chances of winning the Grand Canyon State in November at the beginning of her remarks, Michelle Obama said "I know we are going to do it because of people like you."

She also gave a shout out to Ron Barber, the Democrat running in the June 12 special election to fill the 8th District seat left vacant by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, whose mother attended the Obama event on Monday.

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POTUS's staying in the house today
May 1st, 2012
07:40 AM ET

POTUS's staying in the house today

There is nothing public on the president's public schedule today.  He and the vice president will receive the PDB this morning.  Then President Obama will meet with some of his senior staff.  Vice President Biden will return in the afternoon for a meeting the Sec of Defense Leon Panetta.   All of these meeting are closed press.  We are waiting to see if the administration will mark the  first anniversary of the death of OBL in any way.

Full Schedule after the jump

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