Friday at the White House: Karzai visit
Preparations continue at the White House the Inaugural Parade, which is just ten days away.
January 11th, 2013
08:09 AM ET

Friday at the White House: Karzai visit

President Obama turns his focus to foreign policy with a visit from Afghan President Hamdi Karzai to wrap up the busy week at the White House. After a bilateral meeting in the morning, the two leaders will have a working lunch followed by a joint press conference. The White House warns us not to expect any firm agreement on troop numbers to come out of today's meeting, but the two leaders will discuss the nature of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan after combat troops leave in 2014. Additionally, the U.S. and Afghanistan are in the middle of negotiating a bilateral security agreement which the White House hopes to make progress on during today's visit.

Meanwhile, Vice President Biden continues his work this week with the gun control working group by holding another meeting this afternoon with representatives of the video game industry. Attorney General Eric Holder and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will join him during the meeting. Vice President Biden said he'll be sending his group's recommendations to the president's desk next week sometime.

Click below for the full schedule, as released by the White House. FULL POST


Topics: Afghanistan • Daily Schedule
Obama defends global leadership at Air Force Academy
May 23rd, 2012
05:10 PM ET

Obama defends global leadership at Air Force Academy

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (CNN) - President Barack Obama delivered a strong defense of his international leadership at the U.S. Air Force Academy on Wednesday, telling graduating cadets they'll be building on "new era of American leadership."

Obama told the incoming corps of second lieutenants they are stepping into "a different world" than the one the United States faced when they entered the academy in 2008.

"Four years ago, you arrived here at a time of extraordinary challenge for our nation. Our forces were engaged in two wars. Al Qaeda, which had attacked us on 9/11, was entrenched in their safe havens," he said. "Many of our alliances were strained, and our standing in the world had suffered."
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POTUS back from the other side of the world
May 2nd, 2012
06:33 AM ET

POTUS back from the other side of the world

In the afternoon, the President will return to Washington, D.C. from his whirlwind trip to Afghanistan.

President Obama will participate in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony late in the afternoon in the Oval Office . The traditional ceremony marks the beginning of an Ambassador's service in Washington.
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Topics: Afghanistan • Daily Schedule • Fundraising
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
Obama Administration: Shooting won’t derail progress in Afghanistan
President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai from his vehicle on Sunday, March 11, 2012.
March 12th, 2012
11:52 AM ET

Obama Administration: Shooting won’t derail progress in Afghanistan

(CNN) - Even as U.S. officials work overtime to mitigate Afghan outrage caused by the reported killing of 16 Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier over the weekend, administration officials assert the massacre will not derail discussions on the role of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014, when foreign combat troops are scheduled to withdraw.

“This was a horrific and shocking incident,” a senior administration official tells CNN. “But it does not change the strategic imperative for us to continue implementing our strategy - defeating al Qaeda and strengthening the Afghan state so that groups like al Qaeda can never find a home there again.”

Citing a recent agreement by U.S. and Afghan officials on a U.S. run detention center, the official said the two countries will continue to work together even during this tense time. The ‘memorandum of understanding’ (or MOU) signed Friday details how the U.S. will hand over control to Afghan authorities of a detention center housing 3,000 people and was agreed to despite the outrage and anti-U.S. violence stemming from the apparently inadvertent burning of Korans by U.S. troops last month. The negotiation took more than a year to complete and was a key sticking point in negotiations on the role of the United States in Afghanistan.
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White House on Afghanistan shooting
March 11th, 2012
02:37 PM ET

White House on Afghanistan shooting

Deputy NSC spokesperson Caitlin Hayden offered this written statement on the Afghanistan shooting:

"The President was informed this morning of the incident by his senior national security staff and received a briefing from them early this afternoon before calling President Karzai. This afternoon’s meeting included National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, and Special Assistant to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan Doug Lute."

The White House released a written statement from President Obama expressing his condolences to the Afghan people and his desire to fully investigate the incident.

"I am deeply saddened by the reported killing and wounding of Afghan civilians. I offer my condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, and to the people of Afghanistan, who have endured too much violence and suffering. This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan. I fully support Secretary Panetta’s and General Allen’s commitment to get the facts as quickly as possible and to hold accountable anyone responsible."


Topics: Afghanistan • Military • White House
March 11th, 2012
11:49 AM ET

White House "monitoring the situation closely."

After reports that an American service member allegedly shot more than a dozen Afghan civilians in Kandahar province, Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary, said, “We are deeply concerned by the initial reports of this incident, and are monitoring the situation closely."

Administration officials confirmed that President Obama had been briefed on the situation.


Topics: Afghanistan • Military • White House
Picture of the week
President Obama awards the Medal of Honor to former Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. The ceremony was held in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.
September 15th, 2011
01:02 PM ET