From the Dept. of “You gotta be kidding me”


Obama has requested his Cabinet tighten its belts, to the tune of … $100 million:

(AP) President Barack Obama on Monday ordered his Cabinet to find ways to slice spending by $100 million, but acknowledged it’s a “drop in the bucket” and said there’s a “confidence gap” that he needs to overcome.

Just back from a Latin America summit, Mr. Obama told the first formal Cabinet meeting of his administration that vast spending to combat the economic crisis was “the right thing to do.” But he also said taxpayers still need to know that every dollar they give the government is being spent wisely.

“We also have a deficit – a confidence gap – when it comes to the American people,” he told reporters. “And we’ve got to earn their trust.”

Mr. Obama said the $100 million would come from “efficiencies” in agency operations, and would be in addition to future cuts in programs that aren’t working.

Yet the red ink in the annual budget is currently in the hundreds of billions. He was asked if the efficiency saving isn’t just “a drop in the bucket”.

“It is,” he replied. “None of these things alone are going to make a difference. But cumulatively, they make an extraordinary difference because they start setting a tone … $100 million there, $100 million here – pretty soon, even here in Washington, it adds up to real money.”

The federal deficit for March alone was $192.3 billion, and $100 million would represent a minuscule portion of that sum, roughly one-twentieth of 1 percent. Mr. Obama in February brought forward a $3.6 trillion budget for the 2010 fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1, a proposal that would produce $9.3 trillion in deficits over the next decade.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he applauded all attempts to cut government spending but insisted that a $100 million cut would only cover one day’s interest on Obama’s $787 billion stimulus spending plan.

I swear, you can’t make this stuff up.

Cheney to CIA: Declassify the memos that prove interrogation tactics worked


Drudge has the scoop:

In a two part interview airing tonight and tomorrow night on FOX News Channel’s Hannity (9-10PM ET), former Vice President Dick Cheney shared his thoughts on the CIA memos that were recently declassified and also revealed his request to the CIA to declassify additional memos that confirm the success of the Bush administration’s interrogation tactics:


“One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn’t put out the memos that showed the success of the effort. And there are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified.”

“I formally asked that they be declassified now. I haven’t announced this up until now, I haven’t talked about it, but I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country.”

“And I’ve now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was, as well as to see this debate over the legal opinions.”

Time to cue up the “Darth Cheney” music ;) Seriously, it’ll be interesting to see where this goes. Probably nowhere, but if Cheney continues to make a public stink about it, maybe some intrepid outfit out there will file a FOIA request for the information, the release of which would surely make the Obama administration squirm.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Obama visited the CIA today to defend the release of the memos last week, and to ‘boost’ the agency’s morale:

WASHINGTON – Days after releasing top-secret memos that detailed the CIA’s use of simulated drowning while interrogating terror suspects, President Barack Obama went to the spy agency’s Virginia headquarters on Monday to defend his decision and bolster the morale of its employees.

“I acted primarily because of the exceptional circumstances that surrounded these memos, particularly the fact that so much of the information was public,” Obama said.


Obama said Monday that a court case was going to force the memos to be released and that much of what they contained had already been compromised through leaks to news media.

The president urged the hundreds of CIA employees who gathered in a secure auditorium to ignore the recent controversy. “Don’t be discouraged by what’s happened the last few weeks,” he said.

A round of cheers erupted when CIA Director Leon Panetta introduced Obama, who quickly reassured them that they had his backing.

“I know the last few days have been difficult,” he said. “You need to know you’ve got my full support.”

But Obama also heard a reminder of the intense criticism his decision sparked from many in the intelligence community. Four former CIA directors and several senior agency officials opposed the release of the memos.

“You don’t get credit when things go good, but you sure get some blame when things don’t,” Obama said. Pausing when he heard an “amen” from someone in the crowd, Obama added, “I got an amen corner out there.”

No report yet on what Al Qaeda leaders think of the contents of the memos. Then again, no report is really necessary anyway. It’s not hard at all to guess what they’re thinking.

The Jane Harman/Alberto Gonzales/AIPAC controversy


CQ Politics has posted an explosive story today that spells bad news for Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) and former Bush AG Alberto Gonzales:

Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.

Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

Harman declined to discuss the wiretap allegations, instead issuing an angry denial through a spokesman.

“These claims are an outrageous and recycled canard, and have no basis in fact,” Harman said in a prepared statement. “I never engaged in any such activity. Those who are peddling these false accusations should be ashamed of themselves.”

It’s true that allegations of pro-Israel lobbyists trying to help Harman get the chairmanship of the intelligence panel by lobbying and raising money for Pelosi aren’t new.

They were widely reported in 2006, along with allegations that the FBI launched an investigation of Harman that was eventually dropped for a “lack of evidence.”

What is new is that Harman is said to have been picked up on a court-approved NSA tap directed at alleged Israel covert action operations in Washington.

And that, contrary to reports that the Harman investigation was dropped for “lack of evidence,” it was Alberto R. Gonzales, President Bush’s top counsel and then attorney general, who intervened to stop the Harman probe.

Why? Because, according to three top former national security officials, Gonzales wanted Harman to be able to help defend the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about break in The New York Times and engulf the White House.

Ed Morrissey’s got background info on the story here. Read more via Malkin.

AJ Strata has an interesting take here.