From Afghanistan Back to Iraq
General David Petraeus, the commander of forces in Afghanistan, met with President Obama on Wednesday to talk about the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney. Reporters are somewhat miffed because the meeting wasn’t on Obama’s public schedule and so they weren’t aware of it until someone asked Carney a question. Carney responded simply that not all meetings the president has are on the schedule. The spokesman also said that Obama isn’t quite done consulting with his advisers about the exact makeup of the looming pullout. The president is expected to make his decision soon.
The Pentagon meanwhile has already started the drawdown according to outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. Two battalions meant to head to Afghanistan after July 1 will instead be diverted to Kuwait to help with training and support in Iraq.
Attorney General Eric Holder is back on the radar arguing for prosecuting suspected terrorists in civilian courts. “Politics has no place — no place — in the impartial and effective administration of justice,” Holder scolded. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Justice Department should send two terror suspects to Guantanamo Bay instead of trying them in his home state, Kentucky.
Muammar Qaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam has proposed internationally observed elections to try to break the standoff with rebel forces. The Qaddafi government is also, according to a Russian envoy, in talks with the opposition. But Washington doesn’t think that’s enough. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, “It's a little late for any proposals by Kadhafi and his circles for democratic change. It's time for him to go.”
In Yemen, meanwhile, talks between the government and opposition are indeed in early stages. Nuland said the administration was encouraged by efforts Yemen’s vice president has made to reach out to the opposition.
And Vice President Joe Biden and his bipartisan team of debt-slashing legislators wrapped up talks late last night. Biden said it’s only going to get more difficult: “The really tough stuff that is left are the big ticket items.” That includes taxes and Medicare.