Shorter Question Everything
• Republicans Are Furious at Obama for Prosecuting an Alleged Terrorist: When the Obama administration is killing alleged terrorists with deadly flying robots, Republicans complain that too many of them are being killed rather than captured. When the Obama administration captures alleged terrorists, Republicans complain that they’re being given inappropriate trials instead of being locked away for life.
• A son-in-law of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, was formally charged Friday at a federal court house in the Southern District of New York. He pleaded “not guilty” to charges of conspiring to kill Americans. U.S. officials believe he worked with bin Laden from about May 2001 until 2002, including the September 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans.
• How February’s 7.7% unemployment rate changes budget talks – for one, Obama is improving the economy, and two, when next month rolls around and people see how the sequester kicked a hole in it, the right wing is going to pay the price
• Canceled White House tours: Now–just as Washington’s spring tourist season is about to start–officials have to tell the good folks back home that, uh, you wanted me to cut spending and I did, but that meant canceling your tour, which won’t be rescheduled, by the way, and I’m really sorry about your having wasted the long drive/airfare/hotel bill, and I hope that isn’t your kids I hear crying in the background. And please vote for me when I come up for re-election because I did, as you wanted, cut spending!
• Teabaggers Want To Give Speaker Boehner The Boot: This week Boehner had quite the jolt when former high ranking Ohio Republican Bob Ney’s tell-all book, Sideswiped: Lessons Learned Courtesy of the Hit Men of Capitol Hill, was published. It paints Boehner as a drunken, womanizing, bribe-taking golfing fanatic with little interest in policy and lots of interests in how to extract cash from lobbyists– exactly how Down With Tyranny has been painting him for the last six years. Ney retells the story of Boehner handing out Tobacco Industry bribery checks on the floor of the House and suggests that if the FBI were to examine who paid for Boehner’s golfing addiction, the Speaker could be headed for the same prison Ney had served time in.
• Chuck Hagel landed in Kabul, Afghanistan Friday for his first trip to the country since being confirmed last week as President Obama’s new secretary of defense. Hagel told reporters on the flight that the trip was aimed at gaining a better understanding of “where we are in Afghanistan” and to thank the troops. “I can’t speak for the American people, or where we are on attention spans, but I would tell you now as the secretary of defense who has some responsibility for assuring that this transition be conducted responsibly, that we’re still at war,” he said, responding to a question about whether people have already forgotten about Afghanistan.
• According to the White House, John Brennan was sworn in as CIA Director on a “first draft” of the Constitution including notations from George Washington, dating to 1787. That means, when Brennan vowed to protect and defend the Constitution, he was swearing on one that did not include the First, Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendments — or any of the other Amendments now included in our Constitution. The Bill of Rights did not become part of our Constitution until 1791, 4 years after the Constitution that Brennan took his oath on.
• A ceremony in which the American military had planned to hand over full control of the Bagram Prison to Afghanistan was canceled Saturday, throwing into doubt an agreement between the two countries on custody of the remaining Afghan prisoners still being held by American forces.
• An Egyptian court on Saturday confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot but acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in the violence. Suspected fans enraged by the verdict torched the soccer federation headquarters and a police club in Cairo in protest.
• Egyptian security commander fired: Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has fired key security chief Maged Nouh following widespread sit-ins staged by security force personnel.
• The Guatemala 1954 Documents: These documents, including an instructional guide on assassination found among the training files of the CIA’s covert “Operation PBSUCCESS,” were among several hundred records released by the Agency on May 23, 1997 on its involvement in the infamous 1954 coup in Guatemala.
• Vice President Nicolas Maduro said President Hugo Chavez’s enemies had poisoned him with cancer before announcing that two US Air Force officials would be expelled from the country for spying on the military and plotting to destabilize the country. Maduro identified one American as the Air Force attaché and said he had 24 hours to leave the country.
• UFOs: Tracking unidentified flying objects now seems to hold little interest for the Canadian government, according to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act. Various federal agencies, including Transport Canada, the RCMP and the Department of National Defence, used to track and investigate UFO sightings to some degree, but documents obtained by CBC News suggest those days are over. It’s now up to civilian volunteers to report what’s going on up in the sky.
• NORAD headquarters in Colorado were evacuated for about 4 1/2 hours Thursday after employees found five suspicious packages, but the command’s control room team was working at a backup location about 12 kilometres away at the time and no essential missions were disrupted, officials said. Employees became suspicious because something about the packages looked “out of place,” said Jeff Bohn, a spokesman at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, where the North American Aerospace Command is based. Bohn declined to say what the packages looked like or what appeared to be amiss. Tests performed on the packages ruled out chemical, biological and radiological agents, Bohn said. The packages were then removed and were undergoing other tests, he said.
In other news
• A New York town that began assigning an armed police officer to guard a high school in the wake of the Connecticut massacre has suspended the program after an officer accidentally discharged his pistol in a hallway while classes were in session. Lt. James Janso of the Lloyd police department tells media outlets Officer Sean McCutcheon will be suspended while an investigation continues.
• Idaho has become the first state to have its so-called fetal pain law banning abortions after 20 weeks struck down by the federal courts. The decision from U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill was handed down Wednesday as part of a ruling that also overturns other abortion restrictions in Idaho.
• Jeffrey Delisle, the former Halifax naval officer who sold secrets to Russia, will not appeal his sentence.