May 13th, 2009
03:41 PM ET

Obama orders stop to detainee photo releases

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more about the order on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/12/prisoner.photos/art.abu.ghraib.bunks.gi.jpg caption="The Iraqi Ministry of Justice gave journalists an inside look at the prison formerly known as Abu Ghraib."]

Ed Hornick

President Obama has ordered government lawyers to object to the planned release of additional detainee photos, the White House said Wednesday.

The Defense Department was set to release hundreds of photographs showing alleged abuse of prisoners in detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"The president was concerned about harm to the troops," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday afternoon. "The president, as you all know, met with his legal team last week because he did not feel comfortable with the release of the photos."

Gibbs added, "the president reflected on this case and believes that they have the potential to pose harm to the troops. ... Nothing is added by the release of the photos."

The release was ordered in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. It followed Obama's decision to release Bush-era CIA documents showing that the United States used techniques like waterboarding, considered torture by the current administration.

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Filed under: President Barack Obama • Torture
May 13th, 2009
02:53 PM ET

ACLU: 'Decision betrays commitment to transparency'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/12/prisoner.photos/art.abu.ghraib.afp.gi.jpg caption="Abu Ghraib reopened this year under control of the Iraqi Ministry of Justice."]

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director, ACLU

The Obama administration announced today that it is reversing its promise to make public photos depicting detainee abuse by U.S. personnel overseas. The Department of Defense had told a federal judge that it would release a "substantial number" of photos in response to a court ruling in an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

"The Obama administration's adoption of the stonewalling tactics and opaque policies of the Bush administration flies in the face of the president's stated desire to restore the rule of law, to revive our moral standing in the world and to lead a transparent government. This decision is particularly disturbing given the Justice Department's failure to initiate a criminal investigation of torture crimes under the Bush administration.

"It is true that these photos would be disturbing; the day we are no longer disturbed by such repugnant acts would be a sad one. In America, every fact and document gets known – whether now or years from now. And when these photos do see the light of day, the outrage will focus not only on the commission of torture by the Bush administration but on the Obama administration's complicity in covering them up. Any outrage related to these photos should be due not to their release but to the very crimes depicted in them. Only by looking squarely in the mirror, acknowledging the crimes of the past and achieving accountability can we move forward and ensure that these atrocities are not repeated.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • President Barack Obama • Torture
May 13th, 2009
02:48 PM ET

Cops: Cooking Meth with the Kids


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Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

The meth epidemic continues to take a toll on families across the country. Parents have been arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of methamphetamines with their children in the car. A girl in Alabama was critically injured after drinking a soda bottle filled with chemicals police say a relative was using to make the highly addictive narcotic.

And now this: In Florida, investigators with the Sebastian Police Department believe the father of two young children was operating a methamphetamine lab in the back of the family’s home. The children, ages 3 and 7, are now in the custody of the state’s Department of Children and Families.

Their father is Paul Arnold Wolff. The 30-year-old suspect is charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of a short barrel shotgun.

Wolff was not the only one arrested. Twenty-one-year-old Mitchell Wayne Platt was taken into custody. He is being charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of a controlled substance.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
May 13th, 2009
02:00 PM ET

Video: Is prosecution in order?

Analysts testify before the Democratic-led Senate Judiciary Committee about interrogation memos.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Raw Politics • Torture
May 13th, 2009
01:30 PM ET

Palin inks book deal

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more on Gov. Sarah Palin's book deal on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/26/art.sarahmac0326.gi.jpg caption="Palin has inked a deal to tell her story of the 2008 presidential campaign."]

Alexander Mooney
CNN Producer

Sarah Palin has inked a book deal with HarperCollins to publish her story of an unlikely political career and meteoric rise from small-town mayor to Republican vice presidential candidate.

"There have been so many things written and said through mainstream media that have not been accurate, and it will be nice through an unfiltered forum to get to speak truthfully about who we are and what we stand for and what Alaska is all about," Palin told the Anchorage Daily News Tuesday.

"The idea is to focus on the content of the book and what's coming in terms of me being able to tell my story unrestrained and unfiltered."

Palin would not reveal how much money she is being paid for the likely blockbuster memoir. But earlier this year, the Alaska governor secured the services of Robert Barnett, the Washington lawyer who negotiated highly-profitable book deals for Bill and Hillary Clinton.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Republicans • Sarah Palin
May 13th, 2009
01:05 PM ET

'Enhanced interrogations' don't work, ex-FBI agent tells panel

Program Note: For more on the debate over the "enhanced interrogation techniques" tune in to AC360° tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/13/interrogation.hearing/art.torture.hearing.cnn.jpg caption="From left: Sens. Lindsey Graham, Sheldon Whitehouse, Patrick Leahy and Dianne Feinstein listen Wednesday."]


The contentious debate over so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" took center stage on Capitol Hill on Wednesday as a former FBI agent involved in the questioning of terror suspects testified that such techniques - including waterboarding - are ineffective.

Ali Soufan, an FBI special agent from 1997 to 2005, told members of a key Senate Judiciary subcommittee that such "techniques, from an operational perspective, are ineffective, slow and unreliable, and harmful to our efforts to defeat al Qaeda."

His remarks followed heated exchanges between committee members with sharply differing views on both the value of the techniques and the purpose of the hearing itself.

Soufan, who was involved in the interrogation of CIA detainee Abu Zubaydah, took issue with former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has said that enhanced interrogation techniques helped the government acquire intelligence necessary to prevent further attacks after September 11, 2001.

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Filed under: Torture
May 13th, 2009
12:37 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Home foreclosures up 32%

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/13/art.cereal.cheerios.jpg]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Foreclosures in April jumped 32%, exceeding even March's blistering pace, with a record 342,000 homes receiving notices of default, auction notices or undergoing bank repossessions.

One of every 374 U.S. homes received a filing during the month, the highest monthly rate that RealtyTrac has recorded in four-plus years of record keeping.

There were also 63,900 bank repossessions, the last stop in the foreclosure process. More than 1.3 million homes have now been lost to foreclosure since the market meltdown began in August 2007.

Consumers pulled back last month

Retailers logged a second straight month of sales declines in April as consumers continued to pull back on all types of unessential purchases.

The Commerce Department said total retail sales fell 0.4% last month, compared with March's revised decline of 1.3%.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Wall St.
May 13th, 2009
11:47 AM ET

Hard facts about alternate energy

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/16/wind1.jpg]

David MacKay
Special to CNN

We need to introduce simple arithmetic into our discussions of energy.

We need to understand how much energy our chosen lifestyles consume, we need to decide where we want that energy to come from, and we need to get on with building energy systems of sufficient size to match our desired consumption.

Our failure to talk straight about the numbers is allowing people to persist in wishful thinking, inspired by inane sayings such as "every little bit helps."

Assuming we are serious about getting off fossil fuels, the scale of building required should not be underestimated. Small actions alone will not deliver a solution.

Let's express energy consumption and energy production using simple personal units, namely kilowatt-hours. One kilowatt-hour (kWh) is the energy used by leaving a 40-watt bulb on for 24 hours. The chemical energy in the food we eat to stay alive amounts to about 3 kWh per day. Taking one hot bath uses about 5 kWh of heat. Driving an average European car 100 kilometers (roughly 62 miles) uses 80 kWh of fuel. With a few of these numbers in mind, we can start to evaluate some of the recommendations that people make about energy.

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May 13th, 2009
11:28 AM ET

Taliban: All local leaders must quit

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/05/13/pakistan.taliban.threat/art.muslimkhan.cnn.jpg caption="Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan has courted local and international media in jovial telephone conversations."]

Ivan Watson

A Taliban spokesman issued a series of threats and ultimatums against Pakistani officials Wednesday as the country's military continued its offensive against the militant group in the Swat Valley.

Speaking on the telephone with CNN, Muslim Khan announced that all national and provincial parliament members from the Malakand Division, the northwestern region where the Swat Valley is located, must resign within three days.

"Otherwise, we will arrest all their families," Khan threatened, "and we will destroy all their buildings."

The Taliban spokesman issued a separate directive aimed at prompting a public show of support for the militants from Pakistan's Islamist political parties. "All these parties must help the Taliban," Khan said. "They must give a press conference to show the people that we need sharia [Islamic law] in the Malakand Division."

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Afghanistan • Ivan Watson • Pakistan
May 13th, 2009
11:06 AM ET

'I’m tempted to become a Republican. They need me'

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Garrison Keillor

Only one out of five Americans is willing to describe himself or herself as a Republican these days, and frankly I am tempted to become one of them. For the variety, and because they need me and because when I heard former Vice President Cheney talk about the meaning of Republicanism the other day - "We are what we are," he said - I felt drawn to the simplicity and dignity of that. And I have never been a Republican, just as I've never been to South America, and that makes it tempting.

I look at pictures of Machu Picchu and think, "Why don't I get on a plane and go?" And I look at Dick Cheney and think, "This man needs friends." I voted for Obama, and will vote for him again in 2012, Lord willing, but in the meantime, it's a free country.

And it is just a whole lot more satisfying to be part of a militant righteous minority than to be in the anxiety-ridden confused majority - to be a nightrider and ambusher rather than one of the people in the long wagon train - to be free to juke around and say wild stuff and know that it doesn't make a dime's worth of difference.


Filed under: Dick Cheney • Raw Politics
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