May 22nd, 2009
03:28 PM ET

Administration struggles to find a workable Gitmo plan it can sell


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/08/art.getty.holder.jpg caption="Attorney General Eric Holder is tasked with pioneering a legally feasible plan to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison."]

Attorney General Eric Holder's Guantanamo Review Task Force is struggling to sort the prison detainees into five neatly ordered lists, as government lawyers try to somehow fashion a plan which will clear expected legal challenges while satisfying skeptical lawmakers and a nervous public.

Every turn appears more complicated as the weeks pass.

On the immediate heels of a demand by Congress for a clear and specific plan for emptying Guantanamo, one of President Barack Obama's top aides, David Axelrod, promised Thursday that Congress would receive such a plan, and declared the president's address Thursday represented a "framework for a plan." Administration officials indicate the plan itself is probably months away.

During an address on national security at the National Archives in Washington, Obama defended his decision to close the detention center at Guantanamo, and he outlined categories in which to separate the remaining detainees.

The framework calls for putting the names of the 240 remaining detainees into five piles, then trying to resolve the legal complexities of each.

The first group, which government sources and defense attorneys estimate at several dozen detainees, would be brought to the U.S. and tried for crimes in civilian courts. But those cases would be limited to instances in which prosecutors believe they can win convictions under criminal procedures and rules of evidence. Those would include competent legal representation, defendant's Miranda rights, direct witness testimony absent hearsay, and sharing with the defense "Brady" material — evidence which could help their case.

The government identified only one name on that list Thursday when the Justice Department announced Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, indicted in the East Africa embassy bombings, would be tried in New York. Major terrorist figures have been successfully prosecuted in New York amid tight security.


Filed under: Raw Politics • Torture
May 22nd, 2009
03:19 PM ET

Carla Bruni criticises Pope Benedict XVI

Henry Samuel
The Daily Telegraph

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France's First Lady said that the Church's teachings had left her feeling "profoundly secular".

She departed from her post's traditional religious neutrality to accuse the Pope of "damaging" countries in Africa with his stance on birth control.

The Italian-born former supermodel risked angering believers in France and beyond by declaring that the Pontiff's proclamations showed that the Church needed to "evolve".

In March, the Pope sparked controversy while on an Africa tour by saying that the AIDs pandemic which has crippled the continent "can't be resolved with the distribution of condoms; on the contrary, there is the risk of increasing the problem".

Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy said: "I was born Catholic, I was baptised, but in my life I feel profoundly secular.

"I find that the controversy coming from the Pope's message – albeit distorted by the media – is very damaging.

"In Africa it's often Church people who look after sick people. It's astonishing to see the difference between the theory and the reality.

"I think the Church should evolve on this issue. It presents the condom as a contraceptive which, incidentally, it forbids, although it is the only existing protection," she told Femme Actuelle, the women's magazine.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Africa • AIDS
May 22nd, 2009
03:02 PM ET

The Meaning of Michelle Obama

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more on Michelle Obama on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/28/first.lady/art.first.lady.jpg]

Nancy Gibbs and Michael Scherer

It was just two days after the Inauguration when an e-mail went around to Michelle Obama's staff, instructing everyone to be in the East Room of the White House at 3 that afternoon. The First Lady's advisers arrived to find the room filled with ushers and plumbers, electricians and maids and kitchen crew gathered in a huge circle, and Michelle in a T shirt and ponytail, very casual and very much in charge.

"This is my team that came with me from Chicago," Michelle said, pointing to her communications staff and policy people. "This is my team who works here already," she went on, indicating the ring of veterans around the room. Many of the household staff had served for decades; some had postponed retirement because they wanted to serve an African-American President. And so the two groups formed concentric rings and spent the next hour or so making sure that everyone had a chance to meet everyone else. I want you to know that you won't be judged based on whether they know your name, Michelle had warned her advisers. You'll be judged based on whether you know theirs.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Michelle Obama
May 22nd, 2009
03:00 PM ET

Your Memorial Day Weekend weather

Are you traveling for Memorial Day Weekend? Check out the latest weather reports for your destination and a forecast for the days ahead. Stay safe and enjoy the holiday weekend!

Check on your weather here.

Filed under: Memorial Day • Weather
May 22nd, 2009
02:58 PM ET

Free Euna Lee and Laura Ling

Jami Floyd
In Session Anchor

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/22/ling-laura-lisa-mom.jpg caption="Laura Ling, far right, with her mother, center, and sister Lisa Ling, left"]

Roxana Saberi is free. The Iranian government had accused the young reporter of spying but, under international pressure, Iran reduced the eight year prison sentence to two years and suspended it. So she’s coming home and that’s good news.

But there has been no such outcry about Laura Ling and Euna Lee, two other young reporters, behind bars in North Korea. It’s hard to know why some stories take off and others do not. But I do believe that more Americans would care about Laura and Euna if they knew about their plight.

The North Korean government says the women are spies but they are not; they are journalists, and more. Laura is a daughter and a sister. Euna is a mother, with a four-year-old daughter Hannah, who misses her mother terribly.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Jami Floyd
May 22nd, 2009
02:55 PM ET

Pregnant Mom, Dad stabbed to death


[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/22/art.crime.beachfront.mom.jpg caption="Davina Husted was stabbed to death with her husband on Wednesday, she was four months pregnant." width=292 height=320]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

A quiet seaside community was jolted by the brutal killings of a husband, wife, and their unborn child, while police say the couple’s young son was watching “American Idol” in the family room.

Authorities in Ventura, California, say they are desperate for information. “We don’t know the motive, or anything about the suspect,” said Sheriff's Department Capt.Ross Bonfiglio.

According to police, Brock and Davina Husted were killed at about 10:30 P.M. Wednesday night after an intruder entered their beachfront house. The woman was four months pregnant and police are counting the fetus as a third homicide victim. The parents, both 42, were stabbed to death. Captain Bonfigio says the couple was viciously stabbed to death and the knife was recovered at the scene.

Investigators say the French doors on the ocean side of the single family house were left open on the night of the 20th, allowing the intruder access.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
May 22nd, 2009
12:48 PM ET

Synagogues and Bridges in the Bronx

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/05/21/ny.bomb.plot/art.suspect.split.jpg caption="Three of the suspects are taken away by authorities after the arrests were made. "]

Eboo Patel and Samantha Kirby
Interfaith Youth Corp
The Washington Post

Wednesday night in New York, four Muslim men were arrested for a plot to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx, NY, and shoot down military planes at an Air National Guard base. They were quoted in newspapers as saying they wanted to "commit jihad" and that "if Jews were killed in this attack...that would be all right."

About three weeks ago, in New York, a Muslim man, Imam Shamsi Ali, gave a talk at the Free Synagogue in Queens about the "Essence of Islam" during an interfaith Holocaust remembrance service. After the talk, he engaged in a dialogue with Rabbi Michael Weisser, who said "Imam Ali and I share a common vision of a world in which people of all traditions will come to consider themselves as family working together to build a more harmonious world."

Which one of these stories do we want to tell our kids?

The story of how several repeat-offenders, (one of whom made statements on Islam that "often had to be corrected" according to an assistant Imam), took a twisted version of Islam and aspired to commit violent acts in its name?

Or the story of how Jewish and Muslim communities are coming together to learn from one another and ensure that one of the most horrific acts of the 20th century should never be repeated?


May 22nd, 2009
12:42 PM ET

Black mayor of Mississippi town brings 'atomic bomb of change'

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

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/05/22/mississippi.black.mayor/art.mayor.supporter.cnn.jpg caption="James Young poses with one of his young supporters after winning this week's election. "]

Ed Lavandera
CNN Correspondent

James Young still remembers the Ku Klux Klan tormenting his neighborhood. He can still see his father holding a gun on the living room couch ready to shoot anyone who threatened his family.

Nothing about Young's childhood ever made him think he could be the mayor of Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town best known for the killings of three civil rights workers in 1964.

That's the way it was for black kids growing up in this crucible of racial hostility - big dreams were often squelched. Sitting on a sprawling Southern front porch this week, Young broke down in tears about what it means to be elected the town's first black mayor.

"When you've been treated the way we've been treated," he told CNN, choking up and then pausing to wipe the tears from his face.

Keep Reading...

May 22nd, 2009
12:35 PM ET

GOP must move to center

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/17/art.rnc.gi.jpg]

Lou Zickar
Special to CNN

In his CNN.com column last week, Ed Rollins said of the Republican Party, "We may be down for awhile, but what we won't become is a 'Democratic Party lite'! We are a party that wants smaller government and lower taxes. Obama and the Democrats do not. We are a party that wants to encourage small business."

I used to work for Ed Rollins. He probably doesn't remember me; it was the election cycle of 1990, and I was one of his many employees at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

My formal title was Deputy Director of Strategy and Research. But the actual thrust of my job was doing opposition research for GOP campaigns across the country. In other words, I dug up dirt on Democrats.

One of my most vivid memories of Rollins during that time was of his bucking the White House in the summer of that year. It was just after the budget summit that the Democratic congressional leadership held at Andrews Air Force Base with the Bush administration.

Keep Reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Republicans
May 22nd, 2009
11:59 AM ET

First spouses second to none

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

The French have a remarkable talent for irritating Americans with their fancy wines, fluffy poodles, and snotty attitudes about cycling. But when it comes to picking First Ladies, you’ve got to hand it to them. And that’s saying something considering the extraordinary popularity of our own Première Femme, Michelle Obama.

Seriously, have you been keeping up with the adventures of French President Sarkozy’s wife, Carla Bruni? Anyone who follows international news knew that we were in for a treat the moment she alighted on his arm, and she has met every expectation: From crooning songs about drug abuse, to being locked in a legal battle with a company that was selling shopping bags bearing her nude image.

Most recently, the former supermodel (an appellation with which, alas, I too am tagged) has once again stormed the headlines by lighting into the Pope, saying his views on contraception are hurting the fight against AIDS in Africa. Like President Obama’s Notre Dame speech here, the kerfuffle certainly does not involve all the Catholics in her country, but still at the original Notre Dame…mon Dieu!

Maybe the uproar would be less uproarious if it were not for another recent story swirling around her, namely a Paris burglary that netted one lucky thief hundreds of photographs of a Bruni taken during her years with a former lover; photographs described as “highly intimate.” Phrases like that need no translation.


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