January 11th, 2010
02:54 PM ET

Was Harry Reid right?

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Omar Wasow
The Root

The Senate majority leader has apologized for his remarks about race and color, but he was simply being honest about how voters react to skin color.

CNN is aflutter. Bloggers are calling it a "big-time" mistake. Newspapers describe the "racially tinged" remarks as "sensational." What is this "juicy revelation"? Apparently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid privately told two journalists in 2008 that Obama was more electable because he's "light-skinned" and lacked a "Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

With the publication of Reid's impolitic quote in the new book Game Change, journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin have landed a PR coup. By revealing Reid's racial faux pas, they've also set in motion the now tediously familiar process of a media frenzy, an inevitable apology from Reid acknowledging "deep regret," and an equally inevitable gracious acceptance of the said apology from Obama.

Lost in all the handwringing and shock, however, is any clear explanation of what's wrong with Reid's comment. Clearly, using "Negro dialect" is about half-a-century behind the times, but does anyone think Reid meant ill by his anachronism? Moreover, as the recent kerfuffle about the 2010 Census revealed, "Negro" is still used by a non-trivial number of older black folks. In 2000, for example, more than 50,000 people went the extra effort of writing-in that they identified themselves as "Negro" (over-and-above the millions who checked the box for "Black, African-Am., or Negro").

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January 11th, 2010
02:24 PM ET

Reid's actions speak louder than his gaffe

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Anthony Coley
Special to CNN

Sharks can smell even the smallest drop of blood miles away, so it should come as no surprise that, even in their home districts, Beltway Republicans began circling when news broke of Harry Reid's latest self-inflicted wound.

While the rest of us were watching football or "Avatar" or just trying to keep warm this weekend, Beltway Republicans pounced on an inappropriate comment Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid made in reference to then-Sen. Barack Obama.

In case you missed it, late Friday night, theatlantic.com posted an excerpt from the long-anticipated book "Game Change," an account of the 2008 presidential campaign. It quoted Reid as saying Obama was "light-skinned ... with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."

The contextual inference: African-Americans don't speak the King's English, and Obama's lighter skin makes him more appealing to the masses.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Harry Reid
January 11th, 2010
02:19 PM ET

Body scanners can store, send images, group says

Jeanne Meserve and Mike M. Ahlers

A privacy group says the Transportation Security Administration is misleading the public with claims that full-body scanners at airports cannot store or send their graphic images.

The TSA specified in 2008 documents that the machines must have image storage and sending abilities, the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said.

In the documents, obtained by the privacy group and provided to CNN, the TSA specifies that the body scanners it purchases must have the ability to store and send images when in "test mode."

That requirement leaves open the possibility the machines - which can see beneath people's clothing - can be abused by TSA insiders and hacked by outsiders, said EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg.

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Filed under: Airline Safety
January 11th, 2010
01:33 PM ET

Interactive Map: Airport screening procedures and threats around the world


The U.S. Transportation Security Administration is beginning enhanced screening procedures for U.S.-bound air passengers traveling through "state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest."
View more of these countries here.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Airline Safety
January 11th, 2010
11:33 AM ET
January 11th, 2010
10:50 AM ET

Dear President Obama #357: Talk of the town

Reporter's Note: President Obama is, in political terms, a master of words. Good writer, good speaker. Others…not so much. Being a master of words myself, that’s what I’m writing about in today’s letter to the most famous resident of downtown DC.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Harry Reid must have wanted to crawl under a rock somewhere out in the Nevada desert after those comments of his emerged in the press this weekend. I know that you know all about it: His private conversation during the election about you being electable because you were “light-skinned enough,” and did not talk with a “Negro dialect.”

Obviously, in this day and time, no politician with walking around sense would say such things unless or she were feeling politically suicidal, or just not thinking clearly about the potential repercussions. So he has apologized, his enemies want him to resign, yadda, yadda, yadda.

What I want to say, however, is kudos to you for so quickly accepting the apology and calling it a closed case. Your opponents will no doubt accuse you of….well, who knows what…but I took note of this back during the campaign as well; you always seemed quick to forgive ill-chosen words even from your opponents, especially when they were potentially incendiary. And that’s a good trait.


January 11th, 2010
10:49 AM ET

Three missing girls: Runaways or foul play?


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Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Police and family members are looking for three girls who disappeared after being dropped off at their Virginia middle school last week. The names of the 8th grade classmates have been entered into the national database of missing children, said Leesburg Police Public Information Officer Chris Jones.

However, investigators are working under the premise that the girls are not the victims of foul play.

“There is no reason to believe they were taken or abducted in anyway,” Jones told CNN. “It appears they left on their own free will.”

Nathaly Flores, Jocelyn Perdomo, both 14, and Allison Marroquin, 13, were last seen Wednesday morning at Smart's Mill Middle School in Leesburg, authorities said. “They all went in and immediately within a few minutes all left together,” said Jones. “Based on everything at this point, it appears that it was a planned departure from school.”


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
January 11th, 2010
10:01 AM ET

Morning Buzz: ‘Game Change’

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Eliza Browning
AC360° Associate Producer

Tonight, Anderson speaks to journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, whose book “Game Change” will hit the shelves tomorrow. They look at how the 2008 election changed everything. Their reporting covers the meteoric rise of Barack Obama, the fall of the house of Clinton and the explosive pairing of John McCain and Sarah Palin. They also reported on the racially insensitive remarks made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid during the presidential campaign.

Reid’s comments ignited a firestorm on Capitol Hill over the weekend. The chairman of the Republican Party and a leading GOP senator called on Reid to give up his post. President Obama issued a statement saying that he accepted Sen. Reid’s apology because he’s “know him for years” and has seen the “passionate leadership he’s shown on issues of social justice and I know what’s in his heart.” The Congressional Black Caucus also accepted Reid’s apology and dismissed calls for him to step down as majority leader.

So, as the President suggests, is the book now “closed,” on this issue or will Reid face more condemnation? Reid, 70, is already facing an uphill re-election fight this year in his home state of Nevada. He'll be speaking to the public in Nevada this afternoon where he may address the remark. We’ll have the latest tonight and we’ll talk to Halperin and Heilemann about what they make of the remarks and about the behind-the-scenes details of the 2008 presidential campaign.


Filed under: Eliza Browning • The Buzz
January 11th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

'Out of control': A passenger on Northwest Flight 253 recounts her experience

Editor’s Note: Last week, AC360° Producer David Puente interviewed Scotti Keepman, a passenger on board Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day. Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the man charged with trying to blow up the plane, pleaded not guilty Friday to six federal charges.

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David Puente
AC360° Producer

Scotti Keepman, a passenger aboard Northwest Flight 253 described the chaos on board and told me about the mass confusion on the ground as passengers tried to get home. In her opinion, the airline dropped the ball. She said she feels the U.S. government’s response to the attempted attack was “disappointing” and even “disgusting.”

Keepman said she was flying from Ethiopia to Holland on her way back home to Wisconsin with her husband and the two young Ethiopian siblings they had just adopted. Her older daughter was with them as well. Until then, the young children had never been on a plane so when they smelled smoke and saw flight attendants run down the aisles, and heard passengers cry and yell, the Keepmans focused on keeping their young children distracted, even entertained.

Keepman also described a passenger who she says videotaped the bomb plot suspect as others tried to subdue him. She says the FBI was looking for the video tape and the man who was recording when the plane landed in Detroit, telling passengers that no one was leaving until the tape was found.


Filed under: 360º Follow • Airline Safety • David Puente
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