A vote to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was delayed in the Senate tonight so Democrats could try to get more Republicans on board. We'll have the breaking news developments. Plus, see how we added to our 'Ridiculist' and tonight's other headlines.
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Tonight on 360°, we have breaking news from Capitol Hill on the negotiations to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." A procedural vote was postponed tonight so Democrats could get more Republican support.
Can Democrats get more GOP support? We'll talk it over with CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, Democratic Strategist Paul Begala and Nancy Pfotenhauer, who is a former senior adviser to the McCain 2008 presidential campaign.
Also on Capitol Hill, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky will be the new chairman of the Congressional committee that decides how tax dollars.
But Keeping them Honest, he’s being called one of the biggest money-wasters in Congress. Rogers has earned the title "Prince of Pork" because of earmarks he's pushed through worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
As you might suspect, some of those who've been railing against government pork are now happy with Roger's new job title.
And, in crime and punishment, there are new developments on the legal fight facing polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. The self-proclaimed prophet was in a Texas courtroom today asking a judge to delay his bigamy and sexual assault case. The judge denied that request.
The charges are linked to that raid two years ago on the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. 400 children were removed from the ranch. Authorities feared some of the children had been sexually abused.
Most of the children returned to the ranch, but some of them men - including Jeffs - were charged with various crimes.
360's Gary Tuchman confronted Jeffs outside the courtroom today. Don't miss his report.
Join us for more on this story and tonight's other big stories at 10 p.m. ET on CNN. See you then.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
Prince William and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales attend the 18th annual ICAP Charity Day today in London, England. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
“Dad, who is this peasant?”
“Son, this is the Anglican clergy. This is how we get divorced.”
This is the kind of top secret new age technology that will put us Brits back on top.
– John Stevens from Toronto
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James R. Carroll
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers — known for his ability to secure funding for projects in his Eastern Kentucky district — was selected Tuesday as the new chairman of House Appropriations, the most powerful committee in Congress.
The 5th District Republican was chosen by the GOP steering committee in a secret vote late Tuesday afternoon. The decision is expected to be ratified Wednesday by the rest of the House Republicans.
Rogers beat out fellow committee veteran and former chairman Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., and relative newcomer Jack Kingston, R-Ga.
“I am humbled and thrilled with the steering committee's decision, and look forward to the honor and responsibility of leading the Appropriations Committee next year if the full GOP conference approves the recommendation tomorrow,” Rogers said in a statement.
“There is no doubt that we have a tough and demanding chore ahead of us. The nation is in a fiscal crisis, and hard decisions are coming.”
Republicans took control of the House in the November election, giving it the power to name the chamber's leaders, including committee chairmen.
Rogers will preside over the writing of all the federal spending bills — and over the House GOP leadership's plans next year to whack away at President Barack Obama's next budget and stem the flow of dollars out of Washington.
In the lead-up to the selection, some conservatives argued that neither Rogers nor Lewis was qualified to be the chairman because of their past history as vigorous users of earmarks, special requests for spending on state and local projects.
Critics dubbed Rogers “the Prince of Pork” and called his earmark-benefitted district, where everything from highway construction to homeland security contracts had the Kentuckian's help over the years, “Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.”
Rogers secured 137 earmarks worth $251.9 million between 2008 and 2010, according to LegisStorm, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog group. That ranked him 99th among Senate and House members with earmarks.
Update: Unable to secure needed Republican support, Senate Democrats decided Wednesday to postpone a planned make-or-break vote on starting debate on repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bars openly gay and lesbian soldiers from the military. Watch AC360° tonight at 10pm ET for the latest.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/12/08/art.getty_troopnoface.jpg]Dana Bash and Ted Barrett
Senate Democrats indicated they would hold a make-or-break vote Wednesday on starting debate on repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bars openly gay and lesbian soldiers from the military.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told reporters he is talking to one moderate Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, to try to secure her support. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has been calling senators in both parties to urge their support, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.
"I think we are very, very close to seeing that repeal pass," Gibbs told reporters, adding: "The president is encouraging Democrats and Republicans to get behind that repeal."
To open debate on the measure, Senate Democrats need 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. Currently, the Senate Democratic caucus has 58 votes - 56 Democrats and two independents - though it was not clear if every one of them would support a repeal.
For example, newly elected West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who is completing the term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd, told CNN he was uncertain how he would vote on the issue. Therefore, the Democrats may need more than two GOP senators to join them in voting to open debate.
However, most Senate Republicans oppose repealing "don't ask, don't tell." In addition, all 42 of the GOP senators have pledged to block action on any measure before the chamber deals with extending Bush-era tax cuts and authorizing government spending for the rest of the fiscal year.
The Democratic strategy appeared to be to try to persuade Collins to vote for opening debate on the measure so that the two other Republicans who also have expressed support for a repeal - Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska - also might do so. Murkowski announced her support for a repeal in a statement Wednesday.
Aides to Reid said that with little time remaining in the lame-duck session of Congress and Christmas recess approaching, the vote Wednesday would almost certainly be the last chance to consider the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" this year.
Democrats are pushing for action now because the new Congress in January brings a Republican-controlled House and a diminished Democratic majority in the Senate, which will make repealing "don't ask, don't tell" more difficult.
It was a cold, crisp Texas morning when Gary Tuchman, photojournalist Mike Love and I showed up to the Tom Green County Courthouse today just after dawn. We wanted to make sure we got there early in hopes of getting Warren Jeffs to talk with us as he was scheduled to arrive in court.
The self proclaimed prophet and polygamist sect leader was transferred here last week after being extradited from Utah.
The leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) was indicted on bigamy and sexual assault charges stemming from an alleged spiritual marriage to a 12-year-old girl.
Prosecutors filed the charges 2 years ago after authorities raided the sect's Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas and removed more than 400 children on suspicion that they were exposed to sexual abuse.
Most of the children were returned to the ranch with their families, but many of the men living on the ranch were charged with sexual abuse.
About 45 minutes after we arrived, an SUV pulled up to the courthouse and Warren Jeffs was taken out of the backseat. He was wearing glasses, orange jail pants and a grey sweatshirt.
Sheriff's deputies escorted Jeffs who was handcuffed and had has ankles shackled. Gary asked him if he still felt that he was the prophet as he was entering the building. Jeffs' ignored the questions, but at the Yearning for Zion ranch, we heard from one FLDS member who says Jeffs is certainly the prophet.
Program Note: Last year, CNN's Drew Griffin spoke with the brothers of the "Revolution Muslim" who were spreading a message of violence on the New York City streets. Watch Drew's original report above. Drew Griffin has reconnected with one of these men, who just last year professed his love for Osama bin Laden, but in 2010 has changed his tune. Watch AC360° tonight at 10pm ET to here what he's saying now.
Drew Griffin | BIO
CNN Investigative Correspondent
Yousef al Khattab told me last year he loved Osama Bin Laden more than he loved himself. He tried to tell me why the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 were justified, and how he and his radical Islamic friends saw nothing wrong with the hate inspired rants they posted on their website: Revolution Muslim.
This past Sunday, on a brisk walk in Central Park, Khattab told me all those things he said were wrong. Waffling between declaring himself a dupe or simply misunderstood, he was explicit in the new message he is hoping to get out, that committing violence against civilians, whether in New York City or a Shiite Mosque in Iraq, is disgusting.
The website he helped found is now down. But today, we learn, its reach is far from over.
Over the past three years, followers, bloggers or readers of the site have been linked to 8 of the 27 terror cases here in the United States. And now Today "Revolution Muslim" can take partial credit for one more.
A 21 year old American who converted to Islam, is under arrest, accused of attempting to blow up a U.S. military recruiting station. And buried in the criminal complaint is this:
"On November 3, 2010, he was seen viewing the "Revolution Muslim" website...."
Khattab says the website become a "bug-light for Muslim misfits". He told me he regrets that his message was taken by some as a justification to attack civilians. He says terrorists who attack civilians anywhere in the world are "disgusting".
With so many of his followers under arrest, it is truly hard to tell if Khattab is now telling the truth, or just running scared. Law enforcement sources tell me either way, the collapse of this one website and apparent conversion of its founder, is a win.
Tonight, you have the opportunity to listen to Khattab, then and now, and decide which voice is the telling the truth.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/12/07/t1.afpgetty_wikileaks.jpg width=300 height=169]Massimo Calabresi
There was a time when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's voluntary surrender to the British authorities might have put an end to the crisis created by the Internet provocateur's dissemination of tens of thousands of state secrets. But in the upside-down world of transnational crowdsourcing unleashed by WikiLeaks, in which thousands of activists around the globe can be rallied to defend and extend its work, Assange's arrest is a win, not a loss, for his organization.
The asymmetrical info war initiated by the WikiLeaks dump of diplomatic cables is all about spectacle — the more Assange is set up by world powers, the more powerful his own movement becomes. "The field of battle is WikiLeaks," wrote John Perry Barlow, a former Grateful Dead lyricist and founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the First Amendment advocacy group, in a message to his followers. "You are the troops." WikiLeaks admiringly forwarded the post to 300,000 of its own followers. As the U.S. and other governments attempted to close down WikiLeaks over the past week, those "troops" have fought back. And so far, it doesn't look like much of a contest.
First, the U.S. government pushed WikiLeaks off the servers of Amazon, its U.S. host — thanks in part to an effort by the office of Senator Joe Lieberman, who heads the Senate Homeland Security Committee. After the rogue site was pushed off a smaller, backup host in the U.S., it moved first to a Swiss domain, then to a simple numeric one. WikiLeaks has complained, and some news outlets have reported, about apparent hacker attacks against the website. The effect of all that pressure, however, was very much like cutting the head off the mythical Hydra. By Tuesday evening, WikiLeaks listed 507 Web addresses that it said were hosting the site worldwide.
The U.S. and its allies have taken other steps to curb WikiLeaks' activities. The French Industry Minister Eric Besson called for the site to be banned from French servers. Swiss bank PostFinance announced it had frozen $41,000 in an account set up as a legal-defense fund for Assange. The bank said it took action because Assange had claimed Geneva as his domicile when opening the account, but this had proved incorrect and he could not show that he is a Swiss resident. PayPal, MasterCard and Visa have all blocked donations to WikiLeaks. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks' backers are fighting back, though their hacker attacks on some of the sites that shut off WikiLeaks funding may be less effective.
Fires burned in several spots in Haiti's capital Wednesday morning, where angry demonstrators were voicing their dismay at the announcement the night before that Jude Celestin, a protégé of current President Rene Preval, had won enough votes to enter a runoff in January.
"Preval is a thief. We don't need Jude Celestin. We need Michel Martelly," people chanted, expressing support for the candidate who came in third and was left out of the runoff.
Many streets in Port-Au-Prince were strewn with rocks thrown by protesters, who hurled them with a purpose: to disrupt the capital.
Journalist Ernest Moloskot predicted that more violence awaited Haiti in the days ahead.
"It will get worse because of the anger of the people," he said.
American Airlines canceled all flights to and from Haiti on Wednesday amid the unrest there, a spokeswoman said.
Many people kept to their homes Wednesday, fearful of the brewing tension outside and fearful of what the future may bring in their already troubled homeland.
Most vocal on the volatile streets were the supporters of Martelly, a flamboyant Haitian entertainer otherwise known as Sweet Mickey.
It had been widely expected that the unlikely candidate would face former first lady and parliamentarian Mirlande Manigat in a runoff.
Martelly had expressed confidence that his status as a political novice would be his very strength and that he would emerge victorious onto Haiti's political stage.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://cnnpoliticalticker.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/t1larg-uscapitol-1207.jpg?w=640 width=300 height=169]Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Gloria Borger.
CNN Senior Political Analyst
So I clearly remember one morning last summer when the issue of the Bush-era tax cuts came up during a breakfast with a top Democrat. I naturally asked what the party's game plan might be on extending those tax cuts. Would they make the issue of tax cuts for the middle class a centerpiece of the fall campaign? Or would they punt until after the election?
The Democrat's answer: We're not sure. (Shocking, I know.)
As it turns out, the Democrats actually did both: They had a go at the class warfare (GOP holding the middle-class tax cuts hostage for tax cuts for the wealthy) argument. Then they punted and didn't vote on the issue before the election.
So when the Democrats angrily declare President Obama a sellout on the issue of taxes, last summer comes to mind: If it was such a touchstone for Democrats, why didn't they vote on it before the election?
The real answer is they didn't have the votes. Scared moderate Democrats were balking at any votes to raise taxes. Oh, and one more thing: House Democrats didn't trust their Senate brethren to pass it.
So nothing happened.
And now, as they rail against Obama's compromise with Republicans (who, by the way, will have a lot more votes and control of the House next year), how about this thought: Where were you last fall?