Review Category : Poltics

Obama Aiming for ‘Fewer than 100’ Guantanamo Detainees by Early 2016

Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama, hoping to continue working towards a promise made in his first campaign, said Thursday that he hopes to decrease the detainee population at the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“I expect that early by next year, we may even have fewer than 100 people at Guantanamo,” Obama said Thusday. Those comments came after some suggested Obama should be deterred from closing the facility in the wake of terror attacks in Paris.

Obama argues that in fact, Guantanamo “has been an enormous recruiting took for organizations like ISIL,” using an alternate acronym for the terrorist group.

There are currently 107 detainees remaining at Guantanamo Bay after five Yemeni detainees were released to the United Arab Emirates earlier this week.

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Ben Carson’s Iowa Strategy Centers Around Sharing His Faith, Campaigning at Churches

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) — Ben Carson and Donald Trump find themselves atop the polls in Iowa with 75 days to the caucus using a similar strategy that doesn’t include the traditional retail politicking or visiting all 99 counties.

But Trump has been the frontrunner in Iowa for almost four months whereas Carson’s rise has come during a period where he hasn’t campaigned in the state in a month and a half.

“We’re competing everywhere. Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada, you name it,” Carson’s Iowa State Director Ryan Rhodes told ABC News.

Carson returns to Iowa on Friday and then Sunday for his first visit since Oct. 1 besides one day of book tour stops. The majority of his events and speeches have centered around faith and his upcoming visit will be no different.

“He shares his faith and it has allowed Iowans to see his heart and how that has helped shape him,” Rhodes said. “But Iowa is especially important to the Carson campaign because of the large number of evangelical Christians who vote, 42 percent of Republican caucus goers in 2012.”

Carson is set to attend a social conservative presidential forum Friday in Des Moines, appealing to evangelical Christians and then visit two churches on Sunday. When Carson was last in Iowa, he found himself behind frontrunner Donald Trump in the polls. But a Quinnipiac University poll of Iowa Republicans released Oct. 22 had Carson 8 percentage-points ahead of Trump.

But how has the former neurosurgeon managed to build momentum?

“It’s the interviews and the debates and the news conferences,” said Carson supporter Barb Clayton of Spirit Lake, Iowa.

Clayton has only seen Carson in person once back in May with 2,000 other Republicans at the Iowa GOP’s Lincoln Dinner. But she told ABC News she didn’t even notice he hasn’t been in the state because of all the media coverage.

“He’s very intelligent and that comes through in what he says and how he says it. He can relate to everyday people and he’s also become more knowledgeable on many subjects form the economy to National security,” Clayton said.

Though Carson’s time in Iowa doesn’t come close to Rick Santorum’s 66 days, his campaign’s strategy is clearly working with TV ads, billboards, visits by his wife Candy and a presence at Sunday church services with the Carson campaign bus as the main attraction.

“We stop at a church that’s willing to have us and following church, there’s usually food and banquet time so we cook burgers, hot dogs, and brats for them,” said Rhodes, who founded the Iowa Tea Party and worked for Michele Bachmann’s campaign for the 2012 caucus. “We answer questions about Dr. Carson and let them know we’re part of the Iowa community and the faith community.”

Rhodes said Carson is excited to return to Iowa on Friday and plans to “be back a lot in December.” The more Iowans hear Carson’s life story, the more they seem to be attracted to him and Rhodes said the key to his appeal is “he’s not a politician” worried about being “politically correct.”

Barb Clayton said that if the caucus were tomorrow, she’d vote for Carson, but the small business owner does have some reservations.

“The last couple of elections I watched my candidate drop out after Iowa so I’m making sure I’m studying everyone. I want to pick a winner,” Clayton told ABC News, referring to her votes for Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, who won the Iowa caucus in 2008 and 2012, respectively, but couldn’t secure the nomination.

Like many Iowans, Clayton said she’s proud of her state’s “first in the nation” status in the lead-up to the general election. She just hopes whoever Iowa sends on, whether it’s Carson or someone else, will be able to go the distance.

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Obama: Russia and Iran Must Make ‘Fundamental Shift’ in Combatting ISIS

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(MANILA, Philipines) — President Obama said Thursday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit that nations who don’t side with the U.S. stance on removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have to decide whether their stance is worth not winning the battle against ISIS.

Russia and Iran, Obama said, will have to make a “fundamental shift” in their policy on Syria if they hope to take on ISIS successfully. “Do they actually believe that they can prop up Assad and win on the ground militarily inside of Syria against all opposition,” Obama asked, “or do they actually think that it is better to save the Syrian state, and work with the international community and the U.N. to find a government that truly can be legitimate.”

Obama noted that Russia and Iran now accept ISIS as being a threat, but he is concerned “the strategy that they’re pursuing right now doesn’t allow them to focus attention there.” That, Obama explained, is why “most of the Russian strikes at this point have not been directed at [ISIS], they’ve been directed at propping up the Assad regime.”

Touching on last week’s negotiations in Vienna, Obama showed some optimism about U.N.-supervised elections in Syria, saying that the proposed ceasefire “may not be observed by everyone, but would at least be able to create some pockets of calm that could hopefully grow over time.”

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President Obama Offers the ‘APEC Hottie’ Words of Wisdom

Photo by Mehmet Ali Ozcan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — While serious discussions about defense and global trade occurred at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila, chatter of a different sort was also making headlines.

Alongside APEC stories about diplomatic responses to the Paris attacks and maritime security were headlines such as “Girls only have eyes for Trudeau, Nieto” and “‘He held my hand!’ Prime Minister Selfie gets mobbed by shrieking fans on his way out of Manila.”

The newly-elected Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau was met by throngs of fans during his diplomatic debut at both the G-20 and APEC economic summits — a rockstar reception for an otherwise buttoned up crowd of politicians.

The Twitter hashtag #APEChottie began trending with the appearance of the 43-year-old Canadian political star, who alongside Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto received comparisons to Disney princes.

President Obama, himself no stranger to international flattery, recounted his first conversation with Trudeau during their bilateral meeting in Manila.

“The first call I made to him I said, ‘Justin, congratulations. You and your family look great,” Obama said.

Back in 2009, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were also greeted by rapturous crowds during their diplomatic debut, the couple receiving comparisons to President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline.

Now, a few hairs grayer, Obama gave the young Trudeau some advice from experience.

“I just want to point out that I had no grey hair when I was in your shoes seven years ago. And so if you don’t want to grey like me, you need to start dying it soon because it gets too late.”

Trudeau — who has embraced the attention as a way to highlight Canadian issues — chuckled at Obama’s advice.

“So young and yet so cynical,” Trudeau said.

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Ben Carson: Flying Planes Into Twin Towers ‘Didn’t Require a Great Deal of Sophistication’

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson doubled down on his previous language Thursday morning, saying that al Qaeda was not an existential threat to the United States in 2001 and 2003.

Carson told ABC News that ISIS is more of a threat now than al Qaeda was in 2001 and 2003.

“They weren’t nearly as developed as they are now — at that point,” Carson said in response to an ABC News question. “That was my point. This is so much greater a threat than that was.”

Carson also said the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 “didn’t require a great deal of sophistication.”

“Yeah, but being responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, what happened right there really didn’t require a great deal of sophistication because we were not paying attention,” Carson told ABC News. “We were not coordinating our efforts so you didn’t have to be all that great, you had to be able to fly some planes and get a couple of people in here. That’s going to be a lot more difficult to do now. You’re going to have to be a lot more sophisticated than that now.”

On Sunday, the retired neurosurgeon kicked off his rally in Nevada by holding a moment of silence for the victims of the Paris attacks followed by some brief remarks on foreign policy.

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House Passes Refugee Bill in Response to Paris Attacks

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a Republican bill Thursday to beef up security screening for Syrian refugees coming to the United States. Many Democrats supported the measure.

The proposed legislation, which passed 289-137, would require top national security officials to certify that each refugee is not a security threat and require monthly reports on the admissions and screening process to Congress.

The bill now heads to the Senate where its fate is less clear.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the author of the bill and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the bill would require the heads of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the director of National Intelligence to “put their names on the line,” going on record as approving the security of each refugee that enters the country.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the floor shortly before the vote in an appeal to members to vote against the Republican measure.

She said the bill “fails to meet our values” and “slams the door” on refugees. She also criticized Republican leaders for not taking up a bill drafted by Rep. Peter King that would prevent individuals on the terrorist watch list from legally purchasing firearms, which is not prohibited under current law.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and White House Chief-of-Staff Denis McDonough met with House Democrats Thursday morning about the bill and the refugee vetting process. Senate Democrats suggested that the House bill would not get the same support from their caucus.

“The problem is not the refugees,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid told reporters.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 Democrat who earlier this week said he’d be open to a pause in the refugee program, also said that he was no longer open to that proposition, saying he changed his mind after hearing from administration officials in a closed-door briefing Wednesday night.

“No, I think the appropriate place to focus is the visa waiver program and the ability of terrorists to buy guns,” he said.

Schumer was the only Senate Democrat to voice any support for the idea of a temporary suspension of the Syrian refugee resettlement program, which was proposed earlier this week by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Senate Democrats have proposed a bill to beef up security in the visa waiver program, which allows individuals from 38 countries, including most of western Europe, to come to the United States without a visa. That bill has at least one Republican co-sponsor, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

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In Blow to Obama, House Passes Veto-Proof Refugee Bill

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — Six days after terrorists killed 129 people in Paris, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a GOP bill Thursday that would effectively block Syrian and Iraqi refugees from coming to the United States without the approval of top national security officials.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where it will likely face an uphill battle.

The bill, pushed by House Republican leaders, requires top national security officials to certify personally that individual refugees from Iraq and Syria are not security threats.

The measure also calls for the FBI to conduct “thorough” investigations of each refugee. It does not outline specific changes to the current process, in which the FBI already plays a role.

The House Homeland Security Committee chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who introduced the measure, said it would “properly vet” refugees from Syria and Iraq, and “certify that these individuals do not pose a threat to the security of the United States.”

The White House issued a veto threat Wednesday evening. In Asia, President Obama said Republican warnings about the current vetting system for refugees — a process that can take up to two years — “doesn’t jibe with reality.”

“We already have in place the most vigorous vetting process that we have for anybody who is admitted,” he said in Manila, Philippines, where he is attending an economic summit.

The House, however, reached enough votes to override a veto.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the bill balances security concerns after the terrorist attacks with the country’s immigrant tradition.

“We are a compassionate nation. We always have been, and we always will be,” he said Wednesday. “But we also must remember that our first priority is to protect the American people.”

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Ben Carson Compares Screening Syrian Refugees to Rabid Dogs

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(MOBILE, Ala.) — Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson compared the need to screen refugees to protecting a child from a rabid dog at an event in Alabama Thursday.

“For instance if there’s a rabid dog running around the neighborhood, probably not going to assume something good about that dog and you’re going to want to put your children away,” Carson said in response to an ABC News question regarding whether Christian organizations should be helping refugees.

He continued: “At the same time, I love dogs and I’m going to call the humane society and hopefully they can take this dog away and create a safe environment once again.”

Carson told ABC News that refugee screening mechanisms will help determine “the mad dogs.”

“At the same token, we have to have them trace screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs — who are the people who want to come in here and hurt us and destroy us,” Carson said. “Until we know how to do that, just like it would be foolish to put your child out knowing that was going on.”

The discussion of whether the U.S. should take in 10,000 Syrian refugees has intensified following the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday. Carson’s view is in line with the other GOP candidates who have opposed taking in Syrian refugees. Earlier this week, Carson called on Congress to defund federal programs seeking to resettle Syrian refugees.

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Hillary Clinton Unveils Strategy to Defeat and Destroy ISIS

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Nearly one week after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Hillary Clinton on Thursday laid out her strategy to combat ISIS and global terrorism in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.

The former secretary of state focused her remarks on three objectives: defeating ISIS in Syria, Iraq and across the region; disrupting the terrorist organization’s global infrastructure and facilities; and preventing and halting homegrown threats here in the United States.

In order to do this, Clinton said the United States and international coalition must first “intensify and broaden” their efforts by creating a “more effective coalition air campaign” combined with local ground forces.

“It’s time to begin a new phase and intensify and broaden our efforts to smash the would-be caliphate and deny ISIS control of territory in Iraq and Syria. That starts with a more effective coalition air campaign; with more allied planes, more strikes, and a broader target set,” Clinton said. “And we should be honest about the fact that to be successful, air strikes will have to be combined with ground forces actually taking back more territory from ISIS.”

Clinton, for the most part, aligned herself with President Obama’s strategy. She said she agrees it is not the “smart move” to “again have 100,000 U.S. troops in combat in the Middle East,” and said that while the United States must “lead” the fight, it should “support local and regional ground forces in carrying out this mission.”

Clinton did reiterate her call for a no-fly zone over Syria, something the Obama administration has so far said it opposes. But in the Q&A that followed, Clinton clarified that the no-fly zone would not be over the entire country, but “principally over Northern Syria.”

Clinton also said the United States must do more to stop ISIS’ growth online, and called on Silicon Valley and those in the private sector to help.

“We must deny them virtual territory, just as we deny them actual territory,” she said.

She called out the GOP for their use of the phrase “radical Islamists,” which she says gives terrorists more standing than they deserve.

“Islam is not our adversary,” she said.

And Clinton doubled-down on her call for allowing refugees into the United States.

“It would be a cruel irony, indeed, if ISIS can force families from their homes and also prevent them from ever finding new ones,” she said.

During the Q&A that followed, Clinton added that “we should not have religious tests” to decide which refugees can come into the country.

Earlier this week, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said he would back refugees who could “prove” they were Christian.

Her remarks come just hours after ISIS released a video announcing new threats against New York City.

In an interview on Live! With Kelly and Michael Thursday morning, Clinton called the threats “serious” and pointed to lax gun laws as a factor in the increased threats.

“It’s way too easy to get guns in our country, terrorists can get guns who should never be allowed to,” she said. “They’re on the no-fly list but they often aren’t checked or can get guns online, so we do have to take it serious and have to be vigilant.”

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Hillary Clinton Advises New Yorkers to Take ISIS ‘Seriously’ on “Live With Kelly and Michael”

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton strutted onto the New York City set of Live! with Kelly and Michael Thursday, high-fiving and shaking the hands of every front-row audience member before delving into a wide range of subjects including the rise of ISIS amid the fear stemming from last week’s terrorist-attacks.

“I think you always have to take them seriously,” Clinton said of any ISIS threats to New York City. “One thing that you just have to accept is that when they make threats, they may be some distance from being able to deliver on those threats themselves, but they’re hoping that some discontented person or group right here in our country will hear that threat.”

She added: “I take all these threats seriously but I don’t think people should take them personally in the sense that they shouldn’t interfere with how we live our lives.”

The former senator from New York also encouraged parents to talk to their children about the ISIS chatter they may be overhearing in schools and in the news.

“I think you have to be honest with your kids and answer their questions sort of in a way that corresponds to their understanding and their age,” said Clinton, 68, herself a mother and grandmother. “But you also have to tell them that, you know, not to let those threats in any way kind of upset their minds or make them be afraid to go out.”

After the former secretary of state said she plans to reveal a comprehensive strategy to tackle the terrorist organization, hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan turned the conversation to Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

“He really knows how to grab attention and hold on to it and milk it for all it’s worth,” Clinton said. “He was a reality-TV personality. And you learn a lot doing that, so he’s very comfortable in front of a camera.”

Clinton, a Democrat, also said, “If he and I were to run against each other, I would be pleased on one ground, which is that I would not be the only person whose hairstyle was a topic of conversation.”

Clinton went on to talk about how she gave advice to her husband, former President Bill Clinton, during his administration from 1993 to 2001.

“You need to be constantly asking for other people’s opinions. And for me and Bill, it was exactly like that. You know, ‘What do you think? Here’s what I think and how would you do this?’” Clinton said. “And I would expect to be able to, you know, rely on his many years of experience in the same way.”

And with Thanksgiving only one week a way, the presidential candidate gave a peak into what Turkey Day is like with the Clintons.

An international affair, Hillary Clinton said, it’s a very large dinner table (more than 30 people) with daughter Chelsea Clinton’s friends from all over the world.

“About 15 years ago now, we began to invite a lot of Chelsea’s friends who were foreigners and they had never heard of Thanksgiving and didn’t know anything about it and then started to invite more young Americans who were her friends who couldn’t go home,” Clinton said.

“We have just the greatest extended family experience and now they’re coming back with their children and so it just is a special time.”

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