Sunday, March 29, 2009

Transcript: Obama On "Face The Nation" (3-29-09)

Read the full transcript. Excerpt below:

Schieffer: This has really now become your war, hasn't it?

President Obama: I think it's America's war. And it's the same war that we initiated after 9/11 as a consequence of those attacks on 3,000 Americans who were just going about their daily round. And the focus over the last seven years I think has been lost.

What we want to do is to refocus attention on al Qaeda. We are going to root out their networks, their bases. We are gonna make sure that they cannot attack U.S. citizens, U.S. soil, U.S. interests, and our allies' interests around the world.

In order for us to do that, we have to ensure that neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan can serve as a safe haven for al Qaeda. And, unfortunately, over the last several years what we've seen is, essentially, al Qaeda moving several miles from Afghanistan to Pakistan but effectively still able to project their violence and, and hateful ideologies out into the world.

[...]Schieffer: Are you giving our commanders now in Afghanistan a green light to go after these people even if they're in what used to be safe havens in Pakistan?

President Obama: Well, I haven't changed my approach. If we have a high-value target within our sights, after consulting with Pakistan, we're going after them. But our main thrust has to be to help Pakistan defeat these extremists.

Now, one of the concerns that we've had building up over the last several years is a notion I think among the average Pakistani that this is somehow America's war and that they are not invested. And that attitude I think has led to a steady creep of extremism in Pakistan that is the greatest threat to the stability of the Pakistan government - and ultimately the greatest threat to the Pakistani people.

What we want do is say to the Pakistani people, you are our friends, you are our allies. We are going to give you the tools to defeat al Qaeda and to root out these safe havens. But we also expect some accountability. And we expect that you understand the severity and the nature of the threat.

In addition, what we want do is to help Pakistan grow its economy, to be able to provide basic services to its people, and that I think will help strengthen those efforts. If the Pakistan government doesn't have credibility, if they are weakened, then it's gonna be much more difficult for them to deal with the extremism within their borders.

Schieffer: But you're talking about going after them. Are you talking about with American boots on the ground -

President Obama: No.

Schieffer: - pursuing these people into these so-called safe havens?

President Obama: No. Our plan does not change the recognition of Pakistan as a sovereign government. We need to work with them and through them to deal with al Qaeda. But we have to hold them much more accountable. And we have to recognize that part of our task in working with Pakistan is not just military. It's also our capacity to build their capacity through civilian interventions, through development, through aid assistance. And that's part of what you're seeing - both in Afghanistan and Pakistan I think is fully resourcing a comprehensive strategy that doesn't just rely on bullets or bombs but also relies on agricultural specialists on doctors, on engineers, to help create an environment in which people recognize that they have much more at stake in partnering with us and the international community than giving into some of these -

Schieffer: Help me out here -

President Obama: - extremist ideologies.

Schieffer: How do you - what if they can't do it? What if they won't do it? I mean, we have reports now about members of Pakistan's intelligence service actually actively helping the Taliban and al Qaeda.

President Obama: Well, some -

Schieffer: What if they don't do it?

President Obama: Some of those reports aren't new. There are a whole host of contingencies that we've gotta deal with. I mean, this is gonna be hard, Bob. I'm under no illusions. If it was easy, it would have already been completed. And so we're gonna have to go with a strategy that is focused, that is narrowly targeted on defeating al Qaeda. We think that if you combine military, civilian, diplomatic, development approaches, if we are doing a much better job of coordinating with our allies, then we can be successful.

But we recognize there are gonna be a lot of hurdles between now and us finally having weakened al Qaeda or destroyed al Qaeda to the point there - it cannot, it doesn't pose a danger to us. And we will continue to monitor and adjust our strategies to make sure that we're not just going down blind alleys.

8-Year-Old Girl Missing in Tracy

Let's hope for the best. But let's find her. I'm sick of hearing these stories. Time to execute child molesters:

Tracy Police Department along with the FBI are conducting a large scale search for an eight year old girl who went missing on Friday afternoon.

Sandra Cantu left a friend's house at Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park but never returned home on Friday. A security camera recorded her image about 4. p.m. according Tracy Police. Authorities and volunteers searched the mobile home park with dogs and by helicopter with no luck. They have also contacted all of Cantu's friends and no one has seen her.

On Saturday, FBI agents checked all vehicles entering and leaving the mobile home park which is less than a half a mile from Highway 580.
Some facts:
Here are some of the realities of child abduction:
  • Most kids who are reported missing have run away or there has been a misunderstanding with their parents about where they were supposed to be.
  • Of the kids and teens who are truly abducted, most are taken by a family member or an acquaintance; 25% of kids are taken by strangers.
  • Almost all kids kidnapped by strangers are taken by men, and about two thirds of stranger abductions involve female children.
  • Most abducted kids are in their teens.
  • Kids are rarely abducted from school grounds.
Strategies for Preventing Abductions

About 2,100 missing-children reports are filed each day. Many cases might be solved more easily if parents can provide a few key pieces of information about their kids, like: height, weight, eye color, and a clear recent photo. And make sure your kids have the safety information that could help prevent an abduction.

These strategies may help:

* Make sure custody documents are in order.
* Have ID-like photos taken of your kids every 6 months and have them fingerprinted. Many local police departments sponsor fingerprinting programs.
* Keep your kids' medical and dental records up to date.
* Make online safety a priority. The Internet is a great tool, but it's also a place for predators to stalk kids. Be aware of your kids' Internet activities and chat room "friends," and remind them never to give out personal information. Avoid posting identifying information or photos of your kids online.
* Set boundaries about the places your kids go. Supervise them in places like malls, movie theaters, parks, public bathrooms, or while fundraising door to door.
* Never leave kids alone in a car or stroller, even for a minute.
* Choose caregivers — babysitters, childcare providers, and nannies — carefully and check their references. If you've arranged for someone to pick up your kids from school or day care, discuss the arrangements beforehand with your kids and with the school or childcare center.
* Avoid dressing your kids in clothing with their names on it — children tend to trust adults who know their names.

Spain to Prosecute Bush Torture Facilitators

If the United States government won't prosecute the criminal Bush gang, then the World will do it. Someday you could see Cheney or George W. before the World Court being tried on war crimes charges.

Two years ago, former Bush Administration Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld hurriedly fled France, fearing he would be arrested by French authorities for "ordering and authorizing" the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the U.S. facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In Spain, prosecutors are taking steps toward opening criminal investigations of six Bush-era officials to determine whether they violated international law by authorizing torture at Guantanamo Bay, reports the New York Times. The Spanish prosecutors' case is strong, say NYT's sources—especially since "crusading investigative judge" Baltasar Garzon (famous issuing an outstanding order for the arrest of Chilean tyrant Augusto Pinochet) is on the case. Bushies under review include former Attorney General Alberto Gonzelez, former Justice Dept. lawyer John Yoo, and former under-secretary of defense Douglas Feith. Spain's claim of jurisdiction arises from five Spanish Gitmo prisoners who say they were tortured there.

And no doubt that Cheney was the architect:
[article from 2005] A former top State Department official said Sunday that Vice President Dick Cheney provided the "philosophical guidance" and "flexibility" that led to the torture of detainees in U.S. facilities.

Retired U.S. Army Col. Larry Wilkerson, who served as former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, told CNN that the practice of torture may be continuing in U.S.-run facilities.

"There's no question in my mind that we did. There's no question in my mind that we may be still doing it," Wilkerson said on CNN's "Late Edition."

"There's no question in my mind where the philosophical guidance and the flexibility in order to do so originated -- in the vice president of the United States' office," he said. "His implementer in this case was [Defense Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld and the Defense Department."

At another point in the interview, Wilkerson said "the vice president had to cover this in order for it to happen and in order for Secretary Rumsfeld to feel as though he had freedom of action."

And does anybody doubt the testimony of the Red Cross:
The International Committee of the Red Cross concluded in a secret report that the Bush administration's treatment of al-Qaeda captives "constituted torture," a finding that strongly implied that CIA interrogation methods violated international law, according to newly published excerpts from the long-concealed 2007 document.

The report, an account alleging physical and psychological brutality inside CIA "black site" prisons, also states that some U.S. practices amounted to "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment." Such maltreatment of detainees is expressly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.

The findings were based on an investigation by ICRC officials, who were granted exclusive access to the CIA's "high-value" detainees after they were transferred in 2006 to the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The 14 detainees, who had been kept in isolation in CIA prisons overseas, gave remarkably uniform accounts of abuse that included beatings, sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures and, in some cases, waterboarding, or simulating drowning.

At least five copies of the report were shared with the CIA and top White House officials in 2007 but barred from public release by ICRC guidelines intended to preserve the humanitarian group's strict policy of neutrality in conflicts. A copy of the report was obtained by Mark Danner, a journalism professor and author who published extensive excerpts in the April 9 edition of the New York Review of Books, released yesterday. He did not say how he obtained the report.

NorCal Plant Pulls Spices In Salmonella Scare

We still need to worry about our food supply. Although this President is a major departure from his amoral predecessor:

California public health officials are warning people not to eat a dozen spices packaged at a Union City plant under the Lian How brand name.

A salmonella outbreak that has sickened 33 people in California and nine people in three other states caused the Union International Food Company to voluntarily recall of its pepper, paprika, curry, onion powder and other products.

The state health department said Saturday that most of the people who got sick appeared to have been exposed to salmonella white eating at Asian restaurants that used the company's white and black peppers.