The Obama Presidency

Friday, April 17, 2009


Napolitano Offers Apology to Veterans

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano apologized yesterday to U.S. military veterans who took offense at being mentioned in a domestic intelligence report that concluded that a declining economy and the nation's political climate could fuel a resurgence of right-wing extremism, saying any slight was unintended.

In the report, dated April 7 but begun last year, the Department of Homeland Security's intelligence section stated: "The return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks."

A footnote that defined right-wing extremist groups as primarily hate-oriented or anti-government also stated: "It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

Acknowledging criticism by veterans groups, Napolitano said yesterday on CNN: "I apologize for that offense. It was certainly not intended."

She told Fox News, "If there's one part of that report I would rewrite, in the wordsmithing Washingtonese that goes on after the fact, it would be that footnote."

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) the top Republican on the House intelligence committee, asked the director of national intelligence's ombudsman to investigate the report for "evidence of unsubstantiated conclusions and political bias."

-- Spencer S. Hsu


Obama Shows Support For High-Speed Rail

Declaring on Thursday that America should "make no little plans," President Obama reemphasized his intention to build a nationwide system of high-speed rail lines in some of the country's most populated corridors.

There is no reason, Obama said before departing for Mexico, that the most modern transportation systems should be built only in other countries. The declaration of support for rail did not include new proposals or funding streams and laid out the contours of an initiative he had begun earlier.

The stimulus package that Obama pushed through Congress includes $8 billion for rail projects. He has requested an additional $5 billion in his budget.

-- Michael D. Shear

A Georgetown Coverup: Conservative blogs and several Catholic groups continued to express outrage over President Obama's appearance Tuesday at Georgetown University, where a Gaston Hall symbol representing Jesus's name was covered up before he spoke. "IHS," the symbol behind Obama, was covered at the request of the White House, university officials said, "to accommodate a backdrop of American flags, consistent with other policy speeches." Obama's office called the arrangement standard protocol and said there was no effort to avoid religious symbols. But Catholic League President Bill Donohue continued to pound him for asking "a religious school to neuter itself before the president speaks there." He added: "This is getting old fast."

-- William Wan

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